SMART Bill Draws Smart Amendments

Iowans value local control and local decision making. SF 2265, the eco-friendly SMART planning bill, works against these founding principles. As it passed the Senate, the bill creates a permanent 31 member task force to investigate statewide urban and rural plan. The RIO office and the Department of Management provide the staff support.

Many feel the bill works against those cities that already paid $8,000 or up to $20,000 for a comprehensive plan. Others trust the planning already underway in many communities and through the existing regional COGS.

The lobbyist registrations tell mixed reaction to the legislation. As of March 10, 2010, there are 29 organizations registered as “undecided.” Only 14 groups support the bill including the RIO office, Iowa’s Office of Energy Independence, the Sierra Club, the Iowa Environmental Council and the Izaak Walton League.

As passed by the Senate, the bill creates an obligation for local governments to consider SMART planning principles. Local governments may choose not to follow the principles but they must consider them.

A House Local Government Committee amendment improves the bill by removing the “shalls.” Yet the statewide task force remains and the eco-friendly SMART principles become part of Iowa law.

Last week House Republicans offered amendments with the goal of preserving local control and limiting future costs. The amendments do the following:

  • Strike the Task Force and make the planning principles “suggested”
  • Strike the bill and direct the RIO office to provide the planning principles to all elected officials.
  • Sunset the Task Force at the end of the year.
  • Prohibit the RIO office from using current appropriations to staff the Task Force