Speaker Upmeyer’s Weekly Newsletter

UTGD

Ensuring Safe and Clean Water for Iowans

This weekend we will celebrate Memorial Day where we’ll remember those that have lost their lives fighting for and protecting the freedoms that we hold dear.  I hope that you’ll join me in taking a moment this weekend to remember the service and sacrifices that our men and women in uniform make in order to keep us safe.

Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day was an informal holiday celebrated in the springtime by various cities, towns, and communities shortly after the American Civil War ended.  The day of remembrance was created to honor the men and women who died serving in the armed forces.  By 1890, all of the northern states had made Decoration Day an official state holiday, while southern states remembered their fallen soldiers in a similar fashion on a different day of the year.  Eventually Congress officially recognized Memorial Day as a federal holiday in 1968, with the first Memorial Day occurring in 1971.

I encourage you to take some time on Monday to honor our fallen soldiers and thank those that have served our country for their service.

Something that all Iowans can agree on is that we should protect our natural resources and ensure that Iowans have access to safe drinking water.

When this past session kicked off, Governor Branstad brought forward a bold, innovative plan to fund water quality improvements in our cities in towns.  While that plan never got the legs to advance, it served as a framework for future proposals over the course of session.

House Republicans are committed to protecting our waterways so Iowans can enjoy a safe water supply and a clean natural resource for recreation long into the future.  We demonstrated this by crafting a wide-ranging piece of legislation to address Iowa’s water quality.

Currently, the state invests more than $20 million per year to aid in water quality improvements, and the Nutrient Reduction strategy was created a few years ago to help farmers reduce the amount of farm runoff that ends up in our waterways and the Gulf of Mexico.  In addition to these efforts, the federal government also makes a significant investment in keeping Iowa’s waterways safe and clean.

This session, the House passed a water quality plan that would have invested an additional half billion dollars to aid in efforts to improve Iowa’s water.  The bill, referred to as the Iowa Water Quality Improvement Plan, would have addressed both urban and rural water quality projects ensuring that we would attack this problem from multiple angles.  This legislation was a significant step in the right direction which is why it received wide support from both sides of the aisle.

The Iowa Water Quality Improvement Plan focused on long-term infrastructure improvements to reduce the runoff of nitrates and phosphorus into Iowa waterways and reduce soil erosion.  These projects would have been a public-private partnership, funded by Iowa farmers, local communities, the state, and other private sources.

Most importantly, this plan found a long-term, dedicated source of funding which used existing resources and didn’t raise taxes.

Unfortunately, the Senate chose not to take up our bill.  In fact, they never even debated legislation to improve our water and natural resources.    This was truly a missed opportunity for Iowans.

While the House plan wasn’t signed in to law, it has created a robust discussion on water quality in Iowa.  During the interim, House Republicans will look for opportunities to focus efforts and resources on best practices and effective strategies to curb runoff.  I’m hopeful that we can come back next session, use the House bill as a framework, and work towards a solution that preserves Iowa’s precious resources for generations to come.

As always, please keep in touch.  I look forward to traveling the district and visiting with Iowans over the coming months.  If you would like to touch base in the meantime, you can reach me at linda.upmeyer@legis.iowa.gov or 515-281-3521

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