Eleanor Hildebrandt | February 2, 2022
Conservation groups across the state are praising an Iowa Senate Republican tax proposal that could fund the Iowa Water and Land Legacy project.
The project aims to protect Iowa’s natural resources and has been in the work for years. According to Iowa Capital Dispatch, Iowa lawmakers passed the creation of the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund in 2008 and 2009. In 2010, Iowa voters voted to amend the state’s constitution to allow the state to increase the sales tax by three-eighths of a cent to go toward water quality and wildlife conservation. State lawmakers have not supported an increase in state sales taxes since the fund was approved.
At the beginning of the 2022 Legislative session, Senate Republicans proposed Senate Study Bill 3704. The bill would approve a 1-cent local option sales tax statewide. This would begin the three-eighths of a cent going to the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund for the first time. Several lobbyists have voiced support for the legislation, including the Iowa Chamber Alliance and Pheasants Forever, a group of hunters and conservationists. Some are behind the bill because conservation could drive tourists to Iowa if the legislation passes.
Others are not convinced, including the Iowa Sierra Club. Chapter Director Pam Mackey-Taylor said the legislation would prioritize the water quality initiative Nutrient Reduction Strategy “at the expense of all the other items we’re supposed to be funding with IWILL.”
Many localities have local option sales taxes, but the current legislation would make one statewide, for rural and urban Iowans. The proposal has advanced to the Ways and Means Committees in both the House and Senate chambers.