Inside This Issue: Iowa’s Economy Looks Strong 1 Auditor Sounds the Alarm 2 Ag Interim Committees 3 Health Care Commission Underway 4 Endow Iowa Grant Awards 5 New IWD Director 5 US Supreme Court Rulings 6 Landfill Revisions 9 Tempers Flare Again on CIETC 11 Report Shows HAWK-I Still Works 13 IOLTA Grants 14 Iowa‘s Worker‘s Compensation 16 Vehicle Sharing Program 17 Newton Faith-Based Initiatve 18 Iowa’s Economy Strong, FY 07 Revenue Electrical Contractor Bill Explanations 20
Vietnam Veterans Bonuses 20 Exceeds Estimate
Sales Tax Holiday Coming Up 23
On July 2, Fiscal Services released the revenue numbers
through the end of FY 07. The good economic news
continues as General Fund revenue grew by $367 million, or 6.4 percent compared to FY 06. This is $29.2 million, or 0.5 percent higher than the REC estimate of $338 million, and 5.9 percent above FY 06.
However, tax refunds came in higher than estimated and that will offset some of the increase in gross General Fund revenue. After the increase in tax refunds is taken into account, the remaining excess revenue will be deposited into the Senior Living Trust Fund (SLTF) since the cash reserves are full.
While it remains to be seen how the Legislature will use these extra funds in the SLTF, one option is to supplant the increase for Medicaid in FY 09.
Base revenue for FY 08 is also up, meaning that the FY 08 ending balance will increase. Possible uses for those funds might be to help fund the FY 09 property tax credits or likely supplemental appropriations in the $50 million range.
Sales and use tax rebounded and beat the REC estimate by a slim margin (1.5 percent actual compared to the 1.3 percent estimate) but the real driver was capital gains taxes (and subsequent increase in personal income tax receipts) and increased corporate profits (which increases corporate income tax revenue). Also, cigarette tax revenue rebounded and finished $300,000 above the REC estimate.
The REC income tax estimate was $3.034 billion, or 6.3 percent above FY 06. The cash fiscal year ended with total income tax of $3.086 billion, or 8.1 percent. By subcategory, withholding tax increased 5.6 percent, income tax estimate payments increased 11.1 percent, and payments with returns increased 24.5 percent. It is clear that capital gains from the stock market drove the high number.
The REC sales and use tax estimate was $1.906 billion, or 1.3 percent above FY 06. The cash fiscal year ended with a sales and use tax total of $1.91 billion, or 1.5 percent, just over the REC estimate.
The estimate for corporate income tax was $441 million, or 26 percent above actual FY 06. The cash fiscal year ended with a total corporate income tax of $425 million, or 22 percent, meaning that once again the state‘s corporations did
very well profit-wise during FY 07.
Even though tough choices on the spending side of the ledger remain, the bottom line is that Iowa's economy continues to grow at a rapid rate.
Auditor Extremely Critical of FY 07, 08 and 09 Budgets
12.7% increase in revenue needed to cover spending in FY 09
On June 6, State Auditor Dave Vaudt released his review of the FY 2008 budget approved by the Legislature and signed by the Governor. He was very critical of three things:
; Shifting $52 million of FY 08 spending into FY 07 to get around the expenditure limitation
; Spending exceeding projected revenue by over $300 million in FY 08
; Large amount of built-in spending for FY 09
The Auditor stated that appropriations of $71 million were made for additional spending under the Fiscal Year 2007 budget. ―It‘s important to realize, however, only $18.5 million, or 25 percent, of that amount reverts if not spent in Fiscal Year 2007,‖ emphasized Auditor Vaudt. The remaining $52.5 million, or 75 percent, of the supplemental appropriations do not revert at the end of Fiscal Year 2007. They carry forward and create additional spending authority in Fiscal Year 08, which is contrary to the 99 percent expenditure limitation contained in Iowa law. Shifting
budgeted expenditures from one fiscal year to another is not a good budgeting practice and only adds to the lack of clarity in Iowa‘s budgeting process, especially as to Iowa‘s true spending increases from year to year. ―While it‘s not the first time this technique has been proposed or used, I‘m disappointed at the magnitude of the Fiscal Year 07 supplemental appropriations that do not revert,‖ he added.
As Auditor Vaudt has frequently stressed, ―The key to responsible budgeting is to bring expenditures in line with
revenues.‖ He noted total spending in the Fiscal Year 08 budget exceeds total anticipated revenues by over $300 million, despite the projected $130 million of additional revenue from raising the cigarette and tobacco tax. ―The
increased spending of more than $550 million, or approximately 10 percent, in Fiscal Year 08 compared to Fiscal Year 07, substantially exceeds Iowa‘s most recent historical three-year average revenue growth of $336 million. Even when
the additional cigarette and tobacco tax revenues are included, spending growth significantly outpaces the anticipated revenue increase,‖ he concluded. ―I‘m looking for progress—for some steps in the right direction. Unfortunately, with
this Fiscal Year 2008 budget, that progress is not taking place.‖
―If Iowa followed the good budgeting practice of funding all its General Fund costs out of only General Fund revenues, a $764 million, or 12.7 percent, revenue increase would be necessary in Fiscal Year 09 to cover the increased cost commitments and bring costs paid from non-General Fund resources back into the General Fund,‖ warned Auditor
Vaudt. ―That‘s before we even consider all the other cost increases, such as Medicaid, health insurance, fuel and
utilities, the State will face in Fiscal Year 09,‖ he added.
―Just imagine if Iowa encounters any type of fiscal downturn. Now imagine the challenges and the drastic steps we would need to take to align expenditures with reduced revenue growth, or worse yet, reduced revenues.‖ Auditor
Vaudt cautioned our ‗rainy day fund‘ would only serve as a short-term solution to a potentially long-term problem.
Longer-term planning and a longer-term mindset are critical to Iowa‘s sound financial future.
Despite revenue continuing to roll in (see above article), the concern lies with the spending levels. Governor Culver
has promised a top-to-bottom review of the state‘s budget. Hopefully the Governor develops a budget which puts spending back in line with incoming revenue.
(Contact: Lon Anderson, 1-5184)
Legislative Council Authorizes Two Ag-Related Interim Committees
On June 13, the Legislative Council met and agreed to authorize 13 legislative interim committees, two of which involve agricultural issues. The two ag-related interim committee authorizes are (1) Animal Feeding of Distillers Dried Gains Study Committee; and (2) Livestock Odor Study Committee.
The Animal Feeding of Distillers Dried Grain was allotted one day for deliberations and the following legislators were appointed to the interim committee: Senators Olive, Courtney, Fraise, Johnson, and Putney; and Representatives Whitaker, Alons, Deyoe, Schueller and Wenthe.
The Livestock Odor Study Committee was allotted up to two days for deliberations with the following legislators being assigned: Senators Wood, Heckroth, Johnson, Kibbie, and McKinley; and Representatives Whitead, Drake, Kuhn, May, and Mertz.
The Animal Feeding of Distillers Grain Study Committee is charged to consider issues related to standards for distillers dried grains (DDGs) that can be used in formulating rations for livestock. DDGs are the main by-product of ethanol production from cereal grains such as corn. As Iowa ethanol production continues to expand and it takes an increasing proportion of Iowa corn crop, livestock producers are concerned about what this means to their operations. A recent National Agricultural Statistics Service reports that in 2006 ethanol co-products were fed to livestock at 38% of dairy operations, 36% of cattle on feed operations, 13% of beef-cow operations and 12% of hog operations. While livestock producers can use DDGs as a partial substitute for corn as feed for livestock, the variable feed value of DDGs makes it difficult to fine-tune livestock rations.
DDGs are relatively easy to put into cattle rations, but are more problematic for non-ruminant animals such as swine and poultry. Fermentation of corn into ethanol and DDGs leaves a feed that has more of the energy left in fiber carbohydrates and fats/oils than grain typically has. Most of the DDGs‘ fiber carbohydrates energy faction can be digested by ruminants, but have limited digestibility in the case of simple stomach animals such as swine and poultry. This circumstance usually limits the use of DDG to 10 to 15% of swine and poultry rations. DDGs also contain the unfermented oil faction of grain and this component can cause problems with ruminant animals if fed at high levels and for short time periods. Some dairy producers have reported an increase in kidney infection/necrosis problems with their cows that have long-term and high DDG feed rates, and there is a question on whether there are some chemical residues or fungal product being concentrated in the DDG that is a factor in this livestock ailment. Furthermore, as ethanol producers increase their yield of ethanol production from each bushel of grain they are increasingly beginning to extract the oil from the grain to refine it into biodiesel, and are starting to treat grain fiber to allow further conversion into ethanol or are starting to use it for fuel to supplement petroleum or coal fuel for the distillation process. Hence, if livestock producers are to continue and/or expand the use of DDG in livestock rations, they will need to know with confidence the feed value of the DDG they purchase.
The Livestock Odor Study Committee was charged to consider issues relating to odors associated with livestock. The Committee is to study and make recommendations for:
; Additional state funding
; Research into cost-effective management practices, facilities, equipment, and practices to mitigate odor from
livestock production facilities
; Iowa State University Veterinarian Laboratory review of airborne disease research
; Research for utilizing manure and other livestock wastes as sources of nutrient recovery and renewable energy.
The objective of this committee is to address the odor problem that continues to vex both livestock farmers and non-farm residents who live near sizable livestock operations. About a decade ago, the Legislature, as part of the process that substantially expanded state regulation of livestock operation by the DNR, appropriated significant state funds to
ISU to study potential odor control technology and practices that could mitigate swine odors. That investment identified some practices and treatment options that worked and some that did not.
A generalization of the results of that effort was that there were systems that could control 70-90% of the odor 75-95% of the time. That earlier investment was complicated by the fact that basic understanding of odor formation and odor transport was still limited. Plus, the technology of how swine manure was stored drastically switched from separate unenclosed earthen structures (lagoons and basins) to concrete semi-enclosed structures usually located under the livestock building.
Recent regulatory changes, and increased energy prices and fertilizer values have resulted in the downsizing of a typical new swine facility, but a proliferation of the number of facilities and expansion into areas where most swine production had largely disappeared during the prior two decades. However, as the prospect for continued high energy prices solidifies, there is growing interest in using the manure through methane conversion processes into electricity or using pyrollysis (a pressure and heat process) to form liquid hydrocarbon fuels that could be made into diesel fuel.
Just this week, construction began on a methane plant developers say will turn livestock waste into fuel. Minnesota-based Bison Renewable broke ground on a $12 million plant west of Hull, Iowa. The firm says that this plant is just the first of 20 such plants that it intends to build across the nation. Steve Nelson, finance director for Bison, said that Sioux County was selected because per square mile, the county is in the top five in the U.S for livestock density. Bison raised capital for the plant from 200 local investors. It plans to contract with livestock producers for manure which will comprise about one-half of the input for the plant, with the balance coming from other wastes such as animal fat other industrial wastes. Anticipated start up of the plant‘s operations is the end of 2008.
(Contact: Lew Olson, 1-3096)
Health Care Commission Begins Work
The Commission on Affordable Health Care for Small Businesses and Families has begun its work. This group, created in the FY 07 Health and Human Services Appropriations bill (House File 909), will have numerous meetings across the state in an attempt to identify issues and potential action to improve access to affordable healthcare throughout the state.
The commission will be holding six additional meetings throughout the interim. They are:
Oskaloosa – July 18 (William Penn University Student Union)
Mason City – August 15
Iowa City – September 19
Sioux City – October 17
Dubuque – November 14
Des Moines – December 19
The House Republican members of the Commission are Reps. Clarence Hoffman and Linda Upmeyer. Rep. Dave Heaton is serving as the caucus alternate. All members should consider attending a meeting in their area.
In addition to its meetings, the commission has two additional sources of input. The Health Data Research Advisory Council, led by Dean David Merchant of the School of Public Health at the University of Iowa, is tasked with collecting and interpreting various data related to health care in Iowa. The Advisory Council is comprised of representatives from the various health-related schools in the state and other interested parties.
Former Governors Terry Branstad and Tom Vilsack have agreed to lead three public hearings on the subject. The format of these events has not been settled, but the dates and locations have been announced. They are:
Tuesday, September 4 Council Bluffs –
Indianola – Wednesday, September 26
Davenport – Thursday, September 27
These meetings will likely be in the evening. Members of the public are encouraged to attend and bring their ideas about healthcare.
(Contact: Brad Trow, 1-3471)
ICoF and IDED Announce Endow Iowa Matching Grant Awards
Iowa communities grow through endowments in community foundations
The Iowa Council of Foundations (ICoF) and the Iowa Department of Economic Development (IDED) announced the recipients of the 2007 Endow Iowa Grant Awards. Recipients for 2007 include:
The Hardin County Community Endowment Foundation
The Kossuth County Community Foundation
The Community Foundation of Greater Story County
Endow Iowa provides an incentive to encourage individuals, businesses and organizations to invest in their region. Each recipient receives a grant to build their community foundation‘s unrestricted endowment fund.
The goal of the Endow Iowa Grant Program is to enhance the quality of life for Iowans by providing support to community foundations that will aid nonprofit projects and programs. The grant program is administered by the Iowa Council of Foundations in collaboration with IDED. Now in its third year, the Endow Iowa Grant Program in total has leveraged nearly $1.1 million in local contributions, creating sustainable, philanthropic vehicles for charitable impact in communities across the state.
Governor Names Elisabeth Buck As Director Of Iowa Workforce Development
Governor Chet Culver has named Elisabeth Buck as the new Director of Iowa Workforce Development (IWD). Buck, Governor Culver‘s current deputy chief of staff, will replace Interim IWD Director David Neil in early August.
Elisabeth Buck has served as deputy chief of staff under Governor Chet Culver since his inauguration in January, 2007. From 1999-2006, she served in the same capacity under Governor Tom Vilsack. As Deputy Chief of Staff, Buck supervised a staff of 35 in the Governor‘s office and at Terrace Hill, and oversaw an annual budget of $3 million dollars. She also managed and collaborated with 40 departments in Iowa state government. Prior to working in the office of the Governor, Buck was director of administration for the Iowa Attorney General, where she managed administrative staff and oversaw an annual budget of $4 million. She earned a BA in political science from Iowa State, where she was student body president. Buck was named 2002 Leader of the Year in Iowa State Government and the 2004 Volunteer of the Year. She has volunteered for numerous organizations and was presented with the 2006 AFSCME Leadership award. Elisabeth is married and has two children.
In addition to Elisabeth Buck being named IWD Director, Joseph Walsh has been named Deputy IWD Director. Walsh has 10 years of experience as a labor lawyer for the law firm of Hedberg, Owens, Hedberg & Walsh, a well-established central Iowa labor law firm. He has vast experience in workers‘ compensation, labor law and unemployment law, with significant experience in civil rights, the Family and Medical Leave Act, employment at will, worker safety, wage claims, drug testing, labor contracts (public and private), and public employment law.
IWD, which helps Iowans find jobs and helps employers find employees through its Workforce Center Services, has 783 employees and 57 field offices serving 99 counties.
Source: Governors office press release
(Contact: Kristin Kunert, 1-3026)
U.S. Supreme Court Shows Conservative Colors
Two recent education decisions, released in last two weeks of the U.S. Supreme Court‘s 2007 term, rewrite the ground rules for voluntary desegregation and a student‘s right to free speech at school sponsored functions.
Desegregation Gets a New Look
The Seattle school district, with 10 high schools and a 60 percent non-white population, operated under a voluntary desegregation plan until the filing of this U. S. Supreme court case in 2001.
The Seattle district asked ninth-graders to pick their top three choices for high school. If their choice of school was ―oversubscribed‖ the district made the decision based upon three tie-breakers – first, a sibling already attending the
high school second, proximity to the student‘s home and, finally, race.
Five justices declared the plan unconstitutional because it made the student‘s race ―the‖ deciding factor in where the student attended high school. The Court‘s definition of affirmative action in education permits race to be “a” factor
but not “the” factor in making student placement in the school district.
Chief Justice Roberts, joined by Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito, affirmed that a limited, narrowly tailored use of race is appropriate. The majority opinion states that it does not overturn Brown vs. Board of Education, despite such a
clear desire by Justice Thomas.
Chief Justice Roberts wrote, ―The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discrimination on the basis
of race.‖ He argues that this decision is more faithful to the heritage of Brown.
Justice Kennedy joined the majority in the decision but wrote a separate opinion saying that four justices signing the Roberts opinion were too dismissive of a compelling interest schools have in avoiding racial isolation.
Kennedy hinted at the characteristics he feels would pass constitutional muster including strategic site selection of new schools, school attendance zones and directing resources to special programs. These, Kennedy says, are permissible because they avoid the labeling and sorting of children by race.
Writing the principal dissenting opinion, Justice Breyer sharply criticized the majority for their ―radical‖ step away
from settled law that would strip local schools of the tools they need to prevent re-segregation.
Breyer predicts that the ruling would ―substitute for present calm a disruptive round of race-related litigation.‖ ―This
is a decision that the court and the nation will come to regret,‖ Breyer writes.
Justice Stevens, a thirty-two year veteran of the Supreme Court, chastised the majority saying that it is a cruel irony that the majority rewrites the history of one of the court‘s most important decisions. ―It is my firm conviction that no member of the court that I joined in 1975 would have agreed with today‘s decision.‖
Equally pointed and personal, Justice Thomas concurred with the majority, writing, ―If our history has taught us
anything it has taught us to beware of elites bearing racial theories.‖ In a footnote he adds, ―Justice Breyer‘s good intentions, which I do not doubt, have the shelf life of Justice Breyer‘s tenure.‖
Schools Can Regulate Drug-Related Student Speech
In an equally pointed and sometime personal manner, the nine Supreme Court justices argued whether a Juneau, Alaska high school student had a right to unfurl a 14-foot sign reading ―BONG HiTS FOR JESUS‖ at a school
In this case, 17 year-old Joseph Frederick and four other students displayed their unique message on a winter morning when the Olympic torch made its way through Alaska on its way to the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Juneau High School principal Deborah Morse sanctioned the event which allowed students to stand out on the curb to watch the torch bearer pass.
Frederick was not as interested in the torch bearer as he was the media covering the event. At lower court proceedings, Frederick admitted that his nonsensical message was aimed at getting his face on TV and not intended as advocating drug use.
In writing for the 5-4 majority, Chief Justice Roberts agreed with Principal Morse that the banner would be interpreted by those viewing it as promoting illegal drug use.
The Chief Justice said that Tinker, the Vietnam-era Des Moines School District case, stands in that a student does not leave his or her constitutional right to free speech at the door of the school building.
Roberts affirms, however, that the constitutional rights of the students in public schools are more limited than the rights of adult in other settings. As such, the compelling state interest in deterring illegal drug use among this nation‘s children takes precedence over Frederick‘s desire to get on TV.
Writing for the minority, Justice Stevens dismissed the conclusion that the ―ridiculous banner‖ was drug advocacy. He took issue with the lack of clarity in what the majority meant by ―drug use‖. Stevens asked, is a banner proclaiming, ―WINE SiPS for JESUS‖ equally banned speech because it is illegal for minors to drink?
School districts across the country herald this decision for two reasons. First, the decision affirms the ability of the school district to limit potentially harmful speech. Of equal importance is that the decision stopped Mr. Frederick‘s
separate cause of action against the school principal claiming a violation of Mr. Frederick‘s civil rights.
Wall Street Journal Editorial
Below is a reprint of an editorial by the Wall Street Journal‘s Daniel Henninger on the ―Bong Hits 4 Jesus‖ decision.
Bong Hits 4 Jesus--Final Episode
The cultural disarray of the past 35 years flowed from the schools.
BY DANIEL HENNINGER
Thursday, June 28, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT
Maybe I should have gone to law school. But only if God promised I would grow up to be a justice on the Supreme Court. The Nine Interpreters may have more fun than anyone in public life. Tip the United States on its side and
eventually everything loose rolls into the Supreme Court. Justice Antonin Scalia, a skilled ironist, by now treats the court's annual agenda like a man at a driving range with a bucket of golf balls. What fun.
The U.S. began as a complex country--thus the genius of the Founders' template Constitution--and now finds itself in an infinitely complex era. The solution of we moderns to this inexorable multiplier effect has been to burden our institutions with more laws and more lawsuits. The inevitable result is a society steeped in unintended consequences. Ask the principal of a public high school.
You have guessed by now that we are going to discuss the famous case known as "Bong Hits 4 Jesus," a k a Morse v.
Frederick, decided by the Supreme Court this past Monday. Juneau, Alaska, high-school principal Deborah Morse defeated high-school troublemaker Joseph Frederick in a split decision, 5-4.
Years back, as the Olympic Torch parade passed by her Alaskan high school, Principal Morse ran across the street from the school's front door and ordered Student Frederick to lower his "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner, judging it a violation of the school district's anti-drug policy. A "bong" is a marijuana water pipe. A "hit" is the extraction of marijuana smoke from the bong. The meaning of "4 Jesus" remains in dispute. Mr. Frederick demanded his constitutional rights. On Monday, the High Court said, not this time.
It is no exaggeration to say the basis for the decision was akin to passing a camel through the eye of a needle. For space reasons, I will briefly "interpret" Chief Justice Roberts's ruling. What he said is that the list of things the Constitution forbids a child to say in our public schools is very short. You can say almost anything. But as of Monday,
the list is a little longer: You can't engage in speech "promoting illegal drug use." Hereafter, speech "promoting illegal drug use" may be regarded as "disruptive" to school life, as defined by the Supreme Court in Tinker (1969), Fraser
(1986) and Kuhlmeier (1988).
Justice Roberts was at pains to make clear that speech promoting "illegal drug use" is the only thing this decision proscribes. That wasn't narrow enough for the court's other new Bush nominee, Samuel Alito. He called it a "dangerous fiction" to "pretend" that parents hand over to school administrators the authority for what their children may say or hear. The only speech he'd forbid is that which threatens "the physical safety of students." Drug promotion qualifies. He ended by warning that Morse "does not endorse any further extensions" of speech limits
Two quick thoughts: What the majority did is use the "Bong" case to throw what weight it could muster behind school authorities beset with drugged-out students and pushers. Fine. But those confirmation-hearing wails about Messrs.
Not likely, so long as Roe qualifies as a precedent. Roberts and Alito "overthrowing" Roe v. Wade?
Meanwhile, Justice Clarence Thomas, in a concurring opinion, took about half a line to say, "I agree," and proceeded to write one of the most compelling essays I've seen on the decline and fall of American public education. I would happily hand out Justice Thomas's opinion on street corners (though www.supremecourtus.gov relieves me of that
What he's done is rummage back through school cases, mostly from 19th century state courts, to invoke the idea of a
public school. His premise is that the schools' role was most certainly in loco parentis, in that they and parents broadly
agreed on what made an adolescent grow into a good person; what schools need least is court interference in this hard job.
A North Carolina court in 1837 spoke of the need "to control stubbornness, to quicken diligence and to reform bad habits." In 1886, a Maine court said school leaders must "quicken the slothful, spur the indolent and restrain the impetuous." An 1859 Vermont court spoke of preserving "decency and decorum."
Missouri's court in 1885 found reasonable a rule that "forbade the use of profane language." Indiana's in 1888 ruled in favor of "good deportment." An 1843 manual for schoolmasters speaks of "a core of common values" and teaching the "power of self-control, and a habit of postponing present indulgence to a greater future good."
Antique words from a world long gone? Even Justice Thomas admits "the idea of treating children as though it were the 19th century would find little support today." I'm not so sure about that. How else can one explain the flight from
the public schools--into home-schooling, parochial schools, private schools and even charter schools, which invest public principals with greater control? Parents are spending thousands to have what American schools had from 1859 to 1959--some basic measure of the Three Ds: decorum, decency and diligence. Self-control as a higher "common value" than out-of-control.
Justice Thomas argues that the 1969 Tinker case dragged the schools into a morass of arcane First Amendment
jurisprudence. He's right.
Here's a final quotation from Monday's "Bong" decision to pass out on street corners: "Students will test the limits of acceptable behavior in myriad ways better known to schoolteachers than to judges; school officials need a degree of flexible authority to respond to disciplinary challenges; and the law has always considered the relationship between teachers and students special. Under these circumstances, the more detailed the Court's supervision becomes, the more likely its law will engender further disputes among teachers and students. Consequently, larger numbers of those disputes will likely make their way from the schoolhouse to the courthouse. Yet no one wishes to substitute courts for school boards, or to turn the judge's chambers into the principal's office." More right-wing rant from Clarence Thomas? Nope, that's liberal Justice Stephen Breyer's concurrence.
I'll go further. Because of the Tinker case in 1969, much of the cultural disarray of the past 35 years flowed out of
schools and into society. Teachers today will tell you their discipline problems start at home. Tinker should be tossed.
Once the schools can again help people learn the value of a relatively orderly life and self-control, the rest would follow.
Mr. Henninger is deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page. His column appears Thursdays in the Journal and on OpinionJournal.com.
(Contact: Ann McCarthy, 1-3015)
Rules Panel Asks for More Information on Final Landfill Revisions
On Tuesday, July 10, the Iowa Administrative Rules Review Committee (ARRC) discussed for nearly three hours pending final rules that substantially change Iowa municipal landfill regulations. These rules are the first major rewrite since 1997. It is the result of correspondence between the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), in which the federal government has told the agency that existing rules aren‘t sufficiently incompliance with federal requirements. The DNR has been involved in a controversial rewrite of
these rules for several years and has badly split solid waste/landfill operator opinion on what should be done to satisfy federal concerns. Because of the ongoing difference in opinion regarding the final rules that were approved by the Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) at its June meeting, the ARRC sharply instructed the involved parties to bring forth additional information and a consensus agreement to the Administrative Iowa Rules Review Committee meeting scheduled for August 14. The House co-chair of the panel explicitly admonished the DNR that if a vote had been taken on the rule package today (July 10), the department would not have liked the outcome. While most of the proposed changes in the final rule have been resolved through consensus, several outstanding issues remain which involve both procedural and substantive concerns. One of the main objectives for the August 14 ARRC meeting will be to hear from the EPA regional office in person exactly what it will require for new landfill rules.
The procedural issue that is sticking in the craw of some of the landfill operators is that several significant changes to the initial noticed rule that were published in the December 6, 2006, Iowa Administrative Rules Bulletin, were included in the final rule that was approved in the June EPC meeting and published in the July 4, 2007 Iowa Administrative Bulletin. During discussion on this matter with the rules panel, DNR defended inclusion of the new changes in the final rule because it circulated the draft changes among some of the landfill operators that are part of the
technical advisory group (TAG) this spring. Furthermore, these changes are similar to comparable rules in effect in other nearby states. In addition, because of the looming October 1, 2007, federal deadline, there was not enough time for normal administrative rules consideration. Opponents to the new changes retort that while some of the regulated industry was consulted by DNR about the new regulatory teaks, not all were consulted and the general public was probably unaware of these changes until they appeared as a published final rule or when they were published as an EPC agenda item for their June meeting. Furthermore, any comments that might have been made by the TAG participants in regard to the new tweaks aren‘t necessarily part of the public record and responsive summary that can be a resource by litigants who might want to dispute aspects of the new rules.
While DNR is under the October 1, 2007 deadline, the agency did have options it could have used to allow for public comment to the new changes and still meet the federal deadline. For instance the EPC could have bifurcated the rule- making process, approving the main body of the new land fill rules as a final rule. The new changes could have been put in a separate rule package that the commission could have double-barreled by filing an emergency rule with a delayed effective date, and simultaneously noticing the rule after filing that would allow for public comment in a truncated timeframe and provide an official public record of public comment. The EPC used this very procedure on a different rule involving air quality rules for ethanol production facilities at their July 2, 2007 meeting.
The primary substantive new changes that remain hotly controversial involve a definition of ―liner‖ and the
requirement that after October 1, 2007, landfills accepting waste must place such waste in cells that have liners that meet the new definition, or have an implementation plan to upgrade existing lined areas to the new standard by January 31, 2011. The liner definition specified in the final rule an explicit requirement that landfill cells must be ―…a
continuous layer of recompacted natural soil, synthetic materials or both, beneath and on the sides of the MSWLF unit
that restricts the downward or lateral escape of solid waste, leachate and gas.‖ The underlined text emphasizes that
landfill cell must provide for ‗absolute encirclement‘ of placed solid wastes rather than a prior interpretation that
―effective encirclement‖ was sufficient. The difference between the two concepts involves whether the sidewalls are lined or not. Proponents of effective encirclement argue the lining of side walls for landfill cells isn‘t necessary if the
interface (abutment wall) between solid waste and soil is conducive to moving leachate to the lined base of the cell where leachate collection systems will intercept, contain and treat leachate. Hal Morton testified to the panel that he thought the new complete encirclement liner requirement would not provide any addition environmental protection compared to the facility he manages in Des Moines County that has soils into which the cells are placed that are -8 cm) than the compaction required in the new liners. actually an order of magnitude tighter (10
The pending rule changes will have a significant impact on Iowa‘s solid waste landfill sector. Because the new rules explicitly prohibit the placing of waste in any unlined cell, about one-half of operating landfill operations (28 of 59) will either quit placing materials at their locations and will begin to implement closure practices and implement post-closure monitoring (14) or they will construct a new Subtitled D compliant liner by October 1, 2007 (14). Another two-fifths of Iowa‘s landfill businesses (22) are in the situation where their existing liner doesn‘t meet the new definition of the rules and these facilities will either have to be upgraded to the new standard or build new cells compliant with the specification. The final rule does allows a three-year implementation schedule in which operators can continue to place waste in their existing cells with the old liner while the preparing to the meet the new standard. Currently there are nine landfills that already meet the new requirement.
Closing landfills (14)—
Appanoose County Audubon County Bremer County
Buena Vista County Cedar Rapids/Linn County (old site) Sioux City
Crawford County Grundy County Hamilton County
Ida County Jones County Kossuth County
Union County Woodbury County
No existing Subtitle D, but planning to construct by 10/01/2007 (14)--
Adair County Cass County Cherokee County