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Key GOP lawmaker has ‘high expectations’ of House pipeline vote


Key GOP lawmaker has ‘high expectations’ of House pipeline vote

Mar 17, 2023 | 6:09 pm ET
By Jared Strong
Key GOP lawmaker has ‘high expectations’ of House pipeline vote
Melting snow on the steps of the Iowa State Capitol. (Photo by Katie Akin/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

The leading legislative advocate for a bill that would impose new restrictions on proposed carbon dioxide pipelines is optimistic that the Iowa House will vote on it before an upcoming deadline, but he is reticent about its future beyond that.

Key GOP lawmaker has ‘high expectations’ of House pipeline vote
State Rep. Steven Holt is a Republican from Denison. (Photo courtesy of Iowa Legislature)

“I have high expectations that this legislation will come to the floor of the House before our funnel deadline,” said Rep. Steven Holt, R-Denison, who has shepherded the bill through subcommittee and committee votes.

Holt’s comments were part of an Iowa Press discussion that was set to be aired Friday night and this weekend on Iowa PBS.

The main feature of the bill is a requirement that the pipeline companies obtain voluntary easement agreements for 90% of their routes before they are eligible to use eminent domain to force easements for the rest. It would also give broad authority to county governments to restrict those routes and would delay permits for the pipelines until new federal safety guidelines are finalized next year.

Holt said it’s “very possible” the bill will be amended when it finally reaches the House floor. Holt and more than 20 others introduced the bill about a month ago. It was approved by the House Judiciary Committee by a 12-7 vote in late February.

Rep. Norlin Mommsen, R-DeWitt, has proposed an amendment to it that would gut most of the new restrictions but would allow landowners to be better compensated for damage caused by pipeline construction.

Holt said he has not talked extensively with senators about whether there is sufficient support for the bill if it clears the House, and that he doesn’t know whether Gov. Kim Reynolds supports it.

A spokesperson for Reynolds did not immediately respond to a request to comment for this article, but in an October debate Reynolds indicated support for the current laws that regulate pipelines.

Key GOP lawmaker has ‘high expectations’ of House pipeline vote
State Rep. Lindsay James is a Democrat from Dubuque. (Photo courtesy of the Iowa Legislature)

Rep. Lindsay James, a Dubuque Democrat who is the House minority whip and appeared on Iowa Press with Holt, holds a dim view of the bill’s future.

“My understanding is that this is dead on arrival in the Senate and that the governor will not sign this into law,” she said.

To survive a March 31 legislative deadline, the bill must be approved by the House and a Senate committee. It’s unclear when the House might vote on it.

Transgender bills

Holt and James clashed on legislation that would force school children to use restrooms that align with their assigned sex at birth and that would outlaw gender-affirming medical care for transgender children.

“No one wants a politician making private medical decisions that parents and kids should be making with their doctors,” James said.

She accused Republicans in Iowa and elsewhere of politicizing the issue to the detriment of children.

Holt worries that children who are trying to navigate “identity crises” will undergo treatments that have irreversible effects. He said he is sensitive to the plights of children who are already receiving the medical care, and hopes they can end the care or find out-of-state doctors to continue it within six months.

The transgender “bathroom bill” is also a safety issue, Holt said.

“Do we need to wait until there is an assault on a young woman by someone who has decided to pretend that they are transgender and use a changing facility or a restroom?” Holt said.

He said there have been “some documentations of assaults” but was not more specific.

James said the bills are part of a legislative onslaught against the LGBTQ community and that new laws will most likely be challenged in court.

“This is a very political agenda that is putting our kids right in the middle of partisan politics instead of actually thinking about how do we create communities for kids where they can go to school and learn in a safe learning environment where they feel like they belong,” she said.

The episode of Iowa Press is scheduled to air at 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2:30 and 8:30 a.m. Saturday, and 7:30 p.m. Sunday.