The Iowa Legislature ended its two-year session with appropriations of $1 million to the State Recreational Trails Program and no policy bills for Iowa Bicycling. In the grips of an economic downturn, even the appropriation was hard-fought to obtain.
No policy bills passed this session despite many bills advancing past funnel deadlines. Several bills not in the best interests of bicyclists died in the previous half of the session or failed to progress past the funnel.
Dominating the headlines was the Invest in Iowa Act which proposed to raise the sales tax. An increase would trigger 3/8ths of a cent towards the Natural Resource and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. The bill appeared to be on track for passage until the coronavirus pandemic derailed the session timeline and suspended the legislature until June.
While E-Bike updates sounded like they were going to be passed in the abbreviated return to session, the bill did not advance through the House Ways and Means or Senate Chamber.
Hi-Viz clothing, changes to rear lights on bikes, enhanced penalties for fatal crashes, and change lanes to pass bikes all failed to advance, but still show promise moving forward.
The Iowa Bicycle Coalition is in the process of regrouping for the next legislative session. We will begin by re-enlisting the help of our volunteer district leaders to our advocacy team and asking for new recruits as district leaders. We plan to work on getting out the vote (GOTV) for the general election.
We plan to re-write our advocacy plan. We will be assembling a group of stakeholders to examine our current policy proposals and bring new ideas to the table.
Finally, we plan to work on local bicycle ordinances. There are quite a few on the books with antiquated laws that may not be enforced. It is an opportunity to mandate safe passing on the local level.