The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Politics Notebook | Iowa Senate lawmakers advance bill creating state legal vape registry

Also, Iowa House Republicans introduced a bill to spur rural economic development.
Ayrton Breckenridge
The inside of the gold dome is seen during the first day of the 2024 Iowa legislative session at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024. The Republicans have 34 seats in the senate and the Democrats have 16 seats.

A bill to create a registry of all legal vape products in the state advanced out of a Senate Ways and Means subcommittee hearing on the bill Wednesday.

The bill would create a registry of all vape products that have been approved for sale by the Food and Drug Administration giving law enforcement a resource to crack down on the sale of illicit vapes imported from China.

Under FDA rules, flavored vapes are illegal and only 23 vapes have been approved for sale in the U.S.

In December of 2023, the FDA cracked down on the import of illegal vapes like the popular brands Elf Bar and Funky Republic, which are not authorized for sale by the FDA. Millions of illegal vape products move through American ports when they are improperly declared as toys and given incorrect valuations, according to the FDA.

Alabama passed a similar law in April of 2023. Currently, 24 other states are considering similar legislation this session.

Proponents of the bill, including lobbyists for Altria, the company that owns popular vape brands like Vuse, say the bill will help the state enforce FDA regulations — which they say the federal agency has struggled to do — and would provide information to retailers on what is legal and what’s not.

They say the bill would help crack down on products being marketed to young Iowans — like Elfbars and Funky Republic, which have fruity flavors and bright packaging.

Opponents of the bill say the registry isn’t enough to combat vape usage among teens and that more evidence-based methods — like raising the price via cigarette tax and cracking down on flavored vapes — would be more effective.

The bill received unanimous support among the three senators on the panel and will be eligible for consideration by the whole Senate Ways and Means Committee.

The chair, Sen. Chris Cournoyer, R-LeClaire, said she was recommending an amendment to clarify who will be in charge of enforcement and other improvements before committee consideration.

House Republicans introduce bills to spur rural economic development

Iowa House Republicans introduced two bills to promote rural economic development on Wednesday.

House Study Bill 715 would appropriate $300,000 to the Iowa Economic Development Authority to certify at least eight sites for development in rural counties with a population of less than 50,000, with at least two in each of Iowa’s congressional districts. The $300,000 would come from the $11.5 appropriation for the MEGA site program passed in 2023.

Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, helped craft the bill and said the bill would make sure rural Iowa also receives the benefit of the MEGA site program.

“This bill will help unlock the potential of rural Iowa,” Kaufmann said in a news release. “House Republicans want to ensure that we’re making economic development a priority everywhere in this state, not just near the big cities.”

The bill has been referred to the House Appropriations Committee, but no subcommittee meeting has been scheduled.

Another bill, House Study Bill 722, would create a new rural development tax credit encouraging investment in Iowa’s 88 smallest counties. The bill allows the Iowa Economic Development Authority to grant $27 million in tax credits to investors in projects that create at least $45 million in economic activity.

“This bill is a game-changer for rural Iowa,” Rep. Derek Wulf, R-Hudson, said in a news release. “By incentivizing investors to put their money into projects in rural Iowa, we can create more jobs, lift up local economies, and build back vibrant communities.”

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About the Contributors
Liam Halawith
Liam Halawith, Politics Editor
Liam Halawith is a third-year student at the University of Iowa studying Journalism and Mass Communication and minoring in Public Policy. Before his role as Politics Editor Liam was a politics reporter for the DI. Outside of the DI Liam has interned at the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Southeast Iowa Union. This is his second year working for the DI.
Ayrton Breckenridge
Ayrton Breckenridge, Managing Visuals Editor
Ayrton Breckenridge is the Managing Visuals Editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and cinema. This is his fourth year working for the DI.