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 passes bill to regulate packaging for meat alternatives

Also, Iowa Senate lawmakers approved a bill to dole out opioid settlement funds to state agencies, without specific programs in mind.
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.

Under a bill unanimously approved by Iowa Senate lawmakers on Tuesday, manufacturers and restaurants with plant-based or lab-grown meat alternatives would have to clarify their marketing by including words like “meatless” or “imitation” on their packaging.

The bill, Senate File 2391, would also prohibit the use of meat-like identifiers like “burger” or “drumstick” and would apply civil penalties for violating these requirements.

Sen. Dawn Driscoll, R-Williamsburg, introduced the bill and dubbed it “the meat integrity act.” She said the bill is aimed at protecting Iowa’s meat producers from unfair competition.

The bill also would require the state of Iowa to apply to disallow Iowa’s food stamps users from buying lab-grown meat with food stamps, if it were ever approved for sale in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration.

“This is a preventative measure against an activist federal government who wants to see our children eat from a Petri dish,” Driscoll said.

Iowa Senate lawmakers approve bill to dole out opioid settlement

Iowa Senate lawmakers approved a bill to give out unused funds received from lawsuits that Iowa participated in regarding pharmaceutical companies’ role in the opioid epidemic.

The state has received $26.8 million in funds so far and is expected to receive $144 million in the next several years.

The bill, Senate File 2395, would appropriate 25 percent of this year’s funds to the Iowa Attorney General’s Office and 75 percent to the Iowa Health and Human Services Department.

The bill passed the Iowa Senate, 36-13, with all Democrats minus Sens. Izaah Knox, D-Des Moines, and Eric Giddens, D-Cedar Falls, voting against the bill.

Sen. Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines, proposed two amendments to the bill, one to give more clear definitions of what the funds are for and one to require more accountability for funds. However, both were voted down on party lines.

The funds can be used to “abate the opioid crisis” in the state via law enforcement and medical intervention.

House Republicans kill bill to revive library tax levies

Iowa House Republicans killed a bill that would revive local public library tax levies that were stripped from Iowa code in 2022 under the sweeping property tax reform bill House File 718.

Iowa House Republicans decided not to advance a bill, House File 2442, that would allow Iowa’s Public Libraries and local governments to reinstate special tax levies for library operations.

All special tax levies were rolled into cities’ general tax levies, which are capped. Requiring them to be budgeted alongside other city services like police and fire. The levies currently rolled into the general levy will sunset in two years.

Library advocates worry the bill would result in large reductions in library budgets and could result in resources being pulled from “community anchor institutions.”

“The loss of these levees has had tremendous unintended consequences, libraries or community anchor institutions,” Sam Helmick, the state government committee chair for the Iowa Library Association, said. “It will result in the loss of services but also maybe the closure of small and rural libraries.”

Republicans on the subcommittee said the bill would undo the simplification that was part of the 2022 tax bill.

“By adding the levy back that kind of goes against what we were looking at last year,” Rep. John Wills, R-Spirit Lake, said. “The money is still in the general fund. The money is still there, and the money can be used for the library.”

Iowa House Democrats introduce constitutional amendment to guarantee collective bargaining rights

Iowa House Democrats introduced a bill to guarantee collective bargaining rights in the Iowa Constitution and a bill to improve access to retirement savings options for low-income Iowans and small businesses that don’t offer retirement savings plans.

The bills, introduced after the legislative funnel, are unlikely to move forward in the legislative process but House Democrats leaders plan to offer them as amendments to related bills this session.

House Joint Resolution 2003 would put the right to collective bargaining in the Iowa Constitution. Rep. Jerome Amos Jr., D-Waterloo, introduced the bill and said the amendment would rectify the 2017 law that union advocates say chipped away at public sector union employees’ bargaining rights.

“Iowans deserve fair wages and safety in the workplace,” Amos said in a news release Tuesday. “Instead of politicians in Des Moines trying to strip away the rights of workers every year, it’s time to protect collective bargaining in Iowa’s Constitution to guarantee workers have a say in the workplace.”

Rep. Austin Baeth, D-Des Moines, introduced a bill that would create a statewide retirement savings program called the Iowa Retirement Savings Plan Trust and would allow small businesses to offer retirement savings to employees.

“Every Iowan should have the tools they need to start planning for a safe, secure retirement when they enter the workforce,” Baeth said in a news release. “It’s a critical piece to ensure they stay and work in Iowa and invest those dollars back in our communities after retirement.”

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About the Contributors
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, 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.