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Hill Notes: Week of 3/23/15

posted by Heather Fegan | Mar 27, 2015

Home Savings Account - Senate File 414

The Home Savings Account bill has been referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee after passing the Senate State Government Committee.  The bill will have a subcommittee meeting on Wednesday, March 25 in the Senate.  This legislation does have a fiscal impact to the State General Fund and will cost approximately $500,000 in fiscal year 2016.  This fiscal impact makes the bill more difficult to pass in a tight budget year.

The Iowa Association of REALTORS actively supports this legislation and will do a limited Call for Action to Senate Ways and Means Committee members this week to ask for their support of the bill.

Here is a summary of the provisions of the bill:

  • Establishes a first-time homebuyer savings account program in Iowa
  • A first-time homebuyer will be able to receive an income tax exemption for savings up to $3,000/year for up to 10 years for a potential total of $30,000 at the end of the 10th year, or $6,000/year for two first time homebuyers who file taxes jointly for a total of $60,000 at the end of 10 years
  • Withdrawals from the account are tax-free, as long as the funds are used for closing costs and downpayment on a single family, owner occupied residence in Iowa
  • The first-time homebuyer is required to set up an account with an Iowa bank or credit union to be used to purchase a home in Iowa
  • The first-time homebuyer will be responsible for the accuracy of the account and filing reports with the Department of Revenue
  • No penalties for early withdrawal if used for the purchase of a home in Iowa
  • Income tax and a 10% withdrawal penalty would apply for withdrawal of monies if not used for the purchase of a home in Iowa
  • False claims or statements are a serious misdemeanor and subject to fines


Familial Status rental ordinances - House File 161/Senate File 458

The bill provides that a city shall not, after January 1, 2016, adopt or enforce any regulation or restriction related to the occupancy of residential rental property based upon the familial or nonfamilial relationships of occupants.  The legislation passed the House 73-26. The Senate amended the bill considerably and allows the cities to restrict rent based upon familial status, but allows the cities to potentially grant a waiver for nonfamilial rentals.  The IAR supports the House version of the legislation. 

Right to Assistance - House File 493

Allows residents, owners, tenants, and landlords to summon emergency assistance, preempting local city ordinances.  The IAR supports this legislation and it is eligible for consideration in the House.

Hands-Free Cell Phone use when driving - Senate File 391

The bill prohibits handheld usage while driving and would require a hands-free or voice activated device in the vehicle. This legislation has bipartisan support and passed the Senate with a vote of 44-6.  The legislation is eligible for consideration in the House. 

Radon results disclosed to potential buyer - House File 371/Senate File 413

This legislation allows a buyer to receive radon test results if they have an offer to purchase on the home and have paid for the radon test – does not need a seller’s written consent to receive test results.  The legislation passed the House 96-0 and is eligible for consideration in the Senate.  The IAR supports this legislation.

Radon mitigation systems for new construction – Senate File 399

The bill provides for rules mandating radon mitigation systems in new construction.  The IAR is neutral on this legislation as most new construction already have passive systems for radon.

Commercial Lien bill

Despite support from both Republicans and Democrats, it was not brought up for consideration in the House Commerce Committee. Therefore it is likely dead for this year.  We will look at the bill’s language and its effect and discuss the potential for future legislation.