Getting public’s opinion

Rules/Regulations committee Iowa legislators on the Rules and Regulations Tour Committee include Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, Rep. Dennis May, Rep. Dawn Pettengill and Sen. Jim Hahn.

The people have spoken and some legislators have listened. Town hall meetings are being held across the state so businesses and organizations can explain how some regulations are costing them time and money to comply. Cresco was the sixth of 11 stops.
Those legislators listening and asking questions of the public on February 26 were Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, Representatives Dennis May (who graduated from St. Ansgar High School) and Dawn Pettengill and Senator Jim Hahn.
Of the 50-plus spectators, there were several county supervisors, Sen. Mary Jo Wilhelm of Cresco, Rep. Bob Hager of Dorchester, businessmen and concerned citizens.
May, who chaired the meeting, said Iowans have voiced their opinion they are overregulated. “It can be as big as affecting us all or as local as a small goat cheese factory. We need reasonable and responsible rules and regulations.”
Although the meeting’s main goal was to flush out unnecessary or over-the-top rules governed by the state, a strong contingent of citizens voiced their opinion on supporting more regulations, especially in regards to natural resources and health.
Gene Koschmeder of Cresco reminded the legislators, “Strong and effective public oversight protects our air, water and quality of life from polluters.” He went on to say rules were needed to protect natural resources and the recreational environment adding, “Tourism is a great income to this county.”
Others agreed, including John Hall, who said he has three children who moved out of the state of Iowa and on to greener pastures. He explained over-regulation is not the reason Iowa is losing population—it is losing its young people because of its climate. “We can’t attract young people. We need to work on preserving our natural resources.”
Carol Tack also said her children moved to areas in the country with more natural resources for recreation. She suggested following through with some of the regulations that are in place.
Steve McCarter of Decorah was very concerned about not de-regulating . “One person’s over-regulation is another’s lifesaving protection. We are the only species that puts the planet at peril.”
He showed a chart of the United States and the amount of ammonia in the air. “Iowa is the bulls-eye of an ammonia cloud in the country.” He blames his daughter’s asthma on the pollution in the air.
Birgitta Meader, a teacher in Winneshiek County agreed. “Iowa has two times the national average of asthma in kids.” Although she wasn’t thrilled with a hog confinement setup near the school she admitted that it was regulated. A nearby cattle yard was not regulated and had a lot of air pollution.
“I’m speaking up for the lungs of my students. The other day, half of us had headaches (from the hydrogen sulfide ammonia smell).”
Liz of Decorah said, “It is the duty of our government to ensure the preservation of our natural resources.”
Rep. Pettengill understood all the issues about the environment but wanted to make clear, “We are not de-regulating items of safety. We are looking at stupid regulations that take up time and money.”
Others at the meeting did give some examples of over-regulation including Stan Walk, supervisor of Mitchell County. He said rules concerning snowmobiles and ATVs were driving people out of the state and into bordering states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Missouri. “We as supervisors have the right to allow ATVs on the road but we talked to the insurance company and they say there is the potential of lawsuit. I would like the law to say ATVs are allowed and supervisors can restrict them.”
Jim Dale, United Methodist minister and Decorah Council person, said, “I’ve been to nursing homes that are in bad repair and not up to regulation. The problem at the Postville factory was that inspectors needed to make sure rules were being followed.”
Carlton Kjos of Decorah talked about the deer population needing to be thinned out. He said his friend has 80 deer a year harvested on his property. “Without them, think of how many more cattle (the land could support).”
He also was concerned about the amount of land owned by the DNR. “The DNR purchases land and should have to pay property taxes.” He observed that with the more land the DNR owns the less land is available for families—cutting down the school population.
Darla Rance of Hawkeye REC wanted less regulation to help streamline emergency notification. She explained, if Minnesota wanted to help in another state, it would have to get permits to get in or go through Iowa.
Doug VanSloten of Winn Coop wanted some deregulation in OSHA’s grain handling policy. He said the coop takes the rules seriously since “seven years ago we did lose an employee.”
But, he added, “We have to run sweep augers to clean bins. No employee can be in the grain bin when it is being cleaned. In the 1990s, we were allowed to be six-foot behind the sweep auger.” He wanted OSHA to reevaluate the rule and put the 1990s rule back in place.
Lindsey Falk of Saint Ansgar commented, “My concern is we need to keep business in Iowa.” He owns a quarry and spoke about rules governing groundwater regulations. He explained the quarry discharge that goes into Turtle Creek is cleaner than the creek itself. All the tests what would need to be taken would cost a lot of money.
Dave Sovereign, a fifth generation farmer in Cresco, wanted to explain how biofuel was an asset to Iowa and talked of some of the EPC rules. He said the biofuel industry has kept two of his children in the area instead of going out of state.
In regard to hog lots and discharge, he said, “We use direct injections of manure in the soil.”
Rex Klekner spoke of his experience with farming over the years. “We did things the right way because it was the right thing to do  even before there were regulations.”
Wendy Mihm-Herold of NICC, spoke about the jobs training program.
In conclusion, Pettengill told the group that not all regulations are bad. “Some regulation is good for business.”
Anyone who missed the meeting or thought of something relevant afterwards can email Nicole.Woodroffe@legis.state.ia.us or mail to Office of Senate Republican Leader, State Capitol Building, East 12th & Grand, Des Moines, IA 50319.
If the legislators at the meeting take nothing back to Des Moines except knowing residents of northeast Iowa are concerned about natural resources and treating everyone fair, then the Rules and Regulations Tour was a success.

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