2020 legislative SUMMARY

March 16, 2020 – On March 15, the Iowa Legislative Session was suspended for a minimum of 30 days due to COVID-19. No hearings or floor sessions are being held scheduled during this time.

Following the discovery of community spread of COVID-19, Governor Reynolds signed a Proclamation of Disaster Emergency – continuing a proclamation signed March 9 – allowing retailers to stop accepting empty bottles and cans for the duration of the disaster emergency.

Prior to the suspension, House File 2534 was still under consideration:

House File 2534 (previously House Study Bill 507)

Under HF2534, a retailer could choose to be a “participating dealer,” and continue to redeem cans and bottles. Alternatively, they could refuse to redeem containers if a redemption center or “dealer agent” is located within 10 miles of their store. The bill would require such a retailer to provide notice to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that they will no longer participate in the system.

The legislation would further authorize some of the state’s beer distributors to launch their proprietary “Droppett” program as “dealer agents”. Instead of going to a store or redemption center, a customer could open an online account and leave cans and bottles at a Droppett location. Machinery would sort and scan containers, and deposit money in the customer’s account at a later date (within a “reasonable time”). In contrast, redemption centers and retailers that choose to keep redeeming containers would continue to immediately pay back deposits.

The bill also increases the handling fee paid to points of redemption. Currently beer and soda distributors pay one cent for each container they process. This legislation would require the distributors to pay two cents for each container processed.

The following three bills related to Iowa container deposit law did not make it through the session’s first funnel in February:

House File 2205

This legislation proposed repealing the bottle bill after a three-year phase out. Beginning July 1, 2020, the money from unredeemed containers would have been shifted from distributors to the State Treasury. Ninety percent of those funds would have been deposited to a new Unpaid Refunds Recycling Fund, under the control of the Environmental Protection Commission. The money would have been allocated for various recycling initiatives and recycling education. The remaining 10% would have been deposited in a newly created Shelter Assistance Fund. This fund would help support costs of operations of shelters for the homeless and domestic violence shelters. On July 1, 2023, the container deposit law would have been repealed.

House File 2206

This bill proposed doubling the handling fee paid by distributors to a point of redemption from one cent to two cents. It was sponsored by Rep. McKean, 15 Democrats, and one Republican.

Senate Study Bill 3109

This bill was very similar to HSB 507 as it would also have authorized some of the state’s beer distributors to launch their proprietary “Droppett” program. However, this version included two key additional provisions:

Currently, a retailer must redeem cans and bottles unless they designate a point of redemption within a ten minute drive. SSB 3109 would have expanded the radius to 15 miles upon enactment, then to 20 miles the following year. and finally to 25 miles for the next year and thereafter.

More significantly, the measure would have required the DNR to report a three-year rolling average redemption rate and submit it to the General Assembly every year beginning in 2030. Should the redemption rate fall below 65%, the Iowa bottle bill would have been repealed.

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