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Senate passes bills to aid renewable energy production

Published: Friday, March 28, 2014 11:17 a.m. CST

DES MOINES (MCT) – The Iowa Senate, with bipartisan support Thursday, passed legislation designed to help expand renewable energy production in Iowa and the jobs that likely will come with it.

Senators voted 46-0 to pass two separate bills that bolster state tax credits for solar and renewable energy.

Four GOP senators – Rick Bertand of Sioux City, Nancy Boettger of Harlan, Joni Ernst of Red Oak and Hubert Houser of Carson – were absent during Thursday’s Senate floor action.

“Iowa is showing the nation that clean energy works,” said Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, who served as floor manager for Senate File 2340 and Senate File 2343.

He told his colleagues that Iowa already is a leader in wind energy and ethanol and the bills that now go to the House for further consideration would move the state forward in solar power and biofuel areas.

SF 2340 would triple the amount of solar energy tax credits available to Iowa farmers, homeowners, and businesses, building on Iowa’s 2012 tax credit which encouraged Iowans to install solar energy systems.

“By tripling the solar tax credit, Iowa will respond to the rapidly growing demand for solar power and maximize the benefit for Iowans from federal solar tax credits which expire at the end of 2016,” Hogg said. “This is a big day; this is a big deal.”

The other measure, SF 2343, would extend the deadline to complete wind and other projects using Iowa’s Renewable Energy Tax Credits. The Senate deferred on a third bill, SF 2344, that proposed to increase the tax credit for gasoline blended with 15 percent ethanol during summer months and extend the bio-diesel production tax credit for five years.

In other action, senators voted 46-0 to change Iowa law that requires that gift cards not redeemed within five years be turned over to the State Treasurer’s Office as unclaimed or abandoned property – an approach that mirrors federal law. Under the amended version of HF 2296 that was sent back to the House for further consideration, a card without an expiration date would remain valid in perpetuity.

Sen. Daryl Beall, D-Fort Dodge, the bill’s floor manager, said the measure only applies to gift cards and certificates issued by Iowa-based companies after June 30, 2014.

The Senate-passed measure included new provisions for certain “closed loop” gift certificates that generally are purchased by a buyer for use by a person other than the buyer to be redeemable for merchandise only with no expiration date, fees or deductions if a holder fails to present it in a timely manner. If the card remains unprecedented, it continues in force and is not subject to a presumption of abandonment.

The Treasurer’s Office reported that in fiscal year 2013 about $262,000 worth of unredeemed cards went into unclaimed property.

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©2014 The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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