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This week, I would like to discuss two important pieces of legislation that have passed the Iowa House of Representatives. One is the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Expansion bill and one is the Charter School bill.

The House passed HF 694 also known as the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Expansion. The goal of this bill is to expand eligibility for the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit program to reach even more owners and operators. Since its creation in 2007, the program has issued over $77 million in tax credits across the State. The program was designed to provide an Iowa tax credit incentive for agriculture asset owners to lease their land, equipment and/or buildings to beginning farmers in order to transfer farming to the next generation.

Currently, beginning farmers can participate in the tax credit program for ten years and the proposed legislation will extend this cap to 15 years. The Legislation also removes the $50,000 tax credit cap that farmers can receive. As the program exists, farm land must be part the lease. If signed by the governor the program will allow standalone buildings to qualify. This piece of legislation has been a priority of the Governor’s and mine for several years now and hopefully will soon become law.

HF 694 is now on its way to the Senate to be considered and if passed will head to the Governor’s office for her signature to become law. The program operates on a first come first serve basis. Applications are accepted until August 1 or until all the tax credit allocation has been awarded (there is an annual 12-million-dollar cap). If you are interested in applying for the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit program you can learn more about the qualifications at https://www.iowafinance.com/beginning-farming-programs/beginning-farmer-tax-credit-program/.

The House also passed HF 813. The goal of this bill is to give parents more choice in education through public charter schools. This has been a top priority for a while and it has passed. We want to ensure every student has access to quality education. This bill will provide more educational opportunities to more students, particularly those who need it most.

This bill establishes an additional path for the creation of public charter schools by allowing them to be established by either a school board or a founding group. Additionally, it lays out specific rules and guidelines to ensure charter schools adhere to public school guidelines such as standards of transparency, quality, oversight and admittance.

In the bill, there are requirements that charter schools must adhere to. The founders must show a community need and community support in order to create the public charter school. The bill requires public charter schools to admit all who apply, provide special education services, and to be transparent, by adhering to Chapter 21 which is an open meetings law where all board meetings are open to the public. These requirements should quell the fears that some people have about this piece of legislation.

Author: David Kerr