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State Sen. Jason Schultz provided the details of his decision to pull Senate File 2160 off the Senate Commerce Committee’s agenda on Wednesday — effectively killing the legislation for the session.

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The bill would have prohibited private companies from using eminent domain to construct the carbon pipelines on Iowa farmland.

“I’m disappointed it didn’t come out of committee,” Schultz said. “I tried.”

Schultz said Sen. Jeff Taylor, the bill’s sponsor, asked if he would accept a bill in the Commerce Committee. Schultz agreed and also said he’d put together a subcommittee that would look at it favorably.

“Most people don’t realize there’s a seven-day period just to set a subcommittee,” Schultz said. “So what I did was, have Mike Klimesh and Craig Williams asked to be on it because they were interested and supportive of the idea. I held the bill for six days waiting to assign it publicly so they could have all the time possible to study it and the history and Kilo and the previous law without being inundated with public input.

“On the seventh day, I assigned it. The weekend before I assigned it, we had all the committee members join a Zoom call to hear a presentation about how this process works. No information could be discussed about the upcoming, but we found out what the calendar of a permit process was, how things work, what information is available, what input citizens have. The following Monday, maybe Tuesday, I assigned the bill publicly. They had the week to research it, hear from people, we had a 3-0 subcommittee and I started working on members of the committee. Waited until the last one so I could have as much time as possible and I couldn’t get the support for the bill.”

Schultz said the procedure for a chair in the Senate Republican Caucus is to pull it off the agenda if it lacks the necessary votes to be supported and passed by Republicans.

“We have never in five years passed a bill that Republicans could not pass,” Schultz said. “We are a team. We have developed as a team with an over-arching view of governance of Iowa that I was not going to violate as a chair in any circumstance.”

Schultz said he lacked the votes among Commerce Committee Republicans.

“I have seen this process work,” he said. “I’ve seen difficulties, but we have worked our way through the committee, through the process and have come back stronger on the same issue. It is a process that’s been run for five years. I believe in it and I’ll bear the responsibility for it.”

As for those who registered in support for the bill, Schultz said he was “surprised and disappointed” at the narrow number of people who came together.

“The lobby declarations were not including people who have taken stands on this issue before and that bothers me,” he said. “The folks on the Left, you know they’re going to show up and we have heard their positions and disregarded them before. The farmers who came out are personally affected. So you know they’re going to be there and we want to support them.”

Schultz said his own father’s century farm is going to be crossed by Summit.

“We don’t want it to happen,” he said. “So my motivation was to move this legislation from a personal as well as a statewide governance process. I couldn’t get the support and I bear the responsibility for not being able to get it out of committee. That’s my responsibility.”

He is now planning to submit a letter to the Iowa Utilities Board.

“I don’t know if the word lobbying is correct, but they have a process where the public can put comments in. Where they can relay what they see as abuses of the process or the gathering of access. So if they don’t like the way a land agent is acting, they can document that. This falls back on the process that was placed in law years and years ago now.”

When asked what he thought the conservative logic is to oppose such a bill, Schultz said he didn’t know that he could come up with a solid conservative argument against it.

“But I have talked to folks who I believe are conservative,” he said. “They say that the reason the process that’s in place, in code right now was put in place, was to remove political favoritism or ostracism from project-to-project decisions. I’m just trying to relay what was I told by folks who thought that we need to let it go. That’s their position.”

Schultz said that was not from the Commerce Committee discussions, but noted it was a quote from someone from weeks ago.

“In my mind, everybody accepts it is a private business who is going to profit,” Schultz said. “But the argument has been made that a successful pipeline project will benefit the company profit-wise, but will also help the ethanol industry statewide by allowing more ethanol to be sold in different markets that are not generally friendly to ethanol.

“Every kernel of my corn production goes to an ethanol plant, that’s who I like to sell to. I am aware of the sample math that if the ethanol industry fails, we suddenly have lost half of our demand. And that would be catastrophic. But I do not believe that business considerations such as that supersede private property rights. Especially when you do have a pipeline vendor out there right now who has a history of never having to use eminent domain once. So I am comfortable that my feet were in the correct position. And I was trying to stand firm.”

Schultz noted that when the House signaled publicly it wouldn’t make changes to eminent domain, the signal was sent that nothing would make it.

“I’m disappointed that we didn’t give them the opportunity to reconsider that,” he said. “But it plays into the overall story that they said, everyone knows they’re not going to address it.”

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