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Iowa Capitol Building

The Iowa Capitol in Des Moines is shown in June 2018.

A roundup of legislative and Capitol news items of interest for Monday, March 18, 2019:

SOLAR CHARGES: Utility companies would be allowed to charge a fee on solar energy users and put the revenues toward infrastructure maintenance under legislation approved by the Senate.

The Senate passed Senate File 583, 28-19. The proposal was supported mostly by Republicans with three GOP senators voting against it and one Democrat voting for it. With its passage, the bill heads to the House for consideration.

Democrats proposed an amendment excluding farmers from the new fees, but that was defeated with most Republicans voting against it.

Opponents said the legislation could have a negative effect on the solar industry in the state. Some Democratic senators claimed the bill could cause a reduction in solar industry jobs, an assertion that Sen. Michael Breitbach, R-Strawberry Point, disputed.

Breitbach said the legislation is a matter of fairness by enabling utility companies to charge solar installation owners to specifically fund infrastructure maintenance.

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PUPPY MILLS: Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller filed a lawsuit in Polk County to shut down an alleged puppy-laundering ring, including dissolving two “pet rescue” nonprofits accused of exporting designer dogs from Iowa to pet shops in other states.

The petition alleges that one of the nonprofits, Hobo K-9 Rescue of Britt, sold at least 1,290 puppies to eight different entities in California, Illinois, Florida and New Jersey from September 2016 to July 2018. The puppies — including Pomeranians, shar-peis, Alaskan malamutes, poodle-yorkies and other breeds — were allegedly sold for $714,510.

Puppy laundering is the practice of using nonprofit rescue groups to obscure the source of dogs, deceive consumers and circumvent “puppy mill” bans. California and Chicago, for example, have banned the commercial sale of some pets obtained from sources other than animal control shelters or rescue groups.

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