Why It Matters: The legislative session in Iowa provided no shortage of legislation that furthers previous efforts to advance pro-sportsmen conservation policies to ensure a strong future for hunting and fishing in the state. These efforts included constitutionally protecting the right to hunt and fish, a proposed sales tax increase needed to fund the Natural Resource and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund, and a bill that would have established a standardized firearm education curriculum in schools. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) was active in supporting legislation promoting sportsmen and women and our conservation heritage while also keeping a watchful eye for legislation that aimed to negatively impact our time-honored traditions.
- The constitutional right to hunt and fish and harvest wildlife was introduced by legislators this session with growing support among the state’s sporting conservation community. Though the effort was unsuccessful in 2023, important groundwork was put into place.
- Similarly, legislators once again proposed a bill that would increase the state sales tax, ultimately funding the Natural Resource and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. The Trust Fund (Trust) was created by a constitutional amendment in 2010 and has yet to receive funding. However, growing interest in funding the Trust has many within the sporting conservation community optimistic as they look toward the next session.
- Finally, CSF worked with in-state partners to support a bill that would standardize firearm safety curriculum in schools. While the bill made it through the House of Representatives on a bipartisan basis, it was unable to pass the Senate before the session adjourned. Still, this year’s progress is a strong sign as we prepare for 2024.
On May 4, the Iowa legislative session adjourned for 2023. While several important pieces of legislation were unable to make it across the finish line during this session, it does not mean that they failed. Positive progress was made on these bills, and many of them are expected to be carried over to the 2024 legislative session where CSF will continue to work with leaders of the Iowa Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, and in-state partners in promoting pro-sportsmen legislation.
Hunting and fishing have long been a part of Iowa’s heritage. To protect that heritage, legislators proposed resolutions in each chamber that, if passed and approved by Iowa’s voters, would have amended the Constitution of Iowa to protect the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife in the Hawkeye State. While CSF and many partners formally declared support for these measures, the resolutions ultimately failed to cross the finish line in 2023. However, these resolutions are expected to be carried over to the 2024 legislative session where CSF will work with in-state partners to continue to support the effort.
Also introduced during this session was Senate File 550, a bill that would have increased the state sales tax by 1%. As per current law, this increase would have triggered existing law that would, in turn, direct 3/8 of the 1% to provide funding for the Natural Resource and Outdoor Trust Fund. The Fund was established by a constitutional amendment in 2010 and was supported by over 60% of voters in Iowa. Currently, state-based conservation efforts in Iowa rely solely on the American System of Conservation Funding, but adding a conservation sales tax would provide additional funding needed for managing the state’s natural resources. SB 550 ultimately did not pass but is likely to be carried over to the next session where CSF and partners intend to continue our support.
Finally, legislators in Iowa introduced House File 645, a bill that would have established a standardized firearm education curriculum in schools. Similar to our support for a bill in Kansas, CSF maintains that creating a standardized firearm curriculum allows for students to be introduced to responsible firearm handling in a safe and controlled classroom setting, while potentially recruiting the next generation of sportsmen and women through the hunter education program. HF 645 made it through the House of Representatives to the Senate, but failed to make it any further before the session came to an end.