House File 350 - IntroducedA Bill ForAn Act 1relating to water quality and soil conservation efforts,
2including election requirements and powers and duties of
3commissioners of soil and water conservation districts, and
4related powers and duties of county boards of supervisors,
5county treasurers, the state soil conservation committee,
6the department of agriculture and land stewardship’s
7division of soil and water conservation, and the attorney
3   Section 1.  Section 161A.5, subsection 2, Code 2019, is
4amended to read as follows:
   52.  a.  The governing body of each district at large shall
6consist of five commissioners elected on a nonpartisan basis
7for staggered four-year terms commencing on the first day
8of January that is not a Sunday or holiday following their
   10b.  Any eligible elector residing in the district is
11eligible to the office of commissioner, except that not more
12than two commissioners shall at any one time be a resident of
13any one township
. A vacancy is created in the office of any
14commissioner who changes residence into a township where two
15commissioners then reside.

   16c.  If a commissioner is absent for sixty or more percent
17of monthly meetings during any twelve-month period, the other
18commissioners by their unanimous vote may declare the member’s
19office vacant. A vacancy in the office of commissioner shall
20be filled by appointment of the committee remaining district
until the next succeeding general election,. The
22new appointee shall not serve out any unexpired time of term
23beyond the next succeeding general election,
at which time the
24balance of the unexpired term shall be filled as provided by
25section 69.12. Appointees to unexpired terms may choose to
26stand for election at the next succeeding general election.
27The committee shall not name or otherwise have authority to
28approve a commissioner appointment to fill unexpired terms.

29   Sec. 2.  Section 161A.5, subsection 3, paragraph e, Code
302019, is amended by striking the paragraph.
33   Sec. 3.  Section 161A.44, unnumbered paragraph 1, Code 2019,
34is amended to read as follows:
   35The commissioners of each district shall, with approval
-1-1of and within time limits set by administrative order of the
adopt any reasonable regulations as are regulation
3 deemed necessary to establish a soil loss limit or limits for
4the district and provide for the implementation of the soil
limit or limits. A district may subsequently amend or
6repeal its regulations a regulation as it deems necessary.
 7However, a soil loss limit shall not exceed five tons per
8acre occurring within any twelve-month period.
The committee
9shall review the soil loss limit regulations adopted by the
10districts commissioners at least once every five years, and
11shall recommend changes in the regulations of a district which
12the committee deems necessary to assure that the district’s
13soil loss limits are limit is reasonable and attainable. The
14adoption, amendment, or repeal of a regulation shall not take
15effect until after a public hearing on the matter is conducted
16pursuant to section 161A.45.
The commissioners may:
17   Sec. 4.  Section 161A.45, Code 2019, is amended to read as
   19161A.45  Submission of regulations to committee — hearing.
   201.  Regulations A regulation, other than a regulation
21establishing soil loss limits,
which the commissioners propose
22to adopt, amend, or repeal shall be submitted to the committee,
23in a form prescribed by the committee, for its the committee’s
24 approval. The committee may approve the regulations any
as submitted, or with amendments any related
as it the committee deems necessary.
   272.  The commissioners shall, and after committee approval
 28if necessary, publish notice of a hearing on the any proposed
29regulations, as approved, regulation under section 161A.44 in
30a newspaper of general circulation in the district, setting a
31date and time not less than ten nor more than thirty days after
32the publication when a hearing on the proposed regulations
 regulation will be held at a specified place. The notice shall
34include the full text of the proposed regulations regulation
35 or shall state that the proposed regulations are regulation is
-2-1 on file and available for review at the office of the affected
2soil and water conservation district.
3   Sec. 5.  Section 161A.46, Code 2019, is amended to read as
   5161A.46  Conduct of hearing.
   6At the hearing, the commissioners or their designees shall
7explain, in reasonable detail, the reasons why the adoption,
8amendment, or repeal of the regulations a regulation is
9deemed necessary or advisable. Any landowner, or any occupant
10of land who would be affected by the regulations proposed
, shall be afforded an opportunity to be heard
12for or against the proposed regulations regulation. At the
13conclusion of the hearing, the commissioners shall announce
14and enter of record their decision whether to adopt or modify
15the proposed regulations regulation. Any modification, other
16than establishing soil loss limits,
must be approved by the
17committee, which may at its discretion order the commissioners
18to republish the regulations regulation and hold another
19hearing in the manner prescribed by this chapter.
20   Sec. 6.  Section 161A.47, Code 2019, is amended to read as
   22161A.47  Inspection of land on complaint — administrative
   241.  a.  The commissioners shall inspect or cause to be
25inspected any land located within the district to determine
 find if land is being damaged by sediment, from there exists
27credible evidence of significant
soil loss caused by erosion
28occurring on neighboring that land in excess of the limits
29established by the district’s soil erosion control regulations
 or neighboring land. If the land is privately owned, the The
31 commissioners shall make or cause to be made the inspection,
32upon receiving a
 under any of the following circumstances:
   33(1)   Receipt of awritten complaint signed by an owner,
or occupant of land claiming that the owner’s or,
35lessee’s, or
occupant’s land is being damaged by sediment
 erosion occurring on neighboring land. If the land is subject
2to a public interest, the commissioners shall make or cause to
3be made the inspection upon a

   4(2)  Receipt of a written complaint by any person, if the
5complaint contains allegations or information that would cause
6a reasonable person to conclude that significant soil loss
7caused by erosion has occurred.
   8(3)   Amajority vote of commissioners at an open meeting held
9pursuant to chapter 21. Land is subject to a public interest
10if the land is publicly held, subject to an easement held by
11the public, or the subject of an improvement made at public

   13(4)  By the discretionary authority of the commissioners as
14provided in section 161A.61.
   15b.  The commissioners shall establish criteria to determine
16what constitutes credible evidence of significant soil loss
17based on the soil loss limits established for the district.
   182.  If, after the inspection, the commissioners find that
19sediment damages are occurring to land which is owned or
20occupied by the person filing the complaint or subject to a
21public interest, and that excess soil erosion is occurring
22on neighboring land
 soil loss exceeding the soil loss limits
23for the land in question
, the commissioners shall issue
24an administrative order. The administrative order shall
25describe the commissioners’ findings, including the cause of
26the significant soil loss, the extent to which the soil loss
27exceeds the soil loss limits, the location of the erosion,
28and whether land has been damaged by soil loss due to erosion
29occurring on neighboring land. The administrative order
30shall be delivered
to the persons responsible for causing the
31significant soil loss, including each
landowner or landowners
32 of record, lessee of the land, and to the occupant of the land,
33 if known to the commissioners. The order shall describe the
34land and state as nearly as possible the extent to which soil
35erosion on the land exceeds the limits established by the
-4-1district’s regulations.
 Upon request, the commissioners shall
2deliver a copy of the administrative order to the owner of any
3land damaged by erosion occurring on neighboring land. The

   53.  The order shall be delivered either by personal service
6or by restricted certified mail to each of the persons to whom
7it is directed, and shall:.
   83.  The administrative order shall establish a compliance
9period as follows:
   10a.  In the case of erosion occurring on the site of any
 a construction project or similar undertaking involving the
12removal of all or a major portion of the vegetation or other
13cover, and exposing bare soil directly to water or wind, state
14a time not more than five days after service or mailing of
15the notice of the order when
work necessary to establish or
16maintain all erosion control practices must be commenced, and a
17time not more than thirty days after service or mailing of the
18notice of the order when the
 not later than five days after the
19administrative order has been delivered. The
work is to must
20 be satisfactorily completed not later than thirty days after
21the administrative order has been delivered
   22b.  In all other cases, state a time not more than six
23months after service or mailing of the notice of the order,
24by which
work needed necessary to establish or maintain the
 all necessary soil and water conservation practices or erosion
26control measures practices must be commenced, and a time not
27more than one year after the service or mailing of the notice
28of the order when the work is to be satisfactorily completed
 and satisfactorily completed not later than one year after
30the administrative order has been delivered
, unless the
31requirements of the administrative order are superseded by the
32provisions of section 161A.48.
33   Sec. 7.  Section 161A.48, subsection 2, Code 2019, is amended
34to read as follows:
   352.  Evidence that an application for cost-share or other
-5-1public moneys, from a source or sources having authority to
2pay a portion of the cost of work needed to comply with an
3administrative order issued pursuant to section 161A.47, has
4been submitted to the proper officer or agency constitutes
5commencement of the work within the meaning of sections 161A.43
6through 161A.53. The commissioners shall give preference to
7applications that seek to comply with an administrative order
8issued pursuant to section 161A.47.

9   Sec. 8.  Section 161A.49, Code 2019, is amended to read as
   11161A.49  Petition for court order Administrative order —
   13The commissioners shall petition the district court for a
14court order requiring immediate compliance with an
 Upon the
15expiration of the compliance period for an
administrative order
16previously issued by the commissioners as provided in section
17161A.47, if the person to whom the order is directed shall be
18deemed to be in noncompliance if any of the following apply
   191.  The work necessary to comply with the administrative
20order is has not commenced on or before the date specified
21in such order, or in any supplementary order subsequently
22issued as provided in section 161A.48, unless. However,
23this subsection does not apply if,
in the judgment of the
24commissioners, the failure to commence or complete the work
25as required by the administrative order is due to factors
26beyond the control of the person or persons to whom such order
27is directed and the person or persons can be relied upon to
28commence and complete the necessary work at the earliest
29possible time.
   302.  Such The work is not being performed with due diligence,
31or is not satisfactorily completed by the date specified in
32the administrative order, or when completed does not reduce
33soil erosion from such the land below the applicable soil
limits established by the soil and water conservation
35district’s regulations.
   13.  The person or persons to whom the administrative order is
2directed advise have advised the commissioners that they do not
3intend to commence or complete such work.
4   Sec. 9.  NEW SECTION.  161A.49A  Administrative order —
5referral or petition to enforce.
   61.  a.  Upon the expiration of the compliance period
7described in sections 161A.47 and 161A.48, the commissioners
8shall enforce the administrative order against a person who
9is deemed to be in noncompliance under section 161A.49 by
10referring the matter to any of the following:
   11(1)  The board of supervisors of a county in which the land
12causing the erosion is located.
   13(2)  The attorney general pursuant to section 161A.6.
   14b.  The referral shall include a copy of the administrative
15order and other information required by the recipient.
   162.  The commissioners shall notify any person whose land
17is damaged by erosion occurring on neighboring land that the
18compliance period has expired. The person may petition the
19board of supervisors of the county in which the land causing
20the erosion is located to take action necessary to enforce
21the administrative order. The petition shall include a copy
22of the administrative order and other information required by
23the board. A copy of the petition must be delivered to the
24commissioners who issued the administrative order.
   253.  A board of supervisors receiving a referral or petition
26under this section shall do any of the following:
   27a.  Take action necessary to enforce compliance with the
28administrative order. Upon completion of board action,
29the board shall deliver a statement to the county treasurer
30certifying the costs of taking the action plus a penalty equal
31to five percent of that amount, together with a copy of the
32administrative order. The total amount due shall be assessed
33against the property which is the subject of the administrative
34order, shall be placed upon the county system, and shall be
35collected in the same manner as ordinary taxes. The amount due
-7-1shall be a lien on the land until paid.
   2b.  Refer the matter to the attorney general.
3   Sec. 10.  Section 161A.50, Code 2019, is amended to read as
   5161A.50  Burden — court order Court action.
   61.  Upon the expiration of the compliance period for an
7administrative order issued by the commissioners as provided in
8sections 161A.47 through 161A.49, the commissioners, or either
9a county board of supervisors or attorney general acting upon a
10referral under section 161A.49A, shall petition the district
11court to order a person deemed to be in noncompliance with
12the administrative order under section 161A.49 to immediately
13comply with the order.
   142.  In any action brought under section 161A.49 subsection
, the burden of proof shall be upon the commissioners to
16show that soil erosion is in fact occurring in excess of the
17applicable soil loss limits and that the defendant has not
18established or maintained soil and water conservation practices
19or erosion control practices in compliance with the soil and
20water conservation district’s regulations. With respect to
21construction, repair, or maintenance of any public street,
22road, or highway, evidence that the defendant has met soil
23erosion control standards equivalent to or in excess of those
24currently imposed by the United States government on the
25project or like projects involving use of federal funds shall
26create a presumption of compliance with the applicable soil
27loss limit.
   283.  Upon receiving satisfactory proof of the defendant’s
, the court shall issue an order directing
30the landowner or landowners defendant to comply with the
31administrative order previously issued by the commissioners.
32The court may modify such administrative order if deemed
33necessary. Notice of the court order shall be given either by
34personal service or by restricted certified mail to each of the
35persons to whom the order is directed, who may within thirty
-8-1days from the date of the court order appeal to the supreme
2court. Any person who fails to comply with a court order
3issued pursuant to this section within the time specified in
4such order, unless the order has been stayed pending an appeal,
5shall be deemed in contempt of court and may be punished
9   Sec. 11.  Section 161A.4, Code 2019, is amended by adding the
10following new subsection:
11   NEW SUBSECTION.  8.  The committee and division shall
12establish policies that prioritize the allocation of moneys,
13personnel, and technical expertise necessary to administer this
14chapter and chapter 466B to support water quality initiatives
15sponsored by a watershed management authority as described in
16section 466B.43.
17   Sec. 12.  NEW SECTION.  466B.42A  Priority allocations.
   18The state soil conservation committee established in
19section 161A.4 and the division shall establish policies that
20prioritize the allocation of moneys, personnel, and technical
21expertise necessary to administer this chapter and chapter 161A
22to support water quality initiatives sponsored by a watershed
23management authority created by two or more soil and water
24conservation districts under section 466B.22. The highest
25priority shall be given to support initiatives carried out in
26high-priority watersheds identified by the water resources
27coordinating council pursuant to section 466B.3.
29The inclusion of this explanation does not constitute agreement with
30the explanation’s substance by the members of the general assembly.
   31GENERAL. This bill relates to the powers and duties of
32the five soil commissioners who govern each soil and water
33conservation district (district) and who are elected to serve
34four-year terms on a nonpartisan basis. The bill also relates
35to the powers and duties of a number of other state and local
-9-1entities, including county boards of supervisors (boards),
2county treasurers, the state soil conservation committee
3(committee), the soil conservation division of the department
4of agriculture and land stewardship (division), and the
5attorney general.
   6ELECTION OF COMMISSIONERS. The bill removes the prohibition
7against more than one commissioner residing in the same
8township, requiring only residence within the district to be
9eligible for election at large to the office of commissioner.
10Provisions relating to appointments for vacancies in the
11office of commissioner are changed to allow for appointments
12to be made by the remaining commissioners, not the state soil
13conservation committee. The bill specifies that the person
14appointed does not serve out the full remaining term, but
15only for the time until the next succeeding general election.
16Appointed commissioners are then able to stand for election if
17they so choose.
20are to establish criteria for determining what constitutes
21significant soil loss for land located within the district,
22including soil loss caused by erosion occurring on neighboring
23land. The commissioners are to adopt a regulation establishing
24soil loss limits which shall be not more than five tons per
25acre during any 12-month period. The regulations establishing
26soil loss limits are no longer required to be approved by the
   28The commissioners must perform an inspection of land located
29in their district after receipt of a written complaint or upon
30a majority vote at an open meeting. After the inspection,
31the commissioners must issue an administrative order against
32a person if the commissioners find the loss of soil exceeds
33the soil loss limit for the land in question. The order must
34describe the commissioners’ findings, be delivered to the
35person responsible for causing the soil loss, and establish a
-10-1period for compliance with the order. Evidence of compliance
2with the order includes applying for public moneys, such as
3cost-share financing, in order to defray a portion of the costs
4associated with complying with the order. The bill requires
5the commissioners to give preference to applications which seek
6to comply with an administrative order.
   7After the compliance period expires, if work to comply
8with the order is not being performed, the commissioners must
9enforce the order by referring the matter to the attorney
10general or the board of supervisors in the county in which
11the land is located. A person whose land is damaged due to
12neighboring land’s erosion may also petition the board of
13supervisors to enforce the order. If the board takes action
14to enforce compliance with the order, the board must notify
15the county treasurer of the costs associated with taking its
16action. The treasurer must enter an amount equal to the costs
17plus a 5 percent penalty on the tax books, which shall be
18collected as ordinary taxes and constitutes a lien against
19the property. However, the board of supervisors may instead
20refer the matter to the attorney general. The commissioners,
21or the board or attorney general acting under a referral, must
22petition the district court to enforce the order.
25division are to establish policies that prioritize the
26allocation of moneys, personnel, and technical expertise
27to support soil conservation efforts (Code chapter 161A),
28and water quality initiatives as sponsored by a watershed
29management authority formed by two or more districts (Code
30section 466B.22). The highest priority is to be given to
31support efforts in high-priority watersheds identified by the
32water resources coordinating council (Code section 466B.3).