Dubuque County’s state lawmakers are continuing their years-long, bipartisan fight to create protections for residents and owners of mobile homes.
Iowa Sen. Carrie Koelker, R-Dyersville, introduced Senate File 403 on Thursday, a bill that aims to protect tenants — most of whom own their mobile homes, just not the land beneath — from being evicted unfairly, requires proper notice of rent increases, restricts rent increases to one per year and more.
The bill mirrors exactly the language of Iowa House of Representatives File 442, introduced earlier in the week, of which Iowa Rep. Shannon Lundgren, R-Peosta, is a sponsor.
“I didn’t want this to get stuck in a game of football (between chambers),” Koelker told the Telegraph Herald. “This is good news.”
These two Republicans have partnered with their Democrat colleagues from Dubuque County in a united front for similar protections since last year. In fact, Koelker introduced her bill just a day under one year exactly since the bill she introduced last session with Iowa Sen. Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, was abruptly sidelined at the same time as Lundgren’s in the House, then co-sponsored by Iowa Rep. Lindsay James, D-Dubuque. Iowa Rep. Chuck Isenhart, D-Dubuque, was also actively supportive of the bills.
Those 2020 bills followed outcry by residents of Table Mound Mobile Home Parks in Dubuque after their 2019 purchase by Impact MHC Management LLC, of Colorado, from local owners. The out-of-state company proceeded to significantly increase rents.
A 2019 bill with area support also passed the Senate unanimously but never made it to the House floor.
All of these bills have been met with fierce opposition by the Iowa Manufactured Housing Association, the lobbyist group for mobile home park owners. That is what Dubuque County’s state lawmakers credited for the 2020 bills’ abrupt deaths.
James likened that fight to “modern-day David and Goliath” in a tweet last week. She told the Telegraph Herald that she is “cautiously optimistic” about the bills this year.
“It moved through subcommittee in the House with support of both Republicans and Democrats,” she said. “This continues to be a bipartisan effort to help our most vulnerable residents.”
James said she supported the bills but wished they had gone further.
“These are good protections that are a good step, but it doesn’t resolve the most glaring issue,” she said. “That is helping residents from being exploited by a large, out-of-state company that comes in and raises rent to an unfair, unsustainable degree — like a 60% or 70% increase. What we crafted last year would have actually helped resolve the issue.”
Bustos aims to aid small business succession
U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., joined a four-member bipartisan group of lawmakers in introducing the Small Business Succession Planning Act last week.
The bill would direct the Small Business Administration to create an online toolkit to walk small businesses through the process of creating a succession plan, according to a press release. It also would require the SBA to provide trained staff or partners to help small businesses create their plan.
The bill also would incentivize small businesses by offering a one-time $250 tax break to create a succession plan and an additional one-time $250 tax break when the plan is executed.
The SBA also would be encouraged to offer succession planning events nationwide and focus on access for minority-owned businesses.
“When even one small business closes, an entire community loses,” Bustos said in the release. “With the global pandemic forcing many of our small business owners to take a new approach to keeping their business healthy, succession planning has become more critical than ever before. This bipartisan legislation will help give our small businesses the tools they need to build a healthy financial future for themselves and their communities.”
Chesney Republicans’ voice for municipalities
Illinois Rep. Andrew Chesney, R-Freeport, was named the minority spokesman for the Illinois House Cities and Villages Committee earlier this month. In a press release, he said he would draw from his experiences while serving as a Freeport City Council member before being elected to serve in Springfield.
“All too often, our city and village officials feel like their pleas fall on deaf ears in Springfield,” Chesney said in the release. “The actions taken by state government can either empower our local governments with tools to succeed or tie their hands with costly and onerous mandates. ... A cooperative relationship is the only way our communities can succeed in such a terrible, state-derailed jobs climate which plagues local government revenue streams.”
Tri-state treasurers back Biden’s plan
Democratic State Treasurers Michael Frerichs, of Illinois, Michael Fitzgerald, of Iowa, and Sarah Godlewski, of Wisconsin, joined a letter from 17 state treasurers from around the country in support of President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan for pandemic relief.
“The health and economic emergency associated with the coronavirus crisis has taken a severe financial toll on states and municipalities,” the letter read. “Tax revenues have plummeted while expenses associated with battling the pandemic have soared. Overall state budget shortfalls are set to exceed $500 billion over the next two years.”