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Iowa’s Legislative Session Ends – Iowa’s Ratepayers Win

AARP Iowa is celebrating a legislative victory after the Iowa State Senate did not debate House File 561, a bill that would have allowed utility companies to charge consumers in advance for new nuclear power in the state, a result AARP contended would have increased utility rates for consumers.

AARP waged an intensive, grassroots campaign to stop this legislation, which emerged in March with broad legislative and appeared on a fast-track to passage. Once the AARP alerted our members and the public about the legislation, more than 7,300 Iowans contacted their legislators through in-person lobbying, phone calls and emails voice their concerns about the bill.

“I want to thank and congratulate all of our AARP Iowa volunteers and members who took action to express their concern and opposition to this bad legislation,” said Anthony Carroll, AARP Iowa Associate State Director for Advocacy. “This is a great example of how AARP makes life better for older Iowans.”

HF 561, which passed the Iowa House Representatives by a vote of 68-30 but was not heard in the Senate, could have raised monthly utility rates for Iowa consumers as much as $50 a month over 10 years to pay up-front for developing new nuclear power.

“We especially thank the Senate for siding with consumers in refusing to consider amendment S-3380, an amendment to House File 561 proposed on the final day of the session,” said Carroll. “AARP was not consulted on this last-minute amendment. The lack of consumer input shows as the proposal did nothing to address our long-stated concerns about protections for ratepayers against cost overruns, and removing the language which requires ratepayers to pay if a plant build is cancelled. We thank the Senate for standing strong to protect consumers from the repercussions of this bad bill,” Carroll said.

In May, AARP commissioned Selzer & Co. to conduct a statewide survey of likely Iowa voters age 50+, finding nearly three-quarters of 50+ Iowans polled (72%) opposed this legislation that would allow utilities to bill ratepayers in advance for a potential new nuclear plant that would have also left consumers unprotected against plant building cost overruns, and would have required ratepayers to pay even if a plant build was cancelled.

In other 2011 legislative news, AARP also thanks the House and Senate for restoring long term care funding for home and community services. "Iowans want to remain in their homes as they age, and we thank the Iowa House and Senate for recognizing that and prioritizing their needs while making tough budget choices,” said Carroll.
“AARP is extremely pleased that Iowa’s lawmakers listened to the needs and the concerns of Iowans and made their wishes their priority this session,” said Carroll.

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