Capitol Notebook: Iowa House passes bill to ban mislabeling alternative meat, egg products

Gun Rights

The rotunda is seen at the Iowa Capitol in Des Moines (The Gazette)
The rotunda is seen at the Iowa Capitol in Des Moines (The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Food processing plants would be prohibited from labeling plant-based meat alternatives or lab-grown meat as “meat” under a bill passed Wednesday by Iowa state lawmakers.

The bill, Senate File 2391, would allow the state Department of Inspections, Appeals and Licensing to create rules and impose civil penalties on plants that mislabel non-meat foods.

It also would create similar restrictions for egg alternatives and prohibit Iowans on food assistance programs like SNAP from purchasing egg alternatives.

Iowa House Republicans said the bill would promote transparency in food production and help promote Iowa’s meat and agriculture industry.

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Rep. Norlin Mommsen, a farmer from DeWitt, said he believes plant-based meat companies are attempting to “live off coattails” of farmers who raise livestock.

Rep. Norlin Mommsen, R-DeWitt
Rep. Norlin Mommsen, R-DeWitt

“The intent of this bill is to make sure that we recognize the effort that has been put forth to create that quality product,” he said. “That when you have a meat-like, egg-like, that you’re trying to live off the reputation of something else.”

The bill was amended Wednesday to include references to egg alternatives and remove the ability of people on federal food assistance programs to buy egg substitutes, prompting protest from House Democrats. The bill would require that the state submit a waiver request to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to exclude egg substitute products from the assistance programs.

Democrats said they had no problem with requiring accurate labeling, but that removing the ability of Iowans with food allergies or other restrictions to buy a food item was overly restrictive.

“I don’t believe it’s the right path to go down for the government to mandate what people using SNAP and WIC cannot or can eat,” said Rep. J.D. Scholten, D-Sioux City.

With a party-line vote, House Republicans sent the bill back to the Senate. The chamber will need to agree to the amended bill in order to send it on to Gov. Kim Reynolds for her consideration.

Vape regulations pass House

Nicotine vapes that are not approved by the FDA or on a waiting list to be approved would be banned from sale in Iowa under a bill advanced by House lawmakers.

The bill, which is opposed by retail vape shops, would outlaw a significant portion of the products on the shelves at vape shops, many of which are not regulated and imported from countries like China.

House lawmakers said the proposal would improve the health of Iowans and help lower rates of youth vaping. Rep. Brent Siegrist, a Republican from Council Bluffs, said the bill would ensure that products are regulated and follow FDA guidelines.

The FDA has approved 23 vape products for sale to date.

The bill, House File 2677, passed the House 90-4. The bill is eligible for consideration in the Senate, where it was passed out of a committee in February.

NRA, Gadsden flag bill advances

Legislation that would allow Iowa drivers to order a license plate design featuring the yellow “don’t tread on me” Gadsden flag — with some of the revenue going to fund gun rights education sponsored by groups associated with the National Rifle Association — continues to advance in the Iowa Senate.

The proposal would generate a projected $158,000 in each of the first two years for the Keep and Bear Arms Program, according to the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency.

The bill, House File 2639, previously passed the Iowa House on a party-line vote with Republican support. On Wednesday, it advanced out of the Senate’s tax policy committee, again with only Republican support. It is now eligible for consideration by the full Senate.

Sen. Bill Dotzler, D-Waterloo, said he does not take issue with specialized license plate fees funding a gun education program, but suggested the funding should go to an organization other than the NRA, which filed for bankruptcy in 2021.

Reynolds gives update on husband’s health

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds takes the oath of office Jan. 13, 2023, in Des Moines, as her husband, Kevin, looks on. He is doing well in his treatment for lung cancer, the governor said Wednesday. (Associated Press)
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds takes the oath of office Jan. 13, 2023, in Des Moines, as her husband, Kevin, looks on. He is doing well in his treatment for lung cancer, the governor said Wednesday. (Associated Press)

Iowa First Gentleman Kevin Reynolds, the husband of Gov. Kim Reynolds who last year was diagnosed with lung cancer, is doing well, the governor said.

The governor announced her husband’s diagnosis last September. In October, the governor said radiation treatments and an oral immune therapy drug were having a positive impact on the tumor and Kevin’s pain.

Asked Wednesday about her husband, Kim Reynolds said he is “doing really, really well” and recently “snuck out” for a hunting trip, which she considered a good sign.

Kevin Reynolds, 65, is being treated at UnityPoint Health’s John Stoddard Cancer Center in Des Moines, the governor previously said.

Kim and Kevin Reynolds recently celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary.

Karla Lyon reconfirmed as DNR director

Kayla Lyon
Kayla Lyon

Kayla Lyon, who has been serving as director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources since 2019, has been reconfirmed by the Iowa Senate

Lyon, the first female Iowa DNR director, was reconfirmed by the Senate on a 40-9 vote. She was a former legislative liaison and lead policy adviser on agriculture and natural resources to Gov. Kim Reynolds.

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