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Cedar Rapids (IA) Gazette reports:

Legislation that could lead to a future increase in the per-bushel corn check-off if approved in referendum by Iowa corn producers passed the Iowa Senate Tuesday and is on its way to Gov. Terry Branstad's desk for his consideration.

House File 2427 would raise the maximum amount of marketing money authorized to be assessed on each bushel of corn that an Iowa producer sells from the current one-cent level to as much as three cents if approved by producers voting in future special referenda.

The maximum rate must stay at one cent per bushel through Aug. 31, under the bill. The maximum rate for the next five marketing years - from Sept. 1, 2014, to Aug. 31, 2019 - cannot exceed two cents if approved by corn growers, and the maximum check-off rate is capped at three cents per bushel for all future marketing years beginning Sept. 1, 2019, according to the bill that won Senate approval 46-0. The measure was adopted on a 98-0 vote by the Iowa House on March 4.

"Iowa's commodity groups do great, great things for the state," said Sen. Dennis Black, D-Grinnell, the bill's floor manager.

Officials with the Iowa Corn Promotion Board and the Iowa Corn Growers Association say that raising the maximum check-off authorization does not mean that producers will be asked to pledge that amount. The check-off began in 1976 and reached one cent per bushel in 2012.

"It increases their authority but it doesn't mean the check-off is going up," said Sen. Tim Kapucian, R-Keystone. "I'm happy that we've got this where it is today and we can move on."

Kapucian said there are some producers who have concerns, but he was satisfied adequate checks and balances are in place for the legislation to move forward. He was pleased lawmakers decided to keep a cap in place and hold it to a maximum of three cents a bushel if that level is approved by Iowa farmers at some future time.

Last fiscal year, the Iowa corn check-off generated more than $17 million, said Mindy Larsen-Poldberg of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, and producers asked that about $1.2 million (7 percent) be refunded to them.

Money generated by the check-off is used for market development/promotion, education and research - which include sponsorships of the Iowa Corn 250 auto race at the Newton track and the Cy-Hawk series involving athletic teams at the University of Iowa and Iowa State University.

Also Tuesday, the Senate voted 46-0 to approve legislation authorizing Iowa law enforcement officers to seek judicial permission for a search warrant allowing for the placement of a global positioning device on a motor vehicle.

Currently, the GPS authority is limited, said Sen. Steve Sodders, D-State Centers, a Marshall County deputy sheriff who was floor manager for House File 475, which would expand the ability of law officers to obtain permission for use of a GPS device under the same procedures as other search warrants. The bill was amended, so it must return to the Iowa House for further consideration.

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