Electronic cigarettes and other so-called vaping products sold to Iowans on the internet would be regulated for the first time under a last-minute spending bill as the GOP majority strives toward adjournment of this year’s legislative session.
Under the bill, sellers would be required to obtain a permit to sell the alternative nicotine products online.
Sellers would be required to certify the buyer is at least 18 years old. And the products would be subject to the state sales tax.
The new regulations are part of the so-called Standings Bill which traditionally includes dozens of unrelated majority party priorities that did not make it through the legislature by normal channels.
"I was just asked by Republican leadership to put that in the bill and it made sense to me,” said Sen. Charles Schneider (R-West Des Moines), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “This is activity that's already happening and I think it's important that people who are purchasing these products are at least 18 years old.”
The Department of Revenue is analyzing the issue to determine how much new sales tax revenue the change might bring in.
One critic said the change should have been properly vetted by the legislature.
“We saw this bill, the secret version was available last night and here we are 20 hours later looking at a pretty big policy idea about an addictive substance that we think now is great to sell online in Iowa,” said Sen. Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa City). “The process has been a joke.”
"I would disagree with that,” said Schneider. “The fact is it's happening right now.”
The Appropriations Committee approved the Standing Bill on a party-line vote. It goes now to the full Senate for debate.