Since that time, the day-to-day operations of the system have been overseen by the ESS Coordinating Committee made up of county recorders and representatives from the banking, legal, and title industries here in Iowa.
Additionally, as a public agency operating under Chapter 28E, ESS complies with conventions for public organizations in Iowa. Specifically, ESS conforms to the following requirements:
- Open Records
- Open Meetings
- Formal Policies & Procedures
- Annual Audit
The original session law also required that all contracts be administered through the Iowa County Recorders Association. This set up the unusual circumstance of having a 28E organization managed through a nonprofit association.
Discussions with the State Auditor’s office about the unusual 28E and nonprofit combination, which required a 28E organization to file a 990-tax return with the IRS, prompted the proposal to establish a governance structure for ESS that is more consistent with the public agency definition in Chapter 28E of the Iowa Code.
Legislative Amendment Needed
Legislation is needed to permit an amendment to the 28E agreement that would provide for the legal separation of the Electronic Services System and the Iowa County Recorders Association.
This is not to suggest that Iowa county recorders would be any less engaged with the management of ESS, as they would still be very actively involved by continuing to serve as key members of the ESS Coordinating Committee. Rather, the drafted amendment to the 28E agreement simply removes direct references to the Iowa County Recorders Association and establishes the existing ESS Coordinating Committee as the primary governing board.
Based on Legal Review
The proposed amendment to the 28E agreement was developed with the assistance of legal counsel, which found that in order to amend the 28E agreement, a modification to the original session law is needed. It required administration of contracts through the Iowa County Recorders Association, which could not be ignored. If the proposed legislation is enacted, an amendment to the 28E agreement itself would be initiated after July 1, 2021. If the amendment is approved by the requisite counties, the change would likely be effective January 1, 2022.
Proposed Session Law to clarify Session Law enacted in Chapter 179 – Laws of the Eighty-First G.A., 2005 Session – Section 101, paragraph 1, Pages 818-819 (House File 882)
Section __. COUNTY LAND RECORD INFORMATION SYSTEM – GOVERNANCE.
1. The 28E agreement for the implementation of the county land record information system known as the Electronic Services System, in accordance with the requirements of Chapter 179 – Laws of the EightyFirst G.A., 2005 Session – Section 101, paragraph 1, may be amended by the board of supervisors of each county, on behalf of each county recorder, as necessary to provide for the ongoing implementation of the county land record information system. Each county shall participate in the county land record information system and Electronic Services System, and shall comply with the policies and procedures established by the governing board established by the agreement.