NW IA lawmakers weekly newsletters
Senator Randy Feenstra, Hull
Week of Jan. 24-28
I Applaud Governor Branstad's Vision for Iowa!
Gov. Branstad gave his first budget address this week. The budget and program presentation offered a bold vision to Iowans that will make our government more efficient, offers hope to our job creators, and focuses on educational excellence. Key points in his address included:
· Funding more of our property tax credits to provide Iowa taxpayers with nearly $160 million in property tax relief.
· Iowa’s corporate income tax rate on small businesses is the highest in the nation at 12%. Gov. Branstad will cut Iowa’s income tax rate on businesses in half, to 6%.
· Small businesses in Iowa pay a property tax rate that is as high as it is in mid-town Manhattan. The governor’s plan reduces commercial property taxes by 40% over the next 5 years. New investments will be immediately taxed at 60% of its valuation. Existing commercial property will be rolled back by 8% a year over 5 years.
· While school systems across the country are reeling from massive budget cuts, this budget holds school spending at the current levels, with no decreases, and puts an end to underfunding the state’s commitment to schools.
· Gov. Branstad today renewed his commitment to ensure every Iowa child has access to quality preschool, proposing investments $43 million in assistance to those families with the greatest need.
Gov. Branstad’s overall budget shows a $700 million dollar reduction in spending. It cuts or reduces many programs. However, it protects the tax payers rather than interest groups. Painful choices will need to be made to create the above initiatives. This budget is simply a starting point. The next step is to see which parts of this budget can be passed by a split party legislature.
The Senate Democrats voted to change the age old rules of the Senate. The Democrat leadership heard that the Republicans found a loop hole in the Senate rules which would allow a vote to come up on the definition of marriage. The Democrats moved to change these century-old rules to close this loop hole. This was truly amazing and unheard of, to see a majority party go this far to keep a vote from coming to the floor of the Senate. This is clearly and obstruction to democracy!
Again, I would like to thank you for electing me to be your voice in the Iowa Senate. I welcome your comments and concerns. Please feel free to contact me at any time.
Senator Bill Anderson, Pierson:
It was another interesting week in the Iowa Senate. I cast my first vote as your senator on Wednesday. The bill was a correction to the location in the code of a bill passed last year. It was not a controversial topic, but still important to ensure the law is implemented correctly.
During my brief time in the state senate I have listened to several presentations regarding economic development tools employed across our state. Most have been heavily scrutinized by the majority party. Earlier this week the Senate Democrats released details on their jobs plan. The plan fails to address the needs of businesses in Iowa, and is too modest to have any real job-creating effect. The Des Moines Register ran a headline on Wednesday stating “Senate Democrats’ jobs plan short on originality.” It appears that Democrats have not learned from their past mistakes, pledging to create yet another state fund so government can continue to pick winners and losers, growing the bureaucracy. I talk with job creators regularly and they need tools that will assist with their long range planning.
Meanwhile, Senate Republicans and Governor Branstad continue to work for effective job creation and balancing the budget. The Governor gave his budget address on Thursday to a joint session of the Legislature, highlighting an end to using one-time revenue sources for general fund expenditures. I was pleased to hear him not only address commercial property taxes and corporate income tax rates, but he has a plan to reduce the rates as well as a way to pay for the reductions. These are solutions that go beyond the typical rhetoric. Also, final word was received from Governor Branstad’s staff that the proposed budget cuts to the Cherokee Mental Health Institute would not be implemented. This is great news for Iowa’s most vulnerable. I look forward to assisting Governor Branstad in leading Iowa’s economic comeback.
I have sponsored and co-sponsored a number of pieces of legislation that I feel are vital to meeting the needs of Iowans. I am proud to have filed a bill that would allow our soldiers to remain exempt from income tax incurred while participating in Operation New Dawn in Iraq. We need to support our troops in a number of ways and this is a great way to do that. In an effort to draw new business to Iowa, I have drafted a bill that provides the placement of a “Right-To-Work” notice on Department of Economic Development materials. I co-sponsored a bill that provides an income tax credit for teachers for the purchase of school materials. In light of the federal government mandating the purchase of health insurance, I’m supporting a bill establishing the right of Iowans to choose their own health insurance. Additionally I filed legislation that protects revenue generated for use on school and infrastructure project from being spent on anything else. These are just a few of the bills that I am currently working on. I welcome your input on these items and your ideas for future legislation.
This week the first bill passed out of the Commerce Committee, of which I am a member. The bill would eliminate the transfer tax imposed on insurance companies who elect to become domestic insurers in Iowa. The elimination of this tax will encourage other insurers to enter the Iowa market, thereby increasing competition. We also heard an insightful presentation from Mid American Energy President, William Fehrman. I commend Chairwoman Dandekar for inviting President Fehrman to the Commerce Committee. The Ways and Means Committee heard a presentation from the Iowa Department of Economic Development regarding Iowa Enterprise Zones. My appropriations subcommittee listened to a presentation from DOT Director Nancy Richardson, who spoke on the history and operations of the Department of Transportation. These presentations are important as we may see the majority party introduce changes that could impact their effectiveness.
Upcoming Town Halls
· Friday, February 11
Kingsley Town Hall, 10:00 to 11:00AM, Community Center, 207 E. 1st St.
Pierson Town Hall, 12:00PM to 1:00PM, Community Building, 514 2nd St.
· Saturday, February 12
Aurelia Town Hall, 9:30AM to 10:30AM, Community Building, 101 E 2nd St.
Cherokee Town Hall, 11:00AM to 12:00PM, Library, 215 S. 2nd St.
Moville Town Hall, 1:00PM to 2:00PM, Community Building, 815 Main St.
Lawton Town Hall, 2:30PM to 3:30PM, Community Center, 101 E Maple St.
Representative Dan Huseman, Aurelia:
On Thursday, January 27th, 2011, Governor Terry E. Branstad addressed a joint session of the General Assembly to present his proposed budget for Fiscal Years 2012 & 2013. Normally, Governors propose a one year budget, but Governor Branstad stated during the past election campaign that he believed, if elected, he could better manage Iowa’s financial mess by working off of a two-year budget. I’m sure Republicans in the House will work with the Governor as he is passionate about rebuilding this state’s economy. I hope the Senate leadership is at least open to having an honest debate on the proposals offered during the speech. Obviously, there will be disagreements and a variety of ideas laid on the table, but I am confident the Legislature and Governor will come up with a budget which will have real numbers. As the Governor stated, there will be no games, gimmicks or bailouts. That is language Iowans understand.
The Governor was firm in his delivery and kept the speech short. He said right out of the chute that one-time money would not be used to balance the budget. He mentioned the $900 million which was spent last year that is not available this year, and there would be no borrowing to support ongoing programs. This practice is not sustainable, and I will support the Governor 100%. The bottom line is, this is the first budget in five years to align ongoing spending with ongoing revenue sources. In other words, we will not spend more than we take in. What a novel idea!
Governor Branstad made it clear he wants Iowa open for business. He would like to lower corporate and property taxes and simplify both systems. He has pledged to help create jobs and raise the incomes of Iowa families. By gaining better control of the budget, Governor Branstad believes the size of state government can be reduced, and I agree with him. By passing a two-year budget, the Governor claims it will be easier to set long range goals and make 5- to 10-year projections. He stressed transparency and openness in state government. Finally, he expressed a strong commitment to getting these reforms done now before it is too late.
Privately, Governor Branstad said he wished he would have had another couple of weeks to assemble his budget, so we all know this will not be the final product. There will be difficult decisions ahead, and I did not list many numbers or specific programs because things will be changing from day to day. I know there will be cuts and everyone will be asked to make sacrifices. Iowans are strong people, and we care about each other. That has always been one of our greatest assets. I look for our economy to slowly come back and jobs will return. If we can eliminate waste and make state government run more efficiently, all Iowans will benefit.
Finally, the Governor said he would like to give schools more flexibility and initiate regulatory and mandate reform. As the session unfolds, the intent is to hold 2 hearings in each Congressional district to gather information from citizens regarding rules and regulations. I believe these hearing will bear beneficial fruit.
On Thursday, the Iowa House passed House File 95, also known as the Voter Photo Identification Requirement bill. The bill requires all voters to show proof of identification before being allowed to vote at the polls. To me, it is pretty simple. Your name has to match with the name in the election register and you need to show a photo I.D. I supported the bill and it passed by a 60-40 margin and now heads for the Senate, where its fate is unknown.
**The posting of the Iowa lawmakers' reports was delayed due to a vacation schedule. Content of the newsletters is as submitted to KLEM News.
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