State issues from Sands (4/10/14)

Rep. Tom Sands · Wednesday, April 9, 2014
News from the Hill…

This time of the year there are only two committees that meet on a regular basis, the Appropriations Committee and the Ways and Means Committee. Occasionally the Oversight Committee will meet, but not regularly. A few weeks ago it appeared that we would be adjourning for the year in early April. Presently we seem to be crawling to adjournment, not racing toward adjournment. The pace to adjournment may have slowed, but not necessarily the workload. This is also the time of year when different members of the Legislature and special interest groups desperately try to get their special bills passed. While the stories may differ, the theme is the same; “life will end as we know it, if their bill does not pass.” The line of legislators stopping by my desk on the floor telling me why their bill, which is sitting in the Ways and Means Committee, is so important seems to never end. At the same time the line of special interest groups and/or lobbyists wanting to meet with me never ends. One of the first things I learned after serving my first year is that every bill, while on the face may seem inconsequential, is important to somebody somewhere. However, that does not necessarily make the bill a good bill or if the bill was to become law, good policy. It is always a tough balance between what people may want and what is in the best interest of the body or the people of Iowa. I do not take my job lightly nor try to let my personal positions affect what is debated in the Ways and Means Committee. However, there are some hard facts, we will look at each bill through the eyes of the taxpayer and ask this question “does this benefit the taxpayer?” The answers “No” will most likely place the bill in the drawer and it will not see the light of day again.

Volunteer Firemen/EMS…

This week on the House floor we passed HF 2459 which increases the tax credit for volunteer firefighters and volunteer emergency medical services (EMS) personnel. It also adds reserve peace officers to the person’s eligible for the credit. This credit was just established last year and is showing up on the Iowa Tax form for the first time. We doubled the credit from $50 to $100 to help encourage people to volunteer for our local fire departments and local EMS departments. As our society evolves and becomes much more mobile, it is increasingly difficult to find good people willing to volunteer. We are fortunate to have many good people who have stepped up to volunteer in our communities and to be there when they are needed. Thank you for what you do. I voted for this bill and have encouraged the Senate to do the same. It is up to the Senate to pass this bill now.

Community Colleges Levy…

Another Ways and Means Bill that passed off the House Floor and was sent over to the Senate this week was HF 2456. Current Iowa Code provides that in addition to a Community College districts property tax levy, the voters in that district may vote a facilities property tax levy not exceeding 20 and one-fourths cents per $1,000 of assessed value for up to 10 years. This money is used to purchase grounds, construct buildings and pay debts contracted for the construction of buildings, etc. These referendums typically pass overwhelmingly across the state. The bill eliminates the need to force the Community Colleges to spend lots of money to hold these elections every ten years. However, to protect taxpayers they can petition the Community Colleges and force the election. This bill should save time and money and strikes a good balance between the taxpayers and the tax receivers. I supported this legislation and voted for HF 2456. This bill is now in the hands of the Senate.

This week’s forums:

Saturday, April 5th, 9-10:30 a.m. Muscatine Community College Student Center

11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m., State Bank of Wapello Community Room
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