Iowa House of Representatives
Address: State Capitol, Des Moines, IA 50319 Phone: (515) 281-7330
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Recap of Week 7
It has been a busy week with several sub-committee meetings. Friday, March 4th is the end of Funnel Week and all bills need to be passed out of committee if they are to have a chance of a vote on the floor. This week at the Capitol I visited with members of the Farm Bureau. I also had the pleasure of hosting Rev. Rick Jenkins from the Anamosa Penitentiary to lead the opening prayer in the House.
Last weekend I attended forums in Oxford Junction and Monticello. On Friday, Feb 25 I will be taking a tour of the Anamosa Penitentiary at 1pm. On Feb 26 I have a forum w/ the DBQ Farm Bureau at the Country Junction Restaurant in Dyersville from 10am – 12pm. This event is open to the public. Please come with any comments, questions or concerns you may have regarding farming or any issues affecting your community and the state.
As always, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (515) 281-7330. Also, if you are ever in Des Moines make sure you stop by the Capitol to visit.
Sincerely, Lee Hein
House Adds to Senate Supplemental Bill
Senate File 209 which couples Iowa tax law to the Federal tax code for changes made between January 1, 2008 and January 1, 2011 passed with a bi-partisan vote of 17-7. The Legislature has chosen not to couple the past few years which has been a source of frustration not only for taxpayers, but also for tax preparers.
The Federal changes include the repeal of the limitation of itemized deductions, expands the child and dependent care credit, maintains the student loan interest deduction and increases limits on Section 179 expensing for business. In addition, teachers can take a deduction for classroom supplies.
The original Senate File only allowed individuals and corporations to couple with the federal tax code beginning January 1, 2011. The House Ways and Means Committee amended the bill to allow individuals and corporations to couple with tax years beginning on January 1, 2010. The amended bill allows businesses to take enhanced bonus depreciation for tax years 2010 going forward.
Enhancing bonus depreciation encourages firms to accelerate otherwise planned investment spending forward – thus giving the economy a much needed boost. Businesses will get deductions for machinery, equipment, software and other items to grow their business. This will help spur job growth all over the state, at all income levels. With over 100,000 Iowans still out of work, this bill delivers a $311 million stimulus to the Iowa economy over the next three years.
The original Senate File included an increase to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) from 7% to 10% increasing the total impact of the EITC from $30 million to $44 million. House Republicans voted to keep the EITC at the current level of 7% as any increase in the EITC needs to be discussed in conjunction with the 20% income tax already approved by the House.
The 20% across the board income tax cut impacts all Iowans not just those earning under $45,000 as the EITC. The 20% income tax cut provides working Iowans 2.5 times the tax relief and impacts 257,000 more Iowans than the Senate Democrats’ expansion of the EITC.
Some Relief for Speeding Tickets in Transition Zones
House File 239 passed the House Transportation Committee on Tuesday with unanimous support.
Currently when the Department of Transportation considers a license suspension or revocation, they are required to disregard the first two speeding tickets a driver receives within any 12 month period when the violations were for less than 10mph over the speed limit and in a 34—56mph speed limit zone. The bill raises that ceiling to 61 miles per hour.
The reason behind the change is an attempt to accommodate those ―transition‖ zones on where the speed limit might go from 70mph to 60mph and then to 55mph. House File 239 does offer some protection for drivers who might be caught in those quick transition zones.
In addition, the bill also directs that the abstract of operation record provided to insurers must include a designation as to which speeding violations were for 10mph or less over the speed limit in speed zones with a speed limit between 35mph and 60mph (previously the ceiling was 55mph). The bill also states that car insurance companies must disregard the first two speeding tickets in a 12 month period that are for no more than 10mph in a speed zone between 35mph and 60mph for purposes of insuring or canceling a policy. House File 239 now moves to the floor as committee bill.
Hot Topic: Collective Bargining
The issue of collective bargaining is a hot topic around the nation. Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and most recently Iowa, have been focal points for a debate about each state’s own process for collective bargaining.
In Wisconsin, Democrat Senators fled the state in order to prevent a vote that forces public employees to pay for a portion of their health insurance and pension plans and the bill also eliminates collective bargaining rights except in relation to wages. Republicans in Wisconsin control the Senate and the House as well as the Governor’s office. Gov. Walker has vowed a vote on the bill and is not interested in a compromise.
Iowans are not unfamiliar with the issue that is being debated in Indiana where a scene similar to Wisconsin was set as Democrat House members have reportedly fled the state. Republicans in Indiana are attempting to pass Right-to- Work legislation, which prevents any worker from being forced to join or pay dues to a union to get or keep a job. The current arrangement, also known as ―Fair Share,‖ forces non-union workers to pay union dues regardless of their membership in the union. Iowa is currently a Right to Work state, and Iowa Democrats attempted to change that in 2007 by repealing those provisions in Iowa law. Their attempts ultimately failed in the House after the bill had originally passed the Senate.
Iowa had its own run in with labor issues this week. Wednesday saw a protest from union members, and a counter- protest from Tea Party members. Also under discussion that afternoon was the subcommittee on HSB 117, which is a bill sponsored by House Republicans that affects the collective bargaining law in Iowa.
The subcommittee heard from a variety of individuals who spoke for and against the bill. The major changes in the bill include: the ability of a public employee to opt out of representation by the union, allowing the state to control what portion state employees pay for insurance (currently, 84% of state employees pay no premiums for health insurance), allowing an arbitrator to make a decision between two opposing sides during the arbitration process (currently, the arbitrator must only choose either side A’s offer or side B’s offer), forcing the arbitrator to compare public and private wages and benefits when possible (currently, the arbitrator does not have to compare to private wages or benefits), and forbidding the arbitrator from considering past bargaining agreements when negotiating new contracts.
The bill will continue to be worked on by Republicans, who have invited their Democrat counterparts to provide input into making the bill better. The bill will move on to the full Labor committee before it is sent to the House floor.