Capitol Update for March 1st

Recap of Week 8

After the disappointing absence of the Democrats for most of the day Wednesday, the House passed HJR 2009, which would amend the Iowa Constitution to include the right to keep and bear arms.

To amend the Iowa Constitution, the amendment must pass the House and Senate in two consecutive General Assemblies. Iowa citizens would then vote to approve the amendment before it becomes a part of the Constitution.

The House also passed HF 2215, the Castle Doctrine, otherwise known as “Stand Your Ground.” This bill allows a person to use reasonable force to defend themselves or others against an attacker. It also provides protection from civil and criminal suits for those who legally use reasonable force to protect themselves or others.

This week I visited with the Jones County 9-12 group. They met with Governor Branstad and shared some of their thoughts and concerns with him. They thoroughly enjoyed their time here, including a tour of the Capitol and dome.

The House passed four important budget bills this week. They include Justice, Judicial, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Economic Development. All four have been sent to the Senate for consideration.

There will be a public hearing on Education Reform this coming Monday, March 5th, in the House Chambers. Everyone is invited to attend. You can also watch online by going to the Iowa Legislature website and clicking on “live house video.”

Iowans support House Republicans’ Property Tax Plan

A recent Iowa poll by the Des Moines Register showed widespread support for the House Republican Property Tax Plan. One of the questions, and the response to it by the public was revealing:

Question:

A trade-off the Legislature is considering is about tax rates on commercial property. Reduced rates might make Iowa more attractive to business, and would also mean lower tax revenues for cities, counties, and schools. Do you favor such an approach?

60 percent of Iowans said they favored cutting commercial property taxes, even if that meant lower revenues for local governments.  Cleary, the public understands that governments at all levels need to spend less and free up the private sector for investment, growth and job creation.

The Register Poll showed support for this concept across political lines:

70% of Republicans

60% percent of Independents

47% of Democrats

House Republicans passed a bold plan, and the majority of Iowans support this effort. 73 percent said this plan would attract businesses to come to Iowa, and motivate existing employers already in Iowa to add jobs here. This is exactly why House Republicans pursued this legislation.

This plan is not only good for all taxpayers in Iowa, but the people of Iowa have spoken and they want action.  Iowans have indicated that the House Republicans’ plan to provide broad based tax relief to all classes of property is what they want.  The taxpayers of Iowa now have a seat at the table.

Forbes Magazine Names Des Moines as Second Best City for Jobs

This week, Forbes magazine released its list of top cities in which an individual should look for a job. Des Moines was second on that list; only behind Washington, D.C. Forbes cited high household incomes and a low unemployment rate as the primary reasons for the ranking. The magazine also stated that projections from Moody’s Analytics estimate that employment in the Des Moines area will see an increase of 8.6% over the next four years, which would translate into 36,000 jobs.

The story referenced a number of Iowa employers including John Deere, Pioneer, Kemin Industries in the ag/biotech area.  These businesses are providing thousands of Iowans jobs. Forbes also lauded Des Moines’ ability to retain big downtown businesses during the downturn such as Principal, Wells Fargo, and Meredith as other big cities across the nation lost downtown jobs and haven’t been able to recover them.

Governor Branstad set an ambitious goal of creating 200,000 new jobs and increasing the wealth of Iowa families by 25 percent. If the projections that Forbes makes are accurate, Des Moines could play a very large role in helping to achieve those goals.

Justice Systems Budget Passes House with Bi-Partisan Support

Tuesday night, House Republicans proposed a Justice Systems Appropriation Bill that did just that. By a vote of 69-30, House File 2335 passed the house and is now waiting for action in the Senate.

House File 2335 spends $504.5 million from the General Fund. The money appropriated in this budget is used to cover costs of the Attorney General, the Department of Corrections, Community Based Corrections, the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy, State Public Defender, Board of Parole, Department of Public Defense, Department of Public Safety, Gaming Enforcement, and the Civil Rights Commission. All budgets are the same as FY12, except for the Attorney General and the Civil Rights Commission, both of which were reduced by 10 percent. The impact on both of these groups is expected to be minimal.

House Republicans worked hard to ensure that needs of all departments were met within the budget target. It’s difficult to get bi-partisan support on budget bills, but HF 2335 was supported by 13 Democrats who agreed that the House Republicans’ budget was the right course of action.

It is now up to the Senate to review HF 2335 and determine if they will meet the House recommendations or propose a different budget. If the Senate does not agree with the House the bill will be sent back to the House for further negotiation.

If you have any comments or questions about any of the issues here or others that come to mind, please do not hesitate to contact me by email at lee.hein@legis.state.ia.us or by phone at (515)-281-7330.

Sincerely,

Lee Hein

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