Capitol Update: Week 8

Department of Revenue Extends Farm Return Deadline

Last weekend, the Iowa Department of Revenue announced that it will grant a filing extension to some taxpayers on their 2015 Iowa individual income tax returns without underpayment of their estimated tax penalty.

The extension applies to taxpayers who earn at least two-thirds of their income from farming or commercial fishing and would give those taxpayers until at least April 30 to file and pay their 2015 returns. The deadline was scheduled to be March 1, but given the uncertainty of Iowa coupling with federal code—the deadline needed to be extended.

State revenue officials said the filing extension was ordered by Gov. Terry Branstad. The Iowa Code does provide that the director of the Department of Revenue can allow further time for filing returns if a good cause exists (such as the coupling issue remaining unresolved).

Knowing the importance of taxpayer certainty, House Republicans approved House File 2092 back in January. That bill (coupling bill) basically conformed Iowa’s tax laws with changes to federal tax law. That bill is in the Senate now awaiting further action.

Career and Technical Education Reform

The House acted this week on a bill to reform Iowa’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) delivery system, passing it in a bipartisan manner. The bill was presented to the Legislature after 2 years’ worth of effort on the part of the Task Force convened to look at the issue.  The recommendations and legislation look at updating and modernizing what hasn’t been touched substantively since the late 1980s.

The Secondary Career and Technical Education (CTE) Task Force was established as part of House File 604 in 2013 to make recommendations to reduce skill shortages, enhance economic growth, and ensure that all students have access to high quality, globally competitive career and technical education programs.

The bill voted on by the House tried to capture the message sent in the Task Force report. It focuses on primarily secondary education, grades 9 through 12, ensuring students in those grades are not only college-ready, should they choose that route after high school, but also career-ready.  It provides a mechanism through regional planning partnerships to ensure that school districts have the resources necessary to expose students to a wide variety of career options that might begin right there during their high school career with on-the-job opportunities in skilled occupations that are in need of employees in Iowa.

Much work is already going on in the state to create some of these opportunities for students. But it’s not everywhere and it’s often not consistent.  These regional partnerships will ensure that the high quality opportunities available to some students now are available to all students, making sure none are left at a competitive disadvantage.  The bill attempts to provide a cohesive framework in which these delivery systems can function while not prohibiting any of the good work already underway.

The bill will move on to the Senate for consideration next.

News from District 96

This week the Legislature spent most of our time debating and passing bills on to the Senate. There was a lot of discussion on the floor about what is best for Iowa.

Tuesday was the Fourth Annual Ag Leader’s Dinner was held by Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey. I had the opportunity to sit at the table with Ellen Schlarmann, the State Fair Queen from Monticello and her parents.  It was a good evening hearing about some of Ag’s great stories.  Wednesday night there was a reception put on by Alliance Pipeline.  I discussed pipeline safety and other issues with some of their officials.

Thursday I met with Gerald Retzlaff. He and I discussed the Convention of States.  A resolution in support of the convention has already passed the House and is awaiting action in the Senate.

I also visited with Bob Schimanek from Ducks Unlimited about the Iowa Land and Legacy Funding. This funding goes to the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund.  If we vote to raise the sales tax the first 3/8 of a cent would go towards Natural Resources, Parks, DNR Land Acquisition, and Water Quality.  Currently I do not believe the legislature is willing to approve an increase in sales tax.

As always if you have any comments, questions, or concerns please feel free to get in touch. My phone number is (319) 480-1997 and my email is lee.hein@legis.iowa.gov.

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