Burlington Danville Iowa Local Mediapolis News Political West Burlington

State Issues from Tom Sands

News from the Hill…

This past week the Iowa House held the first debate for the year. It was a six hour debate that included some caucus time. The bill established the increased growth of state aid for schools for fiscal year 2016. The debate centered around those who wanted to spend more than what the state has to spend and those of us who are fiscally responsible to keep spending in line with revenue. Some seem to find it easy to make promises that simply cannot be kept. Iowa’s economy is stable but the agricultural economy is simply not as robust as it has been in the past. For instance, John Deere has announced over nine hundred layoffs at several different plants. The layoffs in the Ankeny plant will be its biggest layoff in it’s history. So I believe it is very prudent to steady the growth with the uncertainty of actual funding revenue for the next year. The State funding for school aid for this next fiscal year increases approximately $50 million dollars for school aid and $50 million for Teacher Leadership Compensation. This total is one half of the available growth of additional dollars for the projected state revenues.

Commerce Committee…

In the Commerce Committee this week, we had a presentation from the ICN, about Broadband in Iowa. In the past the ICN has tried to get a bigger piece of business from the private sector. But it appears at this time they have received the message from the legislature that government ran entities should not be competing with the private sector as it is an uneven playing field tilted in the favor of government. The Governor has mentioned “connecting farms, schools and communities” last year in his campaign and this year in his state of the state speech. The governor’s office will be submitting a bill on broadband which I have just now received a personal copy and will read this weekend. The biggest question that will need to be answered is this, what is the role of government (taxpayers) in connecting every farm, school and community? The cost of laying fiber optics is very expensive. There has to be a significant rate of return for companies to be able to afford the investment of laying fiber optics. If taxpayers are asked to make some type of investment, there still needs to be a worthy rate of return on investment. There will be much more on this subject in the near future. I have been assigned to the subcommittee on HSB 96 that is in the Commerce Committee. This bill is an act exempting internet protocol-enabled service and voice over internet protocol service from specified regulatory authority known as VOIP. This bill has been very controversial in the past. While this may be the direction many are going in the industry, it cannot be at the expense of rate payers. There will be much more on this bill in the future, also.

Ways and Means Committee…

The Ways and Means Committee passed two bills out of committee this past week that I wrote about in last week’s newsletter. One of the bills, HSB 67, is very time sensitive. This bill decides whether the State of Iowa is going to couple with Federal Tax Laws for tax year 2014. The bill we passed will not couple with the Federal Bonus Depreciation, but it will couple with everything else including 179 expensing. This is very important for small business and farm businesses. This will lower the projected ending balance for fiscal year 2015, but increase the ongoing revenue for fiscal year 2016. The bill will now move to the house floor for further consideration. The other bill we passed out of committee was HSB 63, which modifies the deductions for 529 college savings plans. I wrote about both of these bills in last week’s newsletter. Both of these bills passed unanimously in committee and now move to the house floor for further consideration. They will become a House File and be assigned a new number.


“The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” – Benjamin Franklin


For more information on these and other bills:

Until next time,

Tom Sands