State Representative Dawn
We are winding up week three here and the time is flying by. The House has debated three large bills already, our committee work is in full swing and we've heard from two Governors and the Chief Justice.
This week's debate was on the Voter ID bill that requires a photo ID to vote and the Searchable Budget Database bill. One protects the integrity and standardizes the voting system across the state. The other allows you to put your address in a database and see where your tax dollars are spent. I managed this bill two years ago, got it voted out of the House twice, but the Senate didn't take it up then. Hopefully, they will realize the value for the taxpayer this time.
In Ways and Means Committee, we had presentations on property taxes and tax increment financing. Did you know that the state tax (income/sales/alcohol, etc.) total has went from $5,131,000,000 in 2001 to $6,147,000,000 in 2010? And the property taxes in 2001 were $3,197,000,000, rising to $5,180,000,000 in 2010. The state does take a small amount in property tax for brucellosis 2001 $500,000 to 2010 $400,000. Otherwise the average makeup of your property tax bill is 43% to schools, 23% to cities, 21% to counties, 2.3% to community colleges, 2% to hospitals, 1.1% to the assessor and the remaining taxing authorities are less than 1%. Iowans total tax bill in 2010 was $11.3 billion dollars!
Commerce had a very interesting presentation on solar energy. The gentleman presenter was full of energy, waving his arms and talking without a mike. Also, his presentation did not come with a handout, but was full of numbers. Couldn't hear and couldn't see. No matter, he kept talking and was excited about his product. After about 30 minutes, the lobbyist who brought him in stood up and said, "Thank you, but they are tight on time now." He kept talking. The committee chair is checking his watch, pulling his tie away from his neck and the lobbyist stands up and tries to stop him again. Oblivious to anything but carrying on, the presenter has his assistant pull up another presentation on the screen that we still could not see. Understandably, you would have to be a little nervous, presenting to all of us, but wouldn't you make sure we could see and hear you. Have no fear, the best was yet to come. Rep. Watts, who is notoriously against anything green, asked the presenter what his product would do to rates of the investor owned utilities. The presenter replied, "They would be cheaper." Hmmm, wrong answer. The poor guy was in trouble then, because he was in for some hard questions from Rep. Watts and all of us were fidgeting during that. Little known fact here, if you have a weakness, someone will go for it. Maybe you had to be there, but I'm still chuckling about that meeting.
Governor Branstad's budget speech was short and to the point. Tony Jones, Belle Plaine, was visiting from Kirkwood. I looked up and saw him waving at me, so I quickly ran up and got him to sit with me during the speech. Tony stood and clapped at all the appropriate times. No need to tell the people from Benton County what parts are important enough to clap to! The Governor's speech was about fiscal responsibility, the shape of our state financially and our charge of educating our kids, protecting our citizens, caring for the unfortunate and keeping our infrastructure in shape. Both the Governor and the Lt. Governor reviewed the budget line by line, all 89 programs, to determine the priorities of this coming year. I have not had a chance to review that budget yet, but will be bringing it home with me this weekend to pore over. If you have any questions, let me know.
The legislative coffees hosted by Senator Kapucian and myself begin this Saturday in Urbana and Van Horne. I will be happy they've started, because up till now I've blown into Mount Auburn to water the plants and head back down. Next weekend's coffees are on February 5th, Newhall Public Library at 10 and Luzerne City Hall at 2:00. Hope to see you all at one of the meetings this year!!
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to give me a call at 319-610-3412 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org