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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Legislative Report

Thursday, February 1, 2007

(Photo)
State Representative Dan Huseman
(R, Aurelia)
The House and Senate passed bills last week which will raise the minimum wage in Iowa to $7.25 in January of 2008. This amounts to about a 41% raise. During the last campaign Democrats said that if placed in control, they would increase the wage over a two-year period. So, here we are -- the first bill has passed and the first promise has been broken.

I can only speculate that the reason Democrats wanted to do the raise in one year instead of two is because they want to get more money into people's hands now so they can take it back later with a cigarette tax hike, etc. Republicans offered several good amendments which would have made the bill better, but they were rejected.

The amendments would have eased the burden which will now be forced on small businesses. There will be unintended consequences with this legislation, and I had many reservations as I pondered how to vote. In the end, even though I was not totally impressed by the final product, I did support the bill. I hope I made the correct decision. Time will tell.

There are several other bills which appear to be on the fast track. One that had a lot of momentum has slowed a bit, and maybe held up in order to make some changes. It deals with car title loans and payday lending. The bill would cap the interest rate on car title loans at 21%.

We have heard of annual interest rates as high as 360% being charged by this industry. So, how far should government go with this issue? These lending entities loan money to people who, for whatever reason, cannot get a loan from a bank or credit union.

Most of the time, there is no problem, except the interest rate is high even if it is not at the 360% rate. But once in awhile a person ends up losing his or her car, and when that happens life becomes much more difficult. People make bad decisions every day. Should government be responsible? If the state goes too far here, these companies will leave Iowa. If they are breaking the law we should get rid of them. What some are looking at is how can we control or regulate this industry which does provide a service to some people.

I believe there are some good compromises out there and I hope we take our time and do this right. People need to be protected from predators, but we also have to consider what unintended consequences lie around the corner. Finally, I learned this week that there are other lending options which don't seem to be under fire at this time. Pawnshops are allowed to charge up to 480% APR for their services. People don't seem to be too eager to get rid of them -- yet.

Another fast moving bill is the so-called anti-bullying bill. It is not an anti-bullying piece of legislation. It is something that needs to be watched. If passed, it will affect all schools, both public and private. To be honest, this is nothing but an attempt to push the Governor's gay rights agenda. Unfortunately, there may enough notes to pass it.

This week my committees heard from the directors of the Department of Transportation and the Department of Natural Resources. We also had a question and answer period with the new Secretary of Agriculture. I will share some of their thoughts and visions in future reports.

You may reach me at the Capitol during the week by phoning me at 515-281-3221, at home on weekends at 712-434-5880, or fax me at 712-434-2012. You may write to me at the State Capitol, Des Moines, Iowa 50319. My home address is 6144 Y Avenue, Aurelia, Iowa 51005. If you have email, please contact me at dan.huseman@legis.state.ia.us.