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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Legislature Notes

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Last week has been the busiest week of the session as far as constituent contact is concerned. There are several controversial issues on the front burner here at the Legislature, and I am glad that people are beginning to pay attention to what is taking place.

The majority party has put forth several bills which have drawn or are drawing a lot of attention. They have been moving this stuff at night when no one is watching. Or they introduce bills on Friday when most legislators are on their way home.

They have enough votes to pass whatever legislation they want, so why do they believe they need to sneak these things in under the radar? Could it be they may actually be embarrassed by what they are doing? Maybe they are afraid to take and answer calls about their plan to allow human cloning.

Are they ashamed of their upcoming attempt to gut Iowa's right-to-work law? They voted to raise the minimum wage and will soon take that money back by raising the cigarette tax. They promised to pass a 6% increase in allowable growth for schools, but only went 4%. Finally, they have pushed through a gay-rights bill, also known as the anti-bullying law. Come to think of it, if I was promoting and passing this stuff, I would probably want to do it like they are -- at night or when no one is paying attention.

The House did pass the allowable growth bill. The increase is 4% or about $107 million more in state aid and $29 million more in property taxes. Republicans offered an amendment that would have increased growth to 6% and the state would have paid for the property tax increase as well.

The Democrats rejected this idea and several others, so we settled for a straight 4% increase. Many or most schools will not see much "new" money from this bill, and the majority party said they would do more later. If they raise the tax on cigarettes they probably will.

If they don't, money will be tight. The bill passed unanimously.

The Senate has voted to allow the creation of embryonic stem cells through cloning. What this amounts to is a repeal of Iowa's ban on human cloning. Promising people cures for certain diseases, Senators voted 26-24 to allow this procedure. If they go ahead and build Governor Culver his stem call research center at the University of Iowa, we'll be all set. The destruction of human life will become big business. 

There was a public hearing on Wednesday night in the House Chamber to hear testimony from both sides of the right-to-work issue. The majority party has put this one on fast track too, so it is important for legislators and the Governor to hear from Iowans concerning this issue. I received about 150 E-mails this week regarding the proposal to gut our current law.

As I have stated before, I will not vote to make changes to our current law.

The House Agriculture Committee has heard testimony from the President of Iowa State University and one of its ag economists, Robert Wisner. Dr. Wisner gave committee members an interesting overview of the supply and demand situation in the corn market, and how ethanol production is consuming the countries' supply of corn. 

It is obvious that farmers are going to have to produce more corn to meet the current and future demand. President Greg Geoffrey outlined the University's plan to be the leader in bio fuel research, namely, how can we produce ethanol from materials other than just corn. It will take a huge monetary commitment and time is short. Iowa is not the only state wanting to be the leader in renewables.

Iowa is seeing a big spike in revenue generated by the sale of, yes, cigarettes. Because the tax rate in Iowa is lower than some of our neighbors, those citizens are coming to Iowa to buy their smokes and other things.  State government is a money hungry machine, and is hooked on smoking and gambling. I know where I want to go with this bit of news, but space is short and I will finish another day. 

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.