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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

House Will Vote On Cigarette Tax

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The first funnel has come and gone, and this week will be a busy time for those trying to figure out which bills are dead for this year and which ones will advance.

There was minimal floor debate in the House as time was set aside for committee work. There are some important pieces of legislation which need to pass and there are some that should never see the light of day.

What happens in a funnel week reminds me of students who wait until the last minute to write that big paper. After putting off the task for weeks and weeks, reality sets in, and it is all of a sudden crunch time, and the work must get done.

Lawmakers sometimes act the same way. The funnel arrives and there is too much work to do in a short period of time. In order to keep bills alive, committees often pass bills that are flawed or incomplete.

Some will say "this bill is a work in progress, and we will continue to work on it before it hits the floor." I heard that phrase too much this week, and it is a little troubling to move things forward when there is clear evidence more time and effort are needed.

Around here, however, one's word is everything, so it is best to keep an open mind and make sure that when someone says "this is a work in progress", you follow up to make sure it does not become a "piece of work."

While the House worked on getting bills out of committee, the Senate decided to work "under the lights" to pass the cigarette tax increase and as of this writing, there was talk that they would begin the process of gutting Iowa's Right to Work law. I have received many calls, both pro and con, regarding the cigarette tax issue.

The Democrats say they are going to spend the money on healthcare. Some of the revenue may go there, but most of it will be spent on growing government. It is easy for someone who does not use tobacco products to say "Yeah, tax the hell out of them." I have to look at issues from all aspects and try to make the correct decision.

I may be wrong, but I do not believe people want me to just sit here and raise taxes and spend more money. Therefore, I will not vote to raise the cigarette tax by $1.00 per pack. If the money was going to be used for healthcare, it may be a different story for me. But I know that the new revenue will be used for salaries, general fund expenditures and the Governor's new "Power Fund." If we want these types of programs, then everyone should help pay for them. Maybe we could call that "fair share."

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.