Eight weeks have passed this session. The first funnel is behind us. The Legislature has begun to focus on budget bills and cleaning up their debate calendars by moving smaller bills on the floor. Often at this point in the session, some political distractions come into play. This week that was very true.
In a dispute over how much notice was given prior to floor votes on a pair of gun laws, the House Democrats decided to leave the building in protest. They were only gone for a few hours and business resumed later that day (the bills passed, but face an uncertain future in the Senate), but the spectacle did underscore some partisan tensions that have been simmering under the surface. When one party has decisive control of a chamber (as is true in the House with Republicans holding 60 seats to the Democrats’ 40), it can be a frustrating experience to the minority party. Sometimes those frustrations spill out into the public. It’s a good reminder that partisan politics are unavoidable at the Capitol.
Otherwise, the most movement in the legislature was arguably the House passing three budget bills, including the appropriation for the Iowa Economic Development Authority. There is some movement on the level of funding for economic development incentives in the House – they’re at the $10 million mark. The Senate will likely come in with $20-25 million, with about $5 million flowing through to other programs. The Alliance & Chamber strongly supports the $25 million request by the Governor to properly equip the new Iowa Economic Development Authority with the resources it needs to help Iowa compete for new development.
Tax Increment Financing continues to be discussed in the House, with the dialogue beginning to focus on time limits for TIF districts, further transparency and auditing of TIFs, and anti-piracy policies. The Senate passed a shell bill to keep its TIF legislation alive through the funnel. The House Ways & Means Subcommittee continues to meet and has indicated TIF would follow property tax reform action.
There were no material developments on the property tax front this week. The Alliance continues to press for action on the issue in the Senate so that a meaningful compromise can be achieved yet this session.
As the session rolls on, it is imperative that legislators hear from the business community. It is our responsibility to be fierce advocates for polices that promote economic growth. This year, we have to play offense (property taxes & economic development incentives) and defense (TIF – and economic development incentives!). Please make sure to take time this week to let your legislators know how critically important these issues are for Iowa’s economic progress.
For more information, please contact Steve Firman at SFirman@CedarValleyAlliance.com or 319- 239-6067.