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Final Session of Eggs and Issues for 2016

The final session of Eggs & Issues for 2016 was held at Smokey Row Coffee Shop in Oskaloosa Saturday morning at 8:30. State issues were discussed, with Senator Ken Rozenboom, Representative Guy Vander Linden, and Representative Larry Sheets in attendance.

A range of topics was discussed, but the main topics of the morning were funding and taxes.

It was reported that the Iowa legislature passed 2.25% increase in education spending this past week. Senator Rozenboom said that education has seen the largest increase in funding since he’s been in legislation, which was 2013.

Senator Rozenboom said that the 2.25% increase is in fact 5.2%, but 2.25% is what is being touted. He said that it is 5.2% because student enrollment is up around 1% in the state, and teacher leadership compensation.

A community member asked about commercial property taxes, which Senator Rozenboom answered. The community member mentioned that Walmart was getting millions of dollars from the state in reference to the commercial property tax, while Senator Rozenboom said that it’s not just Walmart that falls under the commercial property tax, it’s all of the businesses on the square in Oskaloosa.

Representative Sheets also touched on taxes, saying that the state allows deductions on business expenses. He said that if a farmer needs a combine to harvest crops to help with Iowa’s economy, the combine would be deductible, and tax would get paid over five years on it. He said it was the same thing with a semi truck driver transporting goods would be able to deduct fuel usage.

The state legislators also touched on fantasy sports, marijuana, and turtles.

When it came to fantasy sports, Representative Vander Linden said that it should be handled like all other gambling in the state, and the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission should handle it.

Representative Vander Linden also answered a question about marijuana. He said that he believes medical marijuana is probably helpful to seizure victims and those who suffer from chronic pain. He also said that on a bill that is he’s helping write, only three diseases were included as rather than a large list for those who can use it in order to make the bill easier to get through the legislature.  Representative Sheets also said that he would like to see the federal government to use statistics to see what kind of benefits medical marijuana has.

On the topic of turtles, Senator Rozenboom said there needs to be a study on the turtle population. He said that neighboring states have turtle-hunting seasons and limits on how many turtles one can harvest, while Iowa has no season and no limits on it. The Senator went on to say that hunters come to Iowa when their state’s turtle season is over, since there is no season or limit, which has made the turtle population go down.

To end the session, the three state legislators gave closing statements, and thanked those in attendance.

 

Story by George Henry

Eggs and Issues 1-23-16

The second session of Eggs and Issues of 2016 was held at Smokey Row Coffee Shop in Oskaloosa Saturday morning at 8:30. Legislators Ken Rozenboom from the Iowa Senate, and Guy Vander Linden and Larry Sheets from the Iowa House were in attendance to answer questions from Oskaloosa area residents.

The state legislators started out by giving updates on what’s happening with state government.

Representative Sheets stated that Iowa is the 3rd best managed state in the nation, behind North Dakota and Wyoming.

Senator Rozenboom stated that Iowa is spending more money than it’s bringing in. He also said that that Iowa’s budget went from six million dollars to 7.2 million dollars in the past few years, and that the new money goes towards education, Medicaid, and replacing the lost property taxes.

Representative Vander Linden said that Iowa isn’t bringing in as much revenue as expected, because the state guessed wrong on how much they would get. He said that law requires the state to set the budget for not only this year, but next year as well. Representative Vander Linden went on to say that 84% of all new revenue is going to K-12 education at 2%, and other pieces of the state government are suffering because of it.

The main focus of the session was revenue and the budget, and more specifically, funding for school programs. Multiple community members were concerned about how many school districts are “penny-pinching.”

Senator Rozenboom brought up the fact that growth in K-12 education overlooks the money that goes into teacher leadership.

One community member brought up tax rules, and how the governor vetoed money for education, which Representative Vander Linden cleared up for the audience. He stated that “some governor” convinced the department revenue to interpret the tax rules in a certain way in order to tax manufacturers for replacement parts that costs under five hundred dollars, even though the law said it was not taxable. Representative Vander Linden went on to say that although it unfortunately effected revenue, the state unjustly over-taxed Iowa manufacturers.

Senator Rozenboom followed with a close-to-home example. He said that Clow Valve Company was paying sales tax on casting sand, which he said was unjust. He said it was just like charging a farmer sales tax on fertilizer or livestock feed.

Another community member shared her concerns about mandated summer retention programs, and holding back students. She said her daughter has a learning disability, and is forced to follow the retention rates of other students. Representative Vander Linden stated that if a child has a learning disability, he or she should not be forced to the same standards as a student without a learning disability, and the law regarding that needs to be changed.

Other issues touched on were legislation on fantasy sports gambling, water quality, and minimum wage.

The third session of Eggs and Issues will be held on February 13th at Smokey Row Coffee Shop at 8:30 a.m.

Legislature To Tackle Education, Water Quality

DES MOINES (AP) — The Iowa Legislature is expected to tackle K-12 education and water quality initiatives in the session that convenes Monday.

The Democratic-controlled Senate and the Republican-led House have long been at odds over how much money funding to school district funding to to spend on K-12 education, and the 2016 session will likely continue that pattern. Legislative leaders differ on how much new state revenue is available, and that will impact how much they’re willing to increase base funding to school districts.

Gov. Terry Branstad will also seek support for his proposal to fund water quality initiatives with the help of an existing 1-cent sales tax for school infrastructure improvements. Lawmakers may question whether to touch the money.

Story provided by The Oskaloosa Herald

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