District 7 Rep. Tedd Gassman and District 4 Sen. Dennis Guth at the Estherville Farm & Home Show at the Regional Wellness Center last Saturday gave constituents an update on what's going on in Des Moines this legislative session.
Gassman said a law was passed the previous week addressing sex trafficking of girls as young as 12.
"We took a step toward trying to eliminate some of that," said Gassman, who said women will be referred to the Department of Human Services instead of taken to jail and that pimps would be charged with a Class C instead of a Class D felony as was the case previously.
Gassman said he would probably vote for a 5 cent gas tax and look at more than that. He noted that the transportation committee chair had presented a wholesale gas tax proposal which would generate $215 million statewide.
"Everyone wants to fix our roads," rejoined Guth, adding that the state surplus might be a good source of revenue.
"We need to use our surplus right now in our general fund for our roads," said Guth, adding that he would consider a gas tax if it included other tax cuts in the same package.
An audience straw poll showed those raising hands evenly split 7-7 on raising the gas tax. Guth noted last year audience members were opposed 6-1.
Guth said he had proposed taking $200 million from the general fund with half the money evenly distributed to each county and the rest according to population. Another proposal he had was to allocate 2 percent of the general fund for roads.
Guth also discussed legislation that would require a public hearing for local governments that propose hiring a construction manager for public works projects. He pointed out that construction managers have no liability. He said one factor in favor of construction managers is that they "wouldn't be playing favorite" in hiring subcontractors.
U.S. Rep. Steve King, who also addressed constituents, chimed in, saying Iowa has a very legitimate public contracting system in which contracts go to the lowest bidder and a performance bond is required.
"Public contracting has a high degree of integrity and responsibility throughout the country but especially in Iowa," King said.
He referred Guth to a bill he had written which had passed the Iowa Senate in 2001-02 and that addressed some of the same issues.
Guth said a bill had also been passed the previous week putting a new office in the Dental Board Association.