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Capitol highlights

February 13, 2015
By Rep. Tedd Gassman - Representing Iowa House District 7 , Estherville News

Greetings from Capitol Hill:

The Education Committee spent some time this week debating HF 13 which deals with the issue of the school start date. As many of you know, Gov. Branstad has ordered that waivers for alternative school start dates will no longer be accepted without probable cause, and all schools must follow the law and start no earlier than Sept. 1. Many school districts and officials across the state have expressed a desire for start dates to be left up to local discretion. HF 13 is a compromise bill that attempts to appease all sides by setting the start date at no earlier than Aug. 23. This bill is being discussed in Education Committee this week.

Another important issue currently being discussed in the legislature is the gas tax. It is clear that the roads and bridges of our state are in dire need of attention. Legislation has been proposed that would levy a 10 cent gas tax to fund the repair of Iowa's roads and bridges. Some individuals have expressed that they would prefer the money to come from the general fund rather than from a tax. However, in order to use general funds for this project, another area of the general fund would have to be cut, and no one has proposed a viable plan for where the cuts would come from. Despite my strong desire to avoid raising taxes, I cannot ignore the pressing transportation needs of our state, and I am leaning in favor of the gas tax.

This week I served on subcommittees for HSB 123 and HF 143. HSB 123 amends the definition of a "mobile home park." This bill is still under consideration in sub-committee. HF 143 increases the amount of money the county treasurer retains for the issuance or renewal of driver's licenses from $7 to $10. HF 143 passed sub-committee and is now able to be considered in committee.

Tuesday, the House passed Senate File 126, a bill which updates Iowa tax code with tax changes made by the federal government last year, resulting in close to $100 million in tax cuts for Iowa small businesses and farmers. The bill also includes tax deductions of: up to $250 for out-of-pocket expenses for teachers, tuition and fees deduction for higher education expenses, and deduction for mortgage insurance premiums. SF 126 is the first piece of legislation to pass both houses this year, and now it is up for consideration by the governor.



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