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King, state reps give updates

Around 40 people attended town hall at RWC Saturday

March 6, 2018
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

U.S. Rep. Steve King said it might take another election cycle before Congress passes an immigration reform law. King said, "There's not a level of urgency I think exists."

King said the U.S. Department of Justice and the Senate Judiciary Committee were two of five to seven committees conducting investigations into activities of the federal government besides those conducted by Robert Mueller, head of the FBI.

"It's so complex. Mueller's investigation seems to be expanding his authority," King said.

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King had praise for attorney general Jeff Sessions. "He is a noble individual. He will restore respect for the rule of law," King said.

A farm bill might move more quickly, King said. "The end of the month will be the end of the first quarter, and I expect to see a farm bill."

King said a lot of the cuts in the farm bill can come from the SNAP food assistance program.

King said, "We're still trying to figure out what's going on with the Trump administration."

Iowa did a good job of getting its values to DC on its caucus platforms in 2016, King said.

"Trump had a lot of Iowa values; the planks in the Donald Trump platform are Iowa's," King said.

King said, "If America is going to be held together it's us in the heartland who will accomplish it.

King addressed the question of the deficit.

"I pushed as hard as I could, and we came close to having a balanced budget after my first five years [with the House Republicans] bringing it to the floor," King said.

"It was impossible, and we went into the red ink. We have tax cuts now, which will create economic stimulus," King said.

State Senator Dennis Guth serves at the state capitol on the Appropriations, Commerce, Labor/Business, Local Government, and Amendment committees, the latter as co-chair. He is also vice-chair of the Ethics committee.

"We don't do much," Guth said.

Guth said 45 bills have come up during funnel week, including the budget and tax reform.

Guth said aid to K-12 public schools is up $32 million.

Tax reform would cause the average family to have its taxes reduced such that they will save $1,000 on their tax bill, Guth said.

"We have the fourth highest state tax rate in the whole country. We will bring three-quarters of that down in tax credits and one-quarter in reducing the size of government," Guth said.

One way to accomplish the reduction is self-reliance, Guth said.

"It's time people depended upon themselves and God instead of the government."

Guth and Rep. Tedd Gassman discussed the heartbeat bill, which prohibits abortion once a heartbeat can be detected in an unborn fetus on ultrasound.

The bill was approved 30-20 in the Senate. It requires a physician to not perform an abortion unless a pregnant woman has been tested to determine if a fetal heartbeat can be detected. This can happen as early as six weeks into pregnancy. There is an exception for a life threatening medical emergency in the mother's case, but not for rape or incest. A doctor who performs an abortion outside the parameters could be charged with a Class D felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.

Guth said, "This is the most important piece of legislation I have been part of in my six years in the Iowa Senate."

Guth pointed out all Senate Democrats voted against the bill, while all Republican and the Independent Senator voted in favor of it.

Rep. Tedd Gassman added, "We'd like to get a law passed that prohibits abortion all the way to the moment of conception. You can help us get there by calling and emailing other representatives."

Gassman also brought up an incident that happened in Swea City. The Department of Transportation told a bank located on the highway that they cannot use their marquee sign for a religious message. The bank had put a scrolling message about local Lenten worship services on its sign.

Last month, Sen. Guth, the chief sponsor of the bill, read part of a speech from President Bill Clinton on the signing of the federal Act in 1993: "What this law basically says is that the government should be held to a very high standard of proof before it interfered with someone's free exercise of religion."

The bill comes at a time the owners of a wedding venue in the Des Moines area lost their bid with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission for the right to refuse to allow a same-sex wedding to be held in their premises on religious conscience grounds. The state fined them, they decided to stop renting the facility for weddings, and ultimately went out of business.

Guth and Gassman also addressed the state budget cuts for the Iowa Judicial Department.

Guth said, "Education of public K-12 students is over 50 percent of the budget. Healthcare brings it to 75 percent. Judiciary is next at nine percent. We have to take it out of something, and there's nowhere else to take it from. I feel the justices are politicizing the budget cuts and talking about things like closing courthouses to scare us."

Gassman said, "There's no support for the idea of closing courthouses."

The town hall was part of the Farm, Home and Living Show at the Regional Wellness Center in Estherville.



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