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Many constituents have reached out to me in recent days to share concerns regarding the Iowa Legislature coupling with Section 179 federal tax depreciation changes. In December 2015, the United States Congress approved tax changes that extended many beneficial tax provisions that impact Iowans. Before Iowans can take advantage of these provisions, the Iowa Legislature must review and act to approve these changes to our Iowa tax code. In recent years the bill, known as the “coupling” bill, has quickly been passed in January at the Statehouse. It is important we act soon to allow Iowa taxpayers to begin their tax preparation.
Senate Republicans support Iowa businesses and farmers, and want to couple with Section 179, which will save Iowa taxpayers significantly on their 2015 income taxes. I understand that Iowa farmers and small businesses use Section 179 expensing, and for us to not pass the coupling bill will create hardships for those expecting the Legislature to continue its practice of recent years.
During the interim, all legislators received a lot of constituent feedback on education funding. In my meetings with school boards and superintendents the message was loud and clear: Pass a K-12 Supplemental State Aid (SSA) bill that provides adequate school funding, and do it quickly. I hear you! Last year the House passed a bill that provided a 1.25% SSA increase for FY16 and provided a 2% SSA increase for FY17, which would have provided significant increases, and would have provided certainty to schools as they prepare their 2017 budgets. That bill could be passed next week. But Senate Democrats, who chose not to act on the 2017 funding at all during last session, have been silent so far this year about their expectations. We should be able to settle this sooner rather than later, but we can’t start the discussion until they offer their plan.
The Governor, in his Condition of the State address last week, said he wants to set FY17 funding for schools at a level 2.45% higher than last year. I have serious doubts that we can balance the budget using that number because that would mean that nearly all of the increased revenue would be directed to K-12 education. Medicaid continues to take up additional resources every year as well, and there simply will not be enough money to go around.
Last year this country learned that Planned Parenthood was involved in the selling of fetal organs and tissue obtained from abortion procedures. We were all horrified to learn that deals were being made for some people to profit from this illicit practice. Several legislators, including me, asked the Governor and the Attorney General to investigate abortion providers in Iowa to ensure that this was not happening in our state. The Attorney General’s response to us was that he had no authority to investigate these providers because the Iowa code is silent on the matter; the only laws against the practice were federal laws, and his office had no jurisdiction to do anything to assure Iowans that this not happening here.
I believe that, in Iowa, we simply should not be dealing in any way with the transfer of fetal body parts or tissue, for any reason! Therefore, next week I am submitting legislation that clearly states in the Iowa code that “a person shall not knowingly acquire, provide, receive, or use a fetal body part, regardless of whether the acquisition, provision, receipt, or use is for valuable consideration.” I have also requested that a companion bill with identical language will be introduced in the Iowa House for consideration. I do not believe this should be a partisan bill, and hope to find support for this legislation from both sides of the aisle.
Of course the legislature will be dealing with a wide variety of issues over the next few weeks, please feel free to contact me by e-mail or phone with comments or questions you have for any of the issues before us this year. Your input is important, and it is valued.
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