Newsletter: Rozenboom Report (4/18/2014)

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Nearly two weeks have gone by since House File 2462, a bill that would protect Iowa workers and create a more transparent government, was passed in the Iowa House. During that time, the Senate majority party has talked endlessly about the need for more transparency in government and protecting workers. But they have failed to follow the swift action of Governor Branstad and the Iowa House to help this issue become law.

Yes, there is a problem in regard to confidential employee settlements. Governor Branstad acknowledged the seriousness of this matter by issuing Executive Order 85. The executive order immediately ends confidential settlements and prohibits the practice in the future. The House moved swiftly to pass House File 2462, which codifies the Governor’s executive order into Iowa law. However, the prompt action to correct this important issue came to an abrupt halt in the Iowa Senate.

Senate Republicans have repeatedly reached out to our colleagues on the other side of the aisle and have asked them to work together to find a solution. However, we have heard nothing. This is disappointing because there is a significant difference between governing and grandstanding. We will continue to make the case for problem solving over political theater.

House File 2462 is a good first step to a more transparent and open government and we know there may very well be more steps to come. Iowans are depending on us to do the right thing. We need to make it happen.

Two common themes heard throughout the first week of the 2014 Legislative session were job creation and strengthening Iowa’s economy. Unfortunately, discussions regarding these issues were put on the back burner throughout most of this session. This was truly a disservice for everyone in our state who shared their desire for us to create a climate of opportunities for all Iowans.

Under current Iowa code manufacturers in our state are required to pay sales tax on many of the “consumables” in the manufacturing process. And then the end product is subject to sales tax as well. Ending this double tax on manufactured products was a bill that passed the Iowa House twice in the past two years, but was never called up for a vote by the Senate majority leader. Senate Republicans, much like the House, believe this is good tax policy because it places the tax on the final product and not the inputs. Unfortunately, the Senate majority does not share the same view. Senate Republicans stand firm; Iowa’s manufactured products should not be double-taxed.

Making that fix in the consumables tax language would allow manufacturers to invest in new equipment. More importantly, ending the “double tax” creates an environment in which companies can continue to pay good wages and employ more skilled workers. We must continue to develop tax policy that encourages productivity and jobs.

The legislature continues to work on budget appropriations as well as finishing up other legislation. One key piece of legislation that is still in process is the Home Base Iowa plan which is designed to encourage our veterans to return to Iowa when their military career is over. Senate File 303 was passed in the Senate early in the session and moved over to the House where additional policy language was added consistent with Governor Branstad’s requests. This improved bill has not yet come forward in the Senate for final passage. As the ranking member of the Senate Veterans Affairs committee, I have requested that the majority leadership brings this bill forward before we wrap up the 85th General Assembly.

Senator Ken Rozenboom

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