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Capitol highlights

April 17, 2015
By Rep. Tedd Gassman - Representing Iowa House District 7 , Estherville News

Greetings from Capitol Hill:

I know that you are seeing and hearing a lot about the numbers we are using as we try to build a budget for everyone. Some want to use our current reserves in their budget process. Money that is in the state's reserve that is used in our budgeting process will appear there again next year. Money put into our budget from the reserve is one-time money. The only way that those funds will be replenished is if we have an increase in our revenue next year. I'm not a betting man, but if I were, I would bet that the money spent from our reserve for ongoing expenses will not be replaced the following year. The farm economy is not good. Our commodities and some of the livestock sector have decreased in value. John Deere is laying people off. Farm equipment is not a hot topic right now. Truck sales will probably decrease. As a result of all of these factors, the income tax and sales tax, which are the State's source of revenue, will be decreased. I would rather err on the side of caution than to over-spend and cause an across the board cut as happened in 2010 when the Democrat controlled state government cut the budget 10%. An across the board cut would hurt our K-12 education considerably more than in 2010 because we will not have fixed supplemental state aid at a higher level. If we put the reserve money in the budget and it is not replenished we will be cutting everyone's budget another year.

Here are some of the bills the House debated and passed this week:

SF 385

SF 385 allows criminal records to be expunged if the defendant was acquitted or criminal charges were dismissed. This bill applies in situations where a defendant was found not guilty, especially in cases of mistaken identity or identity theft. The purpose of this bill is to allow a person's criminal record to be wiped clean in these circumstances so that it does not adversely affect their lives or ability to get a job.

HF 626

The first thing this bill accomplishes is to repeal the sunset on the Property Assessment Appeal Board, making the board permanent. The PAAB is a board that businesses and individuals can use for some property tax appeals. The second accomplishment of HF 626 is to provide for the future repeal of the State Board of Tax Review. The State Board of Tax Review is an independent and bipartisan board that reviews final decisions issued by the director of the Iowa Department of Revenue in contested case proceedings. The board is also able to review director's assessment of centrally assessed property where taxpayers may appeal directly to the board. According to this bill, the board will be repealed on the date it disposes of all pending cases, or by July 1, 2016. The legislature and members of the state board of tax review have found this board to be unnecessary because their reviewed cases have often proceeded to court after being reviewed.

SF 438

This bill requires the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission to conduct a study for the possible authorization of exchange wagering. Exchange wagering is defined as a form of wagering where two or more people place identically opposite bets in a given market for pari-mutuel betting in Iowa. The study will focus on the current state of pari-mutuel racing in Iowa, revenue impact, regulatory considerations and general impact of allowing exchange wagering. The IRGC must submit a report on its findings by December 1, 2015. I voted against this piece of legislation because it brings forward the possibility of legalizing exchange wagering in our state. SF 438 passed by a vote of 80-15, and the study will go forward. Next year there will probably be a bill to legalize exchange wagering, and I will not be in support of such legislation. In fact, I will be a foe of any increase in gambling.



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