This is the end of the fourteenth week of the 2019 legislative session. We are scheduled for ending on May 3rd but there is talk of an early adjournment. Budget differences seem to be the biggest problem right now.
One bill we passed this week permits Iowa farmers to grow hemp. Last year the Senate passed a bill that would have allowed hemp production on a limited scale under a pilot program as required by federal law. The Farm Bill passed by Congress last year removed hemp as a controlled substance, and legalized it as a commodity. Iowa is one of only 11 states without a hemp program. I had calls from farmers in my district requesting hemp be legalized. They thought it would make a great crop on some acres. SF 599, the Iowa Hemp Act, sets up a program that limits the number of hemp acres a licensee may plant and requires THC testing prior to harvest.
We are working on a method to limit property tax increases. The way property tax is determined now, an increase in the value of property can result in a significant increase in property tax payments—even without elected officials voting to raise rates. This has resulted in a doubling of property taxes over the last 18 years. During that same period income has risen only 43 percent. That cannot continue. Especially the elderly and those on fixed incomes suffer from this.
Senate Republicans are working on a plan that would help slow that growth and make property taxes easier for citizens to understand. We would like to make it clear that local elected officials are using the extra money generated by increased property values rather than lowering the rates to keep income level. We don’t want to reduce local government control, but we do want to make their action or inaction apparent to their constituents.
I am grieved for those affected by flooding along the Missouri River. Homes, buildings, equipment, land even roads have been destroyed. Senate Republicans have been urging the federal government to move forward with federal help for flood victims. We heard from Senator Ernst this week that Democrats in Washington, DC voted down flood relief in Iowa because they wanted the money for disaster relief in Puerto Rico. We sent billions of dollars to Puerto Rico over the past year and a half. I believe it’s time to support Iowans that have lost everything.
At the state level Senate Republicans joined Governor Kim Reynolds to support Executive Order #4, which establishes the Flood recovery Advisory Board to assist in recovery and rebuilding. The governor has requested $15 million in Fiscal Year 2019 and $10 million in FY 2020 to go toward housing improvement in flooded areas. Please keep flood victims in your prayers.
“A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.” George Bernard Shaw