As we enter the final weeks of the 89th General Assembly, we are done with the work of the Political Committee and are focused on debating the bills and working on the budget and tax bills.
This week in the Senate, we passed Senate resolution 108. She recognized March 21-27 as National Agriculture Week in Iowa. Iowa has 84,900 farms, more than 90% of which are family owned. We rank first nationally in the production of corn, hogs and eggs, we are a leader in the production of soybeans and we rank fourth nationally in the number of cattle and calves fed. With the agriculture industry making up such a large part of our state’s economy, it’s important that we recognize the hard work and accomplishments of those who produce our food, fuel and fiber. We wish everyone in Iowa a happy National Agriculture Week and hope they will take the time to reflect on how agriculture provides safe, plentiful, and affordable food every day.
Tax work continues in the Iowa Senate
Over the past several years, we have implemented major reforms to the Iowa tax code. The tax bill passed in 2018 was the first step in simplifying our tax code, lowering rates for Iowa families, and providing millions in tax breaks.
The following year, we passed legislation to provide more truth in taxation and improve transparency for Iowa property taxpayers. In 2021, we provided additional property tax relief to Iowans and eliminated a property tax levy.
This year, we passed historic tax reform, again providing real and permanent tax relief to Iowans and implementing a 3.9% flat tax for taxpayers.
This week, the Senate passed SF 2372. It is the next step in this process and will make a number of changes to modernize the tax code. It updates several sales and use tax changes, such as updating the code for digital advancements in technology, and also exempts full-time members of the National Guard from income tax. individuals up to $20,000 of their salary. The Senate also passed a bill, HF 2552, to improve government efficiency and help Iowa taxpayers. What seems to have caught the attention of a few in the state are changes to the Iowa Business Property Tax Credit.
When the Iowa Legislature created the tax credit in 2013, the tax credit was primarily intended to reduce property taxes for small businesses in Iowa. The credit does this by allowing small businesses to have part of their property taxed as residential property instead of commercial property.
Current estimates suggest that a number of eligible properties have not applied for this credit. Under this legislation, Iowa businesses would automatically get the credit without having to apply. This bill would help our local small businesses and improve the efficiency of Iowa businesses and the department working on credit calculation and administration.
SSB 3064 was also discussed this week, which would help protect the transformative tax relief measures enacted over the past few years. This is a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds majority in order to raise taxes on Iowans. That would make it harder in the future for overspending Capitol politicians to decide to take that money from hard-working families in Iowa. Raising taxes on Iowans shouldn’t be easy. Families in Iowa must adjust their budget and live within their means every day. If the government can’t do the same, it would take more than a simple majority to raise taxes on Iowans and take the money from the families who earned it.
Help Iowans get back to work
This week, the Senate passed HF 2355 to address labor shortages in nearly every sector of Iowa’s economy. This bill includes much of the governor’s labor proposal that she introduced earlier in the session. The bill makes several changes to the unemployment system.
A number of provisions of current unemployment law date back to the depression of the 1930s. These concepts are largely incongruous with the reality of today’s labor market. Last summer, the left-wing outlet Pro Publica investigated unemployment insurance fraud, rampant during the pandemic. He reported that approximately $87 billion in fraudulent payments took place under the scheme across the country. In order to reduce the number of frauds in the unemployment insurance program, this bill establishes a one-week waiting period to verify the eligibility of the person who applies for unemployment.
A one-week waiting period exists in most states and also for unions when paying strike pay to their members. This is a reasonable measure to enhance program security.
Another policy change in this bill increased the duration of unemployment benefits from six months to four months. With tens of thousands of job vacancies in almost every sector of the economy, four months of unemployment benefits is an appropriate length of time to find a new job. Studies have shown that more people return to work closer to the end of benefits. According to recent data, Iowa has over 85,000 job openings and 67,000 unemployed Iowans, so lack of opportunity is not the reason for prolonged unemployment. Large federal government transfer payments, fraud and other issues have eroded the value of work. America’s development into the world’s leading economy was largely based on the value of work and the reward of work. Work provides purpose and has intrinsic value in life and this value cannot be replaced by government payment.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the legislative process or specific bills or issues, please do not hesitate to contact me at (563) 289-7335 or [email protected]
Chris Cournoyer, R-LeClaire, represents District 49 in the Iowa Senate.