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From the Desk of Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer

(Press release from Linda Upmeyer)

February 7, 2011

Last week was another cold and snowy one at the Capitol… The view of the blowing snow from the House Chamber is both chilling and beautiful as you look at the Des Moines streetscape.

The much-anticipated ruling of a Florida court in the multi-state challenge to the federal health care reform law arrived last Monday. The Florida court threw out the entire law and put the Obama administration’s plans for implementation into question.

The judge found that the law’s provision requiring all Americans to have health care coverage violated the Constitution’s limits on federal power over commerce. He also found that the law was setting up federal regulation of inactivity which he believed went beyond the founding father’s intent.

This decision has now caused confusion in many states as to how they should proceed. In Wisconsin, the attorney general has stated the federal law is dead. In other states, officials continue to move forward with implementation.

In Iowa, the House took up House File 111, the Health Care Freedom Act. This act asserts Iowa’s rights under the 10th Amendment to maintain control over health insurance. Iowans are the best ones to decide what their health care looks like, not the federal government. This bill allows Iowans not to be required to acquire health insurance, as mandated by the federal health care bill. This measure was modeled after similar legislation that was adopted by Virginia in 2009 and served as part of the basis for their successful court challenge to the federal law. It passed the House and was sent to the Senate.

As I’ve said before, Iowans enjoy access to quality care at costs below the national average. While we have work to do to improve all of areas, a federal plan doesn’t address Iowans’ needs with Iowa solutions, but rather lumps us in with New Jersey, New York, Florida, California, and other states with a distant administrator in Washington DC.

The House also debated the marriage amendment last week. House Joint Resolution 6 was a bill that mirrored legislation House Republicans had proposed in the past. Since the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Iowa Code regarding marriage without a vote of the Legislature or the people, House Republicans have worked to let Iowans vote on this issue. Iowans have made their voices heard on this issue. The people will have the final say. The bill passed the House with bipartisan support, 62 to 37.

A Constitutional Amendment is an arduous process requiring not only passage in the House and passage in the Senate this year, but also requires the process to be done again after the next election…in the next General Assembly, before it can go on the ballot to allow people to vote. Rightly, this was designed by our founders to be a thoughtful, deliberate process.

Also moving last week were two measures that deal with tax relief. House File 4 calls for a 20 percent across-the-board cut to individual income tax rates and House Study Bill 41 establishes school district property tax relief. Both passed out of the Ways and Means committee last week and have begun to make their way to the floor to be debated. We’ve seen in recent years, the expanding costs of government get pushed on to the backs of Iowa property taxpayers. This practice needs to end. Needless to say, Iowans deserve more of their hard earned money back in their pockets.

We’re one month into the 2011 session and legislation is moving through subcommittees and committees. We’re working hard to follow-through on our commitments to Iowans of lower taxes, less government and create a favorable business climate. Thanks to all who braved the weather to visit last week! If you have any question or comments on these or any other issues, please do not hesitate to contact me at linda.upmeyer@legis.state.ia.us or (515) 281-4618. I look forward to hearing from you.|

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