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From the Desk of Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer – April 8, 2011


This news story was published on April 10, 2011.
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Another week in Des Moines is under our belts ñ another week of doing the people’s work is complete. We have just finished the 13th week of the session and we’re pressing on to pass budget and tax relief bills. |From the Desk of Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer

Another week in Des Moines is under our belts ñ another week of doing the people’s work is complete. We have just finished the 13th week of the session and we’re pressing on to pass budget and tax relief bills.

The House took up the Administration and Regulation, Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund, Education, Judicial Branch, Ag and Department of Natural Resources and Health and Human Services budget bills. After this week, we will have moved nearly all of the budget bills off the floor of the House for their first pass. Next week we’ll take up the Justice Systems and Economic Development budgets. All of these bills will be sent to the Senate for their consideration. The House Republicans have committed to honest, transparent and sustainable budgets. It’s important that government stop spending more than it takes in while providing for priority services in the areas of education, health and human services and public safety.

We’ve also been working on tax bills in the House ñ in particular, broad-based property tax relief for Iowans. The House Ways and Means committee has been hard at work developing a reasonable approach to property tax relief. Over the last ten years property taxes have far outpaced inflation. Iowa taxpayers have felt these changes in their pocketbooks. House File 671 passed the full Ways and Means Committee with a 15-10 vote recently. This bill increases school financing by increasing the regular program foundation base, thus providing broad based property tax relief. As the bill moves to the House Floor, the goal will be to provide property tax relief while slowing the rate of future property tax increases to a more sustainable level.

Also this week, the House tried, for the fifth time, to pay indigent defense bills. The state coordinates representation for those who are indigent when charged with a crime. Each year, the Legislature allocates a regular appropriation for the Indigent Defense Fund. Last year’s Democrat-controlled Legislature purposely underfunded indigent defense by half in order to balance the budget, knowing that a supplemental appropriation would be needed this year. As a result of that, we walked in this year needing to fix the insufficiency of last year’s budget.

The first bill the House passed was House File 45, which included money to cover the indigent defense payment. Unfortunately, the Senate stripped out this funding. We also tried to pay the indigent defense bills in Senate File 209, which we tried to include two different times. Another attempt was made in Senate File 512, which we also supported twice. Finally, in our second effort on this bill, the Senate supported our measure and sent the bill to the governor. This will provide the governor the ability to pay indigent defense bills and couples the state income tax code with the federal tax code.

This week I had a very special visitor ñ my mother, Harriett Stromer. Mom used to be a legislative clerk for my dad when he served in the legislature, so coming up to the capitol is a great reunion for her with lots of friendly faces. She spent the day in my office and with me on the floor. It was great to have her visit me.

If you or your family will be visiting the Capitol, please feel free to call my office at (515) 281-4618 or email me at linda.upmeyer@legis.state.ia.us.

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