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From the Desk of Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer April 22, 2011

We’re a little soggy here in Des Moines after several days of rain and gloomy weather. Hopefully after all the rain we’ve been having this week, April showers bring May flowers ñ and good planting weather. |We’re a little soggy here in Des Moines after several days of rain and gloomy weather. Hopefully after all the rain we’ve been having this week, April showers bring May flowers ñ and good planting weather.

This week in the House we started with a very special tribute to Iowa’s World War II veterans. This year marks the 70th Anniversary of the beginning of the conflict and the House Republicans and Democrats joined together to recognize Iowans who fought so bravely. It was Iowa’s 34th Infantry Division that was the first division to head to the European theater and today, 2,800 Iowans are a part of that same division, serving heroically in Afghanistan. We have a great deal of pride in those who have served and are continuing Iowa’s rich history of service to America.

The House and Senate also reached agreement this week on Senate File 209. This bill contained funding for Iowa’s indigent defense system, mental health and community colleges to address the budget cuts and underfunding from last year’s budget. It also addressed tax policy, coupling accelerated depreciation (to match Federal law) that assists both small business and agriculture. It also contained assistance for the neediest Iowans.

Another important piece of Senate File 209 was the creation of the Tax Relief Fund, called the Taxpayers Trust Fund in the bill. The Taxpayers Trust Fund sets aside unanticipated revenue the state collects into a fund to be used for tax relief for Iowans. This “extra” money belongs to the taxpayer, and should not automatically be used to increase spending. Many of you have told me that government needs to stop spending more than it takes in ñ the Taxpayers Trust Fund helps prevent government from doing just that.

On Thursday, the governor vetoed portions of Senate File 209 — leaving intact the Taxpayers Trust Fund and the supplemental appropriations. While I’m pleased the governor signed the Taxpayers Trust Fund, obviously, I’m disappointed that he chose to veto portions of the bill that would allow Iowans to keep more of their hard earned money. Make no mistake ñ I will continue to fight for tax relief for Iowans.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack came to speak to the caucus this week. Secretary Vilsack spoke about the work that is being done on a national level at the USDA, including how the federal government will begin work on the Farm Bill next year. It’s important that Iowans let their voices be heard on this important issue that affects Iowa agriculture. Biofuels was another important topic on the agenda. Sec. Vilsack has been a strong proponent of renewable fuels for some time.

Additionally, the USDA is seeking public comment as it is reviewing existing program rules to determine whether they should be modified, streamlined, clarified, or repealed to improve access to USDA programs. The USDA initially intends to focus on Rural Development, the Risk Management Agency, the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Food Safety and Inspection Service.

The Department would like the public’s help in identifying areas where they can simplify and reduce the reporting burden for entry and access to USDA programs, while reducing its administrative and operating costs by sharing similar data across agencies. To offer comments on these issues, Iowans can visit

Besides all of the wonderful veterans that visited the Capitol this week, it was also great to see the Hampton-Dumont 6th graders and everyone from Clear Lake Telecom ñ what a great group of hardworking people.

If you are planning a trip to the Capitol, please contact my office at (515) 281-4618 or As we complete the legislative session, please let me know if there is an event you would like me to attend in your community. I really enjoy that part of my job, so I will get it on my schedule if at all possible!

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