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Bartz: “This session has been unique”

From Senator Merlin Bartz:

By the time you read this, the probability is that the 2012 Iowa Legislative Session will have adjourned and I will finally be able to finish planting my last corn field. I am personally looking forward to some “quiet time” in the tractor cab, and the opportunity to reflect as to the successes and disappointments of the last 122 days spent in Des Moines working for your values and priorities.

Truly this session has been unique for a couple of different reasons. First, it was a session that followed the adoption of a redistricting plan, and that happens only once every ten years.  Second, the combination of an election year and the split control (Republicans in the House and Democrats in the Senate) added to the uniqueness. Third, with the national economy still in the doldrums and dealing with major issues like unemployment, job creation, and tight budgets both for families and governmental entities, there was an urgency to address many needs, but major disagreements as to how they should be addressed.

Without having the knowledge as to whether the governor will sign particular bills or line-item veto portions of appropriations bills (in Iowa the governor can veto specific items IF a bill appropriates money), it would be premature to crow about certain accomplishments.  That will have to wait for a future newsletter after the timeframe for the governor’s action closes.

However, as an overview, it might be worth reviewing a few of the major subject matters of the session.

I came to Des Moines in January with high hopes of tackling some major issues that have affected jobs creation and career opportunities in our state.  Whether its property tax reform, regulatory reform, budget reform, or education reform, all of these four big pillars have and continue to have major effects on the Iowa economy and our jobs environment.  Property tax reform because Iowa Main Street businesses are taxed at a higher rate than homes and farms.  Regulatory reform because bureaucratic red tape continues to kill the American entrepreneurial spirit.  Budget reform because state government should have to meet the same criteria that your family budget does, and education reform because our children (and Iowa taxpayers and parents) deserve the best our money can buy.

On the desk of the governor at this time are bills dealing with education improvements and rules and regulation reform.  The budgeting process was also improved as government spending continues to receive more scrutiny and as one-time funding of ongoing expenses continues to lessen. The fourth major issue of property tax reform continues to remain elusive, as no bill was passed. This was a major disappointment not only to me, but I suspect to you also, as a $2.3 billion dollar property tax increase is forecast over the course of the next few years for homeowners, farmers, and businesses.

As things wind down and the planting and graduation season is over (my youngest, Marena, graduates on the 20th), I look forward to reconnecting with you in town hall meetings and at the various upcoming community events.  As I serve on the Administrative Rules Review Committee, I will also be able to keep you updated on things in Des Moines this summer as this committee meets once a month to critique the governor’s executive branch agency proposals.

Until next week………

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