Week eleven of the session is done. We continue to debate bills on the floor of the House. We've completed work on 127 bills to date on the House floor, including a number of Senate bills that have been sent over.
On Monday, March 25, I had the opportunity to manage a bill through debate and vote on the floor of the House for the first time. The bill was House File 521, a Natural Resources committee bill that dealt with DNR license changes. Specifically, it clarified that minors in state institutions are not required to have a fishing license, that non-resident active duty military personnel stationed in Iowa can obtain hunting and fishing licenses at resident prices, that active duty military personnel and honorably discharged vets don't need to complete a hunter safety course, and that residents over 18 can complete the hunter safety course on-line. The bill passed 91 to 5 and now goes to the Senate.
I also had the opportunity to floor manage another Natural Resources related bill on Wednesday, March 26. This was House File 499, a bill to allow crossbows to be used during the late muzzleloader deer hunting season. This bill passed 94 to 0. Adding crossbows as a weapon for deer hunting will not only give hunters an opportunity to try their skill with this weapon, but it will also spur sales at our sporting goods shops.
State Rep. Dean Fisher
Property Tax Reform
Property tax reform is one of the key issues in this session of the General Assembly. There have been three proposals introduced, one in the House, one in the Senate, and the governor made a proposal. On March 19, a bill that combines major elements of the House and Governor's proposals was introduced, House File 609. The Governor's proposal is a 20% reduction in commercial property taxes over 4 years with the General Fund backfilling that revenue reduction for local governments and a reduction in the cap for property tax growth to 2% from the current 4%. The House proposal was to reduce the additional school levy portion of the property tax from 12.5% of the school per pupil funding down to 0%. In House File 609 this provision was changed so that the additional school levy is reduced from 12.5% to 5%. This would reduce taxes on all property types, not just commercial.
This combined bill provides for $155 million in property tax relief in Fiscal Year 2015, growing to $668 million dollars in relief when it is fully implemented in Fiscal Year 2018. This bill is now in the Appropriations subcommittee for review.
Sticking to Principles
As I mentioned in my last newsletter, I will be donating my unused expenses to the districts volunteer fire departments.
On Friday, March 22, I visited with the Haverhill Fire Department chief, Jim Stalzer, and Haverhill councilman Dick Stalzer, and gave them a check for $500 for their Firehouse building fund.
They are working on raising $300,000 for a new firehouse and hope to begin construction this year.