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Gas tax hike, roads, Lincoln Bridge are topics at Sodders Listening Post in Tama

January 31, 2015
By John Speer - Editor ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

"Me personally, 10 cents. Let's do it once," State Senator Steve Sodders (D-State Center) said about the current move to raise motor fuel taxes in Iowa. His view came during a Listening Post he hosted at the Tama Public Library on Friday, Jan. 23.

He predicted the gas tax issue would be a top item before the Iowa Legislature this session. Sodders said lack of money reported to be a $200 million shortfall to pay for construction and repairs is what he has heard since he began legislative service in 2009. (An exception was one year in which Gov. Chet Culver bonded for $200 million for DOT work and the bonds were paid for from gambling revenues, Sodders noted.)

Increased funding would likely address some of the comments heard from the 15 people on hand. A number voiced complaints about road issues.

Article Photos

State Senator Steve Sodders, standing, center, (D-State Center) responds to questions during a Listening Post at the Tama Public library on Friday, Jan. 23. Concerns about road construction, the Lincoln Highway Bridge in Tama and more were heard.
News-Herald/John Speer

Allan Richards a Tama attorney and the Tama County consul for the Iowa Lincoln Highway Association told Sodders the Iowa Department of Transportation was "forcing" a truck route on 5th Street in Tama. The route crosses the 100-year-old Lincoln Highway Bridge and an alternative is needed, Richards said.

Sodders said lack of funding was an issue in moving up the completion of the U.S. 30 Expressway east from Tama to U.S. 218 in Benton County. Tama County Economic Development Director Heath Kellogg called for a stepped-up effort to move this project forward in his column in The news-Herald on Jan. 16.

Complaints about recent repairs already made on the recently completed U.S. 30 Expressway west of Toledo were made as well as concerns about road repairs made at Traer which were reported to have been redone three times.

Other state issues at the Listening Post;

Cannabis oil-Sodders said he expects revisions in the cannabis oil bill passed last year which will allow distribution to patients which qualify. He characterized the approval last year as "the first step" to allow use of the product by those suffering from epilepsy. A move from a status of Schedule I , illegal narcotic, to Schedule II controlled substance, medicinal value, is sought, he said.

School funding- If approved, a six percent increase, would take up all funding and not allow for any other growth in the next budget according to Sodders. He said Iowa's school funding is "woefully low" at a 1.8 percent raise as proposed by Gov. Terry Branstad. Sodders predicted the state would fall from its current rank of 35th to 40th nationally in money allocated for education.

Minimum wage- Sodders said he is not on a committee working on this bill but mentioned concerns are about adjacent states to Iowa raising the minimum and the effect this would have on areas in Iowa on the borders. He said more information is expected to be available.

Judiciary committee focus- Sodders chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and said issues among those being focused on include alternative incarceration for non-violent offenders and more jail time for violent criminals. He said community-based programs average $30,000 for an offender and jail costs are $70,000.



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