Government

Energy efficiency advocates still lobbying, communication companies get a tax break: Iowa Capitol Digest, May 2

Gov. Kim Reynolds addresses about 500 people Wednesday at the annual SMART Economic Development Conference at the Embassey Suites in downtown Des Moines. Now in its 33rd year, it is Iowa’s largest conference devoted to economic development. It is co-sponsored by Iowa Utility Association and by the Iowa Economic Development Authority. (Photo by Rod Boshart/Gazette Des Moines Bureau)
Gov. Kim Reynolds addresses about 500 people Wednesday at the annual SMART Economic Development Conference at the Embassey Suites in downtown Des Moines. Now in its 33rd year, it is Iowa’s largest conference devoted to economic development. It is co-sponsored by Iowa Utility Association and by the Iowa Economic Development Authority. (Photo by Rod Boshart/Gazette Des Moines Bureau)

A roundup of legislative and Capitol news items of interest for Wednesday, May 2, 2018:

ENERGY EFFICIENCY ADVICE: Energy efficiency advocates called on Gov. Kim Reynolds Wednesday to put her “priorities over politics” and veto legislations they say will result in higher energy costs for Iowans, reduce energy efficiency incentive funding and subject solar customers to discriminatory rates and practices.

“I don’t know why lawmakers would put her in this situation,” Amanda Zwanziger, a member of the governor’s Iowa Energy Plan working group, said Wednesday about Senate File 2311 that majority Republican lawmakers sent to the governor. The bill does the opposite of the plan’s call for increasing energy efficiency and decreasing the operating costs of buildings.

She’s holding out hope because after working on the Iowa Energy Plan that Reynolds has praised, Zwanziger said “I know where her priorities lie and it’s been in encouraging growth in the energy efficiency space.”

TELECOM TAX BREAK: On a 60-35 vote, the Iowa House approved a change in property taxation for communications companies that critics said could cost county governments $30 million.

Senate File 2388 would modernize an outdated system of taxing communications’ companies’ property, backers said.

Currently, the Department of Revenue annually assesses telecommunication companies based on the value of all property, including the number of miles of lines, the number of poles, all real estate and any other property, including personal and mixed property, owned by the company.

Other properties are primarily assessed on real property, including land, buildings and structures.

Regular commercial property in the state is assessed by local assessors and receives a 90 percent rollback because of the 2013 commercial property tax relief legislation.

Under the bill, the exemption would be phased in from 2019 to 2022.

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The total reduction in property taxes would be $9.6 million in fiscal 2021 and grow to $25.7 million after 2024.

The House amended the bill, so it goes back to the Senate, which previously approved it 39-8.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We’re talking about grandma’s ride to the grocery store to buy a quart of milk, a loaf of bread and a can of cat food for Muffy, the cat, and we’re going to charge her and we’re going to put a sales tax on her ride and that just isn’t right to me when she’s living on a pension and a fixed income.” — Sen. Matt McCoy, D-Des Moines, opposing imposing sales taxes on “new economy” services such as Uber

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