Government

Tax-cut talks getting closer to the finish line: Iowa Capitol Digest, April 23

The dome of the State Capitol building in Des Moines is shown on Tuesday, January 13, 2015. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)
The dome of the State Capitol building in Des Moines is shown on Tuesday, January 13, 2015. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)

A roundup of legislative and Capitol news items of interest:

MILITARY HONORS: Gov. Kim Reynolds will honor top Reserve Officer Training Corps students for outstanding achievement next week. The governor will present the Governor’s Cup Award to 10 students involved in ROTC programs at these campuses: Buena Vista University; Coe College; Iowa State University; University of Dubuque; University of Iowa; and the University of Northern Iowa. The awards honor the cadets for leadership, academics and military achievement. Eight cadets and two midshipmen will be honored during a Wednesday afternoon ceremony at the Iowa National Guard’s Joint Forces Headquarters in Johnston.

WORKERS’ MEMORIAL DAY: Iowans will gather Friday to pay tribute and reflect upon Iowa workers who lost their lives while working during the annual Workers Memorial Day ceremony. An 11 a.m. observance will be held at the west terrace lawn near the Iowa Capitol in Des Moines. A total of 32 Iowans died during calendar year 2017 from injuries sustained while working, and many were injured in the workplace. “Workers Memorial Day is a day to honor and remember Iowans who have died in Iowa’s workplaces and serving in our military in the past year,” said Iowa Labor Commissioner Michael Mauro. “This is also a day to reflect on the lives that were lost and to renew our commitment to workers safety and health in the workplace.” The family and friends of the deceased have been invited. Mauro will be joined by Gov. Kim Reynolds, acting Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg, Beth Townsend, director of the Iowa Workforce Development, Mark Cooper, president of the South Central Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, and Ken Sagar, president of the Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.

TAX-CUT TALKS NEAR FRUITION: Gov. Kim Reynolds and top Republicans in the House and Senate said Monday they were in the process of finalizing details on plans to cut state income taxes and fund state priorities in fiscal 2019. “We had great talks over the weekend and I think we’re at a point where the end is in sight,” said Senate Majority Leader Jack Whiter, R-Ankeny. He said he expected the announcement would be made by the governor once the details of the agreed-upon tax-cut package are made public. Reynolds told reporters Monday she looked forward “to getting something done” and was working with GOP leaders to shut down the 2018 legislative session. Whitver said the parties were close to agreement on the final budget differences and could adjourn the current session by the first week in May if all the pieces fall into place. Negotiators have been working to resolve differences over state income tax cuts that ranged from $1.3 billion to $2 billion over five years and would follow federal GOP tax reforms enacted last December that were estimated to reduce Iowans’ federal tax burdens by about $1.8 billion.

MEDICAL CANNABIS REVAMPED: The Senate Ways and Means Committee voted 11-3 Monday to authorize the medical cannabidiol board to make changes to the state’s medical cannabis program regarding which ailments are covered by the law and how much of the addictive chemical may be present in the medical product. Current law caps the allowable tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) level at 3 percent and prescribes what ailments can be treated with medical cannabis. Senate File 2372 would allow the 3 percent THC limit to be raised — a move requested by a Des Moines company chosen to manufacture medical cannabis in Iowa and provide it to authorized dispensaries by Dec. 1. The Senate changes would revise the definition of qualifying debilitating medical conditions to those associated with severe or chronic pain and other conditions where a doctor would determine medical cannabis could be beneficial. During a subcommittee discussion Monday, a representative from Drug-Free Iowa advised against the changes as “a dangerous step for Iowa.” Senators said they hoped to debate the issue yet this session but was uncertain how the issue would fare in the Iowa House, which has resisted some of the proposals in the past.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “First of all, I am the governor of Iowa, not the governor of Missouri, and it is not my place to weigh in on every scandal, every tweet, every comment. I am working on behalf of Iowans. It is up to the people of Missouri, the legislators or the courts, to decide if he has acted in appropriately. I don’t know the details. My job is to work on behalf of Iowans, and that is what we are doing every day.” — Gov. Kim Reynolds responding to a reporter’s request for comment Monday on criminal allegations brought against Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, who campaigned on her behalf last fall at a fundraiser in Des Moines.

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