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Gazette Daily News Podcast, May 26
This Stephen Schmidt from the Gazette Digital News Desk, and I’m here with your update for Friday, May 26th.
It'll be sunny again on the last day of the working week. According to the National Weather Service it will be sunny, with a high near 77 degrees in the Cedar Rapids area. On Friday night it will be clear, with a low of around 49 degrees.
Enjoy the nice weather this weekend, but maybe check if your air conditioner works: There will be several days above 90 degrees following the holiday weekend.
A rush to enact new property tax breaks for Iowa seniors has led to confusion and concerns of fraud among county and city assessors, who say they are struggling to verify applicants’ age.
Iowa seniors can begin applying for a new property tax break created by legislation signed into law three weeks ago by Gov. Kim Reynolds.
The new property tax law was approved with near-unanimous support in the Iowa Legislature during the last days of the legislative session.
The law took effect immediately and provides a $3,250 exemption on the taxable value of a home owned and lived in by Iowans age 65 and older.
The Iowa Department of Revenue last week amended an existing homestead tax credit exemption form to allow seniors to also apply for the new exemption. To claim the new exemption, applicants must provide their date of birth and certify information on the form is correct.
However, ambiguity in guidance provided by the Revenue Department — as well as the quick timeline for implementation — has caused confusion and consternation among assessors over what documents they can request and examine from Iowans to verify they’re 65 or older and qualify for the tax break, said Linn County Assessor Jerry Witt.
Witt said his office has been inundated with calls, email, letters and in-person questions from seniors about the new property tax exemption.
“The media a good job of getting the word out and we’re doing what we can to try to simplify” the process, Witt said. “It doesn’t seem to be going the best, so far.”
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday sharply limited the federal government's authority to police water pollution in certain wetlands, bringing praise from Iowa’s Republican politicians as a win for farmers but warnings from environmental groups worried about the effect on clean water and flooding.
Thursday’s ruling was the second decision in as many years in which a conservative majority narrowed the reach of federal environmental regulations.
The justices boosted property rights over concerns about clean water in a ruling in favor of an Idaho couple who sought to build a house in that state’s panhandle. Chantell and Michael Sackett objected when officials identified a soggy portion of the property as a wetlands that required them to get a permit before filling it with rocks and soil.
By a 5-4 vote, the court said in an opinion by Justice Samuel Alito that wetlands can be regulated under the Clean Water Act only if they have a “continuous surface connection” to larger, regulated bodies of water.
The outcome almost certainly will affect ongoing court battles over new water regulations, including for wetlands, that the Biden administration put in place in December. Two federal judges have temporarily blocked those rules — called WOTUS, or Waters of the U.S. — from being enforced in 26 states, including Iowa.
“The federal government has no authority to impose blanket jurisdiction over puddles, waters, and wetlands with vague, overreaching regulations on behalf of Biden’s ever-changing climate agenda,” Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa said in a statement. “This is a big win for Iowa, where nearly every industry is impacted by WOTUS, including 46,000 small businesses and countless farmers. I’ve long fought to put in place a permanent, clear, and commonsense WOTUS definition, and will continue working to bring much-needed certainty to Iowa’s job creators.”