116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
First order of business for the new Interstate 380 Coalition: a name change.
"We want a name that's more reflective of what it's going to be," Linn County Supervisor Ben Rogers said of the lobbying group of Eastern Iowa's urban counties.
Two supervisors each from Linn, Johnson, and Black Hawk counties met for the first time today in Cedar Rapids. Rogers, D-Cedar Rapids, said Scott County's interest in joining prompted the change to Urban County Coalition.
"They have expressed their intent to join, they just have to formalize it with their board," said Rogers, adding he expects interest from more of the state's more-populous counties.
Each county contributes $10,000 toward the new group, an amount expected to double in the next fiscal year. Linn County's share comes from the $60,000 currently budgeted for lobbying at the state Capitol.
Supervisors in the three original I-380 counties voted to form the new group in October. Currently, the Iowa State Association of Counties represents all 99 of the state's counties, but only Linn and Polk maintain independent efforts.
Member counties each name two supervisors to sit on the Urban County board, which will meet weekly.
Today's first meeting was largely organizational, Rogers said, but there appears to be a consensus on member counties' priorities for the legislative session starting next month: efforts to reform services for mental health and the developmentally disabled, property tax reform, and the state's gas tax.
Just what positions the coalition will take on those issues is among the issues for next week's meeting and beyond.
"For our next meeting we're going to start moving forward on creating policy," said Rogers. "We're not going to take any kind of partisan positions. Ours will be more substance than partisan."