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DES MOINES — Legislative debate became a history lesson on the only Iowan elected to the White House as the Iowa House approved a tax credit to help raise funds for the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch.
The House voted 87-3 on Tuesday to approve House File 588, which would create a Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum tax credit to allow donors to claim a 25 percent deduction on their Iowa income taxes. The credit would be capped at $5 million, creating a 4-to-1 match to fund a $20 million renovation of the library and museum in West Branch, where the 31st president grew up.
Typically, presidential museums are renovated every 12 to 15 years, said Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton. The Hoover site has gone 28 years without renovations — the longest of any of the presidential libraries.
The museum hopes to use the tax credit to expand its donor network, Kaufmann said, adding that it is a one-time request and will sunset after three years.
There was bipartisan support for the tax credit, including from Rep. Dave Jacoby, D-Coralville, who is reluctant to support additional tax credits until the Legislature does a thorough review of all state the tax credits.
“It’s a great investment (in) a museum that, quite frankly, does a lot for the whole state of Iowa,” Jacoby said.
“The only thing we have left to work on is vote in a Democratic president from the state of Iowa to create balance,” he added.
In support of the bill, lawmakers noted Hoover’s humanitarian efforts to feed millions of Europeans after World War I. He received 87 honorary degrees from American and European institutions, was made an honorary citizen of 24 European cities and received nearly 500 medals, awards and honors.
Elected president in 1928, Hoover was blamed for policies that contributed to the Great Depression. That led Rep. Steve Hansen, D-Sioux City, director of the Sioux City Public Museum, to compare the Republican Hoover to Democratic President Jimmy Carter.
“Their president terms are not recalled fondly, but their human efforts are widely regaled internationally,” he said.
The House also concurred with the Senate on HF 761 for the state fire marshal to establish a local fire protection and emergency medical services provider program to make grants to volunteer fire departments for fireworks safety programs and equipment purchases.
The bill now goes to the governor.