Government

Battling over the backfill, senate confirmations go through, special exception to allow sales during political motorcycle rally: Iowa Capitol Digest, April 4

State Sen. Randy Feenstra, R-Hull, and Rep. Guy Vander Linden, R-Oskaloosa, chairmen of the Senate and the House Ways and Means committees, respectively, confer Wednesday on the back bench in the Senate chambers at the Statehouse in Des Moines. The two men are key players in behind-the-scenes negotiations on the GOP tax cut  package that is expected to be enacted yet this session before the Legislature adjourns. (Photo by Rod Boshart/Gazette Des Moines Bureau)
State Sen. Randy Feenstra, R-Hull, and Rep. Guy Vander Linden, R-Oskaloosa, chairmen of the Senate and the House Ways and Means committees, respectively, confer Wednesday on the back bench in the Senate chambers at the Statehouse in Des Moines. The two men are key players in behind-the-scenes negotiations on the GOP tax cut package that is expected to be enacted yet this session before the Legislature adjourns. (Photo by Rod Boshart/Gazette Des Moines Bureau)

A roundup of legislative and Capitol news items of interest for Wednesday, April 4, 2018:

BACKING THE BACKFILL: A survey released by Iowa House Democrats found local elected officials believe Iowans will face higher property taxes and cuts in local services if Republicans enact House Study Bill 678 that would phase out the state property tax backfill.

The online survey completed by 478 school, county and city officials found that 93 percent said they would have to raise property taxes if the backfill stops.

Ninety percent said the end of the backfill would lead to cuts in services, with three-fourths of the respondents saying cuts would come in public safety.

Among school officials, 29 percent said they would have to increase class sizes. 24 percent would reduce pay for teachers and 23 percent would delay technology upgrades.

The backfill was part of the bipartisan agreement in 2013 that enacted commercial property tax relief.

BILL SIGNINGS: Gov. Kim Reynolds signed 21 bills into law on Wednesday, including one that targeted action by the Linn County Board of Supervisors.

House File 2253 concerns competitive bidding requirements for construction by a private party of property to be lease-purchased by government entities. It came about because of a lease-purchase arrangement the Linn County Board of Supervisors entered into — without open bidding — to build a new public health building. That contract has been signed so the bill, which requires bids on such projects, will not affect it.

Other bills signed by Reynolds included ones on fence viewing, fish farming, horse racing and amusement concession.

For information, visit https://governor.iowa.gov/.

SENATE CONFIRMATIONS: The Iowa Senate agreed Wednesday to confirm 38 appointments to state posts, boards and commissions proposed by Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Senators voted 48-1 to approve Brian Ohorilko to stay on as administrator of the state Racing and Gaming Commission — a post he’s held since 2012 — as well as the appointments of Kristine Kramer to another term on the Racing and Gaming Commission and Rebecca Guinn and Harold Homes to the state Environmental Protection Commission.

Senators voted 47-1 to approve “en bloc” the confirmations of 34 other gubernatorial appointees, including Linda Crookham-Hansen, Mark Kittrell, Brice Lehrman and Christian Murray to the state Economic Development Authority board.

Iowans nominated to fill state positions by the governor that are subject to confirmation must receive at least 34 affirmative votes to meet or surpass the two-thirds majority threshold.

Sen. Rich Taylor, D-Mount Pleasant, cast the lone no vote Wednesday.

TOY RIDE: At a rare joint meeting of the House and Senate Government Oversight committees, House Study Bill 686 was approved to allow A Brotherhood Aimed Toward Education (ABATE) of Iowa to sell commemorative T-shirts and other memorabilia on the state Capitol complex grounds during its annual motorcycle rally toy run that benefits children.

ABATE sells the memorabilia to offset the costs associated with a police escort from the Capitol grounds to where the toys are delivered — day cares, domestic abuse shelters or other agencies that serve children.

Sales are prohibited on the Capitol grounds without prior approval.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Just like a grease trap in the back of a tavern, this thing stinks.” — Sen. Rick Bertrand, R-Sioux City, in speaking Wednesday against changes the Iowa House made to a Senate bill that would limit liability for bars and restaurants accused of over-serving a drunken customer.

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