by Rep. Larry Sheets
I am sitting at my desk preparing for the start of Session on January 13 and reflecting on the activities of last year… I learned the value of the staff in helping me understand so many issues quickly. I learned who the statesmen were and I learned who the politicians were. My last clerk, Karah Kruger went back to college to pursue a law degree. I was very thankful for her diligence, encouragement, and faithfulness to work with me. This year, I will have a new clerk helping me get organized and managing my schedule. She is from Centerville and her name is Alesha Dittmer. I feel confident that she, too, will do an excellent job.
A partial list of legislative accomplishments last year include: Education Reform, Property Tax Relief, Debt Reduction, Beginning Farmer Preference, Liability Protection for farmers hosting their land for educational purposes, and Online License Renewal.
The House Republicans stuck by their principles to: 1) spend less than the state collects; 2) not use one-time money to fund on-going needs; 3) not balance the budget by intentionally underfunding programs; 4) and by returning unused tax dollars to Iowa’s taxpayers. The State of Iowa is now in solid financial shape. The state has nearly $1 billion in its reserve accounts, plus a surplus of about $600 million to $700 million as Iowa’s economy continues to rebound. However, some of the surplus is already committed to fund education reform and property tax programs authorized last session, and I am concerned by what the federal government might do to Iowa’s economy with the increase in health insurance costs.
This session, my priorities will focus on reducing corporate Income Taxes making Iowa competitive with other states for jobs; helping the Economic Development of Southeast Iowa; legislative support for Governor’s position in keeping local school boards and Iowa control over school curriculum (and making federal Common Core optional); providing a levy to allow compensation for rural transportation; preventing automatic reduction in prison sentence for heinous capital crimes against children (e.g. Shepherd girl murder); sun-setting Rural Improvement Zones; passing family values legislation; and beginning a “Convention of the States” effort to control federal spending.