Legislative Update 2/05/2015

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State Representative

"Government's first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives."  Ronald Reagan

Legislative Update


Last Thursday I was privileged to listen, for the first time, to MG Timothy Orr, Adjutant General of the State of Iowa, in his “State of the National Guard” address.  His message was  meaningful succinct when he said, “The Iowa National Guard is Mission Focused and Warrior Ready”.  Of particular interest to me was his statement during the address that our state is the most veteran friendly state because of the Home Base Iowa Program.

This past Saturday, I was honored to sit down with the chief executive of a business which is moving to the Sibley area from St Paul, MN.  This business, Capital Arms, hopes to bring at least 6 employees into our area this year and add an additional 30-50 more within the next 3-5 years as they ramp up to full production of guns and ammunition.  When I asked Clint Gerner, CEO, what the decisive factor was in their choice of relocation specifically to NW Iowa, his response was the Home Base Iowa Program.  Their intention, as a veteran-owned business, is to simply hire as many other veterans as possible.  The Home Base Iowa Program equips them advantageously to draw in these veterans and their expertise.   This program is working and sending the signal that Iowa is open for business committed to attracting business and jobs here in all economic sectors and continued economic growth.

I’m always interested in hearing your thoughts and issues.  You can contact me via email at, call my office at 515-281-7320 or follow me on Facebook at “Wills for Iowa”.  It is my pleasure to serve you in the Iowa House and I work hard each day to make your voices be heard in Des Moines.

 Warmest Regard,
2015-16 House Republican Budget Principles

House Republicans are committed to these principles to produce a balanced and sustainable state budget:
  1. We will spend less than the state collects;
  2. We will not use one-time money to fund on-going needs;
  3. We will not balance the budget by intentionally underfunding programs; and
  4. We will return unused tax dollars to Iowa’s taxpayers.
House Republicans are focused on increasing opportunities and protecting tax dollars for Iowans.  Highlighted below are several bills that House Republicans are helping move forward:
House File 124
Increases the opportunity for Iowa families to participate in college savings accounts, known as "529 Plans".  The bill expands the window in which contributions can be made to the accounts.  It passed the House earlier this week and now heads to the Senate for consideration.
House File 166
As part of an overall effort for Iowa veterans that passed last year, the Legislature created a homestead tax credit for veterans with service-connected disabilities.  This bill expands the laws to include veterans who have a permanent disability and have deemed unemployable.  HF 166 is currently in the House Ways & Mean Committee.
House File 1
The first bill filed by House Republicans this year is a bill to ensure responsible budgeting practices for years to come. HF 1 requires an approach to budgeting known as “zero-based” budgeting. Currently, departments submit budget requests that simply build upon their previous budgets. Zero-based budgeting would end that practice and instead require them to provide supporting data to justify why each line item is necessary in their budget request.
Zero-based budgeting helps ensure that state government programs are operating in the most efficient manner possible while also protecting taxpayer dollars. HF 1 is currently in the House State Government committee.
Oversight for the taxpayers
One of the most important functions of the Legislature is to act as a check on the other branches of government – and to protect the taxpayers’ dollars and bring oversight when it comes to projects they’ve invested in. 
This year, the House Oversight Committee has begun an investigation into the delayed opening of the new state penitentiary.  Additionally, the House Appropriations committee has invited both the University of Iowa and the American Institute of Business (AIB) to discuss their recent announcement that the UI will take over the campus in Des Moines.
House Republicans are committed to being a watchdog of taxpayer dollars and holding state government accountable for their use of resources.
House File 125
The first bill to be sent to the Governor this session is one that will save Iowa taxpayers money.
HF 125 conforms to tax revisions made by Congress that will save taxpayers money in areas such as: out-of-pocket expenses for teachers, tuition and fees, and mortgage insurance premiums.  It will save Iowa businesses money through updates to the Research Activities Credit, and small businesses equipment costs.

Legislative Forums

February 21, 2015 



Council Chambers

420 2nd Ave. West 

Arnolds Park 


Maritime Museum

243 Broadway Street

February 28, 2015
Rock Rapids
Forster Community Center
404 Main Street

March 7, 2015 



Council Chambers

420 2nd Ave. West 

Arnolds Park 


Maritime Museum

243 Broadway Street

March 21, 2015 



Council Chambers

420 2nd Ave. West

Arnolds Park 


Maritime Museum

243 Broadway Street

March 28, 2015 
Rock Rapids
Forster Community Center
404 Main Street

Priorities from the House

Legislature Sent Tax Relief Bill to Governor

The first bill the Iowa Legislature is sending to Gov. Terry Branstad calls for nearly $100 million in tax relief, according to its sponsor. However, not everyone sees it that way. 

SF 126, the Internal Revenue Code update bill, passed the House 94-0 Tuesday after being approved 49-0 in the Senate. Among its actions, it allows teachers to deduct up to $250 in out-of-pocket classroom expenses, allows the deduction of up to $4,000 for higher education tuition and expenses, couples the Iowa tax code with the federal code for a number of small business tax credits and helps middle-class homeowners.

“It’s almost always a good thing to let Iowans keep more of their money,” floor manager Rep. Chris Hagenow, R-Windsor Heights, said.

News from the District

Lewis And Clark Pipeline Awarded Additional Federal Funding
A pipeline that will deliver Missouri River water to towns and rural water systems in southeast South Dakota, northwest Iowa and southwest Minnesota has picked up more funding from Washington.

The Lewis and Clark Regional Water System will receive an additional $6.6 million from the Bureau of Reclamation, in addition to the original  $2.4 million budgeted for this year.

Executive Director Troy Larson says that $9 million will help the project award another contract.

He says senators and representatives from the three states helped secure the extra funding.

Larson says the water system is 65 percent done and is delivering water to 11 of its 20 members.

Environmental Protection

UI Hydrologist Presents to House Environment Panel on Trends in Iowa’s Rivers
On Thursday, February 5, 2015, Dr. Keith Schilling, Hydrologist at the University of Iowa, made a presentation to the House Environmental Protection Committee concerning his research into nitrate and phosphorous trends in Iowa rivers.  These nutrients are two of the major of water quality impairments in Iowa.  They are largely accruing from nutrient escape from non-point agricultural sources such as Iowa’s verdant crop fields.  That research indicates that the news on phosphorous reduction front is largely good with most monitoring sites showing declining levels in monitored streams with 34 of 42 sites declining (12 significantly) and only 8 exhibiting minor increases at station located in either Western or Southern Iowa.  The evidence indicates that this is because phosphorous runoff is strongly related to river discharge and channel change wrought by heavy precipitation events.  Much of the decline phosphorous over the last 14-years can be attributable farming practices employed by farmers that reduce soil erosion and increase infield infiltration of rainfall into agricultural soils. 
The news on nitrate was more mixed, with state-wide trend showing no significant increase in stream nitrate levels (37 of 46 sites), but 9 of the monitoring station yielding increasing trends, all located in Western or Southern Iowa.  Collectively, the nitrate study data though indicates a non-significant increase in nitrate level in Iowa rivers of 0.05 milligrams per liter (mg/l) rainfall per year or 0.7-mg/l change per decade.  Other research efforts have indicated that amount of nitrate coming from farm fields into Iowa rivers is related to the productivity of row crop production in particular watersheds and mistiming issues concerning topsoil metabolism of prior year row crop roots systems at a time when nutrient uptake is at its lowest level due to winter or early spring minimal vegetation growth.  Dr. Schilling responded to question on how soon his research could be used to establish nutrient level baseline to measure nutrient reduction effort that it would take some time as establishing baseline condition involves historically tracking changes in field runoff and stream flow conditions largely attributable to cyclical weather patterns.  This means that such research will likely have to occur over at least one major weather cycle which more than likely will involve at least one or two solar sunspot cycles (normally about 11 years long)  or longer if other major global climatic cycles are deemed to be significantly influential on the flow and discharge rates of Iowa waterways.  Dr. Schilling closed with comments noting that it takes a long time to build up a data record sufficient for scientific research purposes.

Tour of Our District

This mural above is unique in many ways. First of all, it's the only mural that is also a sign. Secondly, it's the first mural that we've done on a building that already had a mural on it elsewhere. Third, it sits on the building that is the information center for our City of Murals ' the Community Affairs office. It's also unique because of its 3-d aspect ' look at the painter's leg. Plus it's unique because it's a muralist self-portrait. The man painting the mural is ' the man who painted the mural ' Curt Nelson. The sign is also the first official sign that promotes Rock Rapids as a City of Murals. It was sponsored by the Community Affairs Corporation.

It is where we came from, where we are, and where we are going; but, freedom is anything but free. Rather it is a priceless treasure that we Americans have earned with our toil, our blood and in some cases, our lives. We, the people of Rock Rapids, are proud of our heritage. We prize our liberties. Let us not forget that we live in freedom not because it is our right, but because those who have gone before us pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to earn and defend it. We shall be eternally indebted to those who have died in the struggle to protect our freedom, and to those who's lives were taken simply because they lived in freedom. The survival then, of this freedom is up to us. It is our responsibility, our duty to maintain our liberty, no matter who or what threatens it.

The "War Memorial" mural was completed in 2003, and is painted on the side of the VFW club, whose members sponsored the mural. This mural is not painted on panels, but directly on the side of the building. This creates a very interesting effect. The montage depicts in sepia tones: a World War I memorial, World War I soldier, McArtuhur's return to the Philippines, the Normandy invasion, Iwo Jima flag raising, Korean War monument, Vietnam wall and memorial, Vietnam soldier, soldiers in Desert Storm, 3rd Marines at victory in Tikrit, Iraq and Abraham's tank ' all surrounding the full-color VFW emblem. At the end, there is blank space, suggesting the future that is not yet written. This makes for a powerful presentation.
Steve Troy is a professional mural painter from South Dakota.

The dray wagon was the modern mode of delivery service in the early 1900's. Starting his business at the young age of 17, Walter Scott Stewart was here to provide service for those who needed merchandise transported to the local shops and homes.
Location: Car Wash ' just south of the junction of Highways 9 & 75, at South Second Avenue and Union Streets. This is the one that started it all, the Dray Wagon mural is painted on panels and depicts one of Rock Rapids' early businessmen, Walt Stewart, and was sponsored by the Stewart family.
Artist Curt Nelson is a professional sign painter for Signman in Inwood, Iowa.

State of Iowa Fun Fact


One of the initial acts of the first Iowa Legislature in 1847, was to create the Great Seal of Iowa. The two-inch diameter seal pictures a citizen soldier standing in a wheat field, surrounded by farming and industrial tools, with the Mississippi River in the background. An eagle is overhead, holding in its beak a scroll bearing the state motto: “Our liberties we prize, and our rights we will maintain.” The motto was the work of a three-man Senate committee and was incorporated into the design of the seal at their suggestion.

Map of the Week

The map of the week is of the Percent Change in Certified Enrollment by School District. 

The map can be found here

Quick Links

Governor Branstad


Iowa Judicial Branch


Iowa Legislature


 Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey


Secretary of State Paul Pate


  State Auditor Mary Mosiman


State Senator David Johnson


State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald


U.S. Representative Steve King


U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley


Visitors to the Capitol

Legislators Host Realtors

(DES MOINES) – Reps. John Wills (R-Spirit Lake) and Megan Jones (R-Sioux Rapids) met with several realtors at the Capitol this week. Kelly Pullen from Spencer, Richard Ortman from Milford, Lynn Thompson from Okoboji, and Tracey Radcliffe from Spirit Lake visited the Statehouse to participate in Realtors Day on the Hill. Realtors were able to meet with legislators and discuss issues concerning them during this event.

Pictured here are Rep. Wills, Lynn Thompson, Tracey Radcliffe, Richard Ortman, Rep. Jones, and seated is Kelly Pullen.

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