Legislative Update 1/19/17

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Quote of the Week

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.
Charles R. Swindoll

Legislative Update


One more week has expired from the 87th General Assembly.  We are working diligently on a reduction of the state’s FY17 budget by 117 million dollars.  The reason our budget is short is due to a slowdown in our state’s economy due low commodity prices.  The budget reduction is a tough measure but the right and responsible one. 

Many people have already asked if we could couple Section 179 of the tax code with the Federal Tax Code.  Last year I assured folks that we would couple section 179 but that we couldn’t guarantee that we would couple this year.  The fact is we are faced with tough decisions this year, and coupling with the federal tax code would require us to de-appropriate an additional 100 million dollars.  With Education, Medicaid, and Property Tax Back-fill off the table, the most available budget to take from includes Higher Education and the Judicial budgets. 

I believe that our State’s primary purpose is to protect its citizens.  If we were to couple we would necessarily have to furlough State Troopers and Prison Guards and that is just not something we are willing to do.  So, with that, we will look to the future and make a serious attempt to couple next year and to do so permanently to offer some consistency and to provide assurance that coupling will occur. 

House Republicans have budgeting principles have kept the state in sound financial position.  House Republicans have held the line on spending each of the last six years, fighting budget-busting spending proposals from legislative Democrats.  Just last session alone, House Democrats voted to add 532 million in additional spending to the current budget.   
Now is not the time to tap into the State’s Economic Emergency or Cash Reserve funds to balance the budget.  State revenue continues to grow, but it’s at a slower pace than originally projected.  House Republicans are committed to funding the priorities of Iowans in a thoughtful and responsible way.   

Our first bills of the year were delivered to the House Floor, one with 59 House Republican Co-Signers.  The one with 59 co-signers is known as House File 1 and establishes an ongoing review of all state programs to ensure efficiency and effectiveness.  This bill would also require reauthorization of all government programs every 5 years to make certain that programs are still needed and serving their intended purpose. 

House File 28 is another bill in which I was a co-signer and requires schools to teach financial literacy courses to better prepare Iowa’s students following graduation.  These types of classes will promote important skills and concepts for adult life like money management, college planning, savings and investments, credit and debt, and insurance coverage. 

Once this very tough decision on de-appropriation is complete I anticipate very quickly moving through K-12 education funding and some other big issues that have received press recently in the news.  I appreciate serving you in the Statehouse, YOUR HOUSE, and look forward to this week’s upcoming forums and getting feedback from you.  Together we will bring NW Iowa’s values to the Concrete of Des Moines. 

Representative John H. Wills

Legislative Priorities 


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.
The House Republican position on government spending is reasonable, sustainable and based on simple common-sense budgeting principles.


Over the next few weeks, I will highlight a non-scientific survey that was conducted in October, 2016 with surveys being mailed to around 2,000 people.  I would like to let you know what the folks from House District 1, who returned the surveys asked for and why I will make some decisions that I chose to make this year. 
This week I would like to discuss the first question of the survey and that is:

  1. Which issues do you believe are the most important for the Legislature to address in 2016?

This question really does get to the heart of what we will be attempting to do this year.  It is clear, per the survey, that jobs and the economy are the top issue, followed closely by cutting government spending.  Since, House District 1 has a high employment rate and we are nearly at full employment, I assume that the answer is looking at spurring the economy along with higher paying jobs.  In addition, the second highest response rate shows cutting government spending and that will be a priority for us this year in the Statehouse. 

2017 Legislative Forums

January 21 – 9:00am – Eggs & Issues – Spencer Chamber, 1805 Highway Blvd., Spencer
January 21 – 11:30am – IGL Forum – Spirit Lake City Council Chamber, 1803 Hill Ave., Spirit Lake
February 4 – 8:00am – Eggs & Issues – Forster Community Center, 404 Main St., Rock Rapids
February 4 – 10:30am – Eggs & Issues – Ocheyedan Senior Center, 845 Main St., Ocheyedan
February 18 – 9:00am – Eggs & Issues – Spencer Chamber, 1805 Highway Blvd., Spencer
February 18 – 11:00am – ILG Forum – Pearson Lake Art Center, 2201 US-71, Okoboji
February 25 – 8:00am – Eggs & Issues – Forster Community Center, 404 Main St, Rock Rapids
February 25 – 10:30am – Eggs & Issues – Sibley Library, 406 9th Street, Sibley
March 11 – 11:30am – ILG Forum – Spirit Lake City Council Chamber, 1803 Hill Ave., Spirit Lake
March 25 – 8:00am – Eggs & Issues – Forster Community Center, 404 Main St, Rock Rapids

News from Around the District

It's time to get registration forms in for the U of O Winter Games

With just one week until the University of Okoboji Winter Games, participants are encouraged to get registered for various activities.

Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber President Jeff Thee explains.  "Once they're filled up, they're filled up and we don't have any room for any more, so we want everybody to get their event schedules in and get their registration forms in, and also, for any of our events like the Chili Cook-off or the Chocolate Classic, if you'd like to be a vendor for any of those, we still have a few spaces left but please don't procrastinate because we're two weeks out, and it's going to go by fast."

He notes that some new events have been added this year.  "We've got a couple new events that are put on by, of course, our presenting sponsor, Parks Marina.  At noon on that Saturday, the 28th, they're going to have a  tug-of-war contest, and that's going to be by OBW, the Okoboji Boat Works on West Lake Okoboji, and at 4 pm after the Polar Plunge, they're gonna have a keg toss on the ice, and that will be outside The Gardens in Arnolds Park.  So, every year, everybody comes up with ideas, hey, could we try this?  You bet, it's Okoboji lets try anything."

Environmental Protection & Natural Resources

Deadline to buy paddlefish license is Jan. 31

Iowa anglers have until January 31 to buy their 2017 paddlefish license for the Missouri and Big Sioux rivers. The special paddlefish season runs from March 1 to April 15.

Anglers must buy the paddlefish license on the DNR website at or by calling 800-367-1188. A resident paddlefish license sells for $22. Anglers must have a valid Iowa fishing license to buy the special license.

“Iowa anglers rarely get the chance to harvest a fish of this size,” said Ryan Hupfeld, fisheries management biologist. “The average length of fish harvested in 2016 was about 33 inches, but paddlefish have the potential to reach lengths of over 50 inches and weigh over 50 pounds."

The license, harvest tag, regulations, and survey card will be mailed to purchasers in February. The postage paid survey card helps the Iowa DNR evaluate the success of the paddlefish season, so please fill out and return survey cards whether a paddlefish was harvested or not.  The Iowa DNR is always working to improve the paddlefish season for anglers so any input provided is greatly appreciated.

The paddlefish license is required for the Missouri and Big Sioux rivers, but not for the Mississippi and Des Moines rivers.

For more information about Iowa’s special paddlefish season, visit the DNR website at


Tour of Our District

Lake Pahoja Recreation Area

This 282 acre area, located 4 miles south and 2 miles west of Larchwood, provides a wide variety of recreational opportunities for the public’s enjoyment. The 72 acre lake, which is surrounded by restored habitats, has excellent angling opportunities for large-mouth bass, blue-gill, and channel catfish fishermen. A concrete boat ramp provides an easy and quick access.  Only electric trolling motors, oars, and paddles are permitted on this beautiful lake due to its size. There are paddle boats, canoes, and kayaks available to rent if needed. Along with fishing, there is a designated swimming area that can be utilized during park hours, although lifeguards are not provided. The beach area  has both basketball and volleyball courts near by. The area offers a total of 71 camp sites including 8 modern electrical/water and 63 modern electrical.  For group gatherings, the park has 2 enclosed shelter houses along with 6 open shelters, as well as a scout area for any scout groups use. Throughout the park you will find 3 playgrounds, numerous picnic tables, pedestal grills, picnic shelters, 3 sand volleyball courts, a basketball court, a 9 hole disc golf course, 4 modern restrooms, and 3 vault toilets. There are 6 modern rental cabins available year round overlooking the lake, along a 3.5 mile long concrete bike trail that encircles the lake and a variety of natural habitats including shoreline, prairie, native trees and shrubs, and a food plot. Public Hunting is allowed in season on a portion of the area. Loaded weapons are only allowed on these designated areas.   Reservations and availability for Cabins and Shelters can only be made by contacting the Lyon County Conservation Administration Center at 712-472-2217.

State of Iowa Fun Fact

17th General Assembly

The 17th General Assembly convened for 72 days from January 14 to March 26, 1878. Governor John Gear was inaugurated on January 17, 1878, at the age of 52. John Stone served as Speaker of the House. Lieutenant Governor Frank Campbell presided over the Senate. There were 12 Democratic members and 38 Republican members in the Senate. In the House of Representatives there were 24 Democratic members, 73 Republican members, and three members of the Greenback Party, a total of 150 members in the Iowa Legislature. The 1870 federal census showed Iowa’s population at 1,194,020. It would grow to 1,624,615 by the federal census of 1880.

Tour of The Iowa State Capitol

Iowa House of Representatives Chamber

The Iowa House of Representatives Chamber, located on the second floor of the Capitol, was dedicated in 1884. There are 100 members in the House. The legislators use this chamber during each session of the Iowa General Assembly. Each General Assembly consists of two consecutive sessions -- one session each year -- for two years. Every session begins on the second Monday in January, extending approximately 100 days in even-number years, and 110 days in odd-numbered years. The months between the sessions are referred to as the “interim” period. Each representative holds a two-year term, and must run for reelection at the end of the term if desiring to continue to serve in the House. Extensive damage was done to the House Chamber during the 1904 fire.  After the fire, the entire ceiling, stained glass, and chandeliers had to be replaced. During the session, visitors’ galleries are open to the public. During the interim, visitors are welcome to visit the chamber.


Map of the Week

The map can be found here

Visitors of the Week

Rep. John Wills (R-Spirit Lake) is visiting with Heather Bartz, Courtney Newgard, Jamie Johnston and Deb Metz during FaDSS Day on the Hill.

Pictured here are James Kessler (Lake Park), Jim Kearney (Mills County), Bernie Wissink (Sheldon), Brian Kessler (Lake Park), and Rep. John Wills (Spirit Lake).

Pictured here are Rep. John Wills, Rep. Dan Huseman, and Rep. Skyler Wheeler and Lewis and Clark Water Regional Water Systems board members.


Quick Links

State Representative, John H. Wills
Governor, Terry Branstad
Iowa Legislature
Iowa Judical Branch
Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey
Secretary of State, Paul Pate
State Auditor, Mary Mosiman
State Auditor, Mary Mosiman
State Senator, David Johnson
State Treasurer
U. S. Congressman, Steve King
Senator Chuck Grassley
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