Legislative Update 3/10/16

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Quote of the Week

The difference between death and taxes is death doesn't get worse every time Congress meets.
~ Will Rogers

Legislative Update

This week, House Republicans and Senate Democrats moved a step closer to adjournment by reaching agreement on several major issues before the Legislature.
Tax Coupling
 Part of the agreement between House Republicans and Senate Democrats includes House Republican’s tax coupling bill which provides $95 million in tax relief to Iowans.
The tax coupling bill has an impact on the FY 2016 ending balance and the FY 2017 on-going revenue levels.  Any agreement will impact discussions on school aid and budget targets.
The bill couples with everything except bonus depreciation in tax year 2015.  It does not couple in tax year 2016 leaving that decision to the 2017 Legislature.  There is a $95.7 million impact on FY 2016 revenue/ending balance.  That money goes directly to taxpayers.  Additionally, $86.5 million is added to FY 2017 on-going revenue with roughly $55 million of that available for appropriation under the state’s expenditure limitation law.
Governor Branstad has stated the House GOP coupling plan is something that he will support. 
 The other part of the agreement involves the so-called “consumables” issue.  HF 2443 from 2014, which had broad bipartisan support, clarifies the definition of replacement parts, including the supplies consumed during the manufacturing process as exempt from sales and use tax. Advocates argue that Iowa’s manufacturers are doubled taxed under the current law and administrative rules.  The agreement ends this double taxation.  It also allows manufacturers who pay good wages and benefits to invest in equipment and employees.  Passage of this language also eliminates the ability of the Department of Revenue to reinterpret the administrative rules governing consumables and gives manufacturers certainty in regards to their tax liability.

Revenue Estimating Conference
At the Revenue Estimating Conference meeting on March 16, the Legislature will have a new piece of data to use as part of its discussion about education funding policy and the state budget.  For the first time, the REC will be required to develop revenue forecasts for three fiscal years.
As part of the FY 2016 standing appropriations budget bill last session, the General Assembly passed language requiring the three-member forecasting panel at their spring meeting to develop a forecast for not only the current fiscal year and the fiscal year in which the budget is being worked on, but also for the succeeding year.  The first time this forecast will be done is at Wednesday’s meeting
Why is this change important?  Legislative Democrats continue to insist on setting Supplemental State Aid for schools 18 months before those figures go into effect.  But those discussions have no revenue forecast to be based on.  The Legislature is required to determine school funding when they have no data as to how much tax revenue the state is expected to receive.  And while the initial forecast will likely change over the next nine months, legislators will now have some data on which they can make an informed decision.
The Revenue Estimating Conference will have its meeting on Wednesday, March 16 at 10 AM, in the Supreme Court Consultation Room (RM 102).  In addition to the General Fund projections for FY 2016, FY 2017, and FY 2018, the panel will also make projections for the gaming revenue in those years as well.
I would like to thank you for the input that you give me and for the opportunity to represent you and to bring our Northwest Iowa values to the concrete of Des Moines.  Please let me know your thoughts or ideas, and please say hi if you see me.

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.

It is important to Iowans that we do not spend more than we have and live within our means.  While standing by this principle for the last five legislative sessions, Republicans have found common ground with the Governor and Senate Democrats.  We expect that to continue this year.  Living within our means is something the hardworking taxpayers of Iowa do every day.  Government needs to do the same.
The full report from the Department of Revenue can be found here.

House Republicans will continue to fight to:
  • Fend off irresponsible budgeting practices from Democrats that put future generations at risk of more debt and higher taxes.
  • Build a skilled workforce by helping workers gain critical skills needed for 21st century jobs and careers.
  • Ease the burden on Iowa taxpayers by preventing an unexpected tax increase on thousands of Iowans including farmers, small businesses, and families, by coupling with the federal tax code.
  • Defend the sanctity of human life by banning the barbaric practice of trafficking of human baby body parts, and defunding abortion providers.
  • Protect the Second Amendment by allowing the possession of firearm suppressors and letting parents teach their children proper firearm safety.
  • Protect the privacy and liberty of Iowans by extending Fourth Amendment protections to Iowans' electronic communications and data.

Legislative Forums

March 19
8:00am    Eggs and Issues - Forster Community Center, 404 1st Avenue, Rock Rapids, IA
11:00am  Town Hall Meeting - Sibley Public Library, 406 9th Street, Sibley, IA

Need Help With Managed Health Care?

Contact Information:
Nic Pottebaum, Governor's Office:   515-725-3505
Paige Thorson, Dept. of Human Services:  515-281-4387

Additionally, consumers may contact Iowa Medicaid Member Services at 1-800-338-8366 and providers should contact Iowa Medicaid Provider Services at 1-800-338-7909.

Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Is managed care new in Iowa?
A: Managed care is not new in Iowa.  Since 1990, a portion of Iowa’s Medicaid population has been under managed care.
Q: How many other states have managed care?
A: 39 other states contract with managed care companies for some or all of their Medicaid
Q: Will my benefits change under managed care?
A: No.  Members will receive the same health care coverage.  A change in coverage would require passage of a state law and approval by the federal government. 

News from Around the District

Test Results Confirm Large Canine Shot In Osceola County Was Wolf

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources announced last Friday test results of two large canines shot this winter in Osceola and Van Buren counties confirm the animals were wolves. DNR officials say they likely originated from the Great Lakes population in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.    

Iowa DNR Director Chuck Gipp says an investigation was conducted into both incidents and that no charges will be filed, even though gray wolves are listed as endangered at both state and federal levels.    

DNR officials say there’s been an increase in the number of wolves in the state and that hunters need to be aware of the difference between them and coyotes.

Environmental Protection & Natural Resources

Iowa Boat Registrations Due April 30

2016 is a boat registration year and Iowans will be registering about 235,000 boats before April 30.

Boat registrations are handled by Iowa’s county recorders. Boat owners should bring their current registration to recorder’s office in the county where the individual resides when they renew.

Nonresidents who register their boat in Iowa will go to the county where the boat is primarily used.

Owners who purchased a boat from a private seller and is registering it in their name should bring the signed registration and to make sure the title is signed over to them, if applicable.

Boat registrations are good for three years. The fees go to support water trails, navigation enforcement, aquatic invasive species, boater education and safety, and the registration system


Tour of Our District

Spirit Lake Massacre Monument and Graves

Many American pioneers were unlucky, succumbing to the myriad hazards of the trail on their way to a better life. But of those countless unlucky pioneers, a few were fortunate enough for their story of doom to be enshrined in a monument or museum. The Donner Party lives on, and so do the people hauling those rickety Mormon handcarts.

And then there were the settlers at Spirit Lake, in what is now Arnolds Park, Iowa. By all accounts it was an idyllic spot -- until a band of angry Sioux Indians paid a visit in early 1857. By the time the Sioux had left, 36 of the settlers had been slaughtered, and the only survivors were three young women and one girl: Abigail Gardner. Taken as slaves, one was eventually beaten to death, one was deliberately drowned, and the remaining two were abused until the Indians eventually sold them back to the Whites. Abbie was one of them.

Abigail Gardner tried to live a normal life afterward, but everyone wanted to know about the massacre and her captivity. She finally wrote a book about it, then used the profits at age 47 to return to Arnolds Park, buy the cabin and land, and run it as a tourist attraction. In 1895 she got the state to build a 55-foot-tall granite obelisk at the site. It's impressive, although it's difficult to see among the grove of trees that have grown just as tall around it (The cabin, still standing, is now run by the state as a museum).

The dead that could be found in 1895 were dug up and buried at the base of the obelisk, except for six members of Abbie's family, who were re-laid to rest under a neighboring pyramid of rocks. Abbie and two of her sons are buried next to it, under an odd granite bench that's off-limits behind a spiked iron fence. The massacre spot is now wedged in among lakeside summer cabins and carefree vacationers. Their indifference is excusable, since the monument blends into park foliage in an area favored now for walking dogs.

Abbie's brief time as a Sioux slave was extremely unpleasant, and she had nothing good to say about her captors for many years. Forgiveness, however, apparently came to her in the end; chiseled into the back of her bench is a eulogy that concludes, "orphaned and enslaved by hostile Sioux, she lived to embrace in Christian benevolence the American Indian and all Mankind."

Separate grave site for six.
(See more at:

State of Iowa Fun Fact

Iowa is home to the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” The Grotto of the Redemption, a religious monument in West Bend, is considered to be the world’s most complete man-made collection of minerals, fossils, and shells, the value of which is estimated to be more than $4.3 million.45 Things About Iowa You Probably Didn’t Know

How a Bill Becomes a Law

(This weekly series is the third of eight...)


A report of the committee’s recommendation is sent to the Secretary of the Senate or Chief Clerk of the House, who will place the bill on the regular calendar, which lists bills that are eligible to be debated. A bill considered important may be brought up for consideration by the chamber ahead of the other bills listed before it on the calendar. The majority leader is responsible for deciding which bills on the calendar will be debated.

Tour of The Iowa State Capitol

Supreme Court Chamber

The Supreme Court Chamber was dedicated in 1886. The bench is made of Santo Domingo mahogany, featuring carvings by William Metzger. Metzger carved the original bench, and he also carved the expansion of the bench.

The ceiling of the courtroom was replaced following a fire in 1904. That fire also destroyed most of the ceiling of the House of Representatives chamber, one floor above.

The Supreme Court has general appellate jurisdiction in both civil and criminal cases. The Court has authority to supervise the trial court, to prescribe the procedure in matters brought before it and provides the rules for admission of attorneys to the practice of law. It also has the power to prescribe rules of civil, criminal, and appellate procedure. Any rules prescribed by the Court and reported to the Legislature become effective unless changed by the Legislature.

The Court will hear approximately 220 oral arguments within the course of a year. Annually, the Iowa Supreme Court issues approximately 350 rulings on cases. This chamber, which is no longer used for court cases, is now utilized as a committee room for the House of Representatives. All court business is now conducted in the new Judicial Branch Building on the Capitol Complex.

Map of the Week

The map can be found here

Visitors of the Week

This week, Rep. John Wills (R-Spirit Lake) and Megan Jones (R-Sioux Rapids) welcomed Spirit Lake Students to the Iowa House of Representatives. The students were visiting the Capitol to learn more about government and to go on a tour.  
Pictured above are Rep. John Wills (Spirit Lake), Spirit Lake students, and Megan Jones (Sioux Rapids).

This week, Rep. John Wills (R-Spirit Lake)  welcomed NW Iowa Bankers to the Iowa House of Representatives.
Pictured here are Rep. John Wills (Spirit Lake), Carl Hartson, Chet Veschoor, Shelly McCarty and Luke Donnenwerth.

Pictured here are Rep. John Wills (Spirit Lake), Rep. Megan Jones (Sioux Rapids) and Rep, John Kooiker (Boyden) in support of "End It for Autumn" - End Child Abuse campaign.

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
Senator Joni Ernst
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Copyright © 2016 State Representative, John H. Wills, All rights reserved.

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