Moore, Shipley hold final legislative coffee event

A crowd of roughly 20 residents from in and around the Red Oak community attended the final legislative coffee of the year at the Montgomery County Family YMCA in Red Oak April 1.
Iowa Rep. Tom Moore said since the last legislative coffee March 4, the Iowa House has been working quickly to get bills passed and sent over to the Iowa Senate.
The Iowa House passed a carbon pipeline bill setting a 90% threshold for eminent domain in regards to carbon pipeline projects, and extra provisions to aid farmers and landowners in recouping losses. Moore said the vote was a tough one.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re for or against the pipeline, it was tough. We were looking at private property rights on one side, and the economic stability of Iowa on the other side,” Moore said. “Everybody that grows corn gets an enhanced corn price when they take corn to an ethanol plant. It all came down to weighing what was important as far as the public good. I voted for the bill, choosing the side of the landowner and private property rights over the benefits of the ethanol and pipeline industry.”
The senate failed to pick up the bill, and Moore said the bill is dead for the current legislative session.
Sen. Tom Shipley said in the Iowa Senate, a bill has been advanced that will update the state’s current safe haven law.
“If someone wants to give up their baby at birth, the change will allow them to take it to an adoption agency right off the bat. There have been two tragic cases in Iowa where the baby was abandoned and the child died. This opens it up to adoption agencies, and they have to follow the same state procedures,” commented Shipley.
During the question and answer session, the lawmakers were asked about the state’s tax burden. Moore said the Iowa legislature was taking steps to reduce Iowan’s taxes.
“Over the next five years we’re graduating down to a 3.9% flat tax for everyone. We’ve gotten rid of the inheritance tax, and retirement income is no longer taxed in Iowa,” Moore stated. “We’ve got property tax bills in the House and Senate we’re working on. Some of them are problematic and have issues we need to work out, but we’re working to lower property taxes as well. Currently, there is $3.2 billion in the Taxpayer Relief Fund that may be used to reduce the flat tax rate beyond 3.9% to 2.5% or lower. But we’re working on improving the tax burden on Iowans.”
Ultimately, Moore said the legislature had to weigh services and tax relief and come up with the best way to bring them both together.  Also, he felt the state couldn’t reduce property taxes and have local schools, cities, and counties be strapped for financing because of that.
The question was also raised as to whether they would support an increase to the Medicaid rate for mental health services, as 2014 was the last time the rates were increased, and other surrounding states had higher Medicaid reimbursement rates than Iowa.
Moore said that funding coversation would be part of the appropriations committee, which he currently did not serve on, but that conversations about an increase had taken place.
Shipley made the promise to speak with the chair of the appropriations committee and make sure it was being looked at.
Shipley was asked how his meeting with the railroads went, in which he said it went well.
“We had county engineers there, and they were glad to finally be able to have a discussion. The conversation largely centered on the railroads taking responsibility of their property, though it remains to be seen what their attitudes will be about addressing some of this stuff,” advised Shipley.
Shipley also stated that actions on his bills remained ongoing, and some were being now addressed at the federal level. Still, he was pleased.
“I wanted to get their attention, and we did, and we still have it. All of my bills got out of committee, and they are still live to generate further conversations. The bill requiring signal lights and arms on every crossing they have would cost millions, and that will keep their attention,” Shipley said.
Shipley also said it had yet to be determined whether the same number of legislative coffees would be held during the next legislative session, or if any of them would be, due to the behavior of attendees, not in Montgomery County but of other legislative coffees they had held this year.
“We’ve had a couple forums that were absolutely out of control, and I’ve told everybody since that if that’s what they’re going to do, we’re not going to do them. This is my 24th, and nobody else I’ve found in the Capitol puts the same number on,” Shipley said. “We may rethink this whole thing after we get done, and decide how many we’re going to do next year, if we do them. I don’t have any problem with doing a number of them like we have been doing, but those unruly forums were completely uncalled for. So we will see what happens when we begin the next legislative session.”

The Red Oak Express

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Red Oak, IA 51566
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