Community members question legislators

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


While not everyone who took a ticket to talk during the first of three legislative briefings held Saturday got the chance due to time constraints, issues that did come up included school funding, health care, and funding of retirement benefits in the wake of tax reform.

For two hours, state representatives Jarad Klein and Dave Heaton and Sen. Kevin Kinney answered questions posed on the issues being worked on in Des Moines as part of the 2018 session. Due to the large number of people attending, tickets were given for a chance to talk and the stubs were drawn from a fish bowl. The legislators answered the questions posed to them.

Roger Schroeder opened the discussion, asking about tax credits that were given to corporations and how the state was working to keep the credits in line.

Klein said the Legislature had taken a look at credits last year, saying that many tax credits do a great deal of good statewide, including in the biodiesel industry. Kinney said he believes the ways and means committee is beginning to look at some of the credits and the state can become more fiscally responsible. Heaton said Main Street Iowa has helped the Washington square, which couldn?t have happened if not for historic tax credits.

Kurt Hora spoke about the water quality issue. He said that he hoped bills on the issue could move forward so producers had certainty of what was expected of them. Klein expected the water quality bill to come to a vote in the next week or 10 days.

Domestic Abuse Advocate and coalition president Brad Koenig expressed concern that victim services are taking funding cuts, with a 26 percent cut last year and a 19 percent being proposed this year.

?The first place these cuts impact is rural counties,? he said.

Kinney said the state receives money from the federal government which can?t be used to backfill existing programs. He also said the 26 percent cut last year lost the federal match.

?We need to take care of the victims,? Kinney said. ?The victims did not ask to become victims. The victims became victims because of someone else.?

Mike Jorgensen, interim superintendent of the Highland School District, commented that the proposed 1.5 percent allowable growth increase for school funding wouldn?t be adequate. He also asked the legislature to allow an increase in spending authority for districts.

During the meeting, director of Washington County Public Health Danielle Pettit-Majewski also spoke with the legislators on several issues related to health care.