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District 72 Update

Newsletter for Thursday, March 15, 2018

March 21, 2018
By State Rep. Dean Fisher - R-Montour , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Week 10 of the session was the "Second Funnel", where all policy bills in the House have to be passed on the floor and sent over to the Senate, and vice versa in the Senate.

Notable Bills:

Senate File 2289 - 28E Agreements with Tribal Entities - Iowa code section 28E allows public agencies across all levels to enter into contractual agreements for purposes such as mutual fire protection, police protection, and other cooperative arrangements. This bill adds federally recognized Indian tribes (which includes the Meskwaki Nation) to that list of public agencies that can enter into these agreements.

Article Photos

Last week, Rep. Dean Fisher (R-Montour) welcomed the Pansegrau family to the Iowa House of Representatives. The family was visiting the Capitol to talk with legislators and tour the historic Iowa State Capitol during Iowa Homeschooling Day on the Hill. Pictured are Amy and Haley Pansegrau, Toledo, and Rep. Fisher.
-Photo provided

28E agreements currently exist between the Meskwaki Nation and public agencies in Tama County, but there was some question as to their legality, hence the need for this bill. This bill passed the House 98-0 and now goes to the Governor for signature.

Senate File 2311 - Omnibus Energy Bill - This bill is a large, complex bill that deals with numerous aspects of how our gas and electric utilities are regulated. Of note in this bill was a provision that dealt with how "Energy Efficiency" programs are funded.

Most people don't realize that a hidden tax is imposed on our electric and gas bills to fund these energy efficiency programs which has included appliance rebates, free low energy light bulbs, weatherization programs, and many other programs over the years. This fund has spurred the growth of a small industry dedicated to creating and executing these efficiency programs.

The administration of these programs within the utilities themselves and the businesses that work off this fund consume roughly 20% of the fund, so only about 80% of the tax comes back to the consumer in terms of goods and services. The original legislation passed decades ago capped this tax at 2% of the total bill, but over time that cap was raised to the point that it currently is about 5% of your total bill, or roughly $162 million per year.

Also, many years ago the practice of including this tax as a line item on the bill was outlawed by the legislature as a result of complaints from consumers that objected to it.

On Thursday the Commerce Committee amended this bill so that the 2% cap is reinstated, reducing the ratepayer burden by roughly $100 million, and so that the tax can reappear on your bill so that our consumers will know exactly what they are paying for these programs.

The Revenue Estimating Conference met last Friday to release the March Revenue estimate for the remainder of the Fiscal Year 2018 and for Fiscal Years 2019. For Fiscal Year 2018, the revised estimate was $300,000 above the previous estimate, a small improvement. For Fiscal Year 2019, the estimate was $58.8 million above the previous estimate. However, Iowa law requires us to use the lower of the December and March estimates when calculating our budget.

Tuesday of this week was Homeschool day, the Capitol was filled with young families learning about state government and this beautiful building. I had the pleasure of meeting with Troy and Sara Titus and their four children from Marshalltown, Josh and Erica Lyon and their four children from Garwin, and Amy Pansegrau and her daughter from Toledo.

On Wednesday I also was able to meet with Sarah Kielman and her children from Melbourne along with several other homeschool families from Ames.

On Thursday, Wade and Cindy Mitchell from Buckingham visited with their two granddaughters. I also had the pleasure of meeting with members of our local Rural Electric Co-Ops on Wednesday as they lobbied for provisions in the energy bill.

As always, please feel free to contact me at dean.fisher@legis.iowa.gov or 641-750-3594.

 
 

 

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