The 2014 Iowa Senate adjourned for the year, wrapping up their work just before midnight on Wednesday. Their final day included passage of a multifaceted property tax reform package that was three years in the making. An education reform bill that was lauded by Iowa’s homeschooling community also gained approval.
“I am particularly proud of the historic property tax reform we passed in this body today,” said Senate Minority Leader Bill Dix (R-Shell Rock). “We made good on a promise that has been repeatedly been made to Iowa taxpayers. Over the coming years, the property taxes on all Iowans will be reduced by more than a half a billion dollars. That money remaining in the pockets of Iowa small businesses and families will help create jobs and expand opportunities for people to decide how to invest and spend their hard earned dollars.”
“This is huge,” said Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Red Oak). “This has been a priority with the governor, with the House and with the senate. It is extremely important to us. It’s a comprehensive plan. It affects all classes of property, whether you’re agricultural, residential, commercial, industrial. It helps everyone.”
An education reform package passed 91-0 in the Iowa House and 40-10 in the senate. It included a handful of reforms that provide more freedom for homeschool educators. That includes eliminating annual reporting to the state, eliminating requirements for homeschooling educators to assessment reforms to their local school district and allowing parent-taught drivers education.
The Republican-led Iowa House’s work is not yet complete. They plan to continue their session on Thursday morning. The House is expected to back the property tax reform bill passed by the senate.
The other key remaining piece of legislation is a healthcare bill. A tentative compromise on expanding Medicaid to low income Iowans had been reached late Tuesday night.
Democrats wanted to simply add 150,000 more people to the Medicaid rolls, with the promise that the federal government would fully fund the expansion for three years, via Obamacare.
Governor Branstad resisted the expansion and worked to craft an Iowa based plan. The tentative agreement, titled the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan, combines Branstad’s plan with the Democrats’. It calls for more accountability from participants in order to continue receiving benefits.
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