Iowa Senate Republicans say the state overcharged taxpayers to the tune of $800 million. They believe that money should be returned. Senate Democrats have other ideas. On Wednesday, they blocked an effort that would have given a credit in the amount of $375 per taxpayer or $750 per family.
Senator Randy Feenstra (R-Hull) proposed an amendment to Senate File 53 that would provide the credit on Iowans’ 2013 tax returns.
“When you collect extra taxes, the only responsible thing to do is to return it to its rightful owners, the taxpayers of Iowa,” Feenstra said on Senate floor Wednesday.
Senate Democrats, who hold a 26-24 advantage, refused to take up the measure and ruled it “non-germane”. SF 53 is a bill that proposes transferring money from the Taxpayers Trust Fund to help cover school district funding.
“When we have excess revenue, we do not invent new ways to spend it or start new programs. We want to send it back to the taxpayer,” said Senator Jack Whitver (R-Ankeny), in a prepared statement. “This money belongs to hard-working Iowans and they deserve to have it back.”
“The argument that this is not real money rings pretty shallow,” said Senator Rick Bertrand (R-Sioux City). “$375 is a car payment and $750 is a mortgage payment. What I have learned is that these politicians love to spend.”
Minority Leader Bill Dix (R-Shell Rock) expressed optimism that the Iowa Senate made some progress toward reducing the property tax burden on Iowans, but is disappointed that Democrats do not believe taxpayers should have their money returned to them.
“It is bittersweet that Democrats made a decision to block a vote to return to hard-working Iowans their overpayment of taxes,” Dix said. “Additionally, Senate Democrats voted down an amendment making the property tax relief permanent.”
Legislative Roundup: Republicans Propose Voter ID, Dems Push Medical Marijuana
In other legislative news, Senate Republicans are making another attempt at passing a Voter ID bill. SF 85 would require voters to show a photo ID prior to casting a ballot at their polling place. The bill is sponsored by Senator Kent Sorenson (R-Milo) and all 24 Republicans signed onto it.
“We have a great voting system in place but it could be better,” Sorenson said. “Elections in Iowa are too important to not be protected.”
Republican Leader Bill Dix pointed out that 31 states already have some sort of Voter ID requirement and 15 of those states require a photo ID. Iowa Senate Democrats are guaranteed to block any efforts at passing a Voter ID bill.
Over in the Iowa House, Rep. Dwayne Alons (R-Hull) proposed a bill that would make it easier for veterans to purchase certain types of firearms. House Study Bill 64 proposes exempting veterans from obtaining a permit from a county sheriff before buying pistols and revolvers. Alons is the chairman of the House Veteran Affairs Committee.
Meanwhile, Democrats in the Iowa House and Iowa Senate are pushing a bill that would allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to chronically ill patients. Senate File 79 is sponsored by four Democrats, including Senator Jack Hatch (D-Des Moines). Hatch has openly expressed interest in running for governor in 2014.
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