The Behn Report

Jerry Behn (R), Boone

~by State Senator Jerry Behn

February 21, 2019

The legislature continues to work on subcommittees and debate a number of topics. The topics for the sixth week ranged from organ donation and the sale of mushrooms in farmers markets, to financial literacy, and yes, even traffic cameras.

The months we are not in session are productive for a number of reasons, one of which is we get feedback on the bills passed during the year. As I understand it, as a result of last year’s tax bill, blood centers were somehow classified as “manufacturers” and thus owed taxes. Senate Study Bill 1114 makes the necessary changes to get this fixed. It was something that was not intended, so we are working to fix it ASAP.

Another bill capturing the attention of many is legislation permitting sports wagering. Senate Study Bill 1168 creates a regulatory framework that ensures responsible gaming for the players and supports the integrity of the sport. The State Government Committee discussed the bill this week and it will continue through the legislative process.

Senate Study Bill 1109 verifies parents are fulfilling their child support obligations in order to be eligible for food assistance. Federal law already allows for this policy and we want to ensure children are not left behind. No one should be able to receive government assistance when they are not fulfilling their obligations to their children.

On Tuesday, Governor Reynolds signed into law the two education bills the Senate passed last week. After their timely passage in both the House and Senate, schools can now start planning their budgets for the next school year. These bills provide nearly 90 million additional dollars for Iowa’s public school students.

This week included more floor debate and we are sure to see an increase in the bills on our desk as the deadline to get bills out of committee quickly approaches.

Easing the tax burden on Iowans – Easing the tax burden on Iowans has been a priority for Senate Republicans since the first day we took the majority. This week, we continued to build on our accomplishments by passing legislation to expand Section 179 expensing to S-corps, C-corps and financial institutions for tax year 2018.

It was imperative to get this legislation passed as soon as possible to assist tax filers who seek a tax advantage of Section 179 expensing. Under Section 179 of the Internal Revenue Code, taxpayers can deduct the cost of qualifying property used in a trade or business in the year the property was placed in service, rather than deducting the cost over multiple years using depreciation.

Passing Senate File 220 this week for 2018 maintains the consistency between types of business structures as we have always maintained relating to Section 179.

This is one of several bills the legislature will evaluate during the session to address taxes in our state. A competitive tax climate in Iowa fosters a strong business climate in our great state, which is a commitment we will continue to pursue.

Pro-Growth Policies Pass the Senate

Expanding career opportunities for Iowans has been a consistent focus in the Iowa Senate for the last three years and this week was no different.

On Monday, the Senate debated and passed SF 230. This bill deleted an out of date provision prohibiting an Iowa brewery from also distilling spirits. Eliminating this regulation provides Iowa breweries with the opportunity to expand into new areas, develop new products, and create new career opportunities throughout Iowa.

Continuing with that theme, the full Senate approved a bill Wednesday, SF 229, to no longer require a state agency to independently verify the contaminant removal claims made by companies selling water filters. Iowa was the last state in the nation to maintain this requirement. Not even heavily regulated states like California and New York have this outdated requirement in their law. It was certainly time for Iowa to join the other 49 states with this common-sense change to Iowa law. It improves consumer choice and removes one more unnecessary government regulation.

While these two bills were not considered major pieces of legislation and passed with bipartisan support, every step made in the legislature to remove obstacles to economic growth in this state matters. Two small steps could encourage the job opportunities and employment of Iowans across the state. The Iowa Senate remains focused on keeping unemployment low, expanding career opportunities, and raising wages for all Iowans.

As always, I want to hear from you. My Senate number is (515) 281-3371 and my home number is 515-432-7327 or write me at: State Capitol, Des Moines, IA 50319 or at my home address: 1313 Quill Avenue, Boone, IA 50036 or email me at jerry.behn [at] legis [dot] iowa [dot] gov.

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