Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

April 7, 2014

Legislators report to Knoxville

Steve Woodhouse
Journal-Express

Knoxville — The final Legislative Coffee of 2014 was held Friday afternoon in Knoxville, with Rep. Greg Heartsill and Sen. Amy Sinclair in attendance. 

Sinclair opened the meeting by sharing what work she has done. Sinclair was busy the previous week working on language for legislation regarding human trafficking, dyslexia and vocational rehabilitation. In closing, she reiterated her concern that the state government's spending this year will increase by 7.5 percent. This is not reflective of what's going on in Iowa households. 

With news of the House taking action to end confidential settlements for state workers, Sinclair said she has been asked by the AFL-CIO union to oppose this legislation in the Senate. Sinclair said she believes that she is glad to support legislation that will "shine a light" on dealings with state government. The Legislature is continue to investigate the actions of Iowa's governors to see if people were fired for professional reasons and not political. 

Tim Pitt, Knoxville resident, asked the legislators why the proposed legislation only applies to the Executive Branch of state government, and not the Legislative or Judicial. 

"I would be happy opening all of us up to it," Sinclair said. She and Heartsill believe that the bill only includes the Executive Branch because that branch is specified in an executive order, signed by Gov. Terry Branstad, which kicked off this discussion. 

"There will be amendments," Heartsill said. One of which is expected to broaden the bill to include the rest of state government. 

Pitt also asked the legislators about HF2438, passed 95-0 in the House. The bill, as passed by the House, would have retroactively charged sales tax that would have cost Iowans millions. 

"I have no excuse for this," Heartsill said. The bill was introduced to correct a mistake made, in which sales taxes were removed from heavy farm machinery transactions. Dealers of this equipment continued to collect the sales tax, not realizing that the law had changed. According to Heartsill, he was told that the bill was just a "technical correction" and the retroactive clause was not mentioned to him prior to the vote. 

"I didn't read this (bill)," Heartsill said. "I'm sorry. We all got bamboozled." 

Time is dwindling for the 2014 legislative session. Heartsill said he is hopeful that the last few weeks will focus on important work. One thing he would like to accomplish is the removal of a tax form checkoff to donate to political parties. He has researched placing a checkoff on Iowa tax forms, with the proceeds benefitting Senior Nutrition, but Iowa law limits the number of checkoffs that can be on the tax form. Senior Nutrition is taking a back seat to political parties in this way.