I sincerely hope you all had a great week and a fun weekend!

This past week has been a very hectic one and arrived “chock-full” of business. In as much as I am serving on four different committees and assigned numerous bills as a part of those committees, plus introducing several bills myself and working diligently with other legislators on bills and amendments and developing legislation concerning constituents’ concerns, I can emphatically state that the pace is both energizing and all encompassing!

The ever-revolving topics of concern at the Statehouse are like a small tornado. If you recall this time last year, the biggest topic of conversation and contention was the deer herd and working on the reduction of its population. This year, I have heard little talk of such.

This year’s hot topic is eminent domain. Every one of my committees and daily conversations with fellow legislators, constituents and lobby groups include this issue. I receive arguments and information regarding all sides of this issue stating why we, (the Legislature), should or should not change the law.

Most city and county officials are content with the law as it now reads. Their position is that they currently use this law sparingly and that by changing the present law, it could hinder economic development projects and growth that benefits the communities and the residents.

On the other side of the spectrum, asking for a change in the law, are concerned citizens that argue of the terrible imbalance of power of the government over the private property owners and the average citizen.

The main change proposed by upcoming legislation is that the burden of proof regarding the necessity of condemnation should be shifted from the land owner to the government. Under the current language, a property owner must show why their land should not be taken in a condemnation process.

The bill that is scheduled to be debated this week in the House would reverse this burden of proof to the city or county, who must then show why the land should be condemned. This is a huge difference and empowers property owners in this process. When the dust settles on this bill, hopefully, the bill will be in a form that all sides can agree with.

Another burning issue that is getting a lot of attention is ethanol usage. The present talk is concerning whether or not to mandate E-85. While a mandate would certainly move the use of ethanol to a new level, it might also place undue hardships on small service stations and other entities that see only a small demand at present for the use of an E-85 blend of ethanol.

On the flip side, this may be one of those problems that corrects itself as more car manufacturers continue to build more and more vehicles designed to utilize multiple types of fuel. In the meantime, it provides all those involved in the issue a chance to become educated in the many types of alternative and renewable fuels that are and will continue to see a lot of discussion and input.

Last week also saw a wide array of visitors to “The Hill” as both bankers groups and credit union groups hosted legislators to present their issues and concerns. As consumers, we enjoy the services of both and tend to view each of them as the same when it comes to services and programs. However, in legislation, they are as different and unique as night and day regarding their respective issues and there is a need for both in order to best serve the consumers.

I also had the opportunity to welcome A.B.A.T.E. of Iowa on Feb. 8. It was very informative and interesting to see and hear all of the educational programs this fine group does that one never thinks twice about or realizes the value of.

Special thanks go out to Fred and Elvira Donovan and Steve Johnson of the Eastern Iowa Chapter of District 21 for taking the time to visit with me. Thanks and ‘kudos’ also are in order to the Iowa Volunteer Fireman’s Association for sharing their many concerns with me upon their visit to Des Moines.

At times, we take for granted or just don’t take the time to recognize and realize what a tremendous service these selfless men and women, from every walk of life, do for us. Only when we see the facts and figures, statistics and service calls, does our appreciation for them increase. As the proud father of a firefighter and EMT, I have an even deeper admiration and pride in our volunteers, their families and their efforts on our behalf!

Last week I also had the opportunity to visit the Iowa tourism displays at the State Fairgrounds here in Des Moines. Our district was very well represented as representatives from Jackson, Clinton and Dubuque counties spread the word of all that Eastern Iowa has to offer.

While many areas of the state claim to “be” or offer that “little slice of heaven” that is the heart of Iowa, Eastern Iowa still shines the brightest with our natural charm, beauty and, perhaps best of all, our people, who are as friendly as they are proud of their communities.

Last, but certainly not least, thanks go out to all who attended or listened in on “Lunch with Your Legislator.” Also, thanks to all those folks who attended the forum in Clinton on Saturday morning. Both were well attended and the discussions were spirited and very much appreciated and informative as always. Be sure to mark your calendars for Saturday when the second Jackson County Legislative Forum will be held at the Maquoketa City Hall at 9 a.m.

Please continue to contact me and share your concerns on these or any issues as often and whenever you like.

Maquoketa Democrat Tom Schueller is serving his first term in the Iowa House of Representatives. He represents district 25, which covers all of Jackson County and part of Clinton and Dubuque counties.