The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

April 15, 2013

Senate passes bills that benefit Eastern Iowa

Rita Hart
The Clinton Herald

---- — One of the major bills passed out of the Senate last week relates to historic preservation and cultural and entertainment district tax credits.

Since its creation, this tax credit program has consistently proven itself as a catalyst for economic and community development.

Senate File 436 will provide a much-needed funding increase and practical changes to help the program continue its successful track record of revitalizing Iowa main streets and neighborhoods. It is a well-crafted bill that will produce immediate results. The funding increase will substantially reduce the current backlog that exists, funding all projects previously not funded and permitting many new applications to be funded this July.

Scott J. VanDeWoestyne of the Quad-Cities Chamber says the historic tax credits bill has made possible every significant project in downtown Davenport and will fund several ongoing and future projects.

The city of Clinton is using this tax credit with the Wilson Building Project. SF436 will produce a “hard-dollar impact,” according to Nathan Sondgeroth of the Clinton Area Chamber, and promises to spur additional investment for downtown Clinton.

The Senate also passed SF435, the Agriculture and Natural Resources Budget. Included in this bill is funding for soil conservation and the nutrient reduction water quality initiative, as well as an increase for park operations and maintenance along with forest health.

I have received many e-mails encouraging full funding of the Resource Enhancement and Protection fund (REAP). SF435 funds REAP at $20 million. This is the first time REAP will have been fully funded in the history of the program.

An agricultural bill that I ran on the floor this week passed unanimously and is on its way to the Governor’s desk. HF457 directs the Department of Natural Resources to give beginning farmers preference in leasing habitat management land from DNR. Members of the House Agriculture Committee suggested this bill, which is designed to help beginning farmers get started in agriculture.

Many major bills are still under negotiation, including school reform, property tax reform and mental health care reform. We have much work to do to finish the session by the scheduled May 3 deadline.

On a different note, the Statehouse hosted a bi-annual event this week for former state legislators who have died during the last two years.

It was a beautiful, dignified and meaningful ceremony attended by family members and many state employees.

Please stay in contact with me. Also, consider signing up for my electronic newsletter at www.senate.iowa.gov/senator/hart.

Thanks to everyone who has e-mailed, called or written to express your views on legislation. I appreciate your input.

As always, you can call me during the week at (515) 281-3371 or on the weekends at (563) 210-1252. E-mail me at rita.hart@legis.iowa.gov.

Senator Rita Hart represents Clinton County and northern Scott County in the Iowa Senate.