By Brian Moore
Special to the Herald
Many non-controversial bills were passed last week and our first budget bill debates have begun.
Proposed budget bills include:
• HF-602 funds the DOT, authorizing spending for state roads and transportation. This reflects an increase of $2.4 million over FY2013.
Regarding the need for more funding for our roads and bridges, please send me photos showing problems we are experiencing. I want to show them to fellow legislators.
• HF-603 funds statewide elected officials and other state administrative agencies.
• HF-604 funds the Department of Education, early childhood, post-secondary education through the regents, community colleges, college student aid commission, the blind, Iowa Public TV and others.
This proposed budget reflects an increase of $33.9 million over FY 2013. The Department for the Blind will see a $200,000 increase. Additional funding for education will come in the standings bill which is yet to be debated.
Traffic camera regulations
The Iowa Department of Transportation announced it will soon adopt rules for implementation and placement of traffic enforcement cameras, both fixed and mobile, on the primary highway system.
In addition to Iowa’s interstates, which are part of the primary highway system, these regulations will also govern any municipal extension of that system.
Iowa free file program
Taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of $57,000 or less have the option to prepare and file their federal and state income tax returns online for free.
Iowa is one of 22 states that have modeled their program after the IRS free file program used by millions of taxpayers to e-file their federal income tax returns at no cost to the taxpayer. The Iowa Department of Revenue says it issues 96 percent of individual income tax refunds to those who filed electronically within two weeks of filing.
According to the IRS, 36 million taxpayers have prepared their federal returns through free file since the program began more than a decade ago. Learn about free file and who is eligible to file their taxes for free by visiting www.taxprephelp.org or the Iowa Department of Revenue or the IRS.
The following bills must still be passed by the Senate and be approved by the governor before they become effective.
• Confidentiality of gun permits and penalties for straw purchases — HF-535 passed the full House on Wednesday with bipartisan support by a vote of 95 – 3. The legislation requires sheriff’s offices to keep names of non-professional firearm permit holders confidential.
This recently became an issue when some news organizations published lists of permit holders that led to those individuals becoming targets for thefts.
It also makes it a class D felony for anyone to purchase a firearm for someone who cannot legally possess one “a straw purchase.”
• Taxing real estate used for producing algae as ag land — Last Tuesday, I managed a subcommittee meeting on HF-349 where we passed a bill identifying real estate used in the cultivation and production of algae as ag land.
Algae production is feasible near ethanol plants where there is an abundance of carbon dioxide. It is harvested as a crop for animal feed, food, nutritionals or biofuel production.
Previously, tax assessors had no clear direction as to how that land should be assessed.
Congratulations to our Bellevue area archers. Finishing in the state NASP top 10 were Kylie Duesing, Amelia Sieverding, Andrew Swartz, Mason Lyons, Devon Kueter, Chase Kueter and Joshua Ohlert.
Also, congratulations to Riley Till for placing 10th in the boy’s individual Class 1A High School bowling tournament. Kudos to Rep. Dave Heaton, a fellow legislator and good friend of mine, and Sen. Amanda Ragan for receiving the Herbert Hoover Uncommon Public Service Award on Wednesday.
It was also nice to see former Gov. Robert Ray handing out the awards.
On the home front
Brittany and Brooklynn enjoyed playing in their Jackson County 4H basketball tournament last weekend. Brandon was referee and his wife Heather helped to organize the event.
With 11 calves on the ground, Brett has his “maternity ward” open for business and is hoping for a good turnout.
Brian Moore, a Republican from Zwingle, represents Iowa House District 58 in the Iowa Legislature, which covers Jackson County.