Legislative Update

posted on Sunday, August 12, 2012 in Blog

Due to myriad scheduling problems brought on by the relatively late date for ending the 2012 Legislative Session, the Alliance & Chamber decided not to hold our planned Post-Session Legislative Forum Breakfast. In lieu of our breakfast, we sent two questions to all the members, eight in total, of our Cedar Valley Legislative delegation. We received two responses and sent follow-up reminders to the other six area Legislators. We believed their answers to each question would be of interest to you. Please take a few moments to review the answers given by Representative Bob Kressig and Senator Jeff Danielson below. If we receive other responses, we will share them with you.

Thank you for your interest and support of our GCVAC Government Relations program.

Steve Firman, Director of Government Relations
Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber


Representative Bob Kressig

1. What observations would you share regarding this year's Legislative activity and its impact on the business community in Iowa?

When the 2012 session began, our top priority was to work together to find common ground and create jobs to grow Iowa's economy. While there is simply too much partisanship and focus on divisive issues today, we did make good progress this year when we put politics aside and worked together.

First, we took action to help Iowa businesses expand and find skilled workers. A new high quality jobs initiative will help businesses expand while encouraging new businesses to locate in Iowa. We continued the innovation fund to commercialize research at our universities and continued key initiatives at UNI to help entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Second, we took significant steps to build a skilled workforce for Iowa businesses. We expanded training at our community colleges and kept tuition affordable for middle class families. We created new tuition grants for students to fill job openings in shortage areas where businesses are looking for workers and kept local workforce centers open to help Iowans get training or find a job. We also took action to help under-employed Iowans who want to upgrade their skills get the training they need.

2. What issues do you plan to focus on during the campaign season and into next year's session?

My top priorities remain growing our economy and a skilled workforce. With a skilled worker shortage on the horizon, the state must do more to help businesses get skilled workers who can compete with workers from around the globe. With most jobs now requiring some education or training beyond high school, we have to improve education from pre-school through high school and keep tuition affordable at Hawkeye Community College and UNI.

I'll continue to work to find common ground on several bills to help businesses that did not become law this year. Despite months of negotiations and $350 million on the table, the Legislature was unable to reach a final agreement on commercial property tax relief. I also supported other initiatives designed to grow our economy including: giving Iowa businesses first preference on state and local government contracts instead of sending our tax dollars out of state; leveling the playing field for small businesses on Main Street; helping local communities revitalize business districts and industrial parks; and encouraging more wind energy production. I'm hopeful we can find common ground on these initiatives next year.


Senator Jeff Danielson

1. What observations would you share regarding this year's Legislative activity and its impact on the business community in Iowa?

One year does not an economy make. Iowa’s economy is performing better than most other states because we’ve cut state government costs beginning in 2009 and we’ve enjoyed a healthy agricultural export sector. Both have worked together to ensure a stable and positive business climate as evidenced by Iowa continuing to receive high marks from multiple sources for it’s efforts, including a recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce report placing Iowa in the top ten. As a result, Iowa has a balanced budget with a healthy surplus; in fact the largest since the early 1980’s and a lower unemployment rate than the national average. For these reasons, I’m proud of our efforts to encourage job growth and wealth creation during one of the worst recessions since the Great Depression. Considering Iowa also suffered its worst natural disaster in 2008, ranked #1 as measured by real dollar damage, the current “State of the State” is even more impressive.

2. What issues do you plan to focus on during the campaign season and into next year's session?

Economies compete for capital investment, business location and customer base. No state can rest on its laurels and Iowa is no different. I will remain focused on pro-growth, progressive ideas that put Iowa in the best position to keep the businesses it already has, expand them and attract new businesses with responsible, sustainable incentives.

My top five job creation ideas are:

1. Lowering commercial property taxes (without shifting the burden to homeowners).

2. Protecting the ability of cities to use tax increment financing (TIF).

3. Funding Iowa Department of Economic Development initiatives (Debi Durham needs resources to leverage partnerships for business location decisions).

4. Supporting the Innovation Council to implement Battelle study ideas for growing Iowa jobs in advanced manufacturing, information solutions and value-added agriculture.

5. Investing in and improving education at every level, including job training at Community Colleges, increasing rigor, relevance and outcomes in local pre-K-12 schools and keeping tuition affordable at Universities, public and private.

I encourage Alliance Members to contact me directly anytime at 319-231-7192 or I work for you!