Under the Golden Dome, Too – August 29

Upmeyer UTGD

As summer activities draw to a close, the attention of many families has shifted to the upcoming school year.  The start of the school year means there will be more children walking to and from school as well as increased traffic on our roadways.  Be sure to take extra care when you are out and about in order to keep our kids safe.

A new school year also means that harvest season will be here before we know it.  Iowa farmers will soon return to the fields to do what they do best…help feed the world.  There’s no doubt our state’s economy relies on a successful and robust agriculture industry.  Our farmers have a great appreciation for Iowa’s natural resources and want to ensure our land and water quality is preserved for many years to come.

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Oversight Committee Announces Investigation Into Attorney General’s Office

(DES MOINES) — Today Rep. Kevin Koester (R-Ankeny), Chairman of the House Government Oversight Committee, announced an investigation into Attorney General Tom Miller’s office.  Specifically, the investigation will focus on administrative practices of the Crime Victim Assistance Division (CVAD) and grants that are awarded to help the victims of violent crimes.

Victim Assistance Grants are designed to provide services to victims at the local level.  Through this review, the committee’s goal will be to determine if taxpayer money has been misspent or improperly documented.  The CVAD and these grants exist to ensure victims receive the assistance they desperately need and that the money given to these organizations is truly used to help victims.

“Our mission is twofold:  are taxpayers’ dollars being spent wisely and is that money getting to victims in need,” said Rep. Koester.

The committee will meet Monday, September 8th, 2014 at 1:00 pm to question staff from the Attorney General’s office.

Who:  House Government Oversight Committee

What: Investigation into Attorney General Tom Miller’s office

When:  Monday, September 8, 2014


Where:  Supreme Court Chamber, Iowa Capitol


Candidate Profile: Steven Holt

Holt headshotSteve Holt, of Denison, is seeking his first term in the Iowa House.  He is running for House District 18 which includes Crawford and Shelby Counties and eastern Harrison County.

Steve served our country for 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, completing numerous deployments overseas, and receiving countless decorations.  After his military service he entered law enforcement and worked as a Deputy Sheriff and Police Chief.  In 2002 he and his wife, Crystal, started their own small business, Movie Magic USA, a DVD internet store.  Last year they opened another small business, Summer Magic Tropical Snow in Denison.

In service to the community, Steve and Crystal created and sponsored the Denison High School Superior Academic Awards which recognizes academic performance.  They are also heavily involved with swim team programs.  Steve serves as a Board Member with the Music Booster as well.

Crystal is a public school teacher at the high school and community.  Together the couple have five children and attend Grace Evangelical Free Church in Denison.


Candidate Profile: John Blue

Blue headshotJohn Blue, of Council Bluffs, is seeking his first term in the Iowa House.  He is running in House District 15 which includes northwest Council Bluffs and Carter Lake.

John is the co-owner of Council Bluffs-based Blue J’s Lawn and Landscaping Co.  He started his small business in 2005, while earning his Associate’s Degree in applied science from Iowa Western Community College.  Since then, he has created four new jobs and plans to expand further down the road.

John and his wife, Jean, live near N 34th Street and Avenue C, just two blocks from where he grew up.  They have eight children and 20 grandchildren.


Policy Spotlight: Education Funding

Policy Spotlight

Stability and Growth in Education Funding

From 2002 to 2012, education funding in Iowa was a tumultuous period.  This is evidenced by numerous across the board cuts – which affected education and every other area of the budget – and moves by the legislature to underfund the state’s responsibility in the school funding formula.  Over that decade it happened no less than 6 times with the capstone being the 2010 10% across-the-board cut.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this graph is worth $530 million dollars.

Total Ed Spending

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Meet Our Members – Chuck Soderberg

soderberg debate

Representative Chuck Soderberg is currently serving his fifth term in the Iowa House.  He represents Iowa’s 5th District which includes Le Mars.

Rep. Soderberg is the Chairman of the Appropriations committee, and also serves on the Commerce and Environmental Protection committees.  He is also a member of the Legislative Council.

Chuck was first elected to the House in 2004. Chuck is the Vice-President of Planning for Northwest Iowa Power Cooperative. Chuck was born on May 24, 1957, in Algona, Iowa. His father, Gerald, and mother, Beryl, were dairy farmers. Chuck has one brother and three sisters.

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House Republican Caucus Newsletter – August 21

newsletter thumbnailA new August 2014 newsletter is available for viewing.  Click the link below to view the PDF version:

Caucus Newsletter 8-21-2014

In this edition:

  • New Teaching System Goes Live in 39 Districts this Fall
  • Study of State Employee Health Plans Shows Iowa Taxpayers Footing Almost All the Bill
  • Judge Rules Against the Use of Telemedicine Abortion System

The Relative Value of $100 in the USA

Every Monday the Tax Foundation releases a national map with relevant data dealing with taxes, among other things.  This week’s Monday Map shows the relative value of $100 in all 50 state and the District of Columbia.  Iowa scores very well in this analysis as the real value of every $100 is actually worth $111.73.  The Tax Foundation explains:

This week’s tax map shows the real value of $100 in each state. Because average prices for similar goods are much higher in California or New York than in Mississippi or South Dakota, the same amount of dollars will buy you comparatively less in the high-price states, or comparatively more in low-price states. Using data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis that we’ve written aboutpreviously, we adjust the value of $100 to reflect how prices are different in each state.

For example, Iowa is a low-price state, where $100 will buy what would cost $111.73 in another state that is closer to the national average. You can think of this as meaning that Iowans are about ten percent richer than their nominal incomes suggest.

Check out the map below to see how Iowa compares to the rest of the country.

100 Relative Value TF


Policy Spotlight: House File 2452

Policy Spotlight

First-Time Homebuyers Savings Accounts

This session House Republicans passed House File 2452 that would have allowed first-time homebuyers to place money into a tax-free savings account that could be put towards the purchase of a home.  The bill would have allowed every Iowan whom had never owned a home to annually deduct contributions made to an interest-bearing savings account for ten years.  The deduction would have been capped at $3,000 per individual or $6,000 per married couple each year.  In addition, the interest and earnings accruing to the account would be tax exempt.

The legislation was designed to help first-time homebuyers save money for purchasing a home and provided them with roughly $10 million in tax relief over the next five years.  The bill would have been beneficial to realtors as well.  Additionally, home builders, banks and credit unions likely would have benefited from the legislation.  Even though the bill was aimed at helping only first-time buyers, its effects would have been felt more broadly.  The housing industry is an important sector of the Iowa economy and would have spurred debt-free investment in the housing market, creating greater housing demand, higher home values and more jobs in the home construction industry.

This bill passed out of the House, but unfortunately was never brought up by the Senate.


Candidate Profile: Mike Sexton

M SextonMike Sexton is seeking his first term in the Iowa House.  Mike is running in House District 10 which includes Calhoun, Humboldt, and Pocahontas Counties, and portions of Webster County.

Mike grew up in Rockwell City on the family farm and graduated from Rockwell City High School.  He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Ag Business from Iowa Lakes Community College.  Mike and his wife, Becky, started two small businesses that they currently manage.  Twin Lake Environmental Services is a consulting firm with a goal of keeping family farmers on their land.  Real Time Ag is a software company specializing in keeping producers current with regulatory reporting.

Mike was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 1998.  He chose not to seek reelection in 2002 so he could spend more time with his children while they were still at home.

Mike serves as President on the Rockwell City Lytton School Board.  He and his wife have five children and attend Rockwell City Presbyterian Church.