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The Paulsen Perspective: Difficult Decision

SpeakerKP

This week the legislature passed and the governor signed a bill to raise the gas tax in Iowa by 10 cents. This is not a new issue for the legislature. In one form or another, it’s been discussed since before I was first elected in 2002. I have also had a great deal of contact from Iowans like yourself; many supporting an increase, many opposing, and some just asking questions.

Overwhelmingly, Iowans have concluded that our roads and bridges needed a greater investment. Of great concern to me personally, many counties have already bonded for roads and bridges, adding debt that the property taxpayer will be forced to re-pay.

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The Paulsen Perspective: A Step in the Right Direction

SpeakerKP

This week the House passed the first bill off the floor that was sent to the governor for his consideration. Senate File 126 passed the House unanimously and it is a great way to start the 2015 session.

Generally, the bill updates the Iowa tax code to match tax changes made by the federal government last year. It will result in nearly $100 million in tax cuts for Iowa families, small businesses and middle-class homeowners. It allows for: teachers to deduct $250 in out-of-pocket classroom expenses, families to deduct up to $4,000 for higher education tuition or expenses, homeowners to deduct mortgage insurance premiums and other various deductions for small businesses.

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The Paulsen Perspective: Mission Focused, Warrior Ready

SpeakerKP

This week the Legislature invited Maj. Gen. Tim Orr, the adjutant general of the Iowa National Guard, to deliver his annual Condition of the Guard address.  As Maj. Gen. Orr reported, the Iowa Guard “continues to be Mission Focused and Warrior Ready.”

In his speech, Maj. Gen. Orr highlighted the effectiveness of the Home Base Iowa program which was passed by the legislature and signed by the governor last year.  This program was a series of bills to honor the commitments of Iowa’s valuable service men and women and to attract veterans back to Iowa, giving them opportunities to be successful when they return home.  Some measures included in this package were:  a military pension income tax exemption, directing Iowa’s occupational licensing boards to adopt rules allowing for credit for military training in their process, and allowing private sector employers to grant a preference in hiring and promoting veterans.

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The Paulsen Perspective: Checks and Balances

SpeakerKP

In my opening day speech, I stated that while we want government to do less, we also want it to do much better.  One area where I believe everyone agrees government can do better is in the building of our new state prison in Ft. Madison.

In 2005, two prisoners escaped our state’s only maximum security prison in Fort Madison which led the Department of Corrections and other officials to evaluate the structure, safety and security at the prison.  The prison was originally built in 1839, one year after the state of Iowa became a territory.  Several recommendations were made and in 2008, the General Assembly appropriated $131 million to build a new prison in Fort Madison.   The ground was broken on the project in 2010 and the anticipated completion was late 2012 while the prisoners move in date was closer to the Fall of 2013.

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The Paulsen Perspective: Iowa’s Greatest Investment

SpeakerKP

As a parent I have firsthand knowledge that we all want the best for our kids. The same can be said for legislators in Des Moines — as we work on school funding, we are constantly keeping the best interest of Iowa’s students in mind. Part of the balance of setting Supplemental State Aid (the amount of funding our schools receive from the state) is committing to funding that schools can count on and keeping the taxpayer in mind.

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The Paulsen Perspective: The First Week

SpeakerKP

This week the Legislature convened in Des Moines – it was a week marked by many ceremonies but also a lot of work.  The governor presented his condition of the state address and his budget.  Our committees have already begun meeting, we are off to the races.

It is my intention to keep you updated weekly during the session on the happenings at the capitol.  Below is the speech I gave on the first day of the session.  You can watch the speech here:

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Closing the books on the 2014 session

SpeakerKP

Early Wednesday morning the Iowa House adjourned for the year, closing the books on the 2014 legislative session.

I’d like to thank all of you who took the time to send me emails, called my office and sent letters expressing your support or opposition to pieces of legislation.  I am always appreciative of your feedback and thoughts.

During the interim, please feel free to contact me at kraig.paulsen@legis.iowa.gov or call my office at (515) 281-3521.  Also visit www.iowahouserepublicans.com for constant updates and articles.

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Freezing Tuition

SpeakerKP

This week in the House we continued our work moving the state budget through the process. We passed the Administration and Regulation (funds state government), Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund (funds infrastructure projects throughout the state), and the Education budget bills to the Senate.

The Education budget bill, which passed with bipartisan support, contains funding for Iowa’s community colleges, state universities, and the Iowa Tuition Grant, amongst other things. Additionally, it included the funding necessary to freeze tuition for in-state students at Iowa State University, the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa.

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A Job I Take Very Seriously

SpeakerKP

It is the job of state representatives to ensure taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely.  It is a job I take very seriously.  To that end, the House took action this week to bring more transparency and oversight to how each dollar is being spent, specifically when it comes to employee settlements.

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Commitment to Iowa Veterans

SpeakerKP

As we continue to move through the session, we continue to work on bills that are a priority for Iowans, including the Home Base Iowa plan.

I appreciate the service and sacrifice that veterans have made to our state and our country. These are some of the most skilled and highly-trained men and women in the country. The House wants to honor those who are already in Iowa and encourage more to come here and enrich our communities and work for Iowa companies.

This package of legislation is designed to attract veterans back to Iowa and ensure they have the opportunities they need to be successful when they return.

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Dansette