Under the Golden Dome, Too – February 20

Upmeyer UTGD

Legislation is continuing to work its way through the subcommittee and committee process at the Statehouse this week. Bills are being carefully reviewed as we continue to receive valuable input from Iowans across the state on a variety of subjects.

One issue that I’ve been receiving feedback on is our aging infrastructure system and finding the resources needed to improve it. Over the past few years, I have been gathering thoughts on all sides of this issue. It is clear through these conversations that Iowans deserve and expect our roads to be safe for travel. Quality and reliable roads and bridges are also key to Iowa’s economic growth and prosperity.

Our public roadway system is comprised of over 114,000 miles with approximately 25,000 bridges. Nationally, Iowa ranks fifth in the number of bridges and 13th in miles of roadway. We are fortunate to have an extensive roadway system throughout the state, which allows us to maintain an efficient flow of commerce; however, maintaining this infrastructure is expensive. The Iowa Department of Transportation has estimated there is a $215 million annual shortfall needed to improve our roads and bridges that are considered to be in critical condition. Over the past several years, we have asked everyone to find efficiencies and savings where we can. This has proven to be effective as millions of dollars have been refocused into improving our roads.

The evidence is clear that additional funding is still needed to improve our state’s infrastructure. Many counties across Iowa have turned to bonding to pay for this need. We have heard loud and clear from you that our infrastructure needs should not be paid for through property taxes. In some cases, the length of time to repay the debt incurred through bonding, outlives the life of the project. For example, a 20-year bond obligation could be used to pay for a resurfacing project that’s expected to last ten years. This is unacceptable.

The majority of the feedback we’ve received from Iowans demonstrates an increased fuel tax, which will require out-of-state drivers to contribute to our roadway needs as well, is the preferred mechanism for generating the revenue. As a result of this feedback, leadership from all four caucuses, the Governor, and the Chairs and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Transportation Committees worked together to find consensus on legislation to reflect this desire.

HF 351/SF 257 will increase Iowa’s motor fuel tax by 10 cents per gallon. The revenue generated from this increased user fee will be deposited directly into the Road Use Tax Fund (RUTF). This fund is constitutionally-protected, meaning that approximately 95% of the revenue in the fund is spent only on roads and bridges. HF 351/SF 257 provides an ongoing, sustainable funding mechanism to meet the needs of our aging roads and bridges.

We will continue to hold all levels of government accountable for how the money is spent. At the same time, state and local governments will continue to seek increased savings and efficiencies.  We expect the Iowa Department of Transportation, counties, and cities to spend all taxpayer dollars wisely. Thank you for all of your feedback over the past several months. The insight and perspective you have provided is greatly appreciated.

My legislative forums have begun. The Butler County REC and Farm Bureau are sponsoring a forum at the AmVets Building in Allison on Friday, February 27 at 10:00 am. I will be at Center One in Hampton later that afternoon for the Franklin County Development Legislative Forum at 1:00. If you’re able to attend one of these meetings, please stop by. You can also always reach me at linda.upmeyer@legis.iowa.gov or 515-281-4618.

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  • Shelly Van Winkle RN

    Respectfully requesting,
    Why not create a source of revenue by creating an expanded medicinal cannabis bill? There is valid, current research that shows cannabis does have medicinal value and should be rescheduled, as also recommended by the Iowa Pharmacy Board. Even the nation’s Surgeon General has agreed that Cannabis had medicinal purposes. Iowa can create an expanded medicinal cannabis bill that can be overseen by our own Department of Agriculture and Universities, as well as have room for private industry. I seek to avoid and prevent the mistakes we have seen made in other states. That can only be done with transparency and a disruption of a hard party line and true bipartisanship. By setting aside a portion of revenues created with a medicinal cannabis bill, we can fund the crumbling infrastructure of Iowa’s roads and bridges, increase educational funding for all levels of education and give safe, regulated access to medicinal cannabis to chronically and critically ill Iowans. Further taxation is only one answer, why not see all the possibilities?
    Build Iowa’s economy and show the world what Iowa is capable of in 2015. Keep the revenues here in Iowa instead of asking those who are ill to break state and federal laws to obtain medicinal cannabis out of state and transport across multiple state lines. This breaks FDA drug trafficking laws and the penalties would be inflicted on those with the least resources. Stop a black market before it starts and don’t further encourage Iowans underground and in to unsafe situations. I personally extend an invitation to you, nurse to nurse, mother to mother, Iowan to Iowan, please attend an educational presentation I will be giving on medicinal cannabis. I wish you well in all of your endeavors and I thank you for all you do for Iowans.

  • Nicole Sears

    I wholeheartedly agree that our medical marijuana bill needs to be fixed and expanded to include those suffering from chronic pain and illness. That is the least we should do. We could embrace the possibilities of a booming economy with legalized marijuana and the growing of hemp again. Marijuana does not belong in the schedule one classification.We need to stop fearing it as some hard gateway drug and start utilizing it for the healing it can provide.Please listen to Shelly Van Winkle and research the studies of the plant. Open your minds to the possibilities for the health of Iowa’s citizens and the health of Iowa’s economy. Thank you.
    Nicole Sears

  • Lynnice D Wedewer

    I am from the original 1979 law. I was in federal studies for chemo and cannabis originally and was allergic to all chemosynthesis but cannabis treatments were continued. I want to thank the 1979 legislators for the it brave compassion law. In the last almost 36 years this law saved my personal life not once but 7 of 8 battles in 40 years. This current 8th battle that I am wining at legislative forum I was able to show medical record proof to Rep Todd Taylor, Liz Matus, Rizer, and Senators Wally Horn and Hogg that cannabis oil (full plant) and inhale cures my cancer, I am legal from the 1979 law, and I fact proved this battle with cancer in full time treatment, that my heart doctor who is a heart professor shows a timeline in my medical records of my aortic valve disease. It appears my cancer cannabis grandfathered treatments is also curing my valve disease. Impressive. Please view this video proving complete plant cannabis medical treatment works. Watch what happens to the cancer cell in this medical study. Then you can start to begin to understand how that 1979 law saved my life. Please do the right thing, expand it to save more lives, like you did mine. http://themindunleashed.org/2014/11/mindblowing-microscopic-footage-cancer-cells-eliminated-cannabis-oil.html