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January 29, 2016  |  Week 3 Summary

2016 Iowa Caucus.
Just a Few More Days To Go.

Yes, it is finally here.  Only mere hours before the commercials and phone calls stop.
For those who may have never attended a caucus, IMTA is a supporter of a nonpartisan website which provides attendees with all the information they need to know on how to caucus and what to expect at a caucus site.  The website is  The site also includes information on where to caucus and even has some sample questions for the candidates or their representatives. 
The website also includes brief videos from some of the candidates and you can compare candidates' positions on several issues.
The website is a collaborative effort provided in Iowa by a business coalition called EPIC (Economic Progress for Iowa Citizens).  IMTA serves on the Board of EPIC and is actively involved with EPIC.

Updates from the Capital.

Coupling Advances
Governor Branstad did not include coupling with the Internal Revenue Code section 179 in his budget, thus saving the state awarding $96 million in tax deductions - or said another way - thus costing Iowa taxpayers $96 million in lost deductions.  Section 179 allows taxpayers to expense equipment purchases up to $500,000 in the first year.

The Iowa House quickly introduced and passed legislation (HF2092) coupling Iowa tax code with the IRS for tax year 2015, which would allow the expense deduction for those purchases made last year.  The bill passed the House Ways and Means 22-1 and the entire House 82-14.  But with a price tag of $96 million the likelihood passing the legislation in the Senate is going to be an uphill battle.  The Governor has openly expressed concerns with the House action.
Restriction On Asking About Felonies
SF 84 would ban employers from asking about felonies or having a question on job applications asking about convictions of a felony.  The so called effort to "ban the box" on job applications is getting modest support in the Senate labor committee, but has not advanced.
CDL Testing
The Iowa DOT is asking the legislature to open up CDL testing to community colleges or others in an effort to help expedite those wanting to take the CDL test but find it difficult because of the availability of test sites.  The proposal would allow community colleges to test drivers other than their own students or third party for-profit companies to do testing under the guidelines set by the Iowa DOT.  Some senators are concerned opening this up to a private enterprise could lead to abuses in testing.  The chair of the Senate Transportation Committee has indicated he would support legislation to open the door for the community colleges. However, the community colleges do not appear to be embracing the idea so one has to wonder if changing the law will make any real difference in testing being more readily available state-wide.
Axle Weights
IMTA has been working with the Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association, the Associated General Contractors of Iowa, and the Iowa DOT to change axle weight limits on oversize/overweight loads.  The Iowa DOT has agreed to increase weights from 40,000 pounds to 46,000 pounds.
Budget Issues
Budget issues are always the last issues resolved in every legislative session and this year appears to be following that same contentious path.  Allowable growth for K-12 was a contentious issue all of last session and even after the session adjourned when the Governor vetoed part of the funding package.  This year the Governor called for an increase in funding for K-12 of 2.45%.  The House passed a 2% increase on a party line vote.  The Senate rejected the 2% funding on a party line vote with the Senate Democrats calling for a 4% increase in funding, which was their opening offer last session.
Adding to the budget debate is the Governor's proposal to privatize Iowa's Medicaid program.  The Governor has estimated the proposal could save the state over $100 million annually in future years.  However, these savings have been questioned by groups both inside and outside the legislature.  The Senate Democrats released their budget targets this week and did not include any savings from the Medicaid privatization.  It looks like it's going to awhile before this is all sorted out.

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IMTA Lobbyist
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