Contact Rep. Prichard:

Iowa Statehouse
Iowa House of Representatives
Des Moines, IA 50319

PO Box 733
Charles City, IA 50659

515-281-3221 (Capitol)


Capitol Comments

The time for improving Iowa’s water quality is now.  Over the last few months there has been a lot of talk on the subject due to such things as the Flint, Michigan Drinking Water crisis, the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, the Des Moines Water Works lawsuit, as well as Governor Brandstad’s water quality initiative.  Some of the major issues have included flood mitigation, erosion, and nutrient reduction to deal with high levels of nitrogen and phosphate in Iowa’s streams and waterways.

The benefits from implementing a comprehensive water quality strategy are many.  Flood mitigation will help lower flood insurance costs and protect communities from the continual threat of high water levels.  We can implement conservation projects that will protect precious topsoil to ensure productive agriculture and a strong economic foundation for generations to come.

Given the Governor’s focus on water quality this year and the fact that many of us in the legislature want to see progress on this issue, the political environment seems posed to move forward.  For me, I sense a real opportunity to do something meaningful in the current legislative session.

The Democrats in the House of Representatives want to work with our colleagues across the aisle and in the Senate in a bipartisan manner.  To that end, I would support a plan that meets the following criteria. 

First, while I applaud the Governor for proposing a plan and bringing attention to the matter, there is no need to use tax dollars intended for schools.  The Governor’s plan to use education dollars to fund water quality is a plan I cannot support.  Rather, I would suggest diverting the existing sales tax on water sales to fund water quality projects.  This revenue stream could be used to leverage hundreds of millions of dollars if pledged on bonds to secure a revolving loan fund.  My suggestion would be to dedicate this money to a revolving loan fund that could award low cost loans to worthy projects in the state.  Using this existing revenue source would serve two purposes.  One, it prevents the need to raise taxes.  Two, it spreads the burden of funding these projects on those who use the resource of water.

Second, I will support a water quality plan that focuses on local control.  Communities and local land owners know better than anyone how to improve their watersheds.  After all, these are the local farmers, outdoor and conservation activists, and community leaders.  Our belief is that in order to have a meaningful impact on the health of Iowa’s waterways, we need the buy-in of the existing stewards and stakeholders.  By allowing local leaders to propose and design their own projects, we know the projects will be focused and supported by local community and land owners.

Third, we need a holistic and comprehensive approach that considers not the political boundaries of district, but the geographical reality of Iowa’s watersheds.  While Iowa’s county boundaries resemble a grid with straight lines and right angles, the state’s waterways meander on courses determined by nature, not man.  Our focus needs to be based on science and actual realities of the landscape.  Accordingly, a viable plan must empower various jurisdictions to form watershed-based partnerships that allow for project synergy and integration throughout a particular watershed.
The time to lead on water quality is now.  Iowans have never shied away from a challenge, and we need to act now to ensure the long term health of our state’s waterways.

Representative Todd Prichard had his daughter, Katie recite the Pledge of Allegiance along students from the Iowa School for the Deaf who signed the Pledge of Allegiance in the Iowa House Chamber to open the day on Monday, March 14th. Shown are the students, Representative Charlie McConkey, Representative Mary Ann Hanusa of Council Bluffs and Representative Todd Prichard of Charles City in the Iowa House.

Representatives Todd Prichard and Representative Sharon Steckman were pleased to host Algona students Kate Prichard, Daltyn Williams, Meredith Miller, Treyonna Grandy and Kymille Burton who shadowed us at the State Capitol on Wednesday. Also pictured is Representative Prichard's daughter Katie who is a student in Charles City.

State Revenues Continue Steady Growth

The non-partisan panel of state budget experts met today and projected state revenues will grow by 4.4% next year, which is an additional $312 million.

Known as the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC), the budget experts gave their last prediction for available revenue for fiscal year 2017 before the Legislature begins to discuss the details of the state budget.  Compared to their last meeting in December, the REC didn’t make significant changes to their estimate and noted that Iowa growth remains steady.

No Change for FY 2016

For the current 2016 fiscal year, they maintained their expected growth rate of 3.3%, which represents growth of $226 million.  This estimate does not take into consideration the tax coupling bill, House File 2433, which was passed by both the House and Senate this week.  That bill is expected to reduce the state revenue in fiscal year 2016 by $97 million. 

More Growth in FY 2017

Even though the REC released a new, and slightly higher, revenue estimate for fiscal year 2017, the Legislature must use the lower amount between the December and March estimates.  In December, the REC estimated that fiscal year 2017 revenues would increase by 4%, which is just over $281 million.  The revised estimate is a growth rate of 4.4%, which represents an increase of $312 million from fiscal year 2016. 

Legislature Extends Tax Benefits for Teachers, Students, Businesses

The Legislature sent a bill to the Governor that will ensure that Iowa’s tax laws reflect recent changes in federal tax law.  The federal government made changes at the end of last year that will affect Iowans filing 2015 taxes that are due in April of this year.

Typically, the federal government has extended certain tax breaks annually and the state must pass legislation to conform state law to these federal changes.  This is referred to as “coupling.”  House File 2433 will extend tax credits for teachers, business hiring hard-to-employ individuals, mortgage insurance, and for businesses making equipment purchases.

The bill will also codify changes made by rule that will provide a tax exemption for materials used in manufacturing.  This “consumables” exemption will clarify tax rules for businesses across the state while helping to encourage manufacturing.

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