Legislative session completes third week

This week started off fast with the 46-0 passage of SF 303, a bill eliminating the income tax on veterans’ retirement pay. Now, we are more competitive with other states that have NO income tax at all, or do not have income tax on any retirement income. The bill also illustrates how quickly we can accomplish things when the partisan shackles are removed.

In our Economic Growth Committee, we heard from Director Debi Durham regarding the department’s plans. Outside investment in Iowa is high, and interest in building and growing businesses continues to grow. We still need to work on rule and regulatory reform. I continue to push for the reforms we started last year.

The high cost of propane continues to cause great hardship for many people across Iowa. Governor Branstad applied for a waiver from the federal government regarding the regulations from truck drivers hauling propane. See his full request at: governor.iowa.gov/2014/01/branstad-reynolds-send-letter-to-president-obama-urging-action-on-propane-shortage/. The emergency waiver was granted Wednesday. There also is a push to increase LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) funding to help pay some of the additional costs. As the weather warms, we are all hopeful the supply can catch up with the demand.

In the Transportation Committee, I had the chance to experience the driving simulator. It illustrates the effects of distracted driving, and driving under the influence of alcohol. At least in the simulator, you can just “reset” after a head-on collision. It really shows how, even a moment of distraction, can lead to crashes. The simulator is available to schools through the Department of Safety, and could really help teens and grownups alike.

As always, I want to hear from you. My Senate number is: (515) 281-3371, and my home number is (515) 432-7327 or write me at: State Capitol, Des Moines, IA 50319 or at my home address: 1313 Quill Avenue, Boone, IA 50036. Feel free to email me at jerry.behn@legis.iowa.gov.