The Ames Chamber of Commerce Public Policy Program educates and engages members on key federal, state, and local political issues and initiatives. In all advocacy efforts, the Ames Chamber of Commerce remains nonpartisan and does not endorse candidates or support political action committees. Maintaining strong relationships with all federal, state, and local elected officials is a key tenet of the Ames Chamber of Commerce, and a service we are proud to provide to our entire membership.
The 2019 Legislative Session of the 88th Iowa General Assembly adjourned Sine Die on Saturday afternoon. The House officially adjourned at 2:14 pm and the Senate followed suit at 2:25 pm. Most surprising however, is the fact the Legislature adjourned six days ahead of the May 3rd deadline, which constituted the 110th day of Session, the point at which all administrative and per diem expenses ceased.
The Ames Chamber of Commerce and our partner organizations throughout the state were able to positively impact many critical discussions this Session. We significantly influenced the property tax reform legislation to ensure it is workable for our local government partners while putting more transparency and citizen participation in the process. This is an issue we may see some follow up on next Session similar to this year’s income tax cleanup bill, but that will need to be facilitated in the time leading up to Session.
We also pushed for the passage of the Governor’s Empower Rural Iowa initiative, including improvements to the workforce housing tax credit program and broadband expansion. We also secured funding for Future Ready Iowa, including the Employer Innovation Fund and Last Dollar Scholarship, both keys to the state’s and our local workforce development efforts.
In working with our partners at the Iowa Economic Development Authority, we continued to push for additional opportunities in the life sciences industry, with the successful creation of the Bioscience Development Center. The Center will be a key partner and will strengthen Iowa State University and America’s Cultivation Corridor as they work to be the global leader in bio and life sciences.
After several years of effort and support, the SAVE sales tax penny for school infrastructure finally passed, with a provision requiring 30% of the revenue be directed to property tax relief.
For the first time in seven years, we were not faced with a battle on Tax Increment Financing, which shows how well we have been able to educate our Legislators on the issue and its importance.
The Ames Chamber of Commerce and our partners also killed a mandate for E-verify, which is accurate around 50% of the time and would have placed an undue burden on employers throughout the state.
We tried diligently to get the Angel Tax Credit adjustments passed, but in the end, the rural incentives portion that was added to the bill by the House became controversial in the Senate and it could not be sorted out prior to adjournment. We will prioritize both issues heading into the 2020 Session.
Looking ahead, though we were able to get some income tax cleanup legislation through this Session, as well as provide additional certainty and clarity in Section 179 expensing, we know income tax, especially corporate income tax, will be a focal point and high priority in the 2020 Session.
As we always do, we developed new relationships and coalitions on key policy issues and once again ensured Chambers and economic development organizations were included in critical discussions up to the fall of the gavel and adjournment of the 2019 Session.
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