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Legislature prepares for second funnel
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Legislature prepares for second funnel

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HJ Legislative Briefing March 2021

Representative Cecil Dolecheck and Senator Mark Costello, right, respond to questions during a legislative briefing held March 27 at the Lied Public Library in Clarinda. The second funnel for the Iowa Legislature is scheduled for April 2. (Herald-Journal photo by Kent Dinnebier)

As the Iowa Legislature prepared for its second funnel of the 2021 session, Senator Mark Costello and Representative Cecil Dolecheck attended the final legislative briefing of the year March 27 in Clarinda.

Sponsored by the Clarinda Economic Development Corporation and the Clarinda Chamber of Commerce, the briefing was held at the Lied Public Library in Clarinda. A crowd of 15 people attended the briefing.

Since the Iowa Legislature is scheduled to conclude its 2021 session April 30, Dolecheck said the second funnel to advance bills was scheduled for April 2.

“In layman’s terms, that means any bill that came from the other chamber has to have passed out of at least one committee in the opposite house to be eligible for debate in the other house,” Dolecheck said.

“We are getting ready for the second funnel of the session for bills to be weeded out or go forward. We’ve been working hard on getting bills over to the House that we want them to get done and vice versa, and running some of the bills out of committee the Senate has sent to us,” Costello said.

Dolecheck said work has also started on drafting the new budget for the state. He said the initial targets for the House of Representatives were closer to the proposal made by Gov. Kim Reynolds than the targets released by the Senate.

“Normally, we try to have joint budget targets, but with COVID the Senate and the House haven’t been able to meet jointly. It’s a little difficult to have joint budget targets if you can’t meet jointly to produce those targets. So we made the decision we would have individual budget targets, present them and then go to work to come to a compromise and work with the Governor’s office to end up with a total budget,” Dolecheck said.

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Since Iowa is a balanced budget state, Costello said the Senate started its budget process by limiting expenses to 94% of the total that could possibly be spent in the budget.

Another aspect of the budget process the Senate is exploring is implementing some key tax cuts. Costello said the Senate has proposed eliminating the death or inheritance tax in Iowa.

“For a lot of people, if you were a direct descendent, the limits were high enough that you didn’t have to pay anyway. But this would make it so, if you wanted to leave it to your nephew or niece or cousin or whoever, you would not have to pay the inheritance tax,” Costello said.

Ed and Angie Hakes, who are local fifth-generation farmers, attended the briefing Saturday. Ed Hakes said he was concerned about how the estate/death tax proposed by President Joe Biden would impact the ability of their son to enter their farming operation.

“Due to our age, he is not only going to be faced with the death tax, but we’re probably going to leave him some mortgage. That just puts some insurmountable debt on a young man to continue farming,” Hakes said.

Dolecheck confirmed he and Costello support eliminating the inheritance tax altogether.

“That’s kind of a federal issue. I think Senator (Charles) Grassley and Senator (Joni) Ernst as well as the majority of our Congressional delegation feel the same way. It would be detrimental to many of our farmers across the state of Iowa if they eliminate the inheritance tax deduction proposals,” Dolecheck said.

Hakes also asked about the Paycheck Protection Program loans being offered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hakes said they participated in the program and followed the rules as outlined, but are now being removed from the second round of loans.

Costello and Dolecheck said he should contact the office of U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne by email for assistance.

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