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Friday, February 21, 2020

Government Wants to Ride in Your Car

A bill was introduced in the Iowa Senate to create a pilot program assessing the potential to tax Iowans based on the number of miles they drive in our state. But it really doesn’t stop there.

This bill provides a roadmap (terrible pun absolutely intended) to invade your privacy and use the tax code for social engineering.

It wouldn’t just track your miles. A GPS device is required to let the government know where you travel with the intent of generating a tax bill. The tax would be based on:
  • the time you are driving
  • the type of road
  • how close you were to other transit options
  • your vehicle's fuel efficiency
  • if you carpool or rideshare
  • how much income the driver makes (read that one again)
The bill also wants to evaluate the impact this type of tax would have on the environment and traffic congestion. Apparently, there is no issue that can’t be dealt with by collecting more of your money!  

This brings to mind the cliché, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Legislators do know if they want to work on something they have more tools than just collecting taxes, don’t they?

Let’s push aside the important question of whether a different funding model is needed for transportation infrastructure. Instead, we should focus on the intrusion on our privacy and the fact that the government wants to manipulate our choices through taxation. 

This type of legislation violates one of ITR’s key tax principles: Iowa’s tax code should promote freedom. Taxes should not be used for social engineering. Iowa should not create new taxes or substitute one tax for another.

ITR is registered against this legislation. If it advances to a subcommittee hearing, we will provide you an opportunity to contact your legislator. In the meantime, please share your thoughts with us. 
Click to Share Your Opinion

Iowans Don't Like Losing to Nebraska

It doesn't matter if you are a Cyclone or Hawkeye, Iowans agree it is awful to lose to Nebraska in any sport.

If attracting businesses and workers were a game, Nebraska has jumped out to a big lead. However, Iowa legislators have the chance to score a lot of points this year by using Nebraska's playbook. 

Iowa’s tax code must improve, but so, too, must our occupational licensing laws that hold back workers. Our neighbors across the Missouri River are showing us they refuse to stand pat in this competition. 

Two years ago, Nebraska passed legislation that reviewed all existing licensing requirements, creating a path to either repeal licenses that weren’t necessary to protect the health and safety of the public, or otherwise modify licensing laws that aren’t competitive. During this year’s legislative session, Nebraska legislators and policy groups, including our good friends at the Platte Institute, continue to forge ahead breaking down barriers to opportunity. 

Most notably at the Nebraska Capitol, a bill to provide universal recognition is under consideration. This would recognize personal qualifications (i.e. education, experience) of those who are already licensed in good standing in another state. Not too long ago, removing barriers for Nebraskans through major reforms to job licensing laws was mostly just an idea, but it has become a reality in the Cornhusker state.

All this talk about Nebraska isn’t meant to imply that Iowa’s lawmakers aren’t taking action, too. In fact, that’s far from the truth. Occupational licensing reform bills that have been proposed by Governor Reynolds and individual legislators have continued to make their way through both the Iowa House and Senate, including passing through some key committee work during this “funnel week”. 

ITR has had a lot to say about the issue, and we are pleased to see the progress made so far. We are hopeful progress continues all the way to Governor Reynolds signing good legislation into law. After all, occupational licensing reform has found bi-partisan support in other states. Arizona’s Republican Governor, as well as Pennsylvania’s Democratic Governor, both signed universal recognition bills into law in their states last year. 

Iowa is tantalizingly close to becoming a state that will welcome workers from all over the country. There is more work to do and there will certainly be challenges, but each step in this direction opens another door of opportunity.
Hundreds of bills are introduced in the first weeks of the legislative session and acting upon each one would be impossible. Bills have specific dates, called funnels, on which action must be taken by a committee in order to keep the bill alive.

This year, bills need to have successfully passed out of their assigned committee in the House or Senate by today, February 21, in order to survive the first funnel.  A second funnel date where bills have to pass out of the opposite chamber's committee is March 20.

Here is where bills ITR has registered for or against stand after the first funnel: 

Exempt from funnel deadlines:
  • Governor's comprehensive tax reform bill - SSB 3116/HSB 657
  • Inheritance tax elimination - SF 307
  • Taxpayer-funded lobbyist transparency - SF 639
  • Motor vehicle mileage tax pilot program - SF 2107 (ITR opposes)
  • Spending limitation amendment - SJR 20
  • Income tax supermajority amendment - SJR 22
Still alive:
  • Occupational licensing reform (3) - SF 2114, HF 2470, SF 3142
  • Eliminating the Welfare Cliff - HF 2203
  • Stopping Medicaid recipient fraud - SF 2272
  • Limiting noneconomic damages against health care providers - SF 2338
Will not advance:
  • Occupational licensing reform - SF 2163 
  • Stopping Medicaid recipient fraud - HF 2030
  • School bond election dates on regular school election date - HF 2060
  • Comprehensive review of all fees - SF 2116
  • Removing two regulation for each new regulation added - HF 2368
  • Exclude charges for legal services from fees to examine or copy public records - HSB 503

Take a look at our Legislative Update page for more details on and links to these bills. 

It’s easy for politicians to yield to noisy special interest groups when the taxpayer keeps quietly paying the bills.
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