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HD-58

New data bolster supporters of raising Iowa's gas tax

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 07:33:30 AM CDT

The average cost of owning a car is lower in Iowa than in any other state, the Cedar Rapids Gazette's B.A. Morelli reported on August 16, citing an analysis by Bankrate.com. Car insurance costs an average of $630 per year in Iowa, the lowest in the 50 states. Vehicle repairs cost Iowa drivers an average of $315 per year, also the lowest number for any state. The average cost of gasoline for Iowa drivers worked out to $998 a year, taking into account not only the price of gas but also vehicle miles traveled and fuel efficiency rates. That's "middle of the pack," Morelli noted.

Iowa's gasoline tax has not been increased since 1989, reaching a historic low in real terms. Meanwhile, Iowa road and bridge conditions continue to deteriorate. Three years ago, our state ranked third-worst in the country for structurally deficient bridges. The latest data indicate we are second-worst in that category, with more than 20 percent of the state's bridges in need of repairs or replacement.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch supports raising the gas tax, while Governor Terry Branstad has said he favors other ways to finance road and bridge work. The candidates clashed over that issue during last week's debate. Branstad has left himself some wiggle room by not pledging to veto a gas tax increase.

The current leaders of the Iowa House and Senate Transportation Committees strongly support raising the gas tax to pay for road work. Bills to increase the tax by a total of 10 cents per gallon over several years passed committees in both chambers in recent years, but advocates were unable to recruit enough bipartisan support to pass them in the full Iowa House or Senate in either of the past two legislative sessions. Iowa House Transportation Committee Chair Josh Byrnes has promised to keep working on this issue, and State Representative Brian Moore, the vice chair of that committee, said this spring that a gas tax hike is "in the works" for 2015. He has emphasized that weight limits on structurally deficient bridges are bad for businesses like the livestock transportation company he owns.

Republicans Byrnes and Moore both represent Iowa House districts that may be targeted this fall, as does Iowa Senate Transportation Committee Chair Tod Bowman, a Democrat. Prospects for raising the gas tax will depend in part on whether key advocates are re-elected in November. Regardless of which parties control the Iowa House and Senate after the midterm elections, a gas tax increase would have to be a bipartisan effort.

Democratic and Republican critics of increasing the gasoline tax have pointed out that consumption taxes tend to be regressive, hitting lower-income people harder. A gas tax hike would also disproportionately affect rural residents, who may need to travel further to work or shop. The Washington-based Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy has recommended reforms to address those concerns. I've posted the short summary after the jump; you can read more in depth on their ideas for "building a better gas tax" here. I would add that any increase to Iowa's gas tax should be accompanied by "fix-it first" language, so that new road construction doesn't swallow the most of the revenue that should be earmarked for repairs. Fixing roads and bridges gives taxpayers more bang for their buck and creates more jobs than building new roads or putting new lanes on existing roads, which (while sometimes needed) increase future maintenance costs.

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 228 words in story)

Analysis of the Obama-Romney vote in the Iowa House districts

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 08:26:39 AM CDT

The Daily Kos Elections team has been compiling 2012 presidential election results by state legislative district as well as by Congressional district, state by state. Last week the Iowa numbers were added to the database. I took a first stab at previewing the battle for control of the Iowa Senate next year, using data including the raw vote totals and percentages for President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in each district.

The Daily Kos database includes Obama and Romney vote totals and percentages for each Iowa House district here. After the jump I've incorporated that information and other factors to predict which Iowa House districts will be competitive in 2014. Writing this post has been challenging, because every election cycle brings surprises, and many more seats in the lower chamber will be in play. Unlike the Iowa Senate, where only half of the 50 members are on the ballot in each general election, all 100 Iowa House members are on ballot in every even-numbered year. Republicans currently hold a 53-47 majority in the lower chamber.

There's More... :: (3 Comments, 3366 words in story)

First look at the Obama and Romney ground games in Iowa

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Aug 24, 2012 at 06:45:00 AM CDT

At this time four years ago, Barack Obama's campaign had about 30 field offices up and running in Iowa, compared to six offices for Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

Obama's campaign has had eight Iowa field offices open this summer and is rolling out another 26 offices around Iowa this weekend. So far, Mitt Romney's campaign has ten Iowa field offices, in addition to the unified Republican headquarters in Urbandale.

After the jump, I compare the field office locations for each presidential campaign, grouped by Iowa Congressional district. Where relevant, I've also noted competitive Iowa House and Senate districts near the Obama and Romney field offices, although I doubt either presidential campaign will do much for down-ticket Democratic or Republican candidates.

There's More... :: (8 Comments, 1966 words in story)

IA-01: NRCC tips hat to Ben Lange

by: desmoinesdem

Thu May 17, 2012 at 11:14:33 AM CDT

Not put off by picking the wrong candidates in two Iowa Republican primaries in 2010, the National Republican Congressional Committee has elevated Ben Lange to "contender" status in Iowa's first district, while taking a neutral posture in the second district primary.
There's More... :: (0 Comments, 1314 words in story)

Iowa House district 60: Walt Rogers flunks Politics 101

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Mar 28, 2012 at 13:35:24 PM CDT

The nice thing about a large majority, like the 60 to 40 Republican advantage in the Iowa House, is not needing every vote in your caucus for every bill. Members can oppose the party line when local interests are threatened without derailing the legislative process. Retiring State Representative Steve Lukan showed how it's done when he voted against the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund budget in the House Appropriations Committee last week, because that bill left out $5 million in funding for a major project in Lukan's district.

This basic concept of representing your constituents is apparently lost on Walt Rogers. The first-term Republican from a district covering parts of Cedar Falls and Waterloo just voted for an education budget that slashes funding for the University of Northern Iowa.

UPDATE: Scroll down for Rogers' weekly newsletter, which discusses his vote on the education budget.

There's More... :: (14 Comments, 2909 words in story)

First look at Democratic prospects for Iowa House gains

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 06:15:00 AM CDT

The redistricting process and several Republican retirements have created many pickup opportunities for Iowa House Democrats. The devastating 2010 election left them nowhere to go but up in the lower chamber, where Republicans currently enjoy a 60 to 40 majority. Relatively few sitting House Democrats represent vulnerable districts.

Speaking to activists at the Polk County Democratic convention on March 10, I heard lots of optimism about the House races. After the jump I've posted some early thoughts on the seats up for grabs.

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 1619 words in story)

Weekend open thread: Candidate filing deadline edition

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 20:26:59 PM CDT

I'm posting the weekend thread early, because the filing period for primary election candidates in Iowa closed this afternoon. The Secretary of State's Office posted the full list of candidates here (pdf). John Deeth has been covering the filing on a daily basis all month at his blog. Some highlights from races I'm watching are after the jump.

This is an open thread; all topics welcome.

UPDATE: Gotta agree with Senator Chuck Grassley: the History Channel is useless.

There's More... :: (9 Comments, 1726 words in story)

Iowa Workforce Development offices as a 2012 campaign issue

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Nov 29, 2011 at 09:00:49 AM CST

The state agency Iowa Workforce Development has replaced 36 field offices with hundreds of new "enhanced access" computer terminals this year.

Although the shuttered offices are unlikely ever to reopen, they may live on as talking points in many competitive Iowa House and Senate races next fall.

There's More... :: (6 Comments, 4433 words in story)

Brian Moore to seek re-election in Iowa House district 58

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 15:31:49 PM CST

Democrat-turned-Republican Brian Moore announced yesterday that he will seek a second term in the Iowa House, setting up a re-match with Democrat Tom Schueller in the new district 58.  
There's More... :: (0 Comments, 483 words in story)

Cindy Golding still considering Iowa Senate district 48 bid

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Nov 14, 2011 at 18:00:46 PM CST

Less than a week after losing the special election in Iowa Senate district 18, Republican Cindy Golding confirmed that she may run for the Iowa Senate next year in the new district 48.
There's More... :: (0 Comments, 844 words in story)

Tom Schueller seeks rematch with Brian Moore in Iowa House district 58

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Nov 11, 2011 at 10:44:38 AM CST

Former State Representative Tom Schueller is running as a Democrat in the new Iowa House district 58, setting up a likely rematch against first-term Republican Brian Moore.
There's More... :: (1 Comments, 821 words in story)
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