Iowa Republicans likely to oppose key element of governor's tax plan

Governor Kim Reynolds proposes eliminating federal deductibility as part of a broad tax reform plan, she revealed today during her first Condition of the State address to Iowa lawmakers. She’ll have to spend some political capital to get that idea through the legislature. In a plot twist, the fiercest opposition will come from members of her own party, including leaders of the House and Senate tax-writing committees.

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Who's who in the Iowa Senate for 2018

The Iowa Senate begins work today with 29 Republicans, 20 Democrats, and one independent, former Republican David Johnson.

I enclose below details on the majority and minority leadership teams, along with all chairs, vice chairs, and members of standing Iowa Senate committees. Where relevant, I’ve noted changes since last year’s legislative session.

Just six senators are women (five Democrats and a Republican), down from ten women serving in the chamber in 2013 and 2014 and seven during 2015 and 2016. All current senators are white. To my knowledge, the only African-American ever to serve in the Iowa Senate was Tom Mann, elected to two terms during the 1980s. No Latino has ever served in the Iowa legislature; in 2014, Nathan Blake fell 18 votes short of becoming the first to join the Senate. No Asian-American has served in the state Senate since Swati Dandekar resigned in 2011.

Some non-political trivia: the 50 Iowa senators include two with the surname Johnson, four Marks, and two men each named Bill, Richard (Rich and Rick), Robert (a Rob and a Bob), Dan, Jim, Tim, Tom, Jeff, and Charles (one goes by Chaz).

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Iowa Senate Ways & Means chair concealed role in drafting tax plan

“Not sure who the author is on this one,” State Senator Randy Feenstra wrote to me on December 15, about an hour after Bleeding Heartland had published a detailed memo from the Iowa Department of Revenue about numerous proposed tax cuts and sales tax expansions. The chair of the upper chamber’s Ways and Means Committee added, “small reductions, not sure who put this one together. However, thanks for sharing! Very grateful as I need to find out if this member is running rogue over the Senate plan.”

A week earlier, Feenstra had distributed the same document to all of his fellow Republican senators, describing it as “my idea of a tax plan” and “one of my final runs that I have had the DOR work on.”

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Exclusive: First look at a costly, regressive Iowa Republican tax plan

Iowa Republican senators are considering a proposal to reduce individual and corporate tax rates and eventually phase out the state’s already-limited inheritance tax. The plan would increase revenue by making more goods and services subject to the sales tax, but those provisions would be difficult to move through the legislature, and even if enacted, would replace a small fraction of the money our cash-strapped state stands to lose from the tax cuts.

Governor Kim Reynolds told journalists this week she won’t reveal specifics about her tax plan–a top priority for 2018–until she delivers her Condition of the State address on January 9. She indicated she is waiting to see how Congress amends the federal tax code.

However, Senate GOP lawmakers and staff have received a detailed set of proposals for review. Bleeding Heartland obtained a lengthy memo describing “the tax reform plan prepared for the Governor’s Office” and estimating the fiscal impact of those changes. As with pending GOP legislation at the federal level, the largest benefits would flow to the wealthiest Iowans.

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Iowans left in the dark on Senate GOP sexual harassment investigation

Iowa Senate Republican leaders have never acknowledged that Kirsten Anderson faced sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation while working for the Senate GOP caucus.

They have stuck to the unconvincing story that Anderson lost her job (hours after she had submitted a written complaint about a hostile work environment) solely because of her writing skills.

They didn’t allow an independent investigation of the allegations Anderson raised in a lawsuit, which a Polk County jury unanimously found credible.

They aren’t releasing any findings from an internal investigation of those allegations.

They have ensured that the legislature’s new human resources director will report to Republican political appointees.

Yet they want us to take their word for it that harassment at the statehouse will not be tolerated.

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