Iowa Senate, House approve gas tax increase

A bill that would raise Iowa’s gasoline tax by 10 cents a gallon is on its way to Governor Terry Branstad’s desk after approval today by both chambers in the Iowa legislature. The Iowa Senate passed Senate File 257 this morning by 28 votes to 21. Sixteen Democrats and twelve Republicans voted for the bill, while ten Democrats and eleven Republicans opposed it. Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal had reportedly insisted on at least half the GOP caucus supporting a gas tax increase as a condition for bringing the bill to the floor.

A few hours later, the Iowa House took up the Senate bill (rather than the bill that cleared two House committees last week). Thirty Republicans and 23 Democrats voted yes, while 26 Republicans and 20 Democrats voted no.

Only two state legislators missed today’s votes: Republican State Senator Mark Chelgren and Republican State Representative Chip Baltimore. Baltimore voted against the House version of this bill in committee last week, while Chelgren doesn’t serve on the committees that approved the bill in the Senate. Chelgren appears to have been absent for all of today’s votes, while Baltimore was at the Capitol but left the chamber when the gas tax bill came up. Speaking to reporters later, he tried to make a virtue out of his absence: “I refuse to legitimize either the bill or the process with a vote.” Weak sauce from a guy who is widely expected to seek higher office someday.

Conservative groups are urging Branstad to veto Senate File 257, but that seems unlikely, given the governor’s recent comments on road funding. Branstad’s spokesman said today that the governor will carefully review the final bill before deciding whether to sign it.  

After the jump I’ve enclosed the roll call votes in both chambers, as well as Senate Transportation Committee Chair Tod Bowman’s opening remarks this morning, which summarize key points in Senate File 257.

Final note: several of the “no” votes came from lawmakers who may face competitive re-election campaigns in 2016. Those include Democrats Chris Brase (Senate district 46), Steve Sodders (Senate district 36), and Mary Jo Wilhelm (Senate district 26), and Republicans Dennis Guth (Senate district 4) and Amy Sinclair (Senate district 14).

28 State Senators voted for Senate File 257

Democrats (16)

Joe Bolkcom

Tod Bowman

Jeff Danielson

Dick Dearden

Bill Dotzler

Bob Dvorsky

Mike Gronstal

Rita Hart

Rob Hogg

Wally Horn

Pam Jochum

Kevin Kinney

Matt McCoy

Janet Petersen

Herman Quirmbach

Amanda Ragan

Republicans (12)

Bill Anderson

Rick Bertrand

Mike Breitbach

Mark Costello

Bill Dix

David Johnson

Tim Kapucian

Tim Kraayenbrink

Ken Rozenboom

Mark Segebart

Tom Shipley

Dan Zumbach

21 State Senators voted against SF 257

Democrats (10)

Chaz Allen

Tony Bisignano

Chris Brase

Tom Courtney

Liz Mathis

Brian Schoenjahn

Joe Seng

Steve Sodders

Rich Taylor

Mary Jo Wilhelm

Republicans (11)

Jerry Behn

Jake Chapman

Randy Feenstra

Julian Garrett

Dennis Guth

Charles Schneider

Jason Schultz

Amy Sinclair

Roby Smith

Jack Whitver

Brad Zaun

Republican Mark Chelgren was absent for today’s votes.

53 state representatives voted for SF 257

Democrats (23)

Ako Abdul-Samad

Marti Anderson

Deborah Berry

Dennis Cohoon

John Forbes

Lisa Heddens

Bruce Hunter

Dave Jacoby

Jerry Kearns

Vicki Lensing

Jim Lykam

Mary Mascher

Brian Meyer

Helen Miller

Jo Oldson

Rick Olson

Mark Smith

Sharon Steckman

Sally Stutsman

Todd Taylor

Beth Wessel-Kroeschell

Cindy Winckler

Mary Wolfe

Republicans (30)

Rob Bacon

Clel Baudler

Brian Best

Darrel Branhagen

Josh Byrnes

Gary Carlson

Dave Deyoe

Cecil Dolecheck

Jack Drake

Greg Forristall

Tedd Gassman

Mary Ann Hanusa

Dave Heaton

Lee Hein

Dan Huseman

Megan Jones

Bobby Kaufmann

David Maxwell

Linda Miller

Norlin Mommsen

Brian Moore

Kraig Paulsen

Dawn Pettengill

Mike Sexton

David Sieck

Quentin Stanerson

Linda Upmeyer

John Wills

Matt Windschitl

Gary Worthan

46 state representatives voted against SF 257

Democrats (20)

Bruce Bearinger

Liz Bennett

Timi Brown-Powers

David Dawson

Nancy Dunkel

Abby Finkenauer

Ruth Ann Gaines

Mary Gaskill

Chris Hall

Curt Hanson

Chuck Isenhart

Dan Kelley

Bob Kressig

Charlie McConkey

Scott Ourth

Todd Prichard

Patti Ruff

Kirsten Running-Marquardt

Art Staed

Phyllis Thede

Republicans (26)

Terry Baxter

Peter Cownie

Dean Fisher

Joel Fry

Pat Grassley

Stan Gustafson

Chris Hagenow

Greg Heartsill

Jake Highfill

Steve Holt

Ron Jorgensen

Jarad Klein

Kevin Koester

John Kooiker

John Landon

Zach Nunn

Ross Paustian

Ken Rizer

Walt Rogers

Sandy Salmon

Tom Sands

Larry Sheets

Chuck Soderberg

Rob Taylor

Guy Vander Linden

Ralph Watts

Republican Chip Baltimore took part in most of today’s votes but skipped the vote on this bill.

Iowa Senate news release, February 24:

Making roads safer and strengthening the Iowa economy

Opening remarks on SF 257

by Senator Tod Bowman, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee

Today in the Iowa Senate, we, a bipartisan group of legislators, will address a huge problem for Iowa.

We will vote to increase funding for Iowa’s roads and bridges. By doing so, we will help create jobs for Iowans, attract new businesses to our state, and make Iowa drivers safer.

Iowa’s roads and bridges are in rough shape.

• 46 percent of our major roads are in poor to mediocre condition.

• 26 percent of our bridges are structurally deficient or obsolete.

Many of our rural bridges are closed or have weight restrictions because there’s no money to repair them.

This neglect puts Iowa families in danger every time they drive, and it makes businesses hesitant to locate or expand in our state.

Good roads and bridges are KEY to Iowa’s economic growth and prosperity.  Business leaders say bad roads are one of Iowa’s most serious economic development weaknesses.

We can’t continue to kick this can down the road.

Iowa’s Road Use Fund is NOT taking in enough money for the work that needs to be done. Just to cover our most critical projects, we need an extra $215 million a year.

How did we get into this dire situation?

• Newer cars have become significantly more fuel efficient.

• The number of miles Iowans drive has plateaued.

• Construction costs have increased… both labor and materials.

Iowa: We are not alone. Most states face a similar problem.

Efficiencies? We continue to make the Iowa DOT even more efficient, but efficiencies alone are not the solution.

In rural areas, counties are borrowing money-and paying interest-to maintain roads and bridges.  Borrowing money costs more, and the costs are only paid for by local property tax payers… not road users.

The bill before us today, Senate File 257, will increase funding for our roads so that Iowa families are safer, and the economy grows.

This bill raises the per-gallon tax on fuel by 10 cents.  That will pay for Iowa’s most critical road and bridge projects.

The bill will also:

·       Limit how counties bond for road and bridge projects.

·       Increase permit fees for oversized and overweight vehicles.

·       Establish a formula for taxing biofuels as their market share increases, similar to what we do with ethanol.

·       Require legislative review of road funding and fuel taxes every six years.

·       Instruct the DOT to find an additional $20 million in savings over the next two years.

·       Extend the Access Iowa Highway plan, which ensures priority funding for the roads that contribute most to our state’s economic vitality.

While many solutions have been proposed, SF 257 represents a broad consensus of Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and House, along with Governor Branstad.

This bill maintains the three core principles of Iowa’s approach to road funding:

1- It is a fiscally responsible, pay-as-you-go approach.

2- The revenue is constitutionally protected for roadwork only.

3- It is a user fee concept. Those who use the roads (including out-of-state drivers) pay for them.

By working together, we will solve a huge problem for Iowa and strengthen the Iowa economy for years to come.

Tags: 2015 Session, 2016 Elections, Abby Finkenauer, Ako Abdul-Samad, Amanda Ragan, Amy Sinclair, Art Staed, Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, Bill Anderson, Bill Dix, Bill Dotzler, Bob Dvorsky, Bob Kressig, Bobby Kaufmann, Brad Zaun, Brian Best, Brian Meyer, Brian Moore, Brian Schoenjahn, Bruce Bearinger, Cecil Dolecheck, Charles Schneider, Charlie McConkey, Chaz Allen, Chip Baltimore, Chris Brase, Chris Hagenow, Chris Hall, Chuck Isenhart, Chuck Soderberg, Cindy Winckler, Clel Baudler, Curt Hanson, Dan Kelley, Dan Zumbach, Darrel Branhagen, Dave Deyoe, Dave Heaton, Dave Jacoby, Dave Maxwell, David Dawson, David Johnson, David Sieck, Dawn Pettengill, Deborah Berry, Dennis Cohoon, Dennis Guth, Dick Dearden, Gary Carlson, Gregg Forristall, Guy Vander Linden, Helen Miller, Herman Quirmbach, Iowa House, Iowa Senate, Jack Drake, Jack Whitver, Jake Chapman, Jake Highfill, Janet Petersen, Jarad Klein, Jason Schultz, Jeff Danielson, Jerry Behn, Jerry Kearns, Jim Lykam, Jo Oldson, Joe Bolkcom, Joe Seng, Joel Fry, John Forbes, John Kooiker, John Landon, John Wills, Josh Byrnes, Julian Garrett, Ken Rizer, Ken Rozenboom, Kevin Kinney, Kevin Koester, Kirsten Running-Marquardt, Kraig Paulsen, Larry Sheets, Lee Hein, Linda Miller, Linda Upmeyer, Lisa Heddens, Liz Bennett, Liz Mathis, Mark Chelgren, Mark Costello, Mark Segebart, Mark Smith, Marti Anderson, Mary Ann Hanusa, Mary Gaskill, Mary Jo Wilhelm, Mary Mascher, Mary Wolfe, Matt McCoy, Matt Windschitl, Megan Jones, Michael Breitbach, Mike Breitbach, Mike Gronstal, Mike Sexton, Nancy Dunkel, Norlin Mommsen, Pam Jochum, Pat Grassley, Patti Ruff, Peter Cownie, Phyllis Thede, Quentin Stanerson, Ralph Watts, Randy Feenstra, Rich Taylor, Rick Bertrand, Rick Olson, Rita Hart, Rob Hogg, Rob Taylor, Roby Smith, Ron Jorgensen, Ross Paustian, Ruth Ann Gaines, Sally Stutsman, Sandy Salmon, Scott Ourth, SD-04, SD-14, SD-26, SD-36, SD-46, Sharon Steckman, Stan Gustafson, State Legislature, Steve Holt, Steve Sodders, Taxes, Tedd Gassman, Terry Baxter, Tim Kapucian, Tim Kraayenbrink, Timi Brown Powers, Tod Bowman, Todd Prichard, Todd Taylor, Tom Courtney, Tom Sands, Tom Shipley, Tony Bisignano, Transportation, Wally Horn, Walt Rogers, Zach Nunn

About the Author(s)


  • Shipley

    This is why it was important for Tom Shipley to beat Art.  I have a feeling that Hill would have voted differently on this matter.  Good for Mr. Shipley, I hope his constituents understand the issue.  

    • I hope the money

      actually goes toward fixing the roads and bridges in his district, rather than toward some new road as an economic development project.