Josh Mandelbaum

Why I support the local option sales tax

A government that does not provide adequate services is more regressive than a sales tax, writes Des Moines City Council member Josh Mandelbaum in this case for Polk County residents to support the measure on the March 6 ballot. -promoted by desmoinesdem

There is a cliché that the start of one’s term in public service is like drinking from a fire hose. My experience the last few months definitely shows the merit of the cliché. More comes at you quickly than you can possibly absorb. The budget is a perfect example of this, but in the case of the budget, I don’t have the luxury of time because local budgets must be certified by the end of March. I want to share with all of you some of what I have learned.

In examining the budget, one thing becomes clear quickly: the city will not be able to maintain its current service levels without new revenue or significant increases in property taxes.

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The utility attack on Iowa's clean energy leadership

Josh Mandelbaum of the Environmental Law & Policy Center advocates for clean energy and clean water policies in Iowa. -promoted by desmoinesdem

I started off my post last week lamenting that Senate Study Bill 3078 was one of the worst energy bills that I had seen at the legislature. I still believe that to be the case. Unfortunately, a new bill that has been introduced (Senate Study Bill 3093 and its companion House Study Bill 595) is even worse.

In short, SSB 3093 undermines Iowa’s clean energy leadership by significantly scaling back energy efficiency, allowing new charges on solar customers, and removing consumer protections and oversight. As state Consumer Advocate Mark Schuling explained to the Des Moines Register, “It looks like the utilities’ Christmas list was all rolled into one bill. It’s good for utilities but not for customers.”

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Are MidAmerican and Alliant trying to kill Iowa's energy efficiency programs?

Josh Mandelbaum advocates for clean energy and clean water policies in Iowa. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Last week Republican State Senator Randy Feenstra introduced Senate Study Bill 3078, one of the worst energy bills introduced at the legislature since I have been working for the Environmental Law & Policy Center. The bill would completely eliminate the requirement for utility energy efficiency programs under Iowa law.

Iowa was one of the first states to adopt energy efficiency programs in the early 1990s, and we have been a national leader in energy efficiency since then. These programs are a part of our clean energy leadership, and one reason we have kept our energy rates below the national average. Thanks to a general political consensus on these programs, there hasn’t been much public discussion about energy efficiency in Iowa. Now seems to be the right time to help people understand the value of these policies. As I’ll explain in more detail below, energy efficiency is one of our most important tools for protecting consumers, addressing climate change, and creating local jobs.

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