Pam Mackey Taylor

Proposed cull of Iowa boards will reduce public access, input

Pam Mackey Taylor is the Director of the Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club.

This summer a new committee, mostly controlled by Governor Kim Reynolds, embarked on a project to review Iowa’s boards and commissions. The six members of the Boards and Commissions Review Committee worked mostly in secrecy, using two-member subcommittees to avoid open meetings law requirements. Members announced their draft recommendations on August 29.

Some of those recommendations would have far-reaching impacts on everyday Iowans and how state government is able to respond to the problems and issues we face, such as clean water, healthy air, and government regulations that work for all of us.

The recommendations appear to reduce and restrict public access and input in the decision-making process, as well as public oversight of state government agencies. These recommendations appear to consolidate power within the governor’s office, where decisions are made behind closed doors with as little public input as possible, and where the only people who have input are the lobbyists and friends of the governor.

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New GOP plan for I-WILL sales tax misses mark

Pam Mackey Taylor is the Director of the Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club.

In 2010, about 63 percent of Iowa voters approved a state constitutional amendment creating the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. The amendment stipulated that revenue from the first three-eighths of a percent of any state sales tax increase would go to the trust fund.

Companion legislation established how those funds would be allocated: 23 percent for natural resources, such as natural areas, wildlife diversity, recreation, and water resources; 20 percent for soil and water conservation; 14 percent for watershed protection; 13 percent for the Resource Enhancement and Protection fund (commonly known as REAP); 13 percent for local conservation agencies; 10 percent for trails; and 7 percent for lake restoration.

The campaign to successfully get the constitutional amendment and the legislation was called the Iowa Water and Land Legacy, or I-WILL. During the first few years after adoption of the constitutional amendment, the I-WILL coalition attempted to persuade the legislature to raise the sales tax to fund the program. But the fund remains empty, because state lawmakers have not increased the sales tax.

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