Sen. Jason Schultz

Sen. Jason Schultz

Sen. Jason Schultz

The Schultz Perspective

4/6/2018

The Iowa Legislature took a strong position on illegal immigration this week. Senate File 481, the Sanctuary City bill, applies a penalty to cities and counties that refuse to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when a detainer request is submitted to a local law enforcement agency holding a suspected illegal alien. This bill was passed in the Senate last session, was amended and passed on April 3 in the House, and then the Senate agreed to the House changes on April 4.

Specifically, SF 481 requires an Iowa law enforcement agency having custody of a person subject to an immigration detainer request to fully comply with any instruction and legal document provided by
a federal agency, requires actions by the court in relation to a defendant who is the subject of an immigration detainer request at the time of sentencing, prohibits a local entity from taking any action discouraging the enforcement of immigration laws, including adopting or enforcing a policy, requires each state or local law enforcement agency to have policies in writing related to enforcement of federal immigration laws by January 1, 2019, and prohibits discrimination while enforcing immigration laws except to the extent permitted by the Constitution of the United States or the Constitution of the State of Iowa.

But the debate is broader than what is found in the bill. The bill, soon to be signed by the governor, only applies to a person who has already been arrested for committing a separate crime. This is not a bill forcing local law enforcement to work federal immigration law. It simply requires law enforcement with a criminal suspect in custody cooperate with federal immigration enforcement if they think the suspect may be in the country illegally and may have reason to be deported.

Why wouldn’t law enforcement want to deport the criminal element in their hometowns? Most law enforcement agree, and cooperate willingly, if not enthusiastically. But even here in Iowa we have elements of the progressive movement who want to re-engineer Iowans into citizens of the world. This movement wants no borders, no celebration of American Exceptionalism, and a desire to reduce Iowa and the U.S.A. to the world average. The Senate Democrats voted unanimously to allow politically motivated communities to release criminals who are suspected of being in the country illegally back into our communities.

We are Iowans, and citizens of the United States of America. Our forefathers, legal immigrants themselves, built a city on top of a hill for the world to aspire, or to legally enter and become an American themselves. While we can welcome those who legally enter and become part of the great American culture, we should never accept officials who turn their head and refuse to protect the lives, families, and property of citizens and legal immigrants.

This policy didn’t work for the Sarah Root family of Council Bluffs. Sarah was killed by a 19 year old illegal alien who was racing down an Omaha street with a blood alcohol content of .241, three times the legal limit. He was released after a relative paid $5000 bond and he hasn’t been seen since.

It didn’t work for the family of Kate Steinle of San Francisco. She was shot by an illegal alien who had been previously deported five times. But it gets worse. Several weeks before Steinle was killed, Garcia Zarate was released from a San Francisco jail — despite a federal request to detain him for a sixth deportation.

The primary purpose of government is to protect and preserve the rights of the people. It is our moral duty to protect the rights of the citizen. Not to protect the criminal who is in this country illegally and then continues to break our laws and hurt Iowans.

I currently serve as the chair of the Labor and Business Relations Committee, and serve on the Judiciary, State Government, and Ways and Means Committees. Additionally, I serve on the Education Appropriations Subcommittee. Please feel free to contact me at (515) 281-3371 or by email at  jason.schultz@legis.iowa.gov

The Schultz Perspective

3/21/2018

Special election issues came to the forefront in the last few weeks, first in the House and then the Senate. HF 2369 is a bill to set special elections on the same day most other elections are held, which is Election Day in November. This is when the highest amount of people know to go to vote.

The elections impacted by this bill are (1) a proposition to authorize an issuance of bonds by a county, township, city, or any local board or commission; (2) a petition concerning issuance of debt by a school corporation; or (3) a question whether a city or county shall impose a local option sales tax. Bond issuances in response to disaster emergencies would be exempted from this election timing restriction.

Most government entities that hold these types of elections are registered opposed. Yet the legislation keeps moving forward. It appears to me we have a few moving parts at play in this issue. The first is the consistent ask for more money from community colleges, schools, cities, and counties. While they tell us they are all chronically underfunded, they then tell us they are happy to pay for their own elections on the date of their choosing. The amounts vary, but the election costs could typically pay for at least one teacher or employee. The legislation reduces this cost for them.

Additionally, many citizens, taxpayers, and legislators are frustrated with the cycle of putting a bond vote up, failing, trying again immediately, failing, scaling back the project, trying again, failing, etc. I hear from constituents who want a set of rules that do not encourage starting with a high cost proposal that may exceed the actual needs of the community, just to fail and lower the ask and try again. The people back home who have reached out over the years want a break between votes so the government entity seeking the bond has an incentive to propose more realistic projects at the first vote. I would add again the recurring elections all cost money the local entity must pay, while claiming to be underfunded.

The last item is the belief special elections do not actually represent the will of the local voters. I was in a conversation here in the Iowa Capitol just last week with a group of four publicly funded lobbyists and government employees.

I summed up what I was hearing with this question, “So you do not want the elections to be on the normal Election Day because you are afraid the average voter will just vote no when they see a few bond questions all at the bottom of the ballot?”

They all vigorously agreed.

“And you prefer having a special election because uninformed voters won’t turn out, but the select people you reach out to for support will show up, giving you an advantage?” They all again nodded their heads, except for one, who realized what they had just admitted.

I don’t want to rig the system against the service providers who need occasional bond support. But it isn’t right to the taxpayer for a system to allow for larger than needed asks, with immediate plans for a new election, at a special time selected by the body asking for the additional tax dollars. An informed electorate is needed to make decisions for the community. The widest selection of voters is preferable in order to best represent the needs and desires of the community.

If there is a better way to do this, I am open to listening. But we need to put the taxpayers and the voters at the same table as the tax-asking body.

If you need to contact me, please email jason.schultz@legis.iowa.gov.

I currently serve as the chair of the Labor and Business Relations Committee, and serve on the Judiciary, State Government, and Ways and Means Committees. Additionally, I serve on the Education Appropriations Subcommittee. Please feel free to contact me at (515) 281-3371 or by email at  jason.schultz@legis.iowa.gov

The Schultz Perspective

3/14/2018

Of all the issues affecting Iowans on a day-to-day basis, access to affordable health insurance is the kitchen-table issue of our time. It seems at every event I hear the difficult stories of farm families, small business owners, or workers whose employer does not offer health insurance telling me of the $15,000 to $25,000 premiums or $6,000 deductibles they face. Some tell me they can’t find a policy at any price.

The (Un)Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, has wreaked havoc on our health care and health insurance industries. Policies disappeared, carriers pulled out of Iowa, and government meddling has caused policies to be much more expensive and yet, provide less coverage.

Under the Obama administration, the law and rules of Obamacare were so tight that states could not find a way to help their citizens. Under President Trump, the situation has changed. An executive order signed by President Trump directed the heads of all executive departments and agencies to exercise all authority and discretion to lessen the fiscal burden on states, providers, insurers, patients, and purchasers of health insurance caused by the Affordable Care Act; to provide greater flexibility to states and cooperate with them in implementing healthcare programs and initiatives; and to require agencies to revise their rules and regulations to carry out these enumerated objectives.

Into this void steps Senator Waylon Brown. A humble, unassuming man, content to raise his family and build his construction business, Senator Brown identified this problem. During the height of his busy season, Waylon took days off to travel to Des Moines to work on a solution. This solution became Senate File 2349.

SF 2349 addresses the problem by allowing the creation of Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements (MEWA). A MEWA is essentially a health insurance group that can be created
among more than one employer in order to get enough employees to justify a group. The bill removes time restrictions on creating a MEWA. The bill requires the Commissioner of Insurance to form rules to allow for the creation of association health plans that are consistent with U.S. Dept. of Labor regulations. The proposed U.S. Department of Labor rules will change definitions that would allow sole proprietorships to be considered “employers” and that employers must only live in the state and not have to be in the same industry in order to qualify for the group.

The goal is for competition and innovation to be returned to the marketplace. For insurance products that cost less yet offer better coverage than the highly regulated ACA products. This bill is meant to help families, farmers, and small businesses handle the changing health insurance market. We waited for Congress to act, yet those knuckleheads can’t get it done. Surprise, surprise, surprise!

A similar bill has been passed out of the Senate this week. SF 2329 will allow Farm Bureau to offer health benefit plans, which will not be considered insurance under state or federal law. This removes these plans out of the ACA requirements. The bill will require that farm bureau self-fund these plans and have a third party administrator administer the plans.

Iowa tried the stopgap measure to fix this problem, but it ultimately did not get implemented. There are Iowans who are suffering because of the cost of health insurance under the ACA. This is an option for those Iowans who should not have to be paying up to $40,000 a year for health insurance. Additionally, independent agents will be able to sell these policies.

The failure of Obamacare has hurt many Americans, but the election of President Trump has created an opportunity for states to protect their citizens, and Senate Republicans are united in getting this done. It is an honor to represent Western Iowa in the Iowa Senate.

Friday, February 23, 2018

We are almost to the midpoint of the 2018 legislative session. That means we have passed the first funnel deadline, and in committee we are working on House bills sent over to us. It also means we have reached
the point where we address the main issue of the session. 2018 will be known for tax relief.

Iowa Working Families Tax Relief Act is a comprehensive tax reform bill that will have a generational impact. The bill contains a billion dollars of tax relief for Iowa taxpayers. It simplifies our tax brackets and lowers the Iowa income tax rates by thirty percent. We estimate that families filing with around $45,000 of income would see a $1000 reduction in their tax bill.

It has been twenty years since Iowa reduced our income taxes. At that time tax rates were lowered by ten percent and the structure was not changed. Iowa currently has nine income tax rates which will be reduced to five. The top income tax rate is currently 8.98 percent, which would be reduced to 6.3 percent. Part of this reduction will be offset by removing the federal deductibility provision that allows Iowans to deduct their federal taxes off Iowans’ taxable income. I have traditionally resisted this, but given the scope and benefit of the overall package, I believe this is justified in order to simplify and make Iowa more attractive to out of state employers.

It has been twenty years since Iowa reduced our income taxes. At that time tax rates were lowered by ten percent and the structure was not changed. Iowa currently has nine income tax rates which will be reduced to five. The top income tax rate is currently 8.98 percent, which would be reduced to 6.3 percent. Part of this reduction will be offset by removing the federal deductibility provision that allows Iowans to deduct their federal taxes off Iowans’ taxable income. I have traditionally resisted this, but given the scope and benefit of the overall package, I believe this ism justified in order to simplify and make Iowa more attractive to out of state employers.

Another benefit of this tax package is the permanent coupling with federal tax law, which will give our farmers and small businesses stability and predictability in financial planning and tax preparation. One of the most frustrating aspects of being in office has been the annual fight over whether the state will allow accelerated depreciation. I have always supported this policy and believe this bill is how we can solve this problem to the benefit of Iowa taxpayers.

Iowa Working Families Tax Relief Act does bring some complaints with it. Over the years the legislature has built in tax credits to try to provide an incentive for economic behavior because we didn’t have the right
people in place to reform our tax as we do now. Every tax credit comes with a segment of our population who receive those credits and they do not want to lose them. These tax credits are part of the complexity that causes Iowa’s tax code to be less attractive. I believe every generation should do a comprehensive reform to align tax policy with the business and personal environment in the state. Businesses need predictability and a stable tax and regulatory environment. Working families need the cost of government lifted off their backs so the money they earn can go to their own needs.

Iowa Working Families Tax Relief Act moved out of committee this week and we should have it passed out of the Senate soon. If Iowans hang together, we can have a system that rewards the productive and
thrifty. We can have a system that attracts out of state employers and rewards our home grown businesses for investing here. And we can have a system that provides enough revenue to address the needs of Iowans.

Thank you for giving me the chance to take part in this historic
opportunity. If you would like to send your thoughts, email jason.schultz@legis.iowa.gov or
call 515-281-3371

 

 

 

 

 

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