Rep. Steven Holt

Representative Steven Holt

Representative Steven Holt

Freedom Watch 4/26/18

Budgets & Taxes

Week 16

Good progress was made this week in the Iowa House, as we passed key budgets for FY19 and moved closer to agreement on meaningful, responsible tax reform.  Even though we are now in overtime, it is vital that we do not rush the tax reform process. The Middle-Class Tax Relief Act must provide meaningful relief to Iowa taxpayers, ensure the federal refund intended for taxpayers does not end up in state coffers and is responsible and sustainable.

On Wednesday April 25th the House passed the Agriculture and DNR budget and the Transportation Operations Budget. Democrats joined Republicans in passing the Transportation budget, while the Ag budget passed mostly along party lines.  An additional $2 million in funding was provided for our state parks, as they prepare for the 100th celebration of our great state park system.

On Thursday, April 26th, as I write this newsletter, the House is poised to pass the Economic Development budget. This budget provides funding for the Dept. of Cultural Affairs, the Economic Development Authority, Community Cultural Grants, Regional Tourism, the Iowa Finance Authority, the Public Employment Relations Board, Iowa Workforce Development, and the Iowa Skilled Worker & Job Creation Fund.

Near the end of 2017, the federal government passed comprehensive tax reform that will provide relief to millions of Americans and small businesses. The impact of the federal legislation was still being evaluated by the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency (LSA) weeks into the 2018 legislative session. It soon became clear that because of Iowa’s federal deductibility, Iowans would pay $260 million more in state taxes in the next two tax years if state government did not take action. The tax relief provided in President Trump’s historic tax reform was intended for taxpayer’s wallets, not to grow state government. It is the intention of the Governor, Senate Republicans and House Republicans not only to ensure the federal tax cut goes to Iowa taxpayers, but also to take advantage of this opportunity to modernize Iowa’s tax code, which has not been done in over 20 years. In so doing, we can provide even more relief to Iowa taxpayers.

Arriving at meaningful, responsible and sustainable tax reform after two decades without update is a complex process that must be done correctly and cannot be rushed. Each time the numbers are run to evaluate our proposals, it takes days to receive reports from the Dept. of Revenue and the LSA. We will not pass tax reform until we are certain that the legislation correctly targets the middle class. It must also be meaningful, and responsible; leaving a healthy bottom line that ensures Iowa continues to set the standard for others to emulate in responsible budgeting and use of taxpayer money. We are nearing completion of this process and will soon send the Governor tax reform that will achieve these important objectives.

To review legislation, go to legis.iowa.gov and type in the bill number (HF2491 for example) in the Bills Block in the left-hand corner. I am honored to serve as your state Representative.  You can call me at 712-269-4042 or email me atsteven.holt@legis.iowa.gov.

Freedom Watch 4/19/18

Nearing Completion

Week 15

This week in the Iowa House saw budgets begin to move and discussions continue with the Governor’s office and the Senate on tax reform. We reached our 100th day on Tuesday April 17th, and our per-diem ended on that day. We also lost our clerks and pages this week, all of these things built-in incentives to encourage completion of our work on behalf of the people of Iowa.  Much has been accomplished in this second and final year of the 87th General Assembly, but important work remains.

The complexity and time-consuming challenges of tax reform have been the main drivers in prolonging the session.  We must get this right for the people of Iowa, and running the numbers each time a change is made to the plan results in delays lasting several days, as the Department of Revenue measures the results. The House plan closely aligns with the Governor’s plan, providing tax relief of $200 million in FY20 alone.  We believe this plan is responsible and realistic, while providing needed tax relief for the middle class. Our estimates do not count on rosy projections and overly optimistic estimates, instead relying on realistic numbers that show a healthy ending balance for the state. It is important that we not only provide tax relief, but that it be sustainable and does not result in deficits.

I believe the House Middle Class Tax Relief Act can be the beginning stage of comprehensive tax reform that can be accomplished over a period of several years, first with middle-class tax reform and modernization of the tax code this year, and continuing in future years with corporate reforms to make Iowa more competitive. These efforts will foster economic growth and encourage more efficient government, while protecting revenue for important government services expected by the people of Iowa.

The House will continue to work with the Senate and the Governor to reach compromise on meaningful, sustainable and responsible tax reform for the people of Iowa. I am hopeful we will reach compromise soon, which will enable us to complete budgets and wrap up for the year.

Important legislation remaining to be done includes the heartbeat bill, which will protect the unborn once a heartbeat is detected. I am working with other pro-life legislators to get this bill to the floor, passed and sent to the Governor for signature. Twelve heartbeats a day are ended in Iowa by abortion. It is time we recognize that the heart of the matter in this debate is that life must be protected once it begins, and only living things have heartbeats.

President Ronald Reagan wrote a book he called “Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation.” He understood that the right to life is at the very heart of our civilization.  Of abortion, he stated, “With regard to the freedom of the individual for choice with regard to abortion, there’s one individual who’s not being considered at all. That’s the one who is being aborted. And I’ve noticed that everybody that is for abortion has already been born.” Profound words from one of our greatest Presidents.

I thank my clerk Connor Krajicek for his great work this session. I could not have done it without him.

To review legislation, go to legis.iowa.gov and type in the bill number (HSB671 for example) in the Bills Block in the left-hand corner. I am honored to serve as your state Representative.  You can call me at 712-269-4042 or email me at steven.holt@legis.iowa.gov.

Upcoming Legislative Forums

  • Shelby- 10:00 A.M. 4-21-18 at Shelby Chamber of Commerce, Harlan

Freedom Watch 4/12/18

Middle Class Tax Relief Act

Week 14

Week 14 of the 2018 legislative session saw the unveiling of the House Middle Class Tax Relief Act, a responsible, sustainable approach to updating our tax code. Our proposed changes mirror closely the Governor’s plan and focuses on middle class tax reduction.

Iowa’s tax code is outdated, too complicated, and has as its claim to fame some of the highest income tax rates in the nation. Due to recent tax reform on the federal level, Iowans will owe $1.8 billion less in federal taxes in tax year 2018. However, due to Iowa’s federal deductibility, Iowans will pay an additional $107 million in tax year 2018, which will grow to $153 million in tax year 2019 if tax reform is not accomplished. The tax relief delivered by President Trump was not intended to grow state government; rather it was intended to go to hard-working taxpayers and spur our economy.

Our Middle Class Tax Relief Act will reform Iowa’s tax code to make it more fair. It will be sustainable, responsible, and is built for the 21st century and the changing way people make purchases. Taxes on Iowans will be reduced $1.3 billion over 5 years while protecting budget sustainability in future years. This relief is largely achieved by reducing taxes that would have increased to the state because of the federal tax cut, and by leveling the playing field for our Main Street businesses competing with internet sales.

The average Iowan will see an 8.9% state income tax reduction, with 90% of middle-class Iowans seeing a reduction. For example, a single taxpayer making $25,000 a year will see a 14.9% reduction, while a family of four making $52,000 would see a 14.4% reduction.

For tax year 2018, our legislation would expand 529 education savings plans to include K-12 tuition. It also raises the Section 179 limit to $100,000/$400,000, up from $25,000/$200,000. For tax year 2019, the standard deduction is increased from $2,070 single to $3,000, and for family from $5,070 to $7,500. A small business deduction is also created to help our entrepreneurs with job-creating innovations. In tax year 2020, individual income tax rates for middle class Iowans are further reduced, with the largest cuts to the bottom five brackets. The Section 179 deduction also increases to $250,000/$1 million.

An important component of our tax reform package is addressing the reality of Main Street businesses being put at an unfair disadvantage as our economy moves more toward internet sales. We believe that the time is now to eliminate this inequity and modernize our tax system to reflect 21st century realities, before we no longer have Main Streets in Iowa. Our plan updates sales tax to create fairness and equity in the modern economy. Under our plan, sales tax would be applied to sellers like Zappos or Wayfair, and online marketplaces like Amazon and Ebay. These taxes have applied for decades to products being sold in a traditional way, but have not applied to internet sales, creating an increasingly profound challenge for Main Street businesses to remain competitive. The revenue that comes from these updates will then be put directly into the tax cuts I have discussed above, creating a tax code built for 21st century realities, while establishing a more level playing field for Main Street businesses in Iowa.

Modern, sustainable, responsible, and fair are important characteristics in the House Middle Class Tax Relief Act.  I look forward to working for its passage in the weeks ahead.

To review legislation, go to legis.iowa.gov and type in the bill number (HSB671 for example) in the Bills Block in the left-hand corner. I am honored to serve as your state Representative.  You can call me at 712-269-4042 or email me atsteven.holt@legis.iowa.gov.

Upcoming Legislative Forums

  • Crawford- 10:00 A.M. 4-14-18 at Cronk’s Cafe, Denison
  • Shelby- 10:00 A.M. 4-21-18 at Shelby Chamber of Commerce, Harlan

 

Freedom Watch 4/5/18

From the Clerk’s Desk

Week 13:

This week I am having my clerk, Connor Krajicek, write the newsletter to let him share his experiences from working with me here at the Capitol. Next week I will continue with my regular legislative update but in the mean time I hope you enjoy reading about Connor’s experiences.

“Representative Holt has turned this week’s newsletter over to me to share some of my thoughts and experiences from working here in the House. I would like to give a short background as to how I ended up working as Clerk for the Representative of District 18. I was born and raised in Denison, Iowa and graduated from Denison High School in 2015, where I served as Class President for all four years of High School. I continued my education by attending the University of Iowa, studying political science with a track in pre-law. As a political science major, it was very hard to turn down an opportunity to work at the Iowa Capitol, let alone for my own district. After conversations with Steve, I accepted the position, packed my bags, and headed for Des Moines.

My first week in the Capitol was a very humbling experience. Not only did I have the pleasure of coming to one of the most beautiful buildings in the state, but I was also surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the opening week speeches by the Major General of the Iowa National Guard, the Governor, and the Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court. In the following weeks I learned my role as Secretary of the Veterans Affairs Committee. It was a pleasure to work with men and women in the legislature who have served in the military, as well as others who are passionate about representing those who do and have served our great state and country.

One of the important lessons I have learned from my time here is the actual process of how bills become law. I have read multiple political science books and have had to watch the School House Rock video on how a bill becomes a law on multiple occasions. I thought I had a firm grasp on this important process, but it was not until working with bills hands-on that I truly understood the process. I have worked with legislation from its birth, have met and heard opinions from lobbyists, consultants, and the general public, sat through multiple sub-committee and committee hearings, and even been present for debate on the floor to see these bills reach their final passage. This process is surrounded by deep passion and intense opinions.  I got to experience this firsthand by sitting in on very important debate on legislation such as Future Ready Iowa, new school safety measures, and the Sanctuary City bill. Through all of these wonderful experiences, I gained tons of knowledge that I could never have learned in a classroom. It is an experience I will take back to school and through life.

The best experience I have had overall is being able to meet and work with some great Iowans. In my time here, I have made many friends and some great networking opportunities for my future. I have met many distinguished Iowa Representatives and Senators, and had the opportunity to have a one-on-one conversation with Governor Reynolds about tax policy and advice about life in politics. At the top of my list however, and one of the greatest honors I have ever had, is working with the people of District 18 and making sure their voices are heard in the People’s House. I was born and raised in the district and have a lot of passion for our little slice of heaven in Southwest Iowa. I have, and will continue to, work hard in representing the great people of District 18 in the closing days of the 87th General Assembly, and I hope to have this honor again one day.

I would like to thank Representative Holt for this great opportunity, my parents, family , and friends for supporting me and helping me make the transition, and again I would like to thank the people of District 18 for allowing me the honor to help in the process of representing them in the House of Representatives.”

– Connor Krajicek, Clerk for Representative Steven Holt

To review legislation, go to legis.iowa.gov and type in the bill number (SF481 for example) in the Bills Block in the left-hand corner. I am honored to serve as your state Representative.  You can call me at 712-269-4042 or email me atsteven.holt@legis.iowa.gov.

Upcoming Legislative Forums

  • Crawford- 10:00 A.M. 4-14-18 at Cronk’s Cafe, Denison

 

Freedom Watch 3/22/18

Health Insurance, School Safety,
& Individual Freedom

Week 11 in the Iowa House saw passage of legislation to address the health insurance crisis caused by the collapse of the Affordable Care Act exchanges; requirements for schools to adopt comprehensive school safety plans; and a proposed state constitutional amendment to recognize 2nd Amendment rights. The de-appropriation bill to slightly reduce expenditures for FY2018 to address the downward revision of the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) passed the House, while work continued on the FY2019 budget and responsible tax reform to make Iowa a great place to live and open businesses.

Health Insurance (SF2349) – This legislation is intended to assist families in Iowa unable to afford health insurance as a result of the collapse of the Obamacare exchanges. The legislation has two parts: First, it will allow the creation of a framework for new multiple employer health agreements pending changes to federal Department of Labor rules providing increased flexibility. These agreements would be similar in nature to affordable plans created through associations that existed long before Obamacare destroyed the insurance market. The second part of the bill allows Farm Bureau to join with Wellmark in offering health benefit plans (not health insurance but offers coverage much like insurance). These plans would be similar to the affordable plans Farm Bureau once offered to members before Obamacare made them illegal.

Both plans have the blessing and oversight of the Iowa Insurance Commissioner as options to help Iowans who make too much money to receive government subsidies on the exchanges, but cannot afford the huge monthly premiums and deductibles that have become the norm for those not subsidized on the exchange. It was passed with bi-partisan support. This legislation does not address all the challenges faced by our friends and neighbors in finding affordable health insurance since the collapse of the Obamacare exchanges, but it is innovative action we can take on the state level to help some of our citizens until private sector solutions are found in Washington D.C. to return quality and affordable health insurance to the marketplace.

School Security Plans (SF2364) – We are blessed in our district to have pro-active school boards and superintendents that make school security a high priority.  This is not the case in all school districts in Iowa.  This legislation raises the bar for school security, requiring public and non-public schools to develop secret school safety plans for all classroom buildings no later than June 30, 2019. It requires that the plans include responses to active-shooter situations. Additionally, it requires all school personnel conduct at least one annual emergency drill in each building. The Iowa Department of Education reports that 88% of Iowa school districts have security plans, but less than 10% are classified as high-quality plans with “walk-through” drills for school staff, highlighting the importance of this legislation. This plan was approved by all Republicans and Democrats, 100-0, and heads to the Senate for final consideration. This legislation adds to numerous other initiatives undertaken this session to improve school safety, including funding flexibility for school security measures, suicide prevention training for school staff, sharing of licensed mental health professionals for student mental health support, and comprehensive mental health reform.

The Right To Keep & Bear Arms (HJR2009) – This resolution is the first step in recognizing 2nd Amendment rights in the Iowa Constitution as a further safeguard of the sacred right of self-defense. The proposed amendment states, “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The sovereign state of Iowa affirms and recognizes this right to be a fundamental individual right. Any and all restrictions of this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.”  Strict scrutiny requires the highest possible level of judicial review be applied to any government restriction on this right, much like other fundamental rights.  This amendment would not nullify existing firearm laws. In order for this amendment to become part of the Iowa Constitution, it must pass both chambers in the next General Assembly and then go before the voters in 2020 for final decision.

To review legislation, go to legis.iowa.gov and type in the bill number (SF2364 for example) in the Bills Block in the left-hand corner. I am honored to serve as your state Representative.  You can call me at 712-269-4042 or email me atsteven.holt@legis.iowa.gov.

Upcoming Legislative Forums

  • Logan- 10:00 A.M. 3-24-18 at Logan Community Center, Logan

Freedom Watch 3/15/18

Iowa House Hard at Work

Week 8

Week 10 in the Iowa House was busy and productive, as we advanced several pieces of important legislation; worked to set budget targets; continued building our tax reform package; and moved to advance historic pro-life legislation through the committee process.

I was floor manager of two important pieces of legislation that are now headed to the Governor’s desk:

  • SF2228 (Genetic Counselor Licensing) – This legislation establishes licensing procedures for Genetic Counselors. Genetic Counselors are health care professionals that help families and individuals that may have a particular genetic condition or concern. They work in a variety of settings, to include hospital clinics, diagnostic and research labs, government and industry.  Their education includes a Bachelor’s Degree and then a specialized Master’s Degree in Genetic Counseling. Without licensing, many Genetic Counselors will not locate in Iowa, because their scope of practice is severely limited. The potential for serious harm, if an unqualified individual gives advice on genetic testing is profound. Licensing of professional Genetic Counselors will help ensure professional standards, ethics and values, and proper interpretation of data so vital to positive outcomes for patients. Genetic counseling would also save hospitals money, with estimates as high as $40,000 in unnecessary tests per month that could be avoided by review of a licensed Genetic Counselor. After several years of work, I was honored to bring this legislation to the floor for debate. It passed with strong bipartisan support and is headed to the Governor’s desk for signature.
  • SF360 (New Born Safe Haven Act Update) – Since its inception in 2001, 30 newborns have been saved under this program. This legislation extends the age of a newborn infant eligible under the act to 30 days of age or younger, rather than 14 days.  It also allows a parent of a newborn infant to relinquish physical custody of the newborn through a first responder who responds to a 911 telephone call. Currently the law only allows a parent to relinquish custody at a hospital.  I was honored to floor manage this pro-life legislation, which is headed to the Governor’s desk for signature with all Republicans and Democrats in support.

The Governor’s high priority FUTURE READY IOWA legislation passed the House 98-0 on Tuesday, March 14th. The Future Ready Iowa Act “gives Iowans the opportunity to learn a high-demand skill and then not only get a job to pay the bills, but also a rewarding career,” stated Governor Reynolds after its passage. The legislation includes a number of initiatives, including apprenticeships, scholarships, and summer youth employment programs. Future Ready Iowa will involve regent universities, private colleges, community colleges, Workforce Development, the Department of Education, Iowa Economic Development Authority, and private sector employers. The legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Work continues on setting budget targets for Fiscal Year 2019. The Revenue Estimating Conference met on Friday, March 9th and reported a slight improvement in anticipated revenue, mainly a result of the federal tax cut.

Meaningful and responsible tax reform continues to be the goal of House Republicans. The foundation of our efforts is the Governor’s plan, which includes strong tax reform for the middle class, with triggers built in to ensure that the reforms are responsible and sustainable. Committee progress on tax reform is expected in the coming week.

As I write this newsletter, the Human Resources Committee, of which I am a member, is preparing to consider historic pro-life legislation that recognizes that life must be protected once a heartbeat is detected. We measure the end of life by the absence of a heartbeat. Since every living thing has a heartbeat, and non-living things do not have a heartbeat, it is logical to recognize that life is present when the heartbeat is present. This principle forms the basis of heartbeat legislation that will receive much debate in the days to come.

To review legislation, go to legis.iowa.gov and type in the bill number (SF2228 for example) in the Bills Block in the left-hand corner. I am honored to serve as your state Representative.  You can call me at 712-269-4042 or email me atsteven.holt@legis.iowa.gov.

Upcoming Legislative Forums

  • Shelby- 10:00 A.M. 3-17-18 at Shelby Chamber of Commerce, Harlan
  • Logan- 10:00 A.M. 3-24-18 at Logan Community Center, Logan

I am honored to serve as your State Representative.  You can call me at 712-269-4042 or email me at steven.holt@legis.iowa.gov

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