Hello District 84 from the State Capitol!
The Iowa Legislature is marching its way towards the end of session, possibly by the end of April. The Iowa House is in negotiations with the Senate with budgets and other bills. The House passed nine bills this week and was basically unanimous in favor on all of them.
One of the bills, Senate File 84, enhances the penalties for sexual exploitation of a minor and eliminates the possibility of a deferred judgement for these crimes. For example, if a person is convicted of creating child pornography, the penalty will be increased from a class “C” felony to a class “B” felony. Convictions for promoting child pornography will be increased from a class “D” felony to a class “C” felony. Penalties for possession of child pornography will be increased from an aggravated misdemeanor to a class “D” felony and increases with subsequent convictions.
The House also amended and passed SF 496, which gives parents more control in their children’s education. Our amendments require parental notification if a student requests an accommodation at school for a gender identity that is different than their sex at birth. It also removes the requirement to teach about AIDS and the HPV vaccine. This will be optional to teach but is not required.
The very hot topic in Iowa is the huge increase in property tax assessments. These assessments are conducted on the odd-numbered years and due to inflation, these values have skyrocketed to most likely a statewide average of over 20%, according to a http://www.kcrg.com article on Feb. 23, 2023. These increases are very harmful to everyone, especially retirees on fixed and limited incomes.
Unfortunately, the inflation is caused by “too many dollars chasing too few goods.” Policies in Washington D.C. in the last few years have spent trillions more. All levels of government need citizen watchdogs. Just last year, the Des Moines City Council voted unanimously to give nine years of property tax abatements for $1.3 million townhomes if they had charging stations for electric vehicles, as seen here: https://taxrelief.org/drive-a-tesla-get-free-property-taxes/. This is not right and hurts everyone.
The House leadership is currently working on a bill to prevent corresponding huge increases in property tax hikes. “Rollback” percentages can lower the actual property taxes owed, and more info about Benton County property taxes can be found here: https://www.bentoncountyia.gov/assessor/faq/. You can also appeal your accessed values your assessments from now until April 25 if you like, and request an informal review by contacting your Assessor. You can look up your property value at www.beacon.schneidercorp.com and click on your county.
Another fyi, if you didn’t vote this last election and plan to in the future, please go to https://VoterReady.Iowa.gov to update your status.
I hope this finds you healthy, please be careful, and enjoy the warm weather this week!