The Driscoll Dispatch by Senator Dawn DriscollThis week was the twelfth week of the legislative session. It included the next important legislative deadline of the year. In order to be considered for the rest of the year, policy bills needed to be out of their original chamber and through committee in the second chamber. In other words, we spent time this week looking at policy bills sent to us from the House.

We received more good news about Iowa and the economy. The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Iowa’s economy grew faster in the last few months of 2020 than many of our neighboring states at 6.3 percent. This, along with one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, is great news as Iowa recovers from the pandemic. It also demonstrates why pro-growth policies are important – they help grow our economy, open up jobs so people can work, and ensure we are prepared when difficult times hit. We will continue advocating for pro-growth policies at the Capitol and make this state the best for living, working and raising a family.

Higher Property Assessments and a Real Property Tax Cut

New property assessments arrived in many Iowa mailboxes this week and those assessments came with a shock for many Iowans. The Quad City Times reported average increases of 8.5 percent in Scott County, WOWT noted increases of $55,000 on a residential property in Council Bluffs and the Sioux City Journal wrote of an increase of 13 percent in parts of Sioux City.

Property assessments, along with local levy rates, are the factors in determining property taxes paid by Iowans and these sharp increases in value can lead to painful property tax increases for Iowans, their families, and seniors. When assessments rise, property taxes increase, even if the levy rate stays the same. In 2019 the Legislature passed significant property tax reform to improve transparency around the property tax process and give property taxpayers more information to engage into local taxing decisions.

This session the Iowa Senate is again working to reduce the property tax burden. SF 587 eliminates the property tax levy on mental health and shifts funding to the state level. Eliminating this levy not only means over $100 million in reduced property taxes, it also has a compounding effect in future years because as property assessments rise, the elimination of the levy will reduce the increase of property taxes when assessments rise.

Property tax increases are especially difficult for many Iowans. Seniors on fixed incomes frequently do not have an increase in income to pay for additional taxes. Working families need new clothes for growing children and high property taxes are a hurdle for new home buyers working to attain the American Dream of home ownership. Permanent, reliable tax relief is a positive, pro-growth solution for many Iowans.

Outside the Legislature:

Last weekend, I went to Central Lutheran to watch a staff vaccination clinic. I attended the event alongside Governor Kim Reynolds and Representative Gerhold. I have been working closely with the governor’s office on getting more vaccines for District 38 so it was an awesome clinic to get to attend!

Also, recently I went and visited Brickhouse Coffee Co in Williamsburg, Iowa. On the visit, I learned that Brickhouse Coffee Co was looking to expand its business interests and in the fall of 2020 opened two, newly re-constructed AirBnB rentals, as well as a community room separating the two, that can be used for meetings or as a hangout space. In 2017, the main level of the building was restored back to its original style from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The restoration has drawn much commendation from community members and from out-of-town visitors. The coffee shop and building have become a welcome gathering place for people to meet and build relationships. Brickhouse was blessed to be nominated and receive a Community Catalyst Building Remediation Grant provided by the Iowa Economic Development Committee. Without this grant, they would not have been able to complete this project to the extent the building deserved. This was such an interesting visit and was a fun place to spend my morning!

As always, please feel free to contact me with comments or questions about the issues important to you or the legislation we are talking about here at the Capitol.Observing the vaccination clinic with Governor Reynolds.Receiving a tour of Brickhouse Coffee in Williamsburg, Iowa.I serve as the vice chair of the Natural Resources and Environment Committee, and also serve on the Agriculture, Labor and Business Relations, Local Government, and Transportation committees. Additionally, I serve on the Transportation, Infrastructure, and Capitals Appropriations Subcommittee.

Mailing Address:
Dawn Driscoll
1007 E Grand Ave
Des Moines, IA 50319-1001

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