Farm Groups Favor Raising Gas Tax, Branstad Doesn't

Farm Groups Favor Raising Gas Tax, Branstad Doesn't

While farm groups support a gas tax, Gov. Terry Branstad says Iowans already pay too much in taxes of all kinds.

A coalition of farm and business groups is getting ready to lobby for a 10 cent increase in the state's gasoline and diesel fuel taxes in the Iowa Legislature's 2013 session which begins in January. Asked about that at his press conference on Monday, November 19, Branstad was cool to the idea of raising fuel taxes. The governor said his stance on a gas tax increase is unchanged from this past year. He believes Iowa's taxes are too high and should be lowered.

Branstad has said he'll only look at ways to increase revenue for roads and bridges if it is within a broad, overall tax reform package that reduces taxes on all Iowans.

GAS TAX HIKE?: A coalition of farm and business groups plans to lobby the 2013 Iowa Legislature for a 10 cent increase in the state's gasoline and diesel fuel taxes. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad is showing little enthusiasm for the idea, and some Republicans and Democrats in the state legislature say many lawmakers will oppose any legislation seeking to raise fuel taxes.

Farm groups expected to support a gas tax hike if it's for road and bridge repair

A spokesman for the Associated General Contractors of Iowa, Scott Newhard, said last week he expects support for a full 10-cent-per-gallon increase in gas and diesel fuel taxes to come from the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Bankers Association, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and a number of other farm and business groups.

Newhard said that 10-cent motor fuel tax increase is needed to address a $215 million annual funding shortfall for critical needs on Iowa's road system. Iowa hasn't raised its gas tax since 1989.

Republicans and Democrats in Iowa Legislature select leadership for 2013

The Iowa Corn Growers Association's weekly newsletter also reports that Republicans and Democrats from the newly-elected Iowa Senate and House of Representatives have chosen their leaders for the 2013 Iowa Legislative session.

Last week, Republicans in the Iowa House of Representatives chose Representative Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, to remain Speaker of the House, and Representative Linda Upmeyer, R-Garner, will continue as House Majority Leader. The new House Majority Whip will be Representative Chris Hagenow, R-Windsor Heights. Representative Steve Olson, R-DeWitt, will remain Speaker Pro Tem. Representatives Walt Rogers, R-Cedar Falls, Jeff Smith, R-Okoboji, and Matt Windschitl, R-Missouri Valley, were re-elected as Assistant Majority Leaders, and Representative Joel Fry, R-Osceola, was elected as a new Assistant Majority Leader.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~

Representative Kevin McCarty, D-Des Moines, was re-elected by Iowa House Democrats as the House Minority Leader. Representatives Ako Abdul-Samad, D-Des Moines, Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City, and Mark Smith, D-Marshalltown, will continue as Assistant Minority Leaders, with Representative Mary Gaskill, D-Ottumwa, also joining.

* Iowa Senate Republicans chose Sen. Bill Dix, R-Shell Rock, as the new Senate Minority Leader. Sen. Rick Bertrand, R-Sioux City, was selected as the Senate Minority Whip. Sens. Tim Kapucian, R-Keystone, David Johnson, R-Ocheyedan and Roby Smith, R-Davenport, were re-elected as Assistant Minority Leaders, with Randy Feenstra, R-Hull and Joni Ernst, R-Red Oak, joining as newly-chosen Assistant Minority Leaders.

* Iowa Senate Democrats have selected their leadership for the upcoming 2013 session. They've chosen Sen. Pam Jochum of Dubuque as the new president of the Iowa Senate. She will succeed Sen. Jack Kibbie, D-Emmetsburg, a veteran senator who is retiring from his long political career at the Iowa Statehouse in Des Moines. Democrats have chosen to keep Sen. Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, as Senate majority leader, a position he held in the 2012 Iowa Legislature. Gronstal, 62, has served in the Senate for 28 years and is considered the most powerful politician in the Iowa Legislature.

Jochum, age 58, served 16 years in the Iowa House before being elected to the Senate four years ago. President of the Senate is a critical position because the Senate president presides over the chamber's daily business and issues rulings on whether amendments to bills will be considered. Others chosen to Senate Democratic leadership include Sen. Steve Sodders, D-State Center, who will be Senate president pro-tem; and Sen. Joe Bolckcom, D-Iowa City, who will be Senate majority whip. In addition, four Democrat senators will be assistant majority leaders: Matt McCoy of Des Moines; Wally Horn of Cedar Rapids, William Dotzler of Waterloo and Amanda Ragan of Mason City.

Senate Democrats have a 26 to 23 edge over Senate Republicans in seats in the 2013 Iowa Legislature, which convenes in January. Four new senators were elected in November which enabled the Democrat party to hang onto its Senate majority. The newcomers are Chris Brase of Muscatine, Rita Hart of Wheatland, Janet Petersen of Des Moines and Rich Taylor of Mt. Pleasant.

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