|Iowa Legislature Mulls Raising Sales Tax|
|Tuesday, 27 March 2001 18:00|
• The Iowa House of Representatives will be looking at a proposal to raise the state’s sales tax to 6 percent and use the money to pay for school construction and repair. Inspired by the success of a 1998 law that allowed counties to pass a 1-cent sales-tax increase to pay for school capital projects, the bill aims to provide property-tax relief and tax equity statewide.
Currently, 15 counties – including Scott County – have passed the local tax, but the amount of revenue generated depends on the retail tax base. The bill is now in the House Ways and Means Committee, but faces a difficult battle in the full chamber.
• The Bi-State Literacy Council is seeking nominations for the 2001 Literacy Recognition Awards, which will be presented for outstanding efforts to promote literacy in the organization’s service areas of Henry, Mercer, and Rock Island counties in Illinois and Clinton, Muscatine, and Scott counties in Iowa. Any individual or organization receiving a Literacy Recognition Award in the past five years is not eligible for an award in 2001. Awards will be presented at the Bi-State Literacy Council’s Annual Meeting on April 23 from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. at the Radisson in Davenport. If you have questions or need a nomination form, call (309)755-2200 extension 8208 or fax (309)755-9847, attention Janet Coogan. All nominations must be received by April 5.
• Retired Colonel James V. Mudd, former Rock Island District Commander, and Chris Bresca, president of MARC 2000, testified before a congressional panel about the urgent need for the Army Corps of Engineers to complete a long-overdue navigation-feasibility study. Mudd and Brescia told members of the Congressional Mississippi River Caucus that the whistleblower actions surrounding allegations of improper conduct to change the study’s conclusions have wasted taxpayers’ money and have unfairly targeted Corps officials. The Corps of Engineers initiated the feasibility study in 1993 to consider a replacement of the lock and dam with a larger system to aid in transportation of goods up and down the Mississippi River. A draft of the report is expected to be released to the public in 2002. You can learn more about MARC 2000 and the battle surrounding the proposed expansion of the lock-and-dam system at (http://www.marc2000.org).
• From the desk of Iowa Senator Maggie Tinsman comes information regarding Senate File 322, an act establishing County Child Protection Assistance Teams (CCPAT) that is fashioned after the Scott County Protection Team. CCPAT will consist of a county attorney, law enforcement, social worker, and medical personnel to assist the Department of Human Services child-abuse worker. The bill has been passed out of the Senate Human Resources Committee.
• Congressman Greg Ganske (R-Iowa) has recently announced his intention to run for Senator Tom Harkin’s seat in 2002. Endorsed by former Governors Terry Branstad and Bob Ray, along with Iowa House Speaker Brent Siegrist and Iowa Senate Majority Leader Stew Iverson, Ganske is counting on Harkin’s dwindling margin of victory in past campaigns. Also in Ganske’s favor is that four of Iowa’s five House members are Republicans. The GOP controls both houses of the state legislature, and the Iowa’s other senator is veteran Republican Chuck Grassley. You can check out Ganske to a limited extent on his Web site at (http://www.ganskefor senate.org). It’s rather thin right now, but hopefully it will be filled out soon with positions on issues and other information to help voters make informed decisions.
• While you are reading this, the Iowa legislature is busy with the latest census information, drawing new district lines for all five congressional districts as well as all 150 state legislative districts. The Legislative Service Bureau, a nonpartisan bill-drafting arm of the legislature, is in charge of producing the new maps. The agency is using computer software that includes legal requirements built into the redistricting law – such as not splitting a county between congressional districts. State law allows for up to 60 days for the first map to be drawn, and three public hearings must be held before legislators can vote on the new map.
• Late last month, the German American Heritage Center received a $100,000 Cultural Affairs grant from the State of Iowa for the renovation and restoration of its center, located on the corner of Second and Gaines streets in Davenport. The center is on the National Register of Historic Places and has City of Davenport Historic Landmark status. The mission of the facility is to preserve for present and future generations the heritage of German immigrants who came to America from the mid-1800s up to the present day and to depict their impact on the development of the upper Mississippi River area. The matching grant will be used to challenge additional donors to support a capital fundraising program to build an elevator/stair-tower addition to the center.
• Anti-government conspiracy buffs have new fodder for their contention that the complete story behind the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, in which 168 people lost their lives, has yet to be told. Jayna Davis, a former reporter for KFOR-TV, an NBC affiliate in Oklahoma City, told Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly of her evidence that there was a foreign conspiracy involving Saudi terrorist leader Osama bin Laden in the bombing. She said she has hundreds of court records; 24 sworn witness statements and reports from law enforcement; and counter-terrorism and intelligence showing not only a Middle East terrorist cell operating only blocks from the federal building, but a conspiracy between Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols, and at least seven men of Middle Eastern background. She also said she took this evidence and much more to the FBI, who refused to even accept the material.
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