Pella — Rep. Guy Vander Linden (R-Oskaloosa) remains opposed to a gas tax increase without offsetting the increase with a decrease in another tax.
At the beginning of the 2013 legislative session, Vander Linden said he believes Iowa's roads need to be improved, but also believes that Iowans pay enough in taxes. The session ended with a budget surplus, and Vander Linden still believes that asking taxpayers for more money, when they have already overpaid the state, is not a good way to fund road improvements.
Vander Linden has spoken with Sen. Amy Sinclair (R-Corydon) who has a proposal to transfer a portion of the anticipated revenue increases to the state this year, to the Road Use Tax Fund. This may be 2 percent or more. The percentage has not been finalized.
Beyond roads, Vander Linden, who chairs the House State Government Committee, plans to work with Secretary of State Matt Schultz on a Voter Identification bill. Schultz ran on, and was elected, under the message of maintaining the integrity of Iowa's elections, including adding a requirement for voters to produce state identification before voting. Vander Linden said he supports the principle of voter identification laws.
Vander Linden is also crafting legislation regarding primary elections. As the law stands today, if no candidates in a primary election receive the required 35 percent of the vote, the decision of whom the nominee will be is left to the party. Vander Linden wants to change this process and hold runoff elections in these cases.
The date of school board elections would change under another bill Vander Linden is working on. He is concerned about the consistently low turnouts for school board elections - often under 10 percent - and would like to move them from September to November. Vander Linden hopes that by moving the date of the elections, it will encourage more Iowans to participate in the process.
Prevailing thoughts from most legislators say that the 2014 session should be short and uneventful. As Vander Linden points out, that's not always a guarantee.
Major reforms in education and property tax laws continue to move forward. Both of these were Gov. Terry Branstad's priorities in 2013. Vander Linden said he has not heard with the Governor's priorities are for 2014, but he believes that will be revealed when the session begins.