Iowa Senate passes bill eliminating inheritance tax, phasing income tax cuts in sooner
The Iowa Senate has unanimously passed legislation to scrap the state's inheritance tax and to phase in planned income tax cuts more quickly, advancing one of Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds' key legislative priorities. The bill, Senate File 576, passed the chamber Wednesday on a 46-0 vote, with four senators absent. It now goes to the Iowa House for consideration. Read more: Des Moines Register
Call for Support of Central Filing System Legislation
The Senate version of legislation to create a central filing system relating to security interests in farm products was previously approved in Senate State Government Committee and is now SF 486. This bill has now been referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee since it contains a fee for filings, which makes it eligible for action until the end of the session. CBI supports this legislation, and urges members to contact their Senator and ask them to support SF 486.
Iowa legislators are pushing through a plan that would provide an infusion of dollars to expand broadband internet in parts of the state without high-speed access.
Gov. Kim Reynolds’ Empower Rural Iowa plan would spend $450 million on broadband expansion over three years and would provide grants to assist in the effort.
State leaders have touted broadband as an essential tool for economic growth, a need that was underscored during the pandemic, when many workers and students moved online.
HF796/SF390 sets rules and a policy framework for the grant program, which would see an infusion of new state dollars. Both bills have advanced at least through the subcommittee process in their respective chambers with roughly six weeks left to go in the legislative session.
The broadband grant program is administered by the Iowa Chief Information Officer and was created through an executive order in June 2018. As of January, awards have been awarded to roughly 90 community service providers.
In 2020, the state saw an additional $50 million in federal CARES Act funding for use in broadband expansion. Lawmakers have yet to approve funding for the Governor’s $150 million-per-year plan.
Iowa unemployment rate drops to 3.5 percent
Despite challenges to the state’s economy, Iowa’s unemployment rate dropped again to 3.5 percent in January, officials reported this week. This compares to the state’s 2.8 percent unemployment rate a year ago before the coronavirus pandemic shut down schools and businesses.
Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend said the state has grown its workforce by more than 45,000 as Iowans rejoined the workforce.
“As the weather continues to improve and our seasonal layoffs come to an end, we are hopeful our unemployment rate will continue to decline and our labor participation rate will improve,” Townsend said.
Iowa’s rate is nearly 3 percent below the U.S. employment rate, which logged in at 6.3 percent in January. The state gained 3,000 new jobs the first month of the year, with the construction sector leading the way. The industry added 1,000 new jobs; manufacturing was next with 700 jobs.