April 17, 2024

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Sorensen reports on economic development bill now in senate

The Governor has started her 99-County Tour this year and is doing education roundtables with superintendents across the state, including in our area – ours is being held at Winterset CSD. I’m planning on attending. Hope to learn where the superintendents are on some of these education pieces we’ve worked on and what the Governor is thinking.

An Economic Growth bill that started in my committee last year has evolved into Senate File 574. There are two important pieces of policy in this bill. First, this bill establishes a major economic growth attraction (MEGA) program under IEDA. This program uses tax credits and a sales tax refund to incentivize major projects to come to Iowa to do business. Countries declared to be our adversaries, like China, cannot participate in this program. Second, this bill appropriates $300,000 to the Iowa Economic Development Authority for certification costs of certified sites in rural Iowa. This money must be spent on counties with a population of less than 50,000. This money can be used on two certified sites per congressional district each year, up to $30,000 each.  We want to make sure that we’re making economic development a priority everywhere in this state, not just near the big cities.

This week we prohibited socialist guaranteed income programs by passing House File 2319. The government already has programs in place to help Iowans who are low-income or in need of assistance. We’ve already seen pilot programs in Iowa, including one that would give a $500 monthly payment to 110 individuals in Polk, Dallas, or Warren counties. I believe these programs will do much more harm than good by increasing government dependency, rather than reward Iowans’ hard work and independence.

Iowa is facing a fentanyl crisis. Overdoses are up by more than 34%. In 2021, illicit fentanyl was implicated in 83% of all Iowa’s opioid-related deaths, compared to just 31% five years ago. Criminal drug networks are mass-producing fake pills, falsely marketing them as legitimate prescription pills, and killing unsuspecting Iowans. Many times, these people who are taking, or even selling, these drugs don’t know they are laced with fentanyl. We must take action to protect Iowans by deterring the distribution of this deadly drug.  HF 2576 makes it a class A felony to provide illegal fentanyl products that result in a death. This is a severe punishment that should make Iowans think twice before selling, distributing, or sharing a drug, especially if they didn’t obtain it legally.

We’ve seen an increase in retail theft both nationally and here in Iowa. Smash and grab mobs have taken over cities, not just on the coasts, but here in the Midwest as well. We do not want to see these violent mobs make their way to Iowa. Last week, we passed HF 2594 establishing the crime of organized retail theft and lays out a tiered system of punishment depending on the value of the stolen goods. This week, we unanimously passed HF 2598 which establishes a new crime of looting. Looting is breaking in and stealing from a business, vehicle, or other structure by someone acting in joint criminal conduct with another or a group. People choose to live in Iowa because it is a safe place to live, let’s keep it that way.

You can reach me at Ray.Sorensen@legis.iowa.gov. Thank you, counties of Adair, Madison, Dallas, Clarke, and Union, for allowing me to represent you at our Capitol.

Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.