Gas tax, IJH dominate legislative forum

Three local legislators got an ear full on the need to pass a gas tax from the three Marshall County Board of Supervisors during the Marshalltown Chamber forum Friday.

Supervisors Deane Adams, Denny Grabenbauer and Dave Thompson told Rep. Dean Fisher, R-Garwin, Rep. Mark Smith, D-Marshalltown, and Sen. Steve Sodders, D-State Center, a gas tax is needed to pay for roads and bridges.

“I think people are working to try and come up with a solution,” Sodders said.

Fisher said while he is in favor of a tax, it’s been a tough sell on the majority of his constituents. Adams said if the tax is not put on the road user the cost of road and bridge repair would fall on property taxes.

A bill passed in the Iowa Senate this week on the need for a juvenile home in the state to serve delinquent girls, though the bill didn’t indicate it had to be in Toledo – the site of the now closed Iowa Juvenile Home.

Smith and Fisher would like to see a bill in the House that does indicate it should be in Toledo.

“I am adamant that this facility should be in Toledo,” Smith said. “I’m not willing to compromise on the location of the Juvenile Home.”

Fisher said he continues to try to line up support for the reopening of IJH with his fellow House Republicans.

“It’s not a real clear path on that, but we’re working on it,” Fisher said.

Sodders said he continues to work on expanding broadband Internet to unserved and under-served areas in the state. A sticking point on a bill is the money it’s going to take to provide incentives to communications companies to provide access to these areas.

“This is still a three or four year project,” Sodders said.

The House passed a bill this week which dealt with the use of drones in private areas. Smith said he thinks legislators should find better things to do than talk about drones.

“I continue to think we need to be looking at jobs and job growth and education issues,” Smith said.

The Marshalltown Chamber is sponsoring a trip to the State Capitol Wednesday as part of its annual summit trip to meet with state legislative leaders.