In the two weeks following the first funnel deadline in the Iowa Senate, dozens of bills have come before the body for consideration. During this process, tensions have been a little tight, but on the whole much good work has been done. We have passed onto the house legislation to protect our seniors, our children, our veterans, and our agricultural economy. Much of this work was bipartisan in nature and several of the bills actually removed unnecessary regulation from the process of state government.

Also released last week were the budget targets for the legislature. In a move that surprised many, the two divided houses managed to find common targets for FY15. While the road to those targets may not currently be the same, at least the destination is a common one. I have serious concerns regarding the budget at this point because the increase in state spending is close to 7.5 percent – nearly double the increase in household incomes over the past year. Some bright spots in the budget include funding for the nutrient management program within the Department of Agriculture. Also included in the budget are the backfill dollars for the property tax relief and education reform passed last session. While these proposed targets do not spend more than our projected revenues, the amount of the increase is such that it may become unsustainable over the long run and is simply not reflective of what the average Iowan would choose to do in their own household budget.

A Bright Note in Rural Iowa
The rural Iowa communities are on the decline. Due to the mass migration to urban centers for more employment opportunities and greater conveniences, small communities are always looking for opportunities to draw both new and previous members. Heidi Bell of Leon, pictured below, has taken steps in her own neighborhood to fill a void she felt was missing from Leon. With hard work, familial support, and community backing, Heidi opened the From the Ground coffee shop. Heidi found that many women in the community did not have a social gathering location where they could share stories and enjoy each other’s company. She also knew that many local producers and potential entrepreneurs did not have a venue from which they could market their highly valued products. From the Ground met at the crossroads of these two problems and provided what seems to be the perfect solution for Leon.

For her insight, communal focus, and entrepreneurial action, Heidi was awarded the Deb Dalziel Entrepreneur Award from the Iowa Small Development Centers. Small businesses make up 97 percent of Iowa’s economy. As a small business owner, Heidi not only plays an important role in her community but in the Iowa economy as a whole. As a legislator, I have voted to keep both taxes and regulations low; I work to promote an economic environment that encourages those with entrepreneurial spirits who still see the American Dream not merely as a goal for someone else, but a driving factor in their own lives.

Photo credit: Ashton B. Crew (CC-By-3.0)

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