February 22, 2014

Lawmakers tackle gas tax, puppy mills at Eggs & Issues

The Oskaloosa Herald


The gas tax and puppy mills were a couple of the topics state lawmakers dealt with during Eggs & Issues Saturday morning.

Republican state Sen. Ken Rozenboom and Republican state Reps. Guy Vander Linden and Larry Sheets were on hand to field questions from the audience.

Raising the Road Use Tax — the gas tax — is a contentious issue. Polls indicate that a majority of Iowans oppose an increase in the gas tax. However, the state's roads are in need of repair and there is not enough money to do those improvements.

Rozenboom said he knows the polls indicate that a majority of Iowans do not want a gas tax increase.

Rozenboom said he would favor an excise tax — a sales tax — to fund infrastructure improvements. As fuel prices go up, revenue would also increase. If gas prices decrease, more people will buy gas for travel.

Rozenboom said there are strong proponents for a gas tax increase and a team of two senators from each political party in the Transportation Committee is looking at a compromise measure.

“I can support some compromise” that indexes the Road Use Tax Fund, Rozenboom said.

Vander Linden said if the gas tax would be increased, then another tax needs to be decreased so that taxpayers would not have a heavier burden to bear.

“ I can support that,” he said.

“I agree with Guy,” Sheets said. Sheets said he would like to see a gas tax that rises with inflation.

When asked by forum moderator Oskaloosa Mayor Dave Krutzfeldt if they would support an increase in the gas tax, three audience members who had asked gas tax-related questions of the lawmakers said they would support a gas tax increase.

A Senate bill dealing with puppy mill regulation was passed out of subcommittee and committee recently on party-line votes. The bill would change the way the state regulates puppy mills and require things like larger cage sizes and the elimination of wire cage floors.

Rozenboom said he has received a lot of emails on the issue opposing the bill.

“I will not support this bill,” Rozenboom said. “It goes much too far.”

Rozenboom said the feedback he has received indicates that if someone who breeds one or two dogs for either hunting or show would be subject to state regulation.

“I don't know how to fund it,” he added.

Rozenboom said there are already laws on the books against the kind of animal neglect that just surfaced in Drakesville days ago.

Herald Editor Duane Nollen can be reached by email at oskynews@oskyherald.com