PDI Blog

Presidential Post - June 15, 2013

Brent Willett 2012We know from PDI members like you that year in and year out, one of the top reasons identified for maintaining PDI membership is the association’s legislative advocacy efforts.  The 2013 session, which adjourned sine die on Wednesday, May 22, was instructive of why.  Along with a bevy of like-prioritized pro-growth organizations like the Iowa Chamber Alliance and Association of Business & Industry, PDI’s 2013 legislative advocacy efforts bore fruit like few other years in memory.  Consider

 

  • Commercial & industrial property tax reform. C&I property tax reform has been at or near the top of PDI’s legislative agenda for more than a decade, and the compromise which emerged from conference committee met many of PDI’s priorities on this long-term priority for the association, most notably a reduction in tax burden not borne unworkably by the local governments many PDI members work daily with.  The 10% rollback which is part of the compromise is fully backfilled and tracks closely with the moderate rollback percentage and implementation schedule advocated by PDI in a letter to the legislature as far back as 2011.  The legislation contains many additional components- check out the session wrap-up edition of PDI Policy Perspectives for all the details.
  • Tax credit cap increase.  PDI lobbied hard along with a number of other groups for an increase in IEDA’s cap on tax credits after learning from the authority and others that cap room was rapidly declining and was beginning to affect projects.  The authority’s original proposal called from an increase from the current $120 million cap to $185 million.  We knew the figure would be a moving target and subject to negotiation and ultimately, the bill passed will raise the cap to $170 million, notably less than requested, but still a very significant increase in a difficult legislative environment for incentives.
  • Economic development funding.  Stitching all the economic development funding pieces together- tax credits, IEDA funding, direct financial assistance funding- the industry came out on the other side of this session with more funding for economic development in Iowa than at any time in at least the last three years.
  • Iowa Reinvestment Act.  PDI supported this Chamber Alliance initiative as a new tool in the toolbox, enabling a diversion of certain sales tax revenues to local coffers to pay down development costs on major, master-planned projects in Iowa communities.
  • TIF.  PDI led a charge to head off two very late [and correspondingly, very dangerous] pieces of TIF legislation introduced in the House.  For a short while, PDI and partners were faced with the real likelihood of a bill moving out of the House which would have, among other things, stripped every education levy out of TIF and crippled the tool.  You read that right.  Ultimately the bill did not move but did signal to us that the 2012 TIF reforms were not viewed as extensive enough by some powerful legislators.  The Legislative Committee is already at work on an offseason strategy on the topic.

 

Of course, the legislature also passed banner bills on education reform and Medicaid expansion, both of which will have long-ranging effects on economic and workforce development issues throughout our state for many years to come.  We know that in marketing our state and our communities, Iowa’s political and budgetary stability and efficacy are true selling points in the face of challenges from other, more politically volatile states and the accomplishments from both sides of the aisle in the 2013 Iowa General Assembly will go a long way in furthering that message.  In all, a good year at the Capitol for economic development in Iowa, thanks in large part to the yeoman’s work of the PDI Legislative Committee Co-Chairs in Jason Hutcheson, Kathryn Kunert and Wayne Pantini and lobbying team in Craig Patterson and Amy Campbell.

 

Brent Willett

 

Written by Brent Willett
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