Thursdays are always a little bit different at the Capitol. Legislators are trying to wrap up work for the week, and prepare for a weekend visiting with constituents back home. In between committee meetings, caucus time and work on bills, we write on our weekly newsletters for the local paper.
My goal for the newsletter is to find a new topic each week, while still talking about key issues on the minds of people in our area. The truth is however, there are many things I work on that most people would not find even mildly interesting.
This year, I am managing House Study Bill 573, which remedies a 40 year-old gray area in property law and land title standards regarding “stale uses and reversions” and use restrictions. I’m confident a newsletter on this would gain very little interest from readers.
I could write about my work on House Study Bill 502, which relates to the exclusion from the computation of net income for the capital gains taxes on the sale of property in a business transaction. I like the bill, and I enjoy cutting taxes, but I’m not sure a lengthy discussion makes for particularly exciting reading.
In all seriousness, I very much enjoy my work on the House Judiciary Committee, and I like dealing with the intricacies of the law.
On the other hand, there are many things I get to do at the Capitol that are very interesting and rewarding, but don’t lend themselves well to a full article in the newspaper. For example, I had the chance this week to sit down in a Nationwide Insurance impaired driving simulator (I crashed, but I kept it between the lines longer than most).
I submitted a bill that would change the definition of a “bona fide contest” on a video machine. Current law only allows such contests to be played on a golf game with a trackball. I enjoy Golden Tee as much as the next guy, but it seems a silly distinction.
I was part of a group of legislators beginning the conversation on how to prevent the abuse of eminent domain in the construction of the Rock Island Clean Line project to export wind energy out of state. The economic impact to the state will be tremendous, but threatens private property rights. We are just getting started on this, but it’s a serious discussion that will have wide-ranging impact.
I visited with a Des Moines landowner who has concerns about the computation of past due property tax by individual counties. All on her own, she has seemingly uncovered a problem in the way the law was originally drafted. The result is the possibility that delinquent taxpayers could be overcharged.
I chaired a subcommittee meeting on House Study Bill 511, which would change the date of school elections to coincide with regular city elections. This would save taxpayer money and help drive higher voter turnout.
In between all of that, I am managing several other bills, talking to Capitol visitors, working on the House Republican leadership team, responding to emails, and taking my three-year old in to get tubes in his ears. All in all, it was a relatively normal week.
The bottom line is that I want everyone to know that I am working hard, not just on the headline-grabbing items, but on the little things as well. It’s an honor to work on it all.