The Gazette tops its front page this morning with news that Iowa lawmakers are seriously considering a gas tax hike of up to 8 cents per gallon, the difference between what Iowans pay in total state/fed gas taxes, 40 cents, and the national average of 48 cents. Rod Boshart reports that key lawmakers, including the chairs of Transportation Committees in both the House and Senate, are thinking it over.
Senate President Jack Kibbie, D-Emmetsburg is pushing for at least a nickel after calling for a “war on potholes” in his opening day speech.
The Register’s web rundown is topped with news that some lawmakers are moving to repeal Iowa’s English-as-the-official-language law. If you happened to be put in cryogenic suspension in 2002 and just thawed out, don’t worry, the debate hasn’t changed much. Opponents of the law say its divisive and sends a signal to immigrants that they’re not welcome here. Supporters say it sends a clear message that English fluency is important in our society.
The issue re-fired last year when a district judge ruled that the law prohibits the Secretary of State’s office from printing voter registration info in languages other than English. The ruling jarred those who believed the law is merely symbolic. Gov. Chet Culver supports repeal, not that he’s ever done anything about it.
Meanwhile, a $56 million flood aid package has either been delayed, or not. AP and Radio Iowa say the governor has asked for a pause while his staff checks whether the package will jeopardize possible federal aid. The Gazette/Lee newspapers lede says the governor’s concerns have been addressed. In either case, it’s likely that the Iowa House will approve the measure next week.
All stories note concerns raised by Republicans about a $2 million portion of the recovery bill that will fund the Rebuild Iowa Office. Some lawmakers are concerned in particular about $77,000 that will be used to pay a Statehouse lobbyist representing the office.