Friday Reads

In Eastern Iowa, there are all sorts of warnings and advisories for snow late this afternoon. At the Statehouse, a partisan hyperbole warning has been issued for noontime. 100 percent chance.

House leaders said they would debate the controversial prevailing wage bill yesterday, but finally pulled the plug at 10:30 last night. Democrats who run the place have now set debate for high noon and in a rare Friday session for this time of year. The bill would require contractors bidding for public projects to base pay levels on prevailing local wages paid for private-sector jobs.

Unions and their Democratic allies like the idea, arguing it stops companies from using low-wage workers and independent contractors to drive down local wages and skip paying benefits. Surrounding states have similar laws already. Business groups, local governments and Republicans say it will dramatically drive up the cost of taxpayer-funded projects. And they’ll be saying that for several hours today and perhaps tonight.

And with one fight brewing, Democrats decided to pick another by proposing the elimination of federal deductability. That’s the tax law provision in Iowa that allows us to deduct our federal tax payment from our income before we calculate our state tax obligation. Critics say it makes Iowa’s tax rate look higher than it really is. Republicans said they will fight any effort to end the deduction.

In past years, when this issue came up, lawmakers said you would need a big pot of money to eliminate deductability and stave off a resulting tax increase. Of course, now, there’s no money. But Democrats say high-income taxpayers may have to pay more to make this work. Ripping a page from the Obama playbook.

In other Statehouse developments, the state ombudsman reports  that five county jails failed to properly use restraint systems. They were used without following laws or equipment standards and sometimes in cases when prisoners made only minor disturbances.

The chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court is warning that budget cuts will cripple the court system.

The Mason City Globe-Gazette reports that there are so many kids sick at Central Springs High School in Manly that ITED tests were postponed.

And finally, Iowa’s most famous overdue library book is back at the Jesup library. And theft charges have been dropped for Shelly Koontz, who was briefly jailed for failing to return “The Freedom Writers Diary.” The case drew national attention, and the book’s author is scheduled to visit Independence, where Koontz now lives, next week.

Koontz paid a $13.95 library fine and $50 in court costs.


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