Cownie and Feenstra PDI Legislators of the Year
The PDI Legislator of the Year Award is not given every year. It is reserved for instances when the PDI board believes that a legislator or legislators went above and beyond the call of duty in advancing legislation that benefits economic development in the State.
This year, the board decided to bestow the Legislator of the Year award on two legislators, Senator Randy Feenstra of Hull and Representative Peter Cownie of West Des Moines.
The 2018 tax reform legislation began its journey during the first week of the legislative session and ended up being the last bill passed before adjournment. Throughout the process, the Governor, Senate and House considered dozens of provisions for inclusion in the final package. The single biggest piece of the final package was the removal of federal deductibility from both personal and corporate taxes coupled with corresponding rate cuts, a monumental change that PDI has championed for literally decades. Including the provision in the bill had a high cost, but to developers trying to market the State to outside companies, the change is a huge benefit.
Senator Feenstra chairs the Senate Ways & Means Committee and led the tax reform debate in the Senate thisast year. He has been a constant roadblock to legislation that would negatively affect TIF and has stood ready to help whenever our PDI lobbyists have needed to make adjustments to legislation that would affect economic development.
Representative Cownie led the tax reform effort in the House this past session. He chaired the House Commerce Committee last session, and was recently appointed to chair the House Ways & Means Committee. He has also been a friend of PDI's on TIF legislation and works often with our Association's lobbyists to improve economic development legislation as it makes its way through the process.
Both of these legislators presided over the passage of a tax reform package that maintained this provision while many other provisions had to be thrown overboard during negotiations. For this, and for all of their help with TIF and the many programs on which our members rely, we are honored to bestow the Legislator of the Year Award on Senator Randy Feenstra and Representative Peter Cownie.
Senator Feenstra & Representative Cownie Bios
"This is Iowa" Legislative Showcase Big Success
The Travel Federation of Iowa and Professional Developers of Iowa spent the evening of January 30 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines Iowa showcasing "This is Iowa."
Special thanks to the Iowa tourism and economic development industry members who showcased the positive impact we make on the State of Iowa, and shared their stories with State Legislators.
Steve Shupp, PDI Board Member, Drew Kamp, PDI Legislative Co-Chair and Craig Patterson, PDI Lobbyist review the hot topics and PDI's positions in preparation for the Legislative Showcase.
PDI Members listen for up-to-date information about PDI's 2018 Legislative Agenda before meeting with legislators.
TIF Video and Intro
The Professional Developers of Iowa have long been ardent supporters of the use of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) for local economic development projects throughout the state. It is a critical economic and community development tool that has proven time and again to benefit local communities and has improved the quality of life and community vitality throughout the state. TIF needs to continue to be protected from legislative proposals that seek to strip it of its strength, flexibility, and overall impact. Each of our communities has a story that positively highlights the importance and power of tax increment financing, and we need to ensure we these stories are being heard throughout the Capitol as Legislators consider the fate of tax increment financing. To this end, Nick Glew, President of the Marion Economic Development Corporation, has created a video illustrating the positive impact and community benefits of TIF, which is very helpful to any economic developer needing assistance in understanding and advocating for this critical economic development tool.
Watch Nick's Video >>
With the Iowa budget in such dire straits recently, one of the questions that keeps getting raised is whether or not the Legislature will attempt to end or phase-out the Property Tax Backfill. This was an agreement made during the passage of the 2013 property tax reduction bill to make cities, counties and schools districts partially whole for any reduction they experienced as a result of the bill. The backfill was capped at $150 million; in FY2018, $53.6 million goes to cities, $29.2 million to counties, $59.3 million goes to schools, $339k goes to townships, and $9.7 million goes to other taxing bodies such as cemeteries, fire districts or extension offices.
Former Governor Branstad was a stalwart defender of the backfill since he pushed hard for the passage of the 2013 bill. When Governor Reynolds took the reins, there was some uncertainty about whether she would hold the same opinion of the backfill. Those questions were largely answered when she submitted her budget proposal - Governor Reynolds' budget fully funds the backfill in FY2019 and makes no mention of a phase-out, studying a phase-out, etc. Some legislators have indicated they may look into the future of the backfill, but we have not seen any formal legislation to do so.
As you may know, PDI is on record as supporting the continuation of the backfill. What can you do?
- Please take some time to reach out to your legislators to indicate your support for maintaining the backfill. You can find your State Legislators here.
- Consider whether or not your organization individually wants to sign on publicly as a supporter of the backfill. The Iowa League of Cities is keeping a list of organizations that wish to be "on record" as supporting the continuation of the backfill. If you wish to join the list, send an email to the League's Director of Government Affairs Robert Palmer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you need background information about the backfill, please contact PDI’s Lobbyist Craig Patterson at email@example.com, or PDI Legislative Committee Co-Chairs Drew Kamp at firstname.lastname@example.org, Kiley Miller at email@example.com, or Kelly Halsted at Kelly@greaterfortdodge.com.