The Iowa Legislature convenes Monday and the first bill to be introduced in the House would revive an economic development program that’s been in limbo for months. The past summer the Iowa Supreme Court threw out a wide-ranging law that had — among many other things — created a half a billion dollar state economic development program called the Iowa Values Fund. The idea: hand out huge grants to new and expanding businesses over the next seven years, with a special focus on financial services, biotech and life science companies. House Speaker Christopher Rants, a republican from Sioux City, says it’s time to re-establish that “Iowa Values” fund. “Some people say it’s deja vu all over again,” Rants says. “I think our number one focus has to be on economic development,” The chairman of the House Economic Growth Committee will file a bill Monday that is his version of the Iowa Values Fund. Some legislators opposed giving big money state grants to businesses when the idea was first proposed, but Rants believes the idea won’t be as controversial as it was in the past. Rants says it’s time to go back to the drawing board and develop a comprehensive approach that will stimulate the state’s economy. According to Rants, the plan should include quality of life issues, regulatory reform and tax changes in addition to a reconstituted Values Fund. The speaker made his comments this weekend on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program.
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