Republican legislators say their first priority in 2001 will be to try to find a way to ease the burden of high utility bills. Natural gas and fuel oil prices have skyrocketed and bills went even higher as the temperatures dipped in December. Republican Jamie Van Fossen of Davenport, chairman of the House Ways and Means tax-writing committee, is among those mulling a temporary moratorium on the state sales tax charged on utility bills.Advocates for low-income Iowans say the state should instead direct aid for high heating bills to those who need it most.Boosting state aid to the program which helps low income Iowans is an option, but Van Fossen says giving a sales tax cut to all Iowans could trickle down to the poor.House Democrat Leader Dick Myers says democrats are keeping an open mind on the issue. Myers says it may be too difficult, however, to change utility company computers in time to keep the sales tax off January heating bills.
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