A coalition of rural Iowans has picked up steam since it was proposed last fall. Denison storekeeper Troy Gehlsen says they’ve chosen the name “Greater Iowa Alliance” and held three meetings, drawing western Iowa participants from the Missouri border to the Minnesota. And it could grow further. He says they would like to break the state into four districts, with representatives from each county and district reps on a governing board. Gehlsen says the group is finding a lot of support for promoting the interests of rural Iowa, and has big plans.This year there probably won’t be a paid lobbyist but they’re working on a website and bylaws and hope to hire a lobbyist in the future. Gehlsen says for this session, some of the organizers and interested parties will probably make a few visits to the capital, and report back to the others. Gehlsen says there are times when the interests of Iowa’s rural and urban areas clash.The proposed shift in road-use money, for example, because counties have a lot of farm-to-market roads they must pay to keep up. Another issue that divides them is school taxes.Anyone shopping in a city with a school tax is helping build that city’s schools, but he says it would be more fair to country schools that need funding too, if there were a statewide school tax. Gehlsen says for now the Greater Iowa Alliance will rely on local legislators to keep them in touch with key issues.
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