The Iowa Legislature’s “special” session kicked off this morning with Republicans agreeing on at least one thing. House Republicans have said for months they wouldn’t vote to raise the tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products and last night Senate Republicans abandoned the idea. Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows — a smoker — says they decided it was unfair to make a minority of Iowans pay more to bankroll the economic development fund.Iverson says there were concerns among Republicans about making 22 percent of the state’s population — smokers — pay for something that’d benefit all Iowans. Iverson’s not willing to share all the details of the new plan Republican Senators. Iverson says they want to give Republicans in the House a chance to “tweak” things. Senate Republicans propose using 100-million dollars in federal money coming Iowa’s way in the federal economic stimulus package as one means of financing the new economic development fund. That sets up a showdown with Republicans in the House who want to use that 100-million for other purposes. House Republicans have proposed giving cities and counties 40-million dollars of it to make up the cut in state aid to cities and counties that’s spawning layoffs for police, fire fighters and other local government workers as well as program cuts and increases in parking fines.
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