Governor Tom Vilsack will sign a bill into law today that provides tax incentives to businesses, like Wells Dairy in Le Mars, that lease large new buildings or storage facilities. Republican Representative Ralph Klemme of Le Mars says Nebraska and South Dakota are trying to lure away the 350 jobs in the dairy’s executive suites.Klemme says Iowa officials need to do what they can to keep businesses in the state, “especially Wells Blue Bunny.” Republican Representative Clarence Hoffman of Charter Oak says the bill created a “sense of excitement” at the statehouse. Klemme says “there’s just some magic to Wells” — a dairy he calls one of the best catches in the nation. Klemme says if state officials can keep the company Le Mars, “it’s a great victory for Iowa…and a little sadness for some of our neighboring states.” Representative Douglas Struyk (strike), a democrat from Council Bluffs, supported the bill but lamented its timing, as a company recently took a pass on Council Bluffs because the special tax breaks were only available for facilities built by a company, not for leased facilities.Struyk says the bill brings Iowa law in line with the way many companies are now doing business. Once the bill becomes law, a business will qualify for a refund on sales taxes paid on materials and even electricity used to construct a new building, even if that building is owned by another firm and the company leases it. The move was not without critics. Representative Ed Fallon, a democrat from Des Moines, says it’s time to quit giving in to businesses that threaten to leave the state.Fallon says the state is responding to “corporate extortion.” But others, like Representative Robert Hogg , a democrat from Cedar Rapids, disagreed. Hogg says he doesn’t see it as a “give-away” but rather as targeted tax cuts tied to job growth. The bill cleared the Iowa House last night with just one “no” vote. It passed the Senate on Tuesday morning, with Senator Keith Kreiman, a democrat from Bloomfield, as the only “no” vote there. Kreiman says at some point, lawmakers are going to have to quit giving in to “corporate blackmail.” Today’s bill signing ceremony is scheduled for 11:30 at the statehouse.
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