Hopes that the Iowa Legislature would adjourn next week have been dashed by a tussle over gambling. The gambling bill has been placed on temporary hold as some senators explore other ways to tax the race tracks. Senate Democrat Leader Michael Gronstal of Council Bluffs says if that’s the course lawmakers take, it might extend the session into May. Gronstal says “it’s not productive and the Senate needs to get about the business of making a decision.” He accuses some senators of trying to come up with new taxing “schemes” because they’re bitter the race tracks sued the state and won because the court said tracks shouldn’t be taxed more than the riverboats. Gronstal says pursuing a property tax that only applies to tracks in Iowa is in no way a solution. Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows has a quick retort. Iverson says Gronstal can say whatever he wants to say, but republican senators will continue to examine the property tax idea. Governor Tom Vilsack says he and other officials hold some big cards, such as raising the taxes on the tracks to a level that’s higher than what the House endorsed over a month ago. Vilsack says lawmakers have “tremendous power” and “significant leverage” in terms of an ability to raise tax rates on the tracks “rather dramatically,” as well as the option of levying a property tax on the gambling industry, a tax that would fall more heavily on the land-based casinos than the riverboats. Vilsack says he’s trying to help legislative leaders develop a consensus to get the gambling issue resolved.
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