Republicans in the Iowa House say it’s time for the state to consider offering a package of incentives that would lure the oil industry to build a new refinery in Iowa. House Speaker Christopher Rants, a Republican from Sioux City, says the idea came up Tuesday during a private meeting of Republicans who serve in the House. Rants says there are obviously financial and infrastructure hurdles to overcome, but a group of legislators will take a “serious look” at what it would take to get an oil refinery “constructed in our neck of the woods.”
The closest refinery is in the Twin Cities, and it’s been a couple of decades since a brand new oil refinery has been built in the U.S. Many U.S oil refineries were shut down by the hurricanes which struck the Gulf Coast, and Rants says Republicans are trying to respond to the complaints of Iowans who saw gas prices spike here. “We know that our coastlines are prone to damaging weather that ends up inflicting a cost onto the rest of us,” Rants says. “It would seem to us that a refinery located somewhere along the Mississippi River (in) southeastern Iowa might be an ideal place to have something like that located.”
Representative Willard Jenkins, a retired John Deere engineer from Waterloo, is heading up a team of Republican legislators who’re investigating that idea. House Republicans have also decided to pass a bill that would restrict the ability of the state, county and local governments to take property from landowners. Rants says a U.S. Supreme Court decision on the issue leaves Iowa law unclear, and legislators want to clarify it. “County governments and city governments are taking away people’s dream,” Rants says. “Their home, their land, their property.”
During their private meeting yesterday, Republicans in the House also discussed the death penalty, and Rants says since Senate Democratic Leader Michael Gronstal vows it won’t come up for a vote in the Senate, there’s no reason for the House to try to pass a death penalty bill. The last time the Iowa House passed a death penalty bill, it took three days worth of debate before a vote was even taken. Rants says it’s not worth it to spent that much time on a bill like that if it has no chance of passing the Senate.
The House Speaker also announced yesterday that he has decided to create a new Veterans Affairs Committee in the House. Rants says veterans have been frustrated because there’s no one place to go in state government to try to have their issues addressed, and this commmittee, to be made up of both Republicans and Democrats, will field veterans’ questions and demands. The state runs a hospital for veterans in Marshalltown and provides a property tax credit to veterans.