A key lawmaker says he’s disappointed by the Iowa Farm Bureau’s opposition to a constitutional amendment on this fall’s ballot.
The amendment would reserve a little less than half of the next one-percent increase in the state sales tax for land and water conservation projects. Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs says the Farm Bureau did not register its opposition to the idea when it was considered by legislators over the past four years.
“I’m disappointed,” Gronstal says. “We passed this through the legislature and they did not express opposition to it and we actually worked with them this year on setting out a framework on how those dollars would be spent. We worked with the Farm Bureau on that, got their cooperation, and then they came out against it.”
Two separate sessions of the Iowa General Assembly — the state legislature — endorsed the concept of a “Water and Land Legacy” amendment to the state constitution, putting the matter before voters this fall. House Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha plans to vote for the amendment this November. He is among those who supported it during the legislative process, too.
“I’ve already voted twice for it,” Paulsen says. “I don’t have any expectation right now of changing that.”
Paulsen and Gronstal made their comments Friday during an appearance on Iowa Public Television. Paulsen was asked if he’s surprised by the Farm Bureau’s opposition. “I’m not surprised or I’m not un-surprised,” Paulsen joked, prompting laughter from others on the program.
A spokesman for the Iowa Farm Bureau has said the organization’s biggest concern is passage of the amendment will increase pressure on lawmakers to increase the state sales tax, since the funding reserved for land and water conservation projects would not be available until the sales tax is raised.
The Farm Bureau is running ads, urging Iowans to vote against the amendment. A group pushing for the amendment’s passage is running a radio ad which features a Farm Bureau member who supports the amendment.