Dennis Black

Dennis Black

The Iowa Senate has voted to extend a tax break worth up to nine-million dollars to NASCAR, the new owner of the Iowa Speedway in Newton.  Senator Dennis Black, a Democrat from Lynnville, told his colleagues he has a hard time following the cars on the track.

“They go by so fast, you can’t read the number, so it’s kind of boring to me, but it’s a good piece of legislation because it provides something that these folks with big time bucks, with deep pockets, can do to give us a destination that people will come to from across this nation,” Black said late this afternoon during senate debate.

AUDIO of senate debate of Senate File 2341, runs 23:00

When the track opened in 2006, the legislature gave the track’s previous owners a rebate on sales taxes charged on any goods and services sold at the track, but Democratic Senator Bill Dotzler of Waterloo said at least 25 percent of the track had to under Iowa ownership.

“Because of the sale last fall to NASCAR, they are owned by people outside the state, so in order for this sales tax rebate to continue it requires legislative action,” Dotzler said.

Senator Randy Feenstra, a Republican from Hull, voted to give NASCAR the tax break.

“I look at Kansas City Speedway and what they’re doing over there and it’s pretty exciting to see what we have the opportunity of doing in Newton,” Feenstra said. “And just being there, the excitement that is around these races is just amazing and that we can help out in a small way I think is a great thing for Iowa.”

The bill passed the Senate on a 36-9 vote. Senator Mark Chelgren, a Republican from Ottumwa, was a “no” vote because the bill extend the state tax break to NASCAR for 10 years — and because he’s opposed targeted tax breaks that benefit a single company.

“Business is a wonderful thing and when private enterprise invests in business, I fully support it. This bill, though, I do not support,” Chelgren said. “…I believe that we are choosing winners and losers.”

A bill to extend the same kind of state tax break to the Knoxville Raceway has cleared a House panel and now this Senate-passed bill to aid the Newton track can be considered in the House as well.