It’s now up to the governor to decide whether to extend a state sales tax rebate to NASCAR, the new owner of the Iowa Speedway in Newton.  The Senate endorsed the idea Monday and the House on Wednesday voted 82-14 to send the bill to the governor. Representative Dan Kelley, a Democrat from Newton, said the track brings “intangible benefits” to Iowa.

“NASCAR ownership is a game-changer,” Kelley said during brief House debate of the bill.  “…It is a vast departure from the status quo. They plan to transform the Speedway into a popular regional attraction and make it an even more powerful economic engine for the state.”

Current state law extends a sales tax rebate on goods and services sold at the track, but only if the track is at least partly owned by Iowans. NASCAR bought the track last fall and, if the bill becomes law, NASCAR will be able to get up to $9 million in sales tax rebates from the state between now and 2026.

“A significant step to make ensure NASCAR’s long-term vision for the Iowa Speedway becomes reality,” Kelley said.

Representative Tom Sands, a Republican from Wapello, said it’s a “performance based” tax break because NASCAR won’t get the rebate unless there are on-site sales.

“One of the questions might be: ‘What kind of return do we, taxpayers, get in the state of Iowa?’ And I drive on Interstate 80 twice every week like many of you do coming to Des Moines and have seen the construction that has happened around that Speedway just since it’s been there,” Sands said, “and we’ve got probably lots more of that we can expect into the future.”

Legislators are considering a similar tax rebate for the Knoxville Raceway to help finance its expansion plans. A bill to extend up to $2 million in sales tax rebates to the Knoxville track cleared a House subcommittee earlier this week.