Public Policy Update

Nov 29, 2017

The Latest on Federal Tax Reform
Before they adjourned for the Thanksgiving week holiday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed tax reform legislation, the first such reform in over 30 years. All but 13 Republican lawmakers voted yes, while all Democrat members voted no. The Republicans who voted against the bill all opposed the legislation because it would limit state and local tax deductions, known as SALT.

Meanwhile, before they adjourned for Thanksgiving, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee voted to move forward with a Senate version of tax reform legislation. The next step is for the full Senate to take up the vote, where Republicans can only afford to lose two votes. The Senate is expected to take it up before the end of the week.
If the Senate manages to pass a bill, it is just the next step in the process. Republicans will still have to find a way to iron out the differences in the House and Senate versions before they can send it to the president for his consideration.

Read the Tax Foundations side by side comparison of the House and Senate version of tax reform legislation.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds is said to be closely following federal tax reform as it will have an impact on her priority to achieve state tax reform. Read her and Economic Development Director Debi Durham's guest editorial on federal and state tax reform.

The Economic Alliance supports tax reform that will simplify the code, lower rates for all businesses and encourage a pro-growth economy.

NAFTA & Why You Should Care
After months of talks, the U.S., Canada and Mexico remain miles apart on a deal to update the region’s trade pact – the North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA. The last round of talks ended before Thanksgiving with negotiators failing to finalize a new agreement. The talks are scheduled to continue through March.
The U.S. Chamber recently released an analysis of which states would be most harmed from a NAFTA withdrawal. It shows Iowa would suffer sharply if the U.S. withdraws from the agreement.

Iowa agri-business economy is vital to our state's fiscal health. The Economic Alliance will continue to work with our national partners to push for trade deals that make it easier for American entrepreneurs, farmers, and small business owners to sell products abroad. Eliminating taxes and trade barriers on American products remains a top priority.
In 2013, the U.S. imported about 2 million tons of Coronas and Modelos, making beer Mexico's largest agricultural export to the U.S., according to a USDA report.

Congress 2018 Must Do’s
Congress has a weighty “to-do” list before the end of December. In addition to wanting to tackling tax reform, sexual harassment, immigration and Obamacare spending, Congress must vote on a budget to avoid a government shutdown before Dec. 8 when funding is currently set to run out. It is still to be decided if the funding will be a short-term extension or if lawmakers are able to negotiate a more long-term spending deal. Also on Dec. 8, the National Flood Insurance Program is set to expire and funds will dry up. Lawmakers have been unable to agree on how to both reauthorize and reform the program.

If that’s not enough, Congress must also decide on funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) before states run out of money for the program, decide whether to provide more relief to parts of the country effected by natural disasters and decide whether to continue a controversial section of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which is set to expire at the end of the year and gives the US broad authority to intercept electronic communications from foreigners abroad, but has also incidentally intercepted communications between those individuals and Americans.

Lastly, Congress must also decide if it wishes to reimpose sanctions on Iran that were lifted as part of the 2015 nuclear deal. Earlier this year, President Trump declared the Iran was not in compliance with the terms of the deal giving Congress a 60-day window, which expires in December, to decide if they want to continue the deal or pass new sanctions.

Elect Pro-Growth Candidates
Cedar Rapids residents will return to the polls on Dec. 5 to make their final choice for mayor and District 5 council seat. Business lawyer Brad Hart and former Cedar Rapids councilwoman Monica Vernon remain on the ballot for mayor. Current councilman Justin Shields and Ashley Vanorny, IT Analyst at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics face off for the city’s District 5 council seat. The Nov. 7 election failed to result in either race producing a winner who reached the required 50% plus 1 of the vote. Use the Economic Alliance’s Voter Guide to help you in your election decisions.

Save the Date for the First Policy on the Rocks of 2018
Click here to register for the first Policy on the Rocks of 2018 on Thursday, Jan. 4 from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Look for location details soon. This will be your chance to speak with legislators just before they return for session. Exclusively for EA members, Policy on the Rocks is a casual event that gives lawmakers and members the opportunity to network and discuss important issues in a relaxed environment.

No matter your age, investment level or industry, as an Economic Alliance member your voice is important at Policy on the Rocks and in all of our public policy advocacy work.

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