State lawmakers gathered in Fairfield Saturday morning for an annual tradition put on by the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce.
During each legislative session, the chamber hosts three legislative breakfasts, and Saturday??s was the first one of the 2013 session.
The breakfast gives the community an opportunity to hear what local politicians are doing in Des Moines to help out the community, but to also see where lawmakers stand on issues that are being debated.
State Senator Mark Chelgren told KTVO that he is happy to be back to work, but he does have some concerns going into the session.
??It is interesting to hear all the things they want to get done within the next two years. Being up there for the past two years, I am somewhat pessimistic about what they want to accomplish. I am hopeful though, that we will get some things done and that we will have some bi-partisan support on a few bills,?? said Chelgren.
One rumor that has been discussed by a small group of people at the state capitol is to consolidate Iowa??s counties from 99 to 50. Senator Chelgren told KTVO Saturday that he is totally against the issue. First, Chelgren says that you lose local control, being that the decisions being made for such a large county would all be made in the largest city. Second, Chelgren says you would lose the identity of the area, something that is so special to Iowa??s small counties.
??We could potentially consolidate from our 99 counties to 50 or less counties. It concerns me because I actually like the small counties. One of the reasons I am in Iowa is because I really value small town Iowa values in general, and that is an important aspect to me. I can??t see us losing individuality of each of these counties while we are consolidating into these larger counties,?? Chelgren said.
State Representative Curt Hanson, a former teacher, continued to talk about his concerns with education reform; and how the governor, in his words, is basically making school districts wait for an allowable growth rate until lawmakers pass the massive education reform package.
Hanson told KTVO that many Iowans don??t realize that if an allowable growth rate is set at zero percent, which according to Hanson is what it is set at in the House of Representatives right now, Iowans are going to pay the price.
??That is going to push about a $55 million property tax on Iowans, and they are going to be hit by that if we don??t do something with the allowable growth,?? said Hanson. ??We were supposed to act last year. The law says we are supposed to act within the 30 day period when the legislature convenes, but the governor is saying, well if I don??t get my education reform, I am not going to even talk about allowable growth. I think that is not good policy. I think that is not good partisanship, and I think that is just plain wrong.??