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GOVERNMENT

State Government; Local Government
STATE GOVERNMENT
The Constitution - Constitutional Convention - Iowa Equal Rights Amendment - Apportionment - State Budget Process - Iowa General Assembly - Legislative Committees - Budgeting

Promote an open governmental system that is representative, accountable, and responsive to all citizens and that protects individual liberties established under the Constitution.

THE CONSTITUTION
The Constitution of Iowa should guarantee protection of people in their rights, delineate the framework of state government and provide for only major concerns of enduring importance. A good constitution should:

  • Assure separation and balance among the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, clarifying lines of authority and responsibility;
  • Leave procedural and financial specifics to statutory law;
  • Be stated in broad terms to provide for adaptation to changing conditions;
  • Be consistent throughout;
  • Avoid conflict with the federal constitution or laws;
  • Be free of deadwood, reasonably concise, and easy to understand.

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION
If the General Assembly considers implementing legislation for a constitutional convention, LWVIA will support measures to:

  • Provide adequate funds;
  • Require delegates to be qualified voters elected on a nonpartisan basis from districts;
  • Limit the length but not the scope of convention proceedings;
  • Provide for a preparatory commission prior to convening;
  • Locate the convention in the capital city; and
  • Oppose the placing of provisions for a constitutional study commission in the Constitution.

IOWA EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT
Support of an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the Iowa Constitution and a state code that is in compliance with the goals of the Equal Rights Amendment.

APPORTIONMENT
Support of:

  • Apportionment of all state and local election districts based substantially on equal population;
  • Reapportionment of the Iowa General Assembly every 10 years by a non-legislative authority; and
  • Anti-gerrymandering provisions in reapportionment procedures.

STATE BUDGET PROCESS
The League of Women Voters of Iowa supports the following policies related to the state budget process:

  • Generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) should be used in the budget process and in all state budget reports and revenue projections.
  • A state general fund cash reserve should be implemented and maintained, except in extraordinary circumstances as provided by law.
  • An economic emergency fund should be established and maintained.
  • The Governor and the General Assembly should use the December 15 revenue estimates of the Revenue Estimating Conference in the budget process. If the estimates are later revised, action on the budget should reflect the lower of the two estimates.

The League of Women Voters of Iowa believes:

  • All three branches of state government -- executive, legislative and judicial –- should be required to engage in strategic planning.
  • A system management review should be created for all programs and functions of state government.
  • A system of review of tax sources should be created.
  • Such systems should operate on a cycle to guarantee regular, periodic review, and criteria should be established for the evaluation process.

IOWA GENERAL ASSEMBLY
The League of Women Voters of Iowa supports the present structure of the Iowa General Assembly (a bicameral legislature of 150 members [a 50-member Senate and a 100-member House of Representatives] and annual sessions of 110 days in odd-numbered years and 100 days in even-numbered years).

  • The League opposes term limits for State Representatives and State Senators.
  • The League believes certain changes in legislative processes could improve the system and the end product.

LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEES

  • The number and function of the committees should be the same in both the House and Senate.
  • Interim committees could be more effective if the legislature responded to the work of the committees, if more citizens and resource people were used, and if standing committees were used during the interim.
  • Conference committees should be required to adhere to the rules of other committees.

BUDGETING

  • Biennial budgeting with annual review is preferable to annual budgeting. Biennial budgeting would encourage greater long-range planning, require more accurate financial forecasting, and provide greater stability in funding programs. Whether budgeting is done annually or biennially, the League believes that the budget making and budget review processes should be streamlined.
  • The League of Women Voters of Iowa supports the current “funnel” system of moving legislation through the session.
  • The League further believes that three groups have the greatest influence on legislation: lobbyists, political action committees, and the business community. Public interest groups, the Legislative Fiscal and Service Bureaus, and caucus staffs have a moderate impact on legislation, while individuals have the least influence.

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LOCAL GOVERNMENT
Structure,Function and Finance - Area Education Agency (AEA) - County Home Rule - Property Tax - Earmarking - Corporate Tax - Tax Incentives

Support for city and county home rule and for greater local flexibility and intergovernmental cooperation.

STRUCTURE, FUNCTION AND FINANCE
Action to support:

  • Implement home rule for Iowa cities, counties and joint city-county units of government (including local-option taxation authority);
  • Minimize duplication of services;
  • Increase area-wide and city-county planning;
  • Strengthen inter-local cooperation;
  • Increase flexibility of local units of government; and
  • Defeat property tax limitation.

AREA EDUCATION AGENCY (AEA)
The League of Women Voters of Iowa believes the state should provide equal opportunity for each child in Iowa to receive quality education. To this end, we support Area Education Agencies (AEAs) as service agencies to local school districts.
Action to Support:

  • Media and education services and programs as needed and requested, plus the required special education services;
  • Assistance to local school districts by AEAs for talented and gifted programs, preferably through a weighted funding formula;
  • Inservice programs and services by AEAs that do not duplicate programs and services already available through other school corporations;
  • Funding of AEAs through a combination of property taxes, state aid and grants, with a higher proportion of the budget funded by state aid rather than property taxes;
  • Selection of AEA board members at district conventions of local school boards; and
  • No regulatory or taxing powers assigned to AEAs.
  • If the legislature grants taxing authority to the AEAs, board members should be selected by district election, reside in the district represented, and be chosen by the electors of that district.

COUNTY HOME RULE
Support of home rule for Iowa counties with constitutional and statutory measures providing for:

  • Authorization for local governments to combine (county-county and city-county with voter determination of the county seat);
  • Provisions for optional county and city-county charters;
  • Bonding authority;
  • Local-option tax authority subject to reverse referendum; and
  • Provision that the power of a city should prevail in the event of a conflict between a county and a city.

Implementing legislation should include:

  • A variety of methods for creating joint governments;
  • Referendum procedures for approving, amending, and dissolving joint local governments;
  • A variety of methods for initiating a charter procedure;
  • Proportional representation and specified minimum size for charter commissions;
  • Referendum procedures for adopting, amending and rescinding charters; and
  • Periodic review.

PROPERTY TAX
The League believes local revenues should be less reliant on property tax and more reliant on state funds. Property tax should be decreased also by reduction in the number of local governmental units. Property tax relief should be granted to low-income elderly and other low-income owners and renters. Property tax exemptions should be removed from income-producing property of churches, profit-making nursing homes, veterans’ organizations, fraternal organizations and labor unions. Cities should be allowed to impose user fees or payments-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOTS) on tax-exempt properties for services rendered to those properties. Cities should be allowed to charge county, state and federally owned properties for the city services provided to those properties.

EARMARKING
When consistent with other League criteria, earmarking of funds is an acceptable fiscal policy.

CORPORATE TAX
The League urges a tax treatment for business that would provide equity of imposition and enforcement between in-state and out-of-state corporations. Changes to achieve equity should reinforce the economic stability of the state and provide a favorable climate for business.

TAX INCENTIVES
The League supports tax incentives for efforts and programs to slow the growth in energy consumption, to encourage development of renewable energy resources and to maximize energy conservation