Special interests demanding higher Iowa gas taxes used shocking tactics this week to get the 10 cents gas tax increase moved to the floors of the Iowa House and Senate
Senate Majority Leader Gronstal had said he would not allow floor debate unless a majority of both parties in both Houses support a gas tax increase. However, yesterday he allowed the Senate Ways and Means Committee to pass the gas tax increase by 8-6 vote, with YES votes from 7 Democrats and only one Republican — hardly a majority of both parties. Four Republicans and two Democrats voted NO.
House action was even more strange and scary. Yesterday morning Speaker Paulsen suddenly removed two Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee who were against a gas tax increase and replaced them with two YES votes. Speaker Paulsen, himself, replaced one of the removed members. The two votes Speaker Paulsen switched allowed the bill to pass out of committee on a slim 13-12 vote. Six Republicans and six Democrats voted No.
The Speaker probably has the power to change committee members. But yesterday that power was wrongly used to force a bill out of committee by removing committee members who were NO votes and replacing them with YES votes. We cannot recall a time when a committee member was removed on the day of a vote and replaced by the Speaker. Some Legislators believe these day-of-vote removals were an abuse of power and make all Legislators more vulnerable to pressure and threats.
As members of Iowans for Tax Relief, we often ask you to contact your Legislators to help us protect taxpayers. If Legislative leaders can change committee members at any time, they take your voice away.
How can we prevent this abuse of power in the future? How can you show Legislators you are unhappy with these heavy-handed tactics? Tell them: Defeat the gas tax increase. Vote it down, decisively. That will send a strong message and show that our Legislators are determined to protect their independence.
You need to contact your State Senator and Representative quickly to stop the 10-cents gas tax increase. Legislative leaders plan to fast-track this bill for approval this Tuesday, February 24. Calls and e-mails must be done before then, if you want to affect the outcome of this 45% increase in the gas tax.