Republicans rebuke state senator

Oil PricesBy Bob Eschliman


Last month’s vote on Senate File 257, the transportation funding bill that, in addition to increasing fees, increased Iowa’s motor fuel tax by more than 45 percent, hasn’t sat well with many Iowans.

And, as a result, it’s reopened old wounds for many grassroots Republicans. The latest example is in Woodbury County, where a splinter group within the GOP Central Committee sought to rebuke one of its members who also happened to be a state legislator who voted for the increase.

The group of 30 Central Committee members, which represent 20 of the county’s precincts, signed a resolution rebuking state Sen. Bill Anderson (R-Pierson) and denouncing his vote. The county chairman, Kevin Alons, and a majority of the 94-member committee rejected the resolution.

Former county chairman Brian Rosener, who is still a member of the Central Committee, gave a copy of the resolution to The Iowa Statesman. It demanded Anderson resign from the County Central Committee, “stop kowtowing to special interests,” and publicly apologize to his constituents for his vote in favor of SF 257.

The increase in the gas tax is expected to raise about $1 billion in new revenue. It also makes Iowa’s gas tax the 13th highest in the U.S.

“[E]very reputable county-wide and state-wide poll found Republicans opposing the gas tax increase up to the day of the vote, which led to the same being true of a bipartisan majority of all Iowans up to the day of the vote,” the resolution states. “Anderson’s vote violates the Woodbury County Republican platform, and all four district Republican platforms, which each have express opposition languages for a gas tax increase, approved by elected Republican members of platform committees in all 99 Iowa counties.”

The resolution also noted that Anderson had campaigned against raising taxes, and it said his voting for the gas tax increase was “an act of cowardice.” It also stated his vote “allowed liberal Democrats supportive of this tax increase to vote No in order to save face.”

“Anderson retroactively claims in defense of his actions that his vote was intended to fast-track new construction, specifically what he called ‘four-lane development projects,” which he further said includes [U.S.] Highway 20, [U.S. Highway 30], and [U.S. Highway 61] in southeast Iowa,” the resolution states. “[T[he above claim contradicted the prevailing and previous claim that such a gas tax increase would fund only needed repairs and not new construction.”

The resolution claims Anderson used “bait and switch tactics” that betrayed those opposed to the gas tax, but also those supportive of its use only for needed repairs. It claims he “capitulated” to Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs) and Speaker of the House Kraig Paulsen (R-Hiawatha) – who replaced committee members opposed to the gas tax increase for those who were in support of it – for “nothing more than a temporary Band-Aid and an easy way out of dealing with the main problem of the Road Use Tax Fund percentage allocations.”

“Anderson has demonstrated contempt and arrogance towards those members of the Republican Party who support core Republican beliefs,” it stated.

Anderson, who represents Iowa Senate District 3, which comprises most of Woodbury and Plymouth counties, including Le Mars, Akron, Hinton, Kingsley, Pierson, Moville, Bronson, and Sergeant Bluff, as well as a portion of Sioux City, did not respond to a request from The Iowa Statesman to comment on the resolution. Instead, Alons responded on his behalf.

He said he strongly disagreed with “both the process and the message of the petition.” He said Anderson “has been a model Republican and central committee member for 20 years.”

“The petition naming Senator Bill Anderson with regard to his vote on the Iowa 10 cent gas tax was and is not an official position of the Woodbury Republican Central Committee, and represents a minority group that apparently believes gas tax policy is the most important issue facing Woodbury County, Iowa and the United States,” he said. “Only 10 of the petition signers even reside in Senator Bill Anderson’s senatorial district.”

According to the Office of Secretary of State, Woodbury County has the sixth-largest number of active registered Republicans in the state.