Reynolds launches town-hall tour to promote Invest in Iowa Act

    Gov. Kim Reynolds talks about her Invest in Iowa Act at a news conference on Feb. 12, 2020, at the state Capitol, flanked by representatives of agencies and groups that support the proposal. (Photo by Kathie Obradovich/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

    Gov. Kim Reynolds launched a town-hall tour on Wednesday to promote her proposed Invest in Iowa Act.

    House Study Bill 657 would raise the state sales tax to generate an estimated $540 million for environmental programs, mental health resources and income-tax relief.

    “I’m going to go out there and drive this,” Reynolds said during her weekly news conference. The front of the room was packed with about two dozen state officials and representatives of business, agriculture and mental health groups supporting the legislation.

    Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig was one of several state officials who spoke in favor of the legislation, saying it will change the trajectory of the state’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy. This non-regulatory approach encourages, but does not require, farmers to install conservative practices to curb fertilizer runoff.

    “Her bill would provide certainty and dedicated funding that will allow us to focus resources and deploy scientifically proven practices on the ground at a pace that we have never seen before,” he said.

    Republican legislative leaders have been reluctant to predict passage of the plan, citing its complex nature.

    Rep. John Wills, R-Spirit Lake, attended the news conference to support the bill but said he wasn’t speaking for his GOP caucus.  “I can’t answer for House Republicans, I can answer for myself,” he said.

    He said the plan was worth pursuing.  “I can’t say that the plan will stay intact as-is but it is definitely something that I feel I can support and move forward with,” he said.  He didn’t elaborate, however, saying lawmakers were still trying to “digest the bill.”

    The first stops on Reynolds’ town hall tours were Wednesday in Oskaloosa and Ottumwa. The governor’s office has not yet scheduled other events or determined how many will take place.

    Kathie Obradovich
    Editor Kathie Obradovich has been covering Iowa government and politics for more than 30 years, most recently as political columnist and opinion editor for the Des Moines Register. She previously covered the Iowa Statehouse for 10 years for newspapers in Davenport, Waterloo, Sioux City, Mason City and Muscatine. She is a leading voice on Iowa politics and makes regular appearances on state, national and international news programs. She has led national-award-winning coverage of the Iowa Caucuses and the Register’s Iowa Poll.