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Legislation shows leaders have become too power hungry

April 13, 2008
Just who do Iowa legislators think they are?

If there is one theme emerging from this year’s legislative session, it has to be “power.” Rather, a “power hungry” state government.

In the past few weeks, legislators have worked had to strip Iowans of local control and place it in the hands of government — from regulating smoking to a statewide sales tax for schools. Now there are rumblings of pushing ahead with a gas tax increase as well.

Iowans don’t need a “Big Brother” mentality when it comes to running our state. But the state legislature — and Iowa Gov. Chet Culver — are insistent on having the “power,” complete and absolute power with little, if any, local control.

They appear to believe that Iowans simply aren’t smart enough, savvy enough, knowledgeable enough to make their own choices. In short, citizens simply can’t be trusted to feed big government’s need for power.

Take the smoking ban, for instance. The law is quick to ban smoking virtually everywhere, regardless of the business owners’ right to run his restaurant, cafe, bar or lounge his way — with or without smoking regulations.

If a business wants to offer a smoking section, that should be the owner’s decision, not that of the Iowa Legislature. If Iowans want to relax in a smoke-filled bar or if they prefer a non-smoking environment, they should be able to make that choice.

We understand the health implications of smoking, being around smoke, second-hand smoking and lung diseases and applaud efforts to curb smoking, but we also understand Iowans are smart enough to make the choices they believe are right for themselves.

Culver has made plans to sign the bill as well, showing he also believes Iowans shouldn’t be allowed to make their own choices — right or wrong.

Interestingly enough, we can’t help but notice that the smoking ban doesn’t include casinos. No surprise there, though. The legislature can’t risk losing millions of dollars a year from casino revenue just to improve the state’s health.

But the power-hungry legislature didn’t stop with smoking. Now they’re after complete control of our tax dollars through a statewide school infrastructure tax to replace the local tax we already have.

Again, they simply can’t trust local voters to know enough to improve their schools. They can’t trust us to fork over the necessary cash to ensure quality facilities.

Perhaps Culver and his buddies in the legislature should make a road trip to Marshalltown. Voters here have overwhelmingly backed the school system with a recent bond issue and approval of the local school infrastructure sales tax for many years to come.

Legislators claim it’s about equality — spreading the money garnered from a statewide sales tax evenly to all school districts. While we applaud that effort, we cannot condone taking local control away from local people under any circumstances.

And let’s not forget the possibility of a gas tax increase. While the economy is preparing to take a nose-dive, our legislators are talking about increasing the burden on taxpayers by boosting the state’s gas tax sometime in the near future.

It’s admirable that the state wants to improve our transportation system, ensure safe bridges and build newer, better roads. But at a time when many are struggling to make ends meet, increasing one of their basic costs just doesn’t make sense. If they can’t even afford to fill the tank, they won’t be out using all those fancy new highways and bridges.

Gov. Culver is certainly not without blame in all this either. He has repeatedly backed efforts to boost state control while relieving Iowans of the “burden” of making decisions. He’ll sign the smoking ban this week, and likely give his stamp of approval to the statewide sales tax when that shows up.

He has been previously opposed to a increase in the state gas tax, though. It’s one of the few things we feel we can applaud him for since he took over the governor’s office.

But perhaps all of this explains why the legislature needs a new state office building that will set taxpayers back $77 million. They need a place to think more clearly, to brainstorm and plan their next invasion into Iowans’ pockets.

Even the proposed new office building shows the legislature’s “out-of-control” actions this session.

When a child gets out of control, parents often resort to punishments such as a time out or sitting in the corner. Maybe the Iowa Legislature and Gov. Culver could use a time out — we can put them in the corner of their gleaming new office building.

Anybody have a dunce cap?


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