DES MOINES - Area residents rubbed elbows with state lawmakers and even got a closed door meeting with the state's No. 1 man during the Des Moines Summit at the State Capitol Wednesday.
The 18th annual summit sponsored by the Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce drew 40 area residents to Des Moines to talk over the burning issues in the state.
"Our community leaders get access to legislators who are making decisions that affect our community," said Ken Anderson, president of the chamber. "This allows for that open dialogue."
T-R PHOTO BY ANDREW POTTER
Gov. Terry Branstad talks to the group from Marshalltown visiting the State Capital as part of the Chamber’s Des Moines Summit Wednesday.
The main issues discussed were education reform, the proposed gas tax, commercial property tax reform and economic development.
The group was even escorted into the meeting office of Gov. Terry Branstad with a 20-minute meeting with the state's leader. One of the topics brought up with Branstad was the proposed state gas tax to pay for the
repair of bridges and roads in the state.
Branstad said if enacted, a gas tax should be phased in over the course of several years. He did say the gas tax, or as he calls it a "user fee," is a tough sell now with the rising gas prices.
"That's what makes it a difficult environment," Branstad said.
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, appears also in favor of implementing a type of a gas tax.
"A long-term, stable source of funding makes a lot of sense," Gronstal said.
The group also met with area legislators Sen. Steve Sodders, D-State Center, Rep. Mark Smith, D-Marshalltown and Rep. Dean Fisher, R-Garwin.
After the meetings were wrapped up, the traditional Taylor's Maid-Rite loose meat sandwiches were served fresh from Marshalltown. The lunch was not only offered up to the Marshalltown delegation, but it is also a hit with legislators who line up for their serving and look forward to the event each year.
"It's awesome," said Don Short, owner of Taylor's. "This exposes Maid-Rite to people across the state."