Category: Opinion

Consumer Counselor – March 14, 2018

Why buy life insurance?
Facing one’s mortality and the prospect of leaving family members behind is not always easy. Death, financial security and planning for the future are all difficult subjects, but planning ahead can make matters much easier in the long run.
Life insurance needs frequently come up when making plans, and many people find that purchasing a life insurance policy is a worthwhile investment. Life insurance holds an important place in overall financial planning. One of the most apparent benefits of life insurance is that it will provide a considerable sum of cash upon the insured’s death, which can be put toward the cost of funeral arrangements, housing and dependent care.
Beyond end-of-life bills and care, life insurance can offer other advantages, say the experts at Allstate Insurance Company. Life insurance can provide a family with a financial safety net. When a beneficiary is named, life insurance can serve as an inheritance for that person or people. Heirs may face estate taxes after a loved one dies, and life insurance benefits may help offset all or a portion of the costs.
There may be benefits to life insurance while a person is living as well. The life insurance information site Term Life 2 Go says that, depending on the policy, life insurance can be borrowed against to pay off debt, buy a house or live off of dividends from the life insurance investment. This can provide a source of supplemental retirement income.
Gateway Financial advisors say that many life insurance plans are extremely flexible and can be modified as needs change. Death benefits may be decreased if desired, and premiums can be skipped, reduced or increased.
Business owners also can use life insurance policies to their advantage. Including life insurance with the list of other benefits offered to prospective employees can entice top-notch candidates. Sole proprietors may use life insurance as a business continuation plan so that insurance proceeds can keep the business in the black until it is sold or a replacement owner is found.
Shopping for life insurance requires careful research and an understanding of the products available. Consumers should have a thorough understanding of term and whole life policies, what premiums will cost, what the death benefit will pay, and if there are any living benefits. For example, living benefits may cover some costs for chronically or terminally ill people.
Working with an experienced life insurance advisor can help people navigate the types of policies available to them.

District 72 Update – March 14, 2017

By Represe3ntative Dean Fisher
Week 9 of the session continued with debating House bills on the floor. This work is, at times fast paced, as non-controversial bills are brought up and voted on in a matter of minutes. Other times, it is slow and tedious, as we work through many amendments that are each debated at length.
On Thursday, we debated House File 2252, which dealt with changes to our voting laws requested by the Secretary of State’s office. These changes were primarily of a technical nature, updating the Voter ID law we passed last year, based on the experience with that new law. We debated that bill and its fifteen amendments for nearly five hours as the minority party members attempted to roll back these important changes we made to the voting laws in 2017.
Notable Bills:
Senate File 481 – This bill is the “Sanctuary Cities” bill, which helps to ensure that Iowa communities remain safe. This bill specifies that local law enforcement will follow existing law and cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer requests or their city or county will be held accountable by the withholding of state funds.
Iowa has always been a welcoming state and House Republicans recognize that immigrants make a valuable contributions to our state. House Republicans also recognize that the rule of law needs to be upheld. Ensuring that citizens are safe in our communities is one of the most basic responsibilities of government. Cities or counties that designate themselves as a “sanctuary” and ignore the rule of law, put their citizens at risk by providing potentially violent criminals with a safe haven.
Law Enforcement in most Iowa cities and counties continue to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, and this bill will have no effect on those that continue to do so. This bill was previously passed by the Senate and was voted on by the Public Safety Committee that I sit on this past Tuesday. It passed on an 11-10 vote after being amended to address some law enforcement concerns. It will now go to the floor of the House for a vote. I supported this important legislation in committee and will support it on the floor. When it passes the House, it will go back to the Senate for them to accept the amendment.
House File 2467 – School Meal Debt – This bill creates rules and procedures around student meal debt in schools. This issue is a rising problem that often results in the school child being singled out for the parent’s failings to pay for school meals. The provisions in this bill prevent the school from singling the child out for non-payment, while also increasing the school’s ability to deal with the parents for non-payment. This bill passed the House 96-0 and now goes to the Senate.
House File 2369 – Bond Referendum Elections – This bill requires that any bond referendums by a county, township, school, city, community college, or local board or commission take place on the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November. In other words, on the same date of a general election, if it’s an election year. This will help increase turnout for these bond referendums. Exceptions are made for bonds needed as a result of a disaster. This bill passed the House, 52-43, and now goes to the Senate.
Budget: This week the House Appropriations Committee heard a presentation from the Pew Charitable Trusts on ways that states like Iowa can manage uncertainty in revenue forecasting. The presenters discussed several ideas that other states have implemented to improve revenue forecasting. The suggestions centered on two main ideas. The first involves maintaining a revenue “cushion” by spending below the forecast. The second is by reducing the forecasts based on various averaging techniques to minimize variations. It is likely that legislation will follow these suggestions.
The Revenue Estimating Conference met on Friday, March 9th to set their estimate for Fiscal Year 2019. Once this estimate is determined, the House Republicans will begin developing our budget targets and the individual budget bills that are passed at the end of session.
As always, please feel free to contact me at or 641-750-3594.

Consumer Counselor – March 7, 2018

Pros and cons of connected cars
While smart cars that can communicate and dial into command centers, provide directions or even blast off back to 1985 were mere concepts 30 to 40 years ago, today automakers have made tech-savvy cars a reality. Cars have become computers on wheels, and there’s seemingly no end to the features that many vehicles are sporting. However, are these connections truly a boon to drivers or a safety bust?
Pros- Proponents of connected cars say safety features embedded in the vehicles, such as GM’s On-Star platform and similar services for other brands, make a strong case for connected cars. These systems can immediately alert for emergency assistance if there is an accident or if a passenger is unresponsive. The future of other safety features includes vehicles that can sense obstacles in the environment and make modifications to GPS routes based on accidents or road blocks, passing that information on to other cars to create safer conditions.
Service centers can use connected cars to digitally diagnose problems and possibly reduce more invasive mechanical measures. Insurance companies can use data pulled from driving habits to determine rates based on safe driving behaviors. Manufacturers can track data such as how optimally a person has driven to develop more efficient vehicles.
Another benefit of smart cars is infotainment, which truly takes internet use mobile in every sense of the word. Apps learn drivers’ preferences and can fine tune music, news and other entertainment options to make trips even more enjoyable.
Cons- One of the biggests arguments against connected cars is the increased level of distraction. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that, in 2015 alone, 3,477 people were killed and 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. During daylight hours, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones while driving. A smart car is essentially a smartphone on wheels, which may prompt greater levels of distraction.
Another area of concern is security. As cars become more connected to the internet, they can become greater targets for hackers. Researchers have already shown how hackers can take control of the vehicle, forcing them to brake or steer elsewhere. There’s also the opportunity for people to be digitally spied on or for criminals to gain other personal information through driving habits.
It seems as though connected cars are here to stay, and drivers must weigh the pros and cons of having this technology at their fingertips when behind the wheel.

ViewPoint: Iowa State Association of Counties urges Legislature to reject elimination of the backfill

By Lucas Beenken, Iowa State Association of Counties (ISAC) Public Policy Specialist and Rachel Bennett, Member Relations Manager
Local governments would be forced to raise property taxes or cut services if the Iowa Legislature adopts SF 2081 to defund the backfill (commercial and industrial property tax replacement claims). Currently, the state reimburses local governments for the loss of revenue resulting from the reduction of taxable value of commercial and industrial property approved by the legislature in 2013. SF 2081 would phase out those reimbursements over three years, leaving counties with a $29 million loss of revenue per year. Because fiscal year 2019 budgets are currently being finalized, counties may have to make drastic cuts to services if the state reimbursement is reduced.
“It’s unfortunate the legislature is considering starting the phase-out of the backfill after most counties and cities have published their final budgets for FY 2019. County officials I’ve talked to don’t understand why the legislature would knowingly take an action that could put either the county budget or services in a precarious position. Our members would urge the legislature to follow the leadership of Governor Reynolds, fund the backfill for FY 2019, and then work with local officials to put a plan in place that meets both the state’s budgetary constraints in future years and local governments’ obligations to meet the service needs of their citizens” stated Bill Peterson, Executive Director of the Iowa State Association of Counties.
Contrary to the argument that backfill dollars are padding local government budgets; the data shows the reimbursement is simply making these budgets whole. The taxable valuation of commercial and industrial property is down 5.2% from the value before the legislatively imposed rollback implemented in 2013. In fact, the current taxable valuations are near the assessment year 2009 levels. This is in addition to the loss of taxable value for multi-residential, telecommunications, and railroad property that also received tax relief but was not reimbursed to local governments. The backfill is essential to make sure that counties can provide the services citizens depend on without raising property taxes.
“All counties, large and small, strive to provide services their taxpayers rely on while doing their best to keep property taxes reasonable,” said ISAC President and Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek, “but that would be very difficult if the state fails to reimburse counties for the lost revenue due to the property tax reduction for commercial and industrial property.”
The Iowa State Association of Counties urges the Iowa Legislature to reject SF 2081, keep the promise to make county budgets whole, and ensure property taxpayers aren’t burdened with a larger bill or reduced services because of the elimination of the backfill.

ViewPoint: President’s budget threatens rural programs

By Anna Johnson, Center for Rural Affairs
America stands to suffer as a result of President Trump’s 2019 budget, released on Feb. 12.
The president has proposed again to eliminate or shrink many programs that serve rural America, including those supporting rural businesses, cooperatives, and housing.
Trump is also calling for an investment of $50 billion in rural infrastructure, but this could put the onus on states already struggling with the economic fallout of depressed commodity prices.
In addition, the budget slashes working lands conservation programs by proposing the elimination of the Conservation Stewardship Program. The program gives farmers and ranchers opportunities to do such things as plant cover crops or improve pasture land. Eliminating it would do serious damage to our farmers’ and ranchers’ abilities to preserve water quality and build soil health while also maintaining productive operations.
On a positive note, the president’s budget includes proposals that would bring greater fairness to farming communities. For example, the budget targets commodity, conservation, and crop insurance assistance to producers with adjusted gross incomes of $500,000 or less. A similar proposal would limit the number of people who can register as a farm manager and thereby receive payments.
For too long, the largest farms have had access to more support than small and mid-sized farms. This competitive advantage for large farms has contributed to farm consolidation and shrinking rural communities. These proposals would bring long-awaited fairness to our agricultural communities.
Mostly, however, Trump’s budget proposal would drain support for rural America. We fear these actions represent a lack of understanding of rural America’s struggles.
We urge President Trump and our national lawmakers to cease these actions that undercut rural Americans and rural communities.


Forgot Password?

Join Us

Password Reset
Please enter your e-mail address. You will receive a new password via e-mail.