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Johnson County is re-writing their Comprehensive Plan, and Ed Raber is working with Washington County organizations with hopes of constructing a multi-county plan.  A meeting will be held at Stringtown Grocery, 5540 540th St., Tuesday Feb. 28 from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM.

 

The Iowa Legislature has approved a 1.1% increase in school funding.  Educators say this will force them to make cuts.  Fiscally, the State cannot spend increasing amounts of money on ANY endeavor, no matter how noble, without taking that money from other activities or increasing taxes.  Why has the cost of education increased so dramatically (even after adjustment for inflation) when the results have not changed? Perhaps it is time to consider alternatives or give parents a choice-why should rich families be the only ones who can choose an alternative to public education?  It may be that returning all authority to local school boards would provide a better return on investment!

 

Legislative briefing at the courthouse, 10:00 AM; February 18 and March 18

 

Let your legislators know what you think!!

Jarad Klein - jarad.klein@legis.iowa.gov

Dave Heaton - dave.heaton@legis.iowa.gov

Kevin Kinney - kevin.kinney@legis.iowa.gov

Rich Taylor - rich.taylor@legis.iowa.gov

 

The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that the Des Moines Water Works cannot sue upstream counties for what DMWW claims are “excess nitrates” in the Raccoon and Des Moines rivers.  However, DMWW has also filed a federal case which seeks to classify tile outlets as “point sources” which would require permits for each outlet.

The City of Washington is updating zoning regulations extending two miles outside of city limits.  This is legal according to current Iowa code, but constitutes regulation without representation since the occupants of this area have no voice on the city council which has the final say on the regulations.  Code attempts to resolve this by giving the rural residents a token voice on the zoning board of appeals, but this board has no power to amend or repeal the actual regulation.  The City of Kalona has also made noises about such “extra-territorial zoning”, stating unashamedly that they should “have control of their neighbors”.  Rep. Klein is working on legislation to address regulation without representation.  Be sure to let your legislators know what you think!

 

 

President Trump said recently that there is “no reason” to curb the practice of civil forfeiture, which means that assets can be seized by police whenever they think someone may have committed (or be planning to commit) a crime!  There are many documented cases of assets confiscated from people who are never charged with a crime, yet are only  able to retrieve their assets with great difficulty, or not at all. With the recent judicial furor over due process, this is an issue that deserves careful examination.

 

 

 

 

A bill pre-filed in the Missouri legislature as HB222 would create a process by which the state could refuse to enforce rules and regulations issued by federal agencies, effectively nullifying such rules and regulations  within the state.  It would require explicit state legislative approval before any state department or agency could enforce any future rule or regulation promulgated by a federal agency. The bill also creates a process for reviewing all current federal agency rules and regulations.  HB222 rests on a well-established legal principle known as the anti-commandeering doctrine. Simply put, the federal government cannot force states to help implement or enforce any federal act or program. The anti-commandeering doctrine is based primarily on four Supreme Court cases dating back to 1842, with Printz v. US as the cornerstone.  Unfortunately, this will not resolve the problem of coerced cooperation based on federal control of funding dependent upon certain state action.

 

 


 

Did you know that education receives over half of all state tax dollars in Iowa? The new legislature is in session…let them know what is important to you!

 Jarad Klein - jarad.klein@legis.iowa.gov

Dave Heaton - dave.heaton@legis.iowa.gov

Kevin Kinney - kevin.kinney@legis.iowa.gov

Rich Taylor - rich.taylor@legis.iowa.gov

 

 

Iowa City is moving forward with construction of “mixed use” buildings on Gilbert Street.  This novel new zoning classification allows mingled commercial and residential use….the very “problem” typically promulgated as the primary reason for the necessity of zoning!  Isn’t it amazing that somehow our country was built without zoning but now requires it?

 

 

Meanwhile, in New Jersey the Ramapough Native Americans have constructed tipis on a tract of tribal land for a prayer camp in protest of pipelines they feel threaten their property.  The town of Mahwah claims that city zoning prohibits the construction of permanent structures on this land and therefore the tipis must be removed.

 

 


 


It appears that county assessors now have very limited ability to adjust taxes.  If you believe your taxes are too high, you may only be able to have them adjusted if you can show that the Farm Service maps for your property are incorrect.  Contact your legislators if you expect them to address this injustice in 2017.

Jarad Klein - jarad.klein@legis.iowa.gov

Dave Heaton - dave.heaton@legis.iowa.gov

Kevin Kinney - Kevin.Kinney@legis.iowa.gov

Rich Taylor - rich.taylor@legis.iowa.gov

 

Case studies in a new report released by the Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee Monday show that the Administration is already asserting federal control over land and water based on the concepts it is trying to codify in the waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, even though the courts have put that rule on hold.  The report identifies how one farmer was ordered to abandon his field because his ordinary plowing was declared a violation of the Clean Water Act. EPA also intervened when a California rancher plowed cropland that was previously used for cattle grazing. In that matter, the agency noted that by plowing, the rancher created furrow tops that served as "uplands" and as "small mountain ranges," which disqualified the plowing from the agricultural exemption.

 

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts recently signed a bill that eliminates civil forfeiture.   Civil forfeiture allows law enforcement to seize and keep property without filing charges or securing criminal convictions.  A Peruvian pastor had $14,000 seized during a traffic stop. Last year, a federal appellate court upheld taking more than $63,000 in savings from a decorated Air Force veteran, even though he was never charged with a crime.  A Des Moines Register investigation into the use of state and federal civil forfeiture laws in Iowa reveals that thousands of people have surrendered their cash or property in Iowa. 2009. The system is stacked against property owners while raising millions of dollars annually for law enforcement agencies across the state, something critics contend encourages policing for profit over promoting public safety.  Under Iowa's laws, forfeitures are handled in civil courts, where the owner has no presumption of innocence or right to a state-appointed attorney. It is up to the owner to prove the property should not have been seized, rather than requiring the prosecutor to prove the seizure was justified.

 

 

Cedar Rapids officials are unhappy with a common home design with the garage sticking out in front of the house.  “We don’t like the design of the garage being the focal point of the home,” said Ann Poe, a Cedar Rapids City Council member and chairwoman of the council’s development subcommittee. “…we have an interest in what we can do to discourage the development of snout style homes so the focal point is not the garage.”

            Discussion is underway about restricting snout houses in Cedar Rapids as part of an effort called Rezone Cedar Rapids to overhaul the zoning code.

 

 

Free County exists to increase public awareness of freedom issues.  Connect with us on Facebook (Free County); email freecounty@live.com; or attend our meeting on the 2nd Monday of each month at 6:00 PM in the 5th floor meeting room of Federation Bank in Washington.