THE PILOT EDITORIAL - Help on the heat bills

Tuesday, January 30, 2001

The Iowa legislature is overdue in current efforts to phase out sales tax from utility bills. The monstrous bills of this winter aside, heating your family's house is every bit as basic a necessity as other non-taxable purchases of groceries and medicines.

Senator Mary Lou Freeman notes that she filed a bill to do away with sales tax on utilities way back in the first session of her first term and was shot down without even a debate. Public opinion in the wake of those December heat bills has apparently changed the legislature's point of view.

Skyrocketing energy costs are more than a nuisance to Iowa families. While programs have been promoted to help the very needy who cannot pay the bills, what about the middle class family that will pay, but not without stretching the family budget beyond its limits? For them, it comes straight out of the discretionary income that helps to make their lives enjoyable.

And what about small business? They not only get a huge heat bill themselves; they also stand to pay if the middle class don't have the extra dollars they used to have to go shopping.

As Freeman points out, it took a crisis to get lawmakers to consider doing what was the right thing to do all along.