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GOP turns up the heat on Vilsack over utility bill relief

Tuesday, February 6, 2001

Republicans urged Gov. Tom Vilsack on Thursday and Friday to sign bills phasing out Iowa's sales tax on utilities and adding $15 million to help Iowa's poor with their heating bills.

"Iowans are going to be pretty cold this winter if the governor has a cold heart and vetoes that," House Majority Leader Christopher Rants said.

Soaring natural gas prices and frigid temperatures this winter have driven up Iowans' utility bills. The issue has supplanted others as the dominant concern of legislators during the early weeks of the session.

Lawmakers earlier this week signed off on a two-month suspension of sales taxes on utilities this winter at a cost of $10 million. The proposal then gradually eliminates the sales tax by 2007 at a cost of $88.5 million.

Supporters of the cut have called the sales tax harsh on working families and contend that heating costs should share the same tax-free status as food.

Lawmakers also sent Vilsack a plan to add $15 million to the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps poor families pay their heating bills.

In sending the bill to the governor, GOP leaders attached a letter asking him to sign it.

Read the rest of this article in the 2/03 Pilot Tribune.



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