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Republican Senator: Raise Taxes for the Environment

Joyce Russell/IPR
State Senator David Johnson (R-Ocheyedan)

A bill to raise the state sales tax for natural resource protection is being revived at the statehouse, and dozens of environmentalists and wildlife advocates crowded a committee room Tuesday in support.   The bill would raise the tax by three-eighths of a cent for the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund, a constitutionally protected fund approved by Iowa voters in 2010.    

Ocheyedan Republican David Johnson says the new tax would bring in roughly 150 million dollars a year.

“It will all go toward some kind of private land conservation,” Johnson says.   “Water quality projects, promoting wildlife habitat and natural preserves, all those things.” 

More than 85 environmental and wildlife groups back the bill.   Johnson says while a constitutional amendment created the fund, so far no money has been put into it.

“In 2010 in the general election 63% of Iowans set up the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund,” Johnson says.  “This bill will fully fund it.”

Iowa is one of three states with a designated account for natural resources.     

Lawmakers revived the bill through the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee after an earlier bill failed in the Natural Resources and Environment Committee.    The bill has bipartisan support in the Democratic-controlled Senate.  Iowa last raised the state sales tax in 1992.