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This week was the tenth week of the legislative session.  The Senate debated several bills to remove barriers to work, reward work and investment, and create a tax and regulatory environment conducive to creating new career opportunities in Iowa.  Of the twenty-two bills we debated on the floor this week, I want to highlight two of the most important.

Republicans fight to protect free speech; Democrats defend Big Tech monopolies and plutocrats

This week, the Senate debated SF 580, the “Big Tech Censorship” bill.  I was proud to be the first senator to cosponsor this bill.

The bill requires social networking websites like Twitter or Facebook to respect the free speech rights of Iowans, protected by both the United States and Iowa Constitutions, and not censor their constitutionally protected speech.  If they don’t respect these fundamental rights of Iowans, they will lose their cushy tax incentives, paid for by the very people they are censoring.

Technology and social media dominate much of our lives these days, and big tech companies determine what information is available to Iowans online.   Not only do they determine what kind of content users see, but they also determine the priority of the information users see.  The censorship of certain viewpoints has been a growing concern in America, but it has dramatically increased in frequency and scope over the last year.

I believe this is the gravest threat to our nation, liberty, and very way of life.  Senate Republicans can no longer wait for Congress to fix the problem they have created through section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and must act now to protect the fundamental free speech rights of Iowans.

Billions of people head to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms to voice their thoughts, opinions, and ideas.  When those get censored by these big tech companies, we start losing one of our most important and vital freedoms enshrined in the U.S. Constitution—the freedom of speech.  Social media is the public square of the 21st century, and social media users have the right to voice their thoughts and opinions, even if the CEOs of Silicon Valley disagree with those thoughts and opinions.

Additionally, SF 580 prevents taxpayer money from going to companies that remove an Iowan’s ability to download other social networking sites, purchase protected publications and material on a massive online marketplace, or allow Iowans to opt-out of post-promoting or shadow-banning algorithms.  To be clear: this bill does not prohibit these companies from operating in Iowa. It simply says, if they choose to censor Iowans, they will not receive the generous subsidies and tax credits currently offered to them.

Because this issue is so important, 30 Senate Republicans sponsored SF 580.  During the debate, it became clear that Republicans are the only members in the Senate standing up to protecting these inalienable rights of Iowans, while Senate Democrats fiercely defended the wealthiest plutocratic elites running these companies.  These companies are monopolies and pose a threat to our nation, and the Congress should act to bust up these monopolies.

After passing in the Senate, SF 580 now goes to the House for their consideration.

Keeping the Promise to Cut Taxes—eliminating the “triggers” and the Death Tax

Senate Republicans have consistently set the goal of removing barriers to work, helping Iowans keep more of what they earn, and improving career opportunities for the last five years.  SF 576 continues that effort by phasing out the inheritance tax and eliminating revenue triggers holding back the implementation of the next round of tax cuts passed in 2018.

Iowa has some of the highest top tax rates in the country.  Those tax rates are even worse because they are effective at a much lower income level than most states.  SF 576 eliminates the language in the largest tax cut in Iowa history, passed in 2018, to reduce and simplify Iowa income taxes contingent on a certain level of revenue received by the state and replaces it with a set date of January 1, 2023.  It is time to remove the triggers and implement tax relief for working Iowans and small businesses.  Most small business pay the individual tax rate and are responsible for the creation of most new jobs in Iowa.  Lower rates and the certainty of the effective date of those rates provides job creators an incentive to grow and create more opportunities for Iowans.

SF 576 also phases out the inheritance tax over a three-year period.  The inheritance tax was eliminated years ago in Iowa on estates being passed lineally, for example, from parent to child.  However, the tax remained for other inheritance such as uncle to niece.  Iowa is only one of six states to still have an inheritance tax.  After an individual spends a lifetime paying taxes on nearly every single transaction and activity in life, Senate Republicans are saying that government should stop taxing Iowans beyond the grave.

Some discussion in the Senate centered around a portion of the recently passed American Recovery Plan prohibiting states from cutting taxes between 2021 and 2024.  This language appears to be unconstitutional on its face and should be offensive to any state lawmaker and any taxpaying Iowan.  The unrestrained hubris of our federal overlords apparently knows no limit.  Senate Republicans will continue to advocate for lower taxes in Iowa, and I believe it’s extraordinarily inappropriate for Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and Joe Biden to dictate state fiscal policy to Iowans.  This bill is a top priority for me as we work to lower Iowa’s tax burden.

Author: Zach Whiting


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