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Key Republican senator says House GOP tax bill a ‘lonely island’

DES MOINES — The Republican who’s leading the Iowa Senate’s tax-writing committee on Monday suggested House Republicans are “tone deaf” to demands for property tax relief.

Senator Dan Dawson, a Republican from Council Bluffs, said it’s time to end property tax support of the mental health system and embrace the governor’s tax plan which includes that change.

“We all know that there’s a skyrocket real estate market occurring as we speak, Dawson said. “These assessments are coming home to roost at some point in time.”

Dawson hosted a subcommittee hearing on the overall plan Monday  morning.

“This bill is the pathway forward,” Dawson said. “There is no other train in this capitol right now that’s going to leave the station and address all of these priorities.”

Dawson said since Senate Republicans and Republican Governor Reynolds are on the same page, Republicans in the House are on a “lonely island” with their alternative plan that does not get rid of the property tax levy for mental health services.

Senator Pam Jochum, a Democrat from Dubuque who participated in today’s subcommittee hearing, said her analysis of the two plans shows there are 23 tax changes that the House and Senate agree on, but 10 others that are just in the Senate’s plan.

“I wish you well in trying to negotiate those differences between the two chambers,” Jochum told Dawson, with a laugh.

One policy dispute between the Senate and House appears to be resolved. The House on three separate occasions this year has voted for what’s called telehealth parity and now Senate Republicans are including it in their tax bill. It would force insurance companies to reimburse virtual visits for mental health counseling at the same rate as in-person appointments. Some surrounding states, including Nebraska, have taken this step and a Iowa Hospital Association lobbyist said if Iowa does not, it’ll be even harder to recruit psychiatrists to practice in Iowa.

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