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BREAKING NEWS

Battle of the bottle bill – Frevert and Kibbie host town meeting

By Staff | Feb 2, 2008

Discussion of a proposed increase in container deposits took up much of Friday’s legislative town hall meeting at the Estherville Public Library Community Room.

Sen. Jack Kibbie and Rep. Marcie Frevert, both of Emmetsburg, gave a rundown on legislation and answered audience questions and concerns.

Gov. Chet Culver Thursday backed off a proposal to double the bottle deposit to a dime and return 8 cents to consumers. That was after opposition came from both sides of the aisle on the plan.

Culver wanted to keep 2 cents of every dime for environmental programs and to aid redemption centers and retailers. He also wanted to expand deposits to include bottled water, flavored teas, and sports drinks not currently covered by deposits.

One big reason for Culver’s proposal was to assist redemption centers where consumers redeem their deposits. There are now just about 100 redemption centers in the state, about a third that existed five years ago.

“It’s going to be a balancing act” to make changes in a new bottle bill, Kibbie said.

Dan Youngblut, executive director of ECHO Plus, said it has become so cost ineffective for ECHO to handle containers that without reform legislation ECHO will have to stop handling containers.

Kibbie said the public could contact Sen. Dennis Gronstal and Sen. Dennis Black on the issue.

Kibbie, a supporter of Iowa’s community colleges since the current system began, said the state’s community colleges should be funded at the highest possible.

He said state assistance to community colleges is $2,400 a year per student, significantly less than the Iowa Tuition Grant to private college which amounts to $3,200 a year. Regents institutions receive $11,000 per student.

Kibbie said of the 88,000 community college students in Iowa, the vast majority stay in the state after graduation. The need for skilled labor, in which community colleges specialize, is apparent in Iowa where, according to Kibbie, most CEOs would hire an additional 10 percent more employees if they were available.

Kibbie also discussed transportation funding. “The road fund is running out of money,” Kibbie said.

Gov. Culver said he would oppose a 9-cent increase in the state gas to fund road infrastructure improvements. That would amount to about $58 for each family in Iowa. What seems more likely to make its way through the Legislature would be a gas tax increase of 4-5 cents and increase in pickup fees, said Kibbie.

Frevert said one possible road funding source suggested is a checkoff for grain transporters that could go toward road infrastructure improvements. She also said the 2007 Legislature authorized bonding authority for counties for road improvements.

Frevert said state parks could benefit from a bill that she is sponsoring that would increase the tax credit for those who make charitable contribution of property for preservation of state natural resources. The legislation would increase the tax credit from 19 percent to 70 percent of the value of the property, she said.

Other issues discussed included education funding, mental health parity, legislation on cell phone use by drivers, children’s health care, and the matrix system of evaluating livestock confinement applications.

Contact Michael Tidemann at (712) 362-2622 or mtidemann@esthervilledailynews.com and visit our photo sharing Web site at cu.esthervilledailynews.com