Gas Tax Bill Passes Committee Following Membership Shuffle

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DES MOINES, Iowa - A bill that will raise Iowa's gas tax by ten-cents per gallon, as soon as March 1, took a big step forward at the statehouse Thursday. That's thanks in large part to a committee membership shuffle by Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen.

Paulsen said the entire house is ready to approve the gas tax bill. But before it could make it to that vote, it first had to make it out of the House Ways and Means committee. That vote was not a certainty so Paulsen made two moves today that increased the likelihood of passing.

Paulsen replaced Jake Highfill, who he says was a 'no' vote on raising the gas tax, with Brian Moore, who he says is a "yes" vote, on the committee. Paulsen also removed Zach Nunn from the committee for one day and put himself in Nunn's place.

"I've never seen this happen before i was going to vote no and I`ll continue to vote no.  I've been opposed to the 10 cent gas tax since the beginning. I ran on a platform that I would support my constituency, I don`t believe it`s in the best interest of my constituents and it`s one of those things that once you pick your position you stand firm on it," says Rep. Nunn.

The bill passed out of a committee by a 13 to 12 vote with Moore and Paulsen voting yes. It now goes to the full house.

Paulsen is defending the changes saying it's his job to make sure bills the full House wants to debate make it there.

"It is clear to me at this point the majority of the two caucuses in the House want to debate this bill on the floor so it`s out of committee and moving to the calendar," says Paulsen.

If it is passed in its current form, it would take effect on the first day of the month after it is signed.


  • Scot Surprenant

    With the speed they were able to get this done maybe more need to be replaced on other committees to get our school moneies figured out by the date the law says it should be decided. Funny how representing the people who voted for you means driving your own agenda! Heck they can’t even figure out when school should start…two big decisions that help drive the next school year should already be decided!!!

    • bjertbjaeger

      Every poll taken shows a strong majority against. And the language they’re discussing oddly seems to grant even more exemptions to the usual groups, who would tend to indicate the majority of the money is going to go to developers instead of current infrastructure.

      • Outsider

        Yes, the majority. The majority want first class roads. The majority want no taxes.

        I don’t listen to the majority anymore, the majority were educated in public schools.

      • marcopolish

        Polls only matter if the voters (the legislators casting the votes) wish to let them be an influence. Only in a pure democracy where the actual citizens participate in actual decision votes on legislation do polls of the general public matter.

        So many other things besides citizens’ wishes matter, much more powerful and competing interests that push the general public’s wishes aside. That’s exactly how it works in a representative republic, the representatives make the decisions, make the laws, so if you are an interest group, your goal and strategy is to get to them, in ways that seriously matter to them, and matter more than other interests can do, and that means anything that gets the vote and the way you want it goes.

      • bjertbjaeger

        how does one get to the point where they willingly put a collar around their necks and hand their new masters the leash?

        You know where our road money went? Polk County developers for roads that weren’t needed so land value could be cashed in before the next recession. And then our tax dollars will be stolen to sustain Polk County as it implodes, because welfare/debt driven growth is unsustainable in an economy where people can no longer substitute plastic for wages earned.

      • marcopolish

        What about the millions being spent on illegal mexican children recently brought to this state and politically correct open borders operations? There is a lot of money that has been siphoned off and stolen from money taxed intended for one purpose and hijacked for another, and the real secret is just how much of that money in a budget well north of $5 billion, including something like the largest budget in Iowa history as is, including several hundred million more than even the governor asked for in his last budget request.

        It’s ok to talk about road money but when so much more has been hijacked and much of it would make the roads perfect here with no new taxes, but boy we better not get into what else has been hijacked, that’s quite a huge amount more. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

  • John Smith

    Apparently all that must be OK with Iowa law. But, I have to wonder: Are those two replaced committee members OK with being replaced, or was the maneuver designed to spare the two of them from voting?

    • marcopolish

      It was clearly to get the lacking majority vote needed to get the bill out of Committee. One of the ousted members was on the radio earlier today right after he and the other one was replaced by Paulsen on the committee, expressing his surprise and utter disbelief. It was entirely about his vote on this one issue. The Speaker was short and need to get 13 votes, only had 11. So he basically removed two in his own party who were opposed to the bill. One of those actually ran and was elected in part on his position, so he was beholden to his district’s voters.

      If this kind of hijack stands, you can forget legislators caring whatever you think, all lawmaking can be reduced to leadership dictates, period. Doesn’t matter the issue. Repeat, the particular issue doesn’t matter. The bill was heavily backed by several special corporate lobby interests.

      Think about that. If you sit back and then lose your rights, the few that you still have, well, it’s all our own fault.

      • John Smith

        It is interesting to hear about that radio reaction. Personally, I do not recall an Iowa House speaker ever going so far as to replace committed members for a single vote. I reckon he had to have a STRONG interest in seeing this vote go this way if he has, as I suspect, taken unprecedented steps to wire in the results like this.

        The House Speaker in the Iowa Legislature gets to replace a committee member with HIMSELF in order to secure a committee vote outcome the way he wants it? Who knew?

      • marcopolish

        They were replaced and then the vote was cast. So the two no votes he targeted were replaced with two yes votes, and then the committee voted, and the bill passed 13-12. Also: no debate or discussion allowed at all. For $215+ million a year, a year. That’s money that can’t be spent on education, or much else, but it can be spent on artwork in rest stops, and rest stops (because it has already been done). It’s for the construction companies and other similar big lobby corporate friends. But the bigger issue is: how fast, abrupt, and brazen it is in the face of a great majority of opposition in the general electorate and dis-enfranchisement of, not just voters, but of all the legislators they vote in.

        Why bother having a legislature? A couple elites are all that are needed to decide all policy, taxes, laws for the state, with this mechanism. Doubt it not.

      • John Smith

        “Why bother having a legislature?” Good question. I would hope some member of the House would challenge this “procedure”, but I’m not holding my breath.

        BTW, if this rise in the fuel tax ends up becoming law, I believe that will put Iowa at the highest rate of all the states in the area. No doubt THAT will have a positive impact on things like State Fair attendance, eh?

      • marcopolish

        Didn’t right away realize he appointed himself as the second replacement. Talk about creative corruption. I think this is a great lesson and we owe him a lot for making it plain so prominently…but he will have a cushy $500,000 a year job as a lobbyist for one of the principal interests profiting from all this when his term is done…in fact, the job offer will be so lucrative he may decide to quit outright to get it.


    This must be Paulsen’s last term. The people were appointed originally for good cause, but when the votes didn’t go his way, he played this game. Vote him out!

    • Fed UP

      You can bet Branstad was right behind Paulsen on this. He would never pull something so brazen without the Gov’s approval. Dirty lot, all of them.

  • Randy Graven

    I will make a personal donation of the legal maximum to whoever runs against Paulson next time. I’m tired of theses guys railroading taxes on the working population thru while they give the real estate developers and the big corporate donors tax cuts. I sent emails to that effect to the state representative and the state senator from my district. If everyone would do this we might get some actual representation instead of the bribe system that’s prevalent now.

    • marcopolish

      By the way, you can also forget having a supreme court when two or three people at the apex of the legislative branch can write binding legislation at their personal will. We may have to thank Speaker Paulsen in the end, for revealing how things actually are. That’s a genie I hope stays out of the bottle and becomes a Pandora’s box for him and for Terry too for that matter.

  • vinnievincent

    Paulsen is a bum not even fit to deliver me a pizza or wash my car, let alone pull some razzmatazz like this little stunt. What a punk!

    • marcopolish

      Yeah but he knows where the extreme lucre is and how to steal it, I mean how to earn it, from those able to profit so mightily, he knows where the real butter and bread is made and who gets it and how.

    • marcopolish

      You know what? For the many many millions, including the many millions that will be wasted and mis-spent, not to mention the money paid out in influence and graft, Paulsen and quite a few others will be just fine surviving your thinking they are bums and saying it a whole one time on an obscure internet site. Yes, they will find it horribly difficult to live with the idea that you think they are bums, but they will look at their large lucrative payoffs, most of which exceed your income and net worth my many margins, and try to get used to it.

  • M.J. Blubaugh

    To say what Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen did, to get the vote to go “his” way in the above article, to me, seems totally illegal, and defines “crooked politicians”! Swapping out two nay voters for two yea voters at the last minute? Make no bones about it, Paulsen is Terry Branstad’s puppet, regarding this higher gas tax hike, and obviously will do anything legal or illegal, to get the Bill passed to raise the tax on fuel even higher in Iowa. What an arrogant attitude Speaker Paulsen! The majority of Iowans are “against” raising this gas tax which is public knowledge. FYI, I voted Republican, but that will change when the next election cycle spins around. The current gas taxes went towards building bicycle trails all over central Iowa rather than fixing roads and bridges which was the original promise to Iowa taxpayers.

  • Ski

    We get spoon fed these shenanigan and are expected to think it OK?
    Never mind that one single person can stand in the way of a vote on other matters .
    (Majority Leader Mike Gronstal has authority to prevent a vote )
    This is a democracy or a joke?

  • Bart Green

    Mr Paulsen, I have a question for you. What good is voting for representation to protect us from taxation? When you tamper with replacing members that oppose taxation. Logically seems to me that you Mr Paulsen are on the edge of being removed of your responsibilities of office and off the committee. Iowans Don’t roll like this…And it seems to me you should be brought up on charges for fraudulent committee vote manipulation by the State of Iowa. People like You sir are one reason why the public has no faith in voting for State officials. Because people like you decide what Taxes and Laws we shall have. You have earned the BOSS in Iowa award for 2015.

    PS if you don’t know what BOSS is call me and I will enlighten you. 515-839-5592

  • Mark

    This doesnt sound like Democracy! This sounds like DC politics have come to Iowa and NO MATTER WHAT THE PEOPLE WANT, our elected officials refuse to listen and play the shell game with the WILL OF THE PEOPLE.

  • Outsider

    I don’t know if I like what he did or if I want a higher gas tax but I think the complaints on this sight are laughable.

    You complain that nothing ever gets done, now you complain that something gets done. There is no good fight, you either succeed or you don’t. He bill got to the floor so the speaker did his job. Perhaps he will use this tactic to get a bunch of other things done…if not I’m sure you can then complain about they never get anything done.

    My biggest complaint is how WHO made this sound like a GOP plot to disenfranchise the Democrats whom “a majority opposed the bill” by a massive 5-6. Pathetic journalism!

    • marcopolish

      It is a plot, but not to disenfranchise democrats, it is to disenfranchise all of US. A lot of Democrats are skeptical of this sort of tax hike. Do a little thinking about what this sort of thing really means. Instead of 150 legislators, two or three make the decisions for all. THAT’s what it means.

  • vinnievincent

    Oh, Stephanie it can’t go up on March 1st if it still has to go through both chambers and be signed by the Governor. You contradicted yourself when you said it would be a month after it was signed. Other media outlets, with better track records for accuracy, say it would kick in July 1st. I’m not too sure how you think this will all be made a reality in under 8 days from now. The law would need to be set and retailers would need time to set up to be in compliance. This isn’t a tv show, where you can cross your arms, blink, and things magically happen.

  • Hank Britton

    Wow. Remove those who oppose the tax hike. Replace the members with those pro tax hike. Remove the committee chair so his vote can count towards the tax hike. I don’t think I’m the only one who thinks this is manipulation and stacking the deck. Sounds pretty underhanded to me. If you have to cheat in order to get your point across, then maybe we should think twice about it altogether.

    • John Smith

      Your post suggested to me an interesting point: I wonder if this procedure used by the Speaker to get the bill to the floor will have an impact on the floor speeches, debate, and ultimately, the House vote? Could there now possibly be a backlash in the House rank-and-file against the bill, not so much because of the bill itself, but because of how it got to the floor? Will constituents who read this story be more likely to write or phone their Representative?

      It would certainly be an ironic consequence, wouldn’t it?

      • marcopolish

        John: That is exactly how things are done, every day, all the time. WE are the ones who don’t know it. The only reason it is even known is that the pressure from big money was so great, in keeping with the scale of the money that is excess to the need (because so much already has been wasted and misdirected in the first place), that it had to force the opposition down hard and this was apparently the only way.

        This has been on the agenda this season and from this fall, timed to take advantage of the unexpectedly steep drop in gas prices, and the idea was to get this tax in before those gas prices go back up. Since you don’t know exactly when that will happen, now is the time, not the day after today, but right now, today.

        Notice that even now, in last 3 weeks, gasoline prices at the pump have moved back up, 50 cents in 3 weeks. The legislators and Terry see, and so do the big money groups that profit from that $215 million a year this will raise, after which the public goes back to sleep playing with their X-boxes and such. So they see this window of opportunity for public slumber could close pretty fast…3 weeks and gas has already gone back up 50 cents a gallon.

        If not for this sudden backup in gas prices, Paulsen would never have needed to do this really hard arm twisting…and we would thus never know that this sort of thing is actually what goes on every day all over that capitol, it is SOP, not an unusual or aberrant occurrence, but what goes on all the time at all levels.

        How do I know? For 25 years I worked within 100 yards of that golden dome, in two of the buildings right next to it. Most days I was there for lunch.

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