Drug Dealers and Undocumented Immigrants Could Raise Money for Law Enforcement

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DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Money has been tight this year following big corporate tax cuts and sagging agricultural sales, so Iowa lawmakers are looking at a new idea to raise money for law enforcement: collecting a fee on wire transfers from drug deals and undocumented immigrants.

For legal residents and those who use wire transfers for property or other lawful transactions, the fee would be returned through a tax credit the following year, according to the bill's sponsor, Representative Chip Baltimore, a Boone Republican. But the fee from other transactions would be directed to the Department of Public Safety that could be used to hire additional agents.

State Representative Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, an Ames Democrat, raised concerns the idea will have unintended consequences by taking away money for those who need it.

"Those families would be losing that and I can't imagine those families are making enough money to make ends meet as it is," Wessel-Kroeschell said during a House judiciary committee meeting on Tuesday. "This is a tax on the poor."

Baltimore responded, saying, "The goal is not to tax poor people. It is to facilitate the investigation and pay for it using the criminal proceeds that are being transferred via those means."

He did admit the bill needed more research. Baltimore encouraged the committee to pass it, though, since the legislature requires most bills to pass either a Senate or House committee by this Friday--known in the Statehouse as the first "funnel" of the session--or they will likely not become law this session.

A House judiciary committee passed the bill.

The committee opted not to take up an expanded gun rights bill and plans to instead debate that on Wednesday.

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