Candidates in a west-side Cedar Rapids legislative district agreed the state would benefit from more gas tax revenue, but stopped short of calling for a specific increase.
Good roads help the economy, Rep. Todd Taylor, D-Cedar Rapids, said Monday at a League of Women Voters forum, “but it’s a question of how much and when” to raise the current 21-cent-a-gallon motor fuel tax. He’s looking for leadership from Republican Gov. Terry Branstad on the gas tax issue. If
“If you want nice roads, it cost more today to do that,” said his Republican challenger, Lance Lefebure, who noted that unlike most taxes, the gas tax is a flat rate that hasn’t changed in more than two decades.
Lefebure and Taylor addressed a variety of issues in front of a couple of dozen people at the League forum at People’s Church in northwest Cedar Rapids.
They are facing off in a new House 70 that covers parts of northwest and southwest Cedar Rapids and Clinton Township south and west of the Cedar River and north of 16th Avenue SW in Cedar Rapids.
Democrats outnumber Republicans 8,647 to 5,330 in the new district. There are 8,012 “no party” voters.
Despite those numbers, Lefebure, 30, said he has been thinking about running for office for some time and decided to jump in this year.
He grew up in the district and farms with his family near Fairfax. He also owns Lefebure Design where he designs high-accuracy GPS receivers as well as other electronics and software. His products primarily are for agricultural uses, such as guiding farm machinery.
Taylor was first elected to the House in 1995 in a special election and has served eight two-year terms since then. He is ranking member on the Justice Systems Budget Subcommittee and served on the Appropriations, Labor and State Government committees.
For 19 years, he has been a staff representative for AFSCME, where he currently organizes employees and administers the collective bargaining agreement for members employed at the University of Iowa. He also works to resolve employee grievances with the University, reviews job classifications and arbitrates disagreements.
The candidates drew few sharp differences as they answered questions on energy, the elderly and economic development.
They wouldn’t rule out expanding nuclear power production in Iowa or ban "fracking" for natural gas.
Lefebure liked nuclear energy because it’s clean and helps meet the state’s need for baseload energy.
Taylor liked the jobs that have been created by the state’s only nuclear energy plant at Palo and noted he voted for a $50 million feasibility study to determine if there is a need for more nuclear power.
He wants to learn more about “fracking”. However, given the high price of gas and oil, he’s interested in looking at alternatives
Lefebure suggested natural gas might be the
transition fuel” to help the country move from coal and oil to a new long-term energy source.
They also agreed on the need for an elder abuse law to protect seniors whether they live in their own homes or care facilities.
Future League forums, all starting at 7 p.m., are:
Oct. 18 – House 68, Rep. Nick Wagner, R-Marion, and Democrat Daniel Lundby, Kirkwood Training and Outreach Services (KTOS), 3375 Amar Dr. in Marion.Oct. 25 -- Senate 34, Sen. Liz Mathis, D-Cedar Rapids, and Republican Ryan Flood, KTOS, 3375 Amar Dr. in Marion.