Eggs & Issues at Smokey Row

The featured panel for Eggs & Issues at Smokey Row will be Senator Ken Rozenboom, Representative Guy VanderLinden, and Representative Larry Sheets. Aaron Riggs will be the Moderator. The setting is informal and encourages those attending to personally meet and speak to their elected representatives. MidWestOne Bank will provide complimentary coffee.

Final Session of Eggs and Issues for 2016

The final session of Eggs & Issues for 2016 was held at Smokey Row Coffee Shop in Oskaloosa Saturday morning at 8:30. State issues were discussed, with Senator Ken Rozenboom, Representative Guy Vander Linden, and Representative Larry Sheets in attendance.

A range of topics was discussed, but the main topics of the morning were funding and taxes.

It was reported that the Iowa legislature passed 2.25{99cd714f394079a7f0ed2eb1518dd31342ff3ceb5b6c267c3ad8acd5b5a7d66b} increase in education spending this past week. Senator Rozenboom said that education has seen the largest increase in funding since he’s been in legislation, which was 2013.

Senator Rozenboom said that the 2.25{99cd714f394079a7f0ed2eb1518dd31342ff3ceb5b6c267c3ad8acd5b5a7d66b} increase is in fact 5.2{99cd714f394079a7f0ed2eb1518dd31342ff3ceb5b6c267c3ad8acd5b5a7d66b}, but 2.25{99cd714f394079a7f0ed2eb1518dd31342ff3ceb5b6c267c3ad8acd5b5a7d66b} is what is being touted. He said that it is 5.2{99cd714f394079a7f0ed2eb1518dd31342ff3ceb5b6c267c3ad8acd5b5a7d66b} because student enrollment is up around 1{99cd714f394079a7f0ed2eb1518dd31342ff3ceb5b6c267c3ad8acd5b5a7d66b} in the state, and teacher leadership compensation.

A community member asked about commercial property taxes, which Senator Rozenboom answered. The community member mentioned that Walmart was getting millions of dollars from the state in reference to the commercial property tax, while Senator Rozenboom said that it’s not just Walmart that falls under the commercial property tax, it’s all of the businesses on the square in Oskaloosa.

Representative Sheets also touched on taxes, saying that the state allows deductions on business expenses. He said that if a farmer needs a combine to harvest crops to help with Iowa’s economy, the combine would be deductible, and tax would get paid over five years on it. He said it was the same thing with a semi truck driver transporting goods would be able to deduct fuel usage.

The state legislators also touched on fantasy sports, marijuana, and turtles.

When it came to fantasy sports, Representative Vander Linden said that it should be handled like all other gambling in the state, and the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission should handle it.

Representative Vander Linden also answered a question about marijuana. He said that he believes medical marijuana is probably helpful to seizure victims and those who suffer from chronic pain. He also said that on a bill that is he’s helping write, only three diseases were included as rather than a large list for those who can use it in order to make the bill easier to get through the legislature.  Representative Sheets also said that he would like to see the federal government to use statistics to see what kind of benefits medical marijuana has.

On the topic of turtles, Senator Rozenboom said there needs to be a study on the turtle population. He said that neighboring states have turtle-hunting seasons and limits on how many turtles one can harvest, while Iowa has no season and no limits on it. The Senator went on to say that hunters come to Iowa when their state’s turtle season is over, since there is no season or limit, which has made the turtle population go down.

To end the session, the three state legislators gave closing statements, and thanked those in attendance.


Story by George Henry

Eggs and Issues 2-27-16

The fourth session of Eggs and Issues was held in a packed Smokey Row Coffee Shop in Oskaloosa Saturday morning at 8:30. This session highlighted local initiatives to discuss the Recreation and Early Childhood Development Center with Mark Willett, the community branding project with Aaron Riggs and Andrew Jensen, and the Caldwell Learning Center with Linda Fox and Dave Sedivec.

This session was handled differently, as the first half hour of discussion was dedicated to the three initiatives letting the community know what is happening with their respective projects.

Riggs and Jensen presented first, with Riggs stating one of the reasons as to why the Brand Leadership Team, or BLT, believes new branding would help Oskaloosa.

“Rather than people living here, earning a wage here, and then taking that money and spending it in a community outside of Oskaloosa, wouldn’t it be great if there were enough reasons and things to do in and around our town, that people could spend that money here locally and keep it here and grow our local economy as a result,” Riggs said.

Willett then spoke on the Recreation and Early Childhood Development Center. He said that losing the YMCA in the community would be devastating. He stated there are around 320 children in childcare between the YMCA, Webster, and Kids’ Corner in University Park.

Willett also described part of the plans for the new Recreation and Early Childhood Development Center. He said that it’s a nightmare to hold a swimming meet at the current YMCA because there are only four lanes. He said the new facility will have eight lanes in the competition pool, as well as areas to sit down and watch the meet. Willett went on to say that there will be a recreational pool in addition to the competition pool, so the competition pool can have cooler water and people can swim laps, and the recreation pool can have warmer water for those doing water workouts.

Fox and Sedivec spoke next on the Caldwell Learning Center. Fox said that kids learn the best by being able to experience, feel, and touch what’s around them. She then told the crowd what an Environmental Learning Center, or ELC, is.

“It’s a place where you can take nature, and you can make it work. You can show kids how to do things, and what things are in nature. They can have hands-on experience. They can go out in the field and come back into a mudroom, and experience what is going on,” said Fox.

Sedivec said that Mahaska County is a victim of its own success.

“We average over 12,000 program participants a year here in Mahaska County with one Naturalist and other staff helping out. To put that in perspective, that’s the same number of program participants that Linn County has with five Naturalists in the Cedar Rapids area,” said Sedivec.

Fox and Sedivec also said that the ELC is going to be larger than was first planned due to the mammoth bones that will be on display.

When it came time for the public to ask questions, there were some in the audience that were against the new branding of Oskaloosa.

Members of the community said that music has stood the test of time, and that Oskaloosa already has a brand and slogan. Jensen responded by saying that he believes Oskaloosa is more than just music.

“We absolutely celebrate our musical history, but Oskaloosa is much more than just music. In the time that I’ve been here, there are so many awesome things going on in Oskaloosa, and the question is how do we tie those things together,” stated Jensen.

Another member of the community broke the tension in the room.

“Granted I may have lived under a rock for the 27 years I’ve lived here, but I did not know this was known as the City of Music. Just saying,” said the community member.

One community member asked about the location of the ELC. Sedivec answered by saying it will be just to the east of Oskaloosa. He also said the ELC is in a great location, and he believes the location will help the local economy.

“You have the Lacey Sports Complex with all the kids and tournaments out there. In between games if people want to see the nature center and the mammoth bones, they have to go through town and they have to go past every restaurant, they have to go by gas stations and everything, so I think that’ll also help with the economic impact for the community,” Sedivec said.

There was also a question asked about whether or not the pool at Edmundson Park will be closed when the new Recreation and Early Childhood Development Center opened. Willett replied by saying it is all speculation, and also that there are no plans for an outdoor pool at the new facility.

The next session of Eggs and Issues will be with state officials, and it will be held on March 12th at 8:30 am at Smokey Row Coffee Shop in Oskaloosa.


Story by George Henry

Eggs and Issues 2-13-16

The third session of Eggs and Issues was held at Smokey Row Coffee Shop in Oskaloosa Saturday morning at 8:30. Legislators Ken Rozenboom from the Iowa Senate, and Guy Vander Linden and Larry Sheets from the Iowa House were once again in attendance to answer questions from Oskaloosa area residents.

As usual, the state legislators started the morning with updates on what is happening with state government.

Senator Rozenboom began with a bit of a controversial topic. He stated that the Senate battled over what to do with Medicaid this past Thursday.

“To bring you up to date, that bill to stop this modernization process did pass the Senate, 29-19 on Thursday. It will go to the House, where the Speaker has essentially declared it dead, so I don’t expect it to move any farther, and even if it did, the Governor would veto it,” stated Senator Rozenboom.

Representative Vander Linden gave an update on spending in the state of Iowa. He said it’s difficult to find adequate funding for all of the functions of government.

“The House has proposed a 2{99cd714f394079a7f0ed2eb1518dd31342ff3ceb5b6c267c3ad8acd5b5a7d66b} increase in state supplemental aid to schools. In order to achieve just that 2{99cd714f394079a7f0ed2eb1518dd31342ff3ceb5b6c267c3ad8acd5b5a7d66b} increase, every other function of government that we fund is going to take a genuine cut. Not a cut in rate of increase, but an actual cut, meaning they get less money this next year than they got this year,” stated Representative Vander Linden.

He went to on to tell those in attendance who would be cut.

“That means administration and regulation, ag and natural resources, economic development, education beyond K-12, health and human services, justice systems which means public safety, are all going to be cut,” Representative Vander Linden said.

The focus of this session was Medicaid and education funding, but another topic that was brought up was marijuana and cannabis oil.

Representative Vander Linden said there is a cannabis oil bill in the works, but the bill came out Thursday (February 11th), and needs to be on a committee by the next week. He said he dealing with something as complex as a bill on cannabis oil should take time and not be rushed.

The next Eggs and Issues will be held on February 27th, with local leaders speaking about the community wellness and childhood development center, progress with the Oskaloosa branding efforts, and the Caldwell Learning Center.

Story provided by George Henry


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