Thanks to Worthan



We thank Rep. Gary Worthan, R-Storm Lake, for defending our hometown and its safety by voting against a so-called sanctuary cities bill in a House Public Safety Committee meeting on Tuesday. The bill advanced on an 11-10 vote, with Worthan being the only Republican to vote against the bill. It advanced to the House floor for debate, and as of this writing its future is uncertain. We hope it fails.

“I’m listening to the people back home,” Worthan said. “Our school district was against this bill. Our local chief of police was against this bill for community policing reasons. The same with the county sheriff.”

That’s because it is not needed.

The Storm Lake Police do not arrest someone just for being undocumented. The school turns no one away from an education. As a result, immigrants feel safe to talk with police about crime in their neighborhood, and be on the watch for truly bad actors. It works in Storm Lake. The crime rate is falling. Children are getting an education. Republicans used to believe that government should get off our backs. Worthan apparently understands.

Rep. Steven Holt, R-Denison, does not have the same appreciation. He said that “certain communities appear to be putting ideology above the rule of law and putting their citizens and immigrant population at risk.” We have no idea what Holt is talking about. It sounds as if he is talking about Storm Lake, where Chief Mark Prosser has become a leading national spokesman on practical solutions to immigration problems. The nation’s police chiefs want immigration reform to bring the undocumented out of the shadows and into working relationships with the cop on the beat to build safe communities. Buena Vista County Sheriff Kory Elston is no ideologue — he is a Republican who is sworn to uphold the Iowa Constitution. He complies with retainer requests from federal authorities on the rare occasion he gets one. If there is a criminal undocumented immigrant the Storm Lake Police are eager to arrest them, the sheriff is eager to jail them and to ship them off for deporation if the federales ask. The problem is, that federal agents are so overworked and understaffed that they never come to get the criminal defendants. That is the reality of the sheriff and the police chief, which Worthan recognizes.

“In all actuality, the legislation isn’t going to do anything, because we don’t have a problem,” Worthan said.

Would that the rest of the caucus give up on this waste of time and get to the real issues that actually make a positive difference for Iowa taxpayers — such as cleaning up our wreck of a Medicaid system and giving schools a budget on which they actually can become first in the nation again.

Keep your promises

One way to make a positive difference for Iowa taxpayers is to keep the state’s word to cities. The legislature in 2013 gave property tax relief to commercial and multi-family residential properties but have not fully covered the cost of those tax cuts, as promised. Now, in order to clean up a fiscal crisis caused in no small part by Medicaid mismanagement, the legislature is threatening to take away the payments promised in 2013 entirely. The state is cheating cities. That means fewer cops on the street, fewer flak jackets for officers and less mowing of the parks, for starters. To Storm Lake, those “backfill payments” intended to cover the revenue loss to cities from the commercial tax break are worth $200,000 per year.

Ultimately, municipalities will turn to other sources of revenue to make up for the loss — either through sales taxes or higher property taxes on homeowners. People trying to maintain their own home will end up subsidizing commercial apartment owners. Or, cities will lay off cops and clerks and raises will be slim to none.

All because the state could not make good on its word.

The legislature should forget about more tax cuts and honor the pledges the politicians already made. In Iowa, we are good on our word. When you take back your promise you make voters cynical. It makes them think that politicians are not honest. People are impressed when a politician stands up for his vote and demands that the state honor that commitment.