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Grassley talks issues with Northwest Iowa constituents

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley visits Osceola County Tuesday afternoon to meet with citizens. Grassley travels to all 99 counties in Iowa annually. He has served as a senator for 34 years. Robin Baumgarn/Daily Globe

SIBLEY, Iowa — U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley made his annual appearance in Osceola County Tuesday afternoon at the county courthouse. The long-time official makes a point of meeting with constituents in all 99 counties of Iowa annually in informal town hall meetings to hear the major topics of concern among voters. This year’s assembly raised concerns over tax rates, immigration, environmental regulations and the conflict in Ukraine.

“I do this because in the spirit of representative government I think it is a two-way street…” said Grassley about his annual state tour. “If you’re going to represent people, you’ve got to know what’s on their mind, and this is one way to do it.”

Rochelle Buchman started off the meeting with a tough question for Grassley: “You’ve been a part of the exodus of our corporations to foreign countries and the loss of jobs. … What have you done in the past years or now trying to rectify this corporate tax structure that is forcing all of our corporations to seek foreign lands, and we are losing all of these jobs?”

Grassley explained he helped pass legislation in 2005-2006 to prevent corporations from leaving the United States solely to avoid paying taxes. He noted that the situation was different than what is currently happening; however, it did establish that businesses could only leave if there is “economic substance” to their departure and not solely economic gain through tax avoidance. Grassley offered one theory on why companies may relocate.

“It’s because we have the highest corporate tax rate in the world (of) 35 percent,” said Grassley, adding that other industrialized countries average 23 to 25 percent.

“What we need to do is stop this is, quite frankly, just make our business competitive with our international competition,” stated Grassley.

One option being discussed in Washington is to lower the tax rate to 28 percent, making it more competitive with other nations.

Two attendees raised concerns over the Environmental Protection Agency and regulations related to the Clean Water Act, noting many had not been updated in years. Grassley noted their concerns. One possible reason no updates have been made, Grassley said, is apprehension on the part of legislators. Grassley said liberals may fear regulations being scaled back, while conservatives may fear environmental regulations increasing.

Immigration has been a hot-button topic for a number of years, and this meeting was no exception. Several people asked about immigration and the current situation on the southern border. One suggestion from the audience was to have National Guard or other military personnel police the border.

Grassley quashed the proposition, citing it is against federal law to have military serve in a police capacity. The law was put into place following the Civil War to prevent potential abuse by military in the South.

Concerns were raised regarding the decline in the export of agricultural-based commodities to Russia in response to the Ukrainian conflict and how it would affect Iowans.

“The sanctions will have some impact. But not as much impact for the United States as it would for Europe. Europe is finally moving along for stronger sanctions,” Grassley explained. “What might affect us is Russian retaliation against us in not taking agricultural product, but there’s a feeling they’re going to hurt their own people more than they hurt us.”

Grassley added he did not think it would create a major issue at this time, but the sanction process is early on, and things could change in the future.

Grassley covered the northwest part of the state Tuesday, also making stops in Clay, Emmet, Humboldt, Lyon, O’Brien, Pocahontas and Sioux counties.

Robin Baumgarn

Robin Baumgarn is a new reporter for the Daily Globe covering the Education and Northwest Iowa beats. Prior to coming to the Globe, she worked for the Ocheyedan Press-Melvin News, a weekly Iowa paper for three years. She is a 2012 graduate of Iowa Lakes Community College and lives in Northwest Iowa with her husband Ryan and three pets, Fidget, Missy and Samwise.

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