When Iowans take advantage of the state's "tax-free holiday weekend" every August, there's no denying the benefit that comes with catching any break possible on clothing and supplies for back-to-school. In 2022, that benefit looks to be enormous given supply chain issues and rising costs.
But, we also all remember the derecho of 2020 and other recent weather events, fires, or other natural disasters that left so many unprepared or displaced. Perhaps in a nod to the uptick in these incidents, the Iowa legislature has put forth a bill that would add a litany of items to the tax-free holiday roster. Items that, they say, would be even more beneficial to families.
It may not give you a break on gas for your car (sorry), but adding disaster preparedness items like generators, batteries, duct tape, tarps and more is only part of the story of House File 2563/Senate File 604. In addition to Friday and Saturday, it would also add Sunday for an extra day to save on these items.
CBS2 says that Iowa has experienced 67 federal natural disasters, 45 of them coming in the last 30 years. The bill has made it through the Ways and Means committee but not yet to the Senate. If the bill passes, Iowa would join Alabama, Texas, Virginia, and Florida which also have emergency preparedness items as a part of their tax holiday.
Jones County Emergency Management coordinator Brenda Leonard sees it as a no-brainer and a win for everyone:
We’ve actually found that for every dollar spent before a disaster saves six dollars in recovery
State representative Joe Mitchell (R) who introduced and has been lobbying for the bill heavily said Emergency Management officials all over the state are in support of it. There haven't been any active objections heard in the legislature so far but Iowa State Association of Counties Public Policy Specialist Lucas Beenken believes they would be offset by the bill's potential to save the lives of countless Iowans.
Joe Mitchell insists the same thing, saying that the extra "couple of million dollars" it would cost to project the bill would be worth it for the safety and preparedness of Iowans.