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Iowa Watchdog

Iowa senator calls BS on attempt to limit tax credits for fertilizer plant

4/3/2014

DES MOINES, Iowa — Decorum flew out of the Iowa Legislature on Tuesday when political games led state Sen. Randy Feenstra, R-Hull, to describe as “bullshit” a bill before a Senate subcomittee.

SSB 3207 would restrict the amount of state investment tax credits a fertilizer plant being built in Lee County could receive, but Feenstra smelled something worse than fertilizer behind the bill.

“This is political, absolutely political,” the Des Moines Register quoted Feenstra as saying, before he called the bill “bullshit” and angrily stomped out of the room.

Feenstra accused the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Joe Bolkom, D-Iowa City, of introducing the bill just to embarrass Gov. Terry Branstad by focusing attention on the governor’s controversial deal with Orascom Industries, the company building the fertilizer plant.

Neither senator immediately returned Iowa Watchdog’s calls seeking comment.

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In 2012, Orascom’s plant was the subject of fierce competition between Iowa and Illinois, as both states offered the Egypt-based multinational lavish incentives in attempts to secure the plant.

FERTILIZER AND BS: Sen. Randy Feenstra broke the traditional decorum of by calling a bill to limit the amount of tax credits a controversial fertilizer plant call receive “bullshit,.”

FERTILIZER AND BS: Sen. Randy Feenstra broke the traditional decorum of by calling a bill to limit the amount of tax credits a controversial fertilizer plant call receive “bullshit,.”

Even though the plant will only create 165 permanent jobs, Orascom was able to secure more than $500 million in economic incentives from the federal and state governments, as well as Lee County.

Part of the economic incentives the state offered Orascom was $110 million in state investment tax credits. So far the company has only received $75 million worth of the credits. It’s expected to apply for the remaining amount later this year.

SSB 3207 would require legislative approval before any business could receive more than $75 million in investment tax credits.

Bolkom, a long-time critic of the Orascom deal, made no secret of the fact his bill was aimed at the fertilizer plant. That’s what angered Feenstra, a supporter of the governor’s deal with Orascom.

Ironically, Feenstra is the reason the deal is getting attention again.

Bolkom’s bill has no chance of passing. It would have received little notice if Feenstra hadn’t called it “bullshit.”

Contact Paul Brennan at pbrennan@watchdog.org. This story originally appeared on Watchdog.org.

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