WAUKEE — Each year, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) visits each of Iowa’s 99 counties. This 99-county tour has come to be known as the “Full Grassley.”
Grassley made a stop in Dallas County on Tuesday, visiting Gilcrest Jewett, The Lumber Company, in Waukee for a tour of the facilities and to talk with employees and management. He talked business impacts with the employees, but also opened up the floor for questions on any issues during his visit.
He took a tour of the facilities led by Gilcrest Jewett President Sumner Worth and his son and General Manager Jason Worth. Among the issues that were discussed during the round table session after the tour, regarding the business, was the Softwood Lumber Agreement with Canada.
“Obviously, it’s an issue that’s been going on for decades,” Grassley said. “There was a period of maybe 10 years, up until two or three years ago, where there was an agreement reached with Canada that limited imports and stuff, and it worked for a period of time, but then they run out and they’ve got to be renegotiated.”
He said that home builders and people in business like Gilcrest Jewett don’t like the situation because it creates uncertainty for them.
He said that the Softwood Lumber Agreement is not a congressional issue, but more of an executive branch issue.
“So the one thing I take back is their support for this legislation that wants a study of issues of lumber buildings being higher than three stories,” Grassley said. “That would be a safety issue, I think.”
Another issue that was talked about during the round table discussion was the desire for tax reform for businesses like Gilcrest Jewett, specifically allow S Corp businesses to have the same tax rate as a C Corp.
S Corp status is given to smaller businesses, while C Corp businesses are larger corporations.
“It doesn’t matter whether that’s 15 percent like the administration desires, or 20 percent that may be a compromise, or if you don’t get enough offsets, it could be 25 percent, but make sure Cs and Ss are treated the same,” Grassley said.
He said that that could also apply to farmers, who file individual tax returns.
“In other words, another way to see it, is small business ought to be treated the same as big business when it comes to what the business tax is,” Grassley said.
Sumner Worth expressed his own concerns about business taxes.
“When I read the national news and they say that President Trump is interested in helping business reduce their tax rate, I’m afraid that sometimes, people that have been in Washington, they’re interested in taking care of the enormous national, international businesses and they forget about the small, medium-sized businesses, ” Worth said. “So I’m hoping that they keep being mindful that we need tax reform as well as the large conglomerates.”
One other issue that was brought to the table during the round table discussion was the issues of finding people who possess an attitude and aptitude to work with a basic high school education.
“We can train them,” Worth said. “So many businesses like ours are more than willing to do that. Find people that… know how to get to work and how to show up on time and be responsible and grow.”
Worth raved about Grassley’s leadership and the way he represents the people of Iowa.
“My takeaway is that Senator Grassley is who we’ve always believe that he is, and that is, he tells us the truth and not what we need to hear,” Worth said.
He said that he was “very much so” happy with what Grassley had to say during the round table discussion and understands that he can’t control everything, but at least is aware of the issues and can help influence them.
“He’s all about getting all the right things done rather than getting sensational headlines,” Worth said.
On his 99 county tours, he said he tries to hit a mix of high schools, businesses, service clubs such as Rotary or Lions. The businesses include factories as well, and allow him to meet with working Iowans who cannot attend his public meetings.
He usually takes a 20-minute tour of the facilities before sitting down for a 40-minute question and answer session.
“If you just have open meetings, sometimes the same people tend to come,” Grassley said. “I think variety is important. I probably get the same variety in my email, but here it’s a little better when you can do it face-to-face.”