Sen. Mark Segebart
Sen. Mark Segebart
March 17, 2014


State Sen. Mark Segebart, R-Vail, says e-cigarettes could serve as an introduction into tobacco use for kids that may later lead to smoking or other poor health choices

The Iowa Senate Human Resources Committee - on which Segebart sits - moved a measure that would ban minors from buying or using e-cigarettes, devices that deliver nicotine through a vapor. Segebart said he is particularly troubled with the flavoring in certain e-cigarettes, which he thinks are clearly marketed to kids.

"They're kind of cute little devices," Segebart said Saturday during a Carroll Chamber of Commerce legislative forum at the Halbur Community Center.

The products are too attractive to minors, he said.

"When I was a kid, I would have been the first one in line to buy an e-cigarette because I was the first one in line to probably sneak a cigarette out of my dad's pack when he wasn't looking," Segebart said.

Bottom line: Segebart said it makes sense to take some legislative action. But just what will emerge from Iowa lawmakers is an open question.

There's a variety of approaches that have emerged as possibilities, some stronger than others. Segebart said there would be a full debate on the Senate floor.

Segebart and State Rep. Dan Muhlbauer, D-Manilla, also addressed a series of editorials in The Des Moines Register challenging the use of payroll cards by employers. The Register reports that employees who are issued the cards - instead of being paid through checks or by direct deposit into banks of their own choosing - can be hit with relatively high and often unexpected fees on transactions and huge costs for replacing lost cards.

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller plans to look into the practice, The Des Moines Register editorial board reported.

Muhlbauer said the matter likely would gain the most traction at the federal level. Iowa U.S. Reps. Dave Loebsack and Bruce Braley are asking the Obama administration to examine abuses of payroll cards.

Segebart said companies should be required to gives choices of two or three ways for employee compensation. Personally, Segebart said, he doesn't like either direct deposit or the payroll cards, preferring instead, to go to the bank personally with a check.

"I guess I'm a dinosaur in that regard," Segebart said.

On veterans issues, Muhlbauer, who sits on the Veterans Affairs Committee, said he strongly supports Gov. Terry Branstad's Home Base Iowa initiative, a plan aimed at recruiting to Iowa men and women leaving military service.

The raft of programs in the Home Base Iowa legislation would include funding for workforce development to promote veterans training and recruiting; military home ownership down-payment and closing-cost assistance; and allowing certain military training to go toward civilian-job licensing requirements.

"You've done training in the military," Muhlbauer said. "Let's bring that training back home. If they're already qualified, let's put them right in the workforce."

Carroll County Supervisors Gene Meiners, D-Templeton, and Mark Beardmore, R-Carroll, attended the session and pressed legislators on developing regional mental-health systems in Iowa. Carroll County, said Beardmore, remains vulnerable to state bureaucrats looking to scoop reserves the county has built for mental services to dump into the region, covering for other counties.

Beardmore and Meiners helped develop a county budget that uses county mental-health reserves to reduce the tax burden on local residents.

As of June 30, the county expects to have $1.9 million in mental-health reserves, money it will spend down rapidly, eliminating the need for a mental-health services levy in the next taxing year.

"We want to make sure that money gets spent in Carroll County," said Carroll County Auditor Kourtney Irlbeck. "That's one of the reasons the levy is lower is because that's not there."

Muhlbauer, a former county supervisor in Crawford County, said he is well aware of what the state is seeking to do and will stand with the Carroll County supervisors in the fight.

"What they're really after is to burn up your funds," Muhlbauer said.