Iowa Poll: Majority of Iowans think fireworks don’t deserve Legislature’s time, taxes do
Shelby Fleig, Des Moines Register Published 6:00 p.m. CT March 3, 2019
More than 70 percent of Iowans think the ongoing debate over fireworks is a dud.
Seventy-one percent of respondents to a new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll say the topic does not deserve the Iowa Legislature’s limited time.
The other issue that a majority of Iowans say the Legislature should be done talking about: speed cameras. Sixty-two percent of Iowans think the issue doesn’t deserve lawmakers’ time.
But among seven issues tested, majorities of Iowans agree that four are worth discussion, the poll finds. Taxes lead the way, followed by guns, and then the death penalty and abortion in a tie.
Iowans are so over the fireworks debate
In 2017, Iowa ended an 80-year-old statewide ban on the use and sale of fireworks. This year, Sen. Jake Chapman, an Adel Republican, proposed a bill to void local bans on the use of fireworks on July 4, including in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. If the bill becomes law, it would also prohibit local governments from adopting zoning rules limiting where retailers can sell fireworks.
“I didn’t think legalization was a good idea at all,” said poll respondent Greg Winchester, 67, of Ankeny. “But if they’re going to be legalized, cities should be able to control when and where people are using them.”
Winchester, a Republican, said fireworks are mostly a “nuisance.” If any debate were appropriate, he said, it would be the argument to reinstate the statewide ban.
Poll respondent Andrea Taylor, 42, of Iowa City, said the issue simply isn’t important enough to merit lengthy debates.
“I just think there are higher-priority issues with much bigger impact for the well-being of Iowans than fireworks,” said Taylor, a political independent.
Just 26 percent of Iowans think fireworks are deserving of lawmakers’ limited debate time.
The poll of 803 Iowa adults was conducted Feb. 10-13 by Selzer & Co. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
What else doesn’t deserve debate time?
Speed cameras, a perennial debate topic in recent years, don’t deserve lawmakers’ attention, according to 62 percent of poll respondents.
Previous years’ bills in the Iowa House and Senate have attempted to regulate or eliminate speed cameras, with no success. Chapman, who sponsored the fireworks bill, is again pushing a bill to ban the cameras.
“I personally am not in favor of speed cameras,” Taylor said. “But I think there are really pressing issues with education and workforce readiness and health care that should be debated before speed cameras.”
Iowa’s bottle bill, a beverage container deposit law enacted in the 1970s, draws a more mixed reaction on whether it deserves politicians’ attention. More Iowans think the issue should be left alone (41 percent) than think it should get attention (26 percent). But a third of Iowans aren’t sure.
The current bottle bill includes a mandate that retailers must redeem cans and bottles. But lawmakers are again considering a bill that would exclude grocery and convenience stores from the requirement.
Mary Ballantyne, a retired teacher who lives near Cedar Rapids, said the bottle bill shouldn’t be weakened.
“I don’t know what the alternative to the bottle bill would be,” said Ballantyne, a 71-year-old Democrat who responded to the poll. “It has reduced litter on roads by a lot.”
Dennis Johnson, 58, owns an auto body repair shop in Andover and serves on the board for the Clinton County Area Waste Agency, a landfill and recycling center. He said the handling fee for redemption centers could be increased, from 1 cent to 2 cents per container, but otherwise he doesn’t think the issue should be a top priority for state legislators.
“Generally, other issues are more important to me than the can and bottle bill,” said Johnson, a Democrat.
What does deserve debate time?
Iowans want their elective representatives to spend time on several issues:
- More than three-quarters of poll respondents (76 percent) say taxes should be debated. Only 20 percent think taxes don’t deserve legislators’ time.
- Sixty percent of Iowans say guns deserve the Legislature’s time; 37 percent disagree.
- A majority of poll respondents (52 percent) want legislators to spend time considering the issue of abortion; 44 percent say it doesn’t deserve their time. Sixty-two percent of Republicans and 51 percent of independents believe the issue should be taken up by the Legislature, but only 47 percent of Democrats agree.
- An equal majority of Iowans (52 percent) think time should be spent at the Capitol on the death penalty, while 45 percent say the issue doesn’t deserve attention. Fifty-eight percent of Republicans and 54 percent of independents want it to be debated, but just 42 percent of Democrats agree. Iowa’s last execution was in 1963. The state banned the death penalty in 1965.
The poll did not ask Iowans what outcome they would want from the debate on taxes, abortion, guns or the death penalty.
About this poll
The Iowa Poll, conducted February 10-13 for The Des Moines Register and Mediacom by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines, is based on telephone interviews with 803 Iowans ages 18 or older. Interviewers with Quantel Research contacted households with randomly selected landline and cell phone numbers supplied by Survey Sampling International. Interviews were administered in English. Responses were adjusted by age, sex, and congressional district to reflect the general population based on recent census data.
Questions based on the sample of 803 Iowa adults have a maximum margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. This means that if this survey were repeated using the same questions and the same methodology, 19 times out of 20, the findings would not vary from the true population value by more than plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Results based on smaller samples of respondents — such as by gender or age— have a larger margin of error.
Republishing the copyright Iowa Poll without credit to The Des Moines Register and Mediacom is prohibited.