When the Legislature gavels in on Monday, March 19, there will only be about 30 days remaining in this session. This past week was the last funnel, so when the dust settles, we will know what bills remain in play and which ones will not be debated this year.
There are a few major pieces of legislation that have stalled for the moment. They are controversial, so there is discussion as to how to proceed.
If the bills cannot be changed in order to secure enough votes for passage, they will most likely be finished for this session. There is a limited amount of time left, and the entire state budget needs to be put together before we can adjourn.
So, lawmakers have a lot of work to do, and many difficult decisions remain. However, with meaningful dialogue and some compromise, we will get things done,
With funnel week going on, most of the work this week took place in committees. We did have some floor debate, but most of the bills that passed were not controversial and have now made it through both the House and Senate. They will now be on the Governor’s desk for her consideration.
By Thursday morning, most House committees had finished their work, but there were a couple that still had a few bills to consider. Those were Education and Human Services bills.
One of the bills passed by the House this week was the Governor’s Future Ready Iowa proposal. Iowa has a very low unemployment rate, and employers are looking for qualified and trained workers. This is a big program and involves a lot of different groups of people, including several state agencies.
The idea is to identify jobs that are in high demand, and through mentoring, education and training, make sure that students are steered in the right direction in order to secure a sound future, and help employers fill those job openings.
The House also passed a bill dealing with Automated Traffic Enforcement Systems, or “traffic cams”. This issue has been around for quite a few years, and it always sparks a lively debate. Wednesday was no different.
The bill before the House proposed to regulate the cameras, which are used to detect speed and traffic light violations. There was an amendment to ban the devices totally, but that failed, and the final decision was to regulate them.
The debate has always been safety or money. In other words, are the devices installed to prevent crashes, or are they put in place to raise money? So far, that issue has never been fully settled, but my hunch is that it is both. But in some areas, it is more about generating income.
Another thing to remember is that close to half of the fine money that’s generated gets shipped out of state to the companies that own the equipment.
I supported a total ban because I still believe they are unconstitutional, but in the end, I supported the bill and its regulations. If the money is used for public safety and road repairs, I can go along with it.
There are other major pieces of legislation yet to be decided, including individual health insurance policies, sanctuary cities, sanctity of life issues and tax reform. Before we are finished with this session, I will try to outline the differences of the competing tax bills, and the difference between tax reform and tax cuts.
You may reach me at the Capitol during the week by phoning me at 515-281-3221, or at home on weekends at 712-434-5880. You may write me at the State Capitol, Des Moines, Iowa, 50319. My home address is P. O. Box 398, Aurelia, Iowa 51005. If you have email, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.