The high school wrestlers are in Des Moines this week, and the state basketball tournaments will follow in the coming weeks. Best wishes to all of our high school students who participate in all sorts of extra-curricular activities. You all work hard to represent your schools, and we are proud of all of you.
This session is one third completed, and so far, over 400 bills have been filed and assigned to committees here in the House.
Most will not get any consideration while some will eventually become law. Over the next month or so, the state budget will begin to take shape, and negotiations between the House, Senate and Governor will intensify.
About the time corn planters start to roll, we will pass a responsible, balanced budget.
This week, both the House and Senate passed the K-12 education funding bills, and the Governor has indicated she will sign the legislation.
It is good to have this completed so local school boards can have exact numbers as they prepare their budgets.
Some of the bills the Governor has set as her priorities are beginning to be filed, so I will report on them as they become assigned to committees. They include restoring felon voting rights and mental health programs and funding.
There are also bills that concern gun rights and the process by which judges are selected and appointed. I am sure these issues will receive a lot of attention during the next few weeks.
The Senate is moving on a bill which will crack down on the use of hand-held devices while driving. This is an issue that has been around for several years, and the problem is only getting worse.
The Legislature has been discussing this for quite a few years, mainly focusing on texting and driving, but the conversation has expanded to include using cell phones while behind the wheel.
Not sure where this will all end up, but I for one am getting concerned about the increased number of “close calls” I have had recently. Some people simply brush it off, but this is becoming a serious situation, and my guess is that some type of legislation will pass this year.
A couple of weeks ago, someone asked me how much money the state had in “savings”. The following is the report legislators received in January from the Legislative Services Agency. As you can see, it is good to have a healthy reserve balance on hand.
Governors Recommendations Cash Reserve Fund and Economic Emergency Fund
The State reserve funds are compromised of the Cash Reserve Fund and the Economic Emergency Fund. The two funds receive moneys from the General Fund surplus.
The reserve funds are available to the State to be used for emergency purposes. The reserve funds may also be used for cash flow purposes for State expenditures, enabling the General Fund to maintain a positive cash balance throughout the fiscal year.
This reduces the need for the State to borrow Funds on a short-term basis for cash flow purposes.
The reserve funds are established in Iowa Code section 8.55 and 8.56. These Iowa Code sections set minimum limits on the total amount that can accumulate in each of the funds.
Together, the combined balances cannot exceed 10.0% of the State’s adjusted revenue estimate in a given fiscal year.
The Governor’s FY 2020 and FY 2021 budget recommendations include combined reserve fund balances of $786.8 million and $807.5 million, respectively.
The combined balance for each fiscal year equals the 10.0% statutory maximum requirements.
You may reach me at the Capitol during the week by phoning me at 515-281-3221, or home 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 [email protected]