|The 89th Convention of the Iowa General Assembly has officially come to an end. This session we were able to complete a variety of beneficial pieces of legislation. I am confident they will contribute to the growth and success Iowa has seen over the past several years. Thanks to the Governor’s leadership and the contributions of House Republicans and collaboration from the Senate, we have been able to move Iowa forward. We passed a variety of bills including tax cuts for all Iowans, protecting girls sports, and protected the rights of all Iowans.
Lowering the Tax Burden on Iowans
Thanks to the Governor’s leadership and House Republicans’ conservative budgeting practices, Iowa’s economy remains strong – so strong that we had the opportunity to deliver the largest tax cut in Iowa history while continuing to fund Iowans’ priorities. We know you spend your money much better than the government does.
HF 2317: A Tax Cut for All Iowans (Signed By Governor)
Republicans in the Capitol delivered a historic tax plan that lowers taxes for every Iowan and is sustainable into the foreseeable future. Our tax cut lowers the tax rate for all Iowans to a fair and flat rate of 3.9%. That puts Iowa at the fourth lowest income tax rate in the country. Before our tax cut legislation, the lowest income earners would have paid a rate of 4.4% income tax for Fiscal year 2023. So, this change to 3.9% represents a tax cut for every Iowan.
We also made retirement income in Iowa tax free. How retirement income is taxed in each state can have a big impact on where folks choose to retire and make their primary state of residence. We see many Iowans move or change their primary residence to states like Florida, Texas or even Illinois that do not tax retirement income. If we can keep those folks in Iowa once they retire, that means they continue to contribute to the economy here in Iowa, to not-for-profits and to their local community. I’ve seen some criticism that our bill does not include social security income. However, that’s because Iowa already does not tax social security benefits.
Improving Iowa’s Education System
Eliminating the Deadline for Open Enrollment (Sent to Governor)
This bill eliminates the March 1st deadline for public school students to open enroll into another public school. With this change, students could apply to leave their school and attend a different public school at any time during the year. This bill will help provide additional school choice for parents and students who don’t feel like they’re having their voices heard by their school board and administrators. Under current law, a student must apply to open enroll before March 1st unless they are granted a specific exception. This means that if a school board adopts a policy against your wishes on March 2nd, your student would be trapped in that school for the following year. This allows parents to make the best decision for their child on where to send their kid to school. The receiving district would still need to have the capacity to accept the student. All current laws regarding athletic eligibility remain in place.
HF 2316: 2.5% Supplemental State Aid Increase (Signed By Governor)
This Session, the Iowa House set the percent growth for Supplemental State Aid for K-12 schools at 2.5%. This equates to a $159 million in new money for K-12 public schools. The State Cost Per Pupil amount increases from $7,234 to $7,412, an $178 increase per student. Our plan also includes an additional $5 SCPP increase, as well as a transportation equity piece to help rural schools with their transportation costs. Republicans are responsible for Iowans continuing to invest in education. K-12 education funding has increased by almost a billion new dollars over the last 10 years.
Additional Bonus Money for School Employees (Sent to Governor)
Earlier this year, Governor Reynolds announced she’d be using federal money to give teachers in Iowa a $1,000 bonus. Iowa House Republicans expanded on those bonuses in an amendment to the Education budget. This change made those $1,000 bonuses tax free, ensuring more of that money makes it into the pockets of hardworking teachers. This change also applies to bonuses to peace officers, childcare providers, and correctional officers.
HF 2415: Transgender Sports (Signed by Governor)
This session, we passed a bill to protect girls’ sports in Iowa. This is an issue that members in every district are hearing from Iowans about. Iowans have been asking for action to protect girls’ athletics, and sports organizations and school districts have been asking for guidance on the issue of transgender girls playing girls’ sports. Under this bill, only biological female athletes are allowed to participate in school-sponsored girls athletics. Every athlete has an equal opportunity to play sports. It does not tell any child that they can’t participate in sports. Women fought hard to secure their own level playing field because males quite simply have a biological advantage. Girls deserve equal opportunity in athletics and the chance to gain all of the important life skills that come with playing sports.
HF 2080: Additional Parental Rights in their Kids’ education (Sent to Governor)
This bill prevents K-12 public or charter schools from performing health screenings on students without written permission from their parents or guardians. You deserve a say in your kids’ education. Iowa House Republicans have been committed to passing legislation to give parents a greater say in their child’s education.
Addressing the Workforce Shortage
HF 2355: Making Unemployment a Re-Employment System (Expected to be Signed by Governor)
We’re facing a workforce shortage in Iowa and across the country. We need our state’s unemployment system to serve as a reemployment system. HF 2355 makes many reasonable reforms to Iowa’s unemployment insurance system. This bill shortens the amount of time Iowans can collect unemployment from 26 weeks to 16 weeks. Four months is a reasonable amount of time to expect Iowans to be able to find work, especially in this job market. If unemployment is due to plant closure, the weeks are reduced from 39 to 26. This bill does not change who is required to search for employment in order to receive unemployment benefits. However, if you are required to be looking for employment, the percentage of benefits you receive, if you refuse a job offer, will decrease. The bill does not include a one-week waiting period before you can receive unemployment benefits. As Governor Reynolds said, the unemployment safety net has become more of a hammock. We need to ensure that government is not incentivizing Iowans to remain out of work, but instead incentivizing folks to return to the workforce as quickly as possible.
HF 2266: Bringing more IPERS retirees back into the workforce (Signed by Governor)
This bill raises the earning limit for IPERS retirees under the age of 65 to $50,000 a year. Folks such as teachers, substitutes, bus drivers and other Iowans who haven’t yet reached the retirement age can come back to work and make up to $50,000 a year without it affecting their IPERS retirement funds.
This is just one of the ways we are addressing the workforce shortage and brining Iowans back to work.
HF 2198: Greater flexibility for child care providers (Sent to Governor)
The Iowa House passed two policy proposals to address the child care shortage in Iowa. The first allows 16-year-olds working or volunteering at a child care facility to provide child care without additional supervision. The second adjusted the ratio of staff to children at a child care center to loosen regulation and bring the state in alignment with many other states. These changes help address the worker shortage in the child care industry and allow child care providers to provide care for more families and make more money for their business. These changes are not requirements, but provide greater flexibility for child care providers to run their business how they see fit.
HF 2127: Additional money for child care providers (Sent to Governor)
This bill allows child care providers to accept additional money from families participating in the state child care assistance program. Current law does not allow those families to pay the difference between the CCA reimbursement rate and the rate the provider typically charges, even if the family agrees to pay the additional fee. This bill would help providers make additional money by allowing them to collect more money from the families who can afford it.
HF 2564: Assisting Businesses with Expanding Child Care Options for Employees (Sent to the Governor)
The Economic Development Appropriations bill contains a tax credit for businesses to expand child care options for their employees. House Republicans have made child care a priority over the last 3 years, and last year the governor signed legislation to address the cliff effect in child care assistance, double the income eligibility for the child care tax credit for families, increase child care assistance rates by $13.4 million, and expand options for families through non-registered homes. This bill tackles the issue from another angle House Republicans have been interested in working toward over the past few years – incentivizing businesses to help their employees find and pay for child care services.
Expanding Mental Health Options
In past years, we’ve taken meaningful steps forward to increase Iowans’ access to care. We created a children’s mental health framework, passed telehealth payment parity, and established a steady funding stream for the state’s mental health regions. This session, the Iowa House focused on growing the mental health workforce and access to beds for the most difficult to serve patients.
HF 2578: HHS Budget prioritizes Mental Health workforce (Sent to Governor)
Iowa ranks 44th in the nation for psychiatrists per capita. Increasing access to mental health care is a huge priority for Iowans and these bills will help more Iowans get the care they deserve. The FY 2023 HHS budget adds in HF 2245 to ensure that health insurers are not excluding mental health providers providing telehealth to Iowans simply because they are not physically located in Iowa. The budget also includes in HF 2529 to appropriate funding for 12 new psychiatry residencies at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC). The residencies will prioritize Iowans in the application process.
HF 2549: Mental Health Loan Forgiveness Program (Sent to Governor)
This bill establishes a mental health practitioner loan repayment program for Iowans that agree to practice in Iowa for at least five years. This will draw more of the much-needed mental health care professionals to our state to get educated, trained and stick around to work after they graduate.
HF 2546: Increasing funds for those caring for high-need patients (Sent to Governor)
This bill requires Iowa Medicaid to establish a rate for psychiatric intensive care in Iowa. This will ensure that the health care professionals providing care for the most difficult mental health patients are being compensated appropriately.
Supporting Iowa Veterans
HF 2501 – Improving the lives of Iowa Veterans (Signed by Governor)
The Iowa House unanimously passed legislation that will result in more support for veterans here in Iowa. This bill allows for greater flexibility in the state’s investment strategy to help grow the Veterans Trust Fund, a fund used to improve the quality of life for our Iowa veterans. Our Iowa veterans stepped up to serve our country well and they deserve our support when they return home. This bill will allow the state to help more veterans by increasing the funds available to help them.
SF 2383: The Governor’s Workforce Bill (Sent to the Governor)
The Governor’s workforce bill includes many provisions to help Iowa veterans live and work in Iowa during and after their service including: requiring licensing boards to expedite the licensing of a person married to an active duty member of the military, waiving the licensing fee for veterans within five years of their discharge, allowing Iowa veterans a lifetime hunting and fishing license, prohibiting the DOT from charging fees for driver’s and motorcycles licenses to veterans with a service-connected disability, and prohibiting cities from charging parking fees for individuals with cars holding specific military license plates.
Protecting Your Rights
HF 2298: Ban on COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement for Children (Sent to Governor)
Iowa House Republicans passed a bill that says licensed child care centers, elementary, secondary, or postsecondary schools are not allowed to require the COVID-19 vaccine for enrollment. Iowans have reached out to their elected officials expressing their concerns regarding COVID-19 vaccine requirements. The issue is even more heightened when it comes to children. This legislation will ensure Iowa parents can make their own decisions based on what’s best for their child and that every child can get the access to education and child care that they deserve.
HF 2562: Adding Protections for Mobile Homes Residents (Signed by Governor)
After years of work, the Iowa Legislature passed a bill to add meaningful protections for Iowans in mobile homes. Recently Iowa mobile home residents have seen an increase in out of state groups buying mobile home parks and make this affordable housing option less attainable. This bill provides protections for residents against retaliation from landlords and requires a 90-day notice of any rental fee increase or cancellation of a rental agreement. It also gives legal remedies to residents if the landlord is not providing essential services, such as water.
HF 2578: Protects Iowans Health Information (Sent to Governor)
The HHS budget adds in HF 488, passed by the House in 2021, to protect Iowans’ personal health information. This bill prohibits the auditor from having access to names and residential addresses of those with reportable diseases, prohibits the collection of names by IDPH for hospital data. It also prohibits government employees from accessing personally identifiable health information for a reportable disease if the employee does not have confidentiality training.
SF 522: Increasing Penalties for Elder Abuse (Sent to Governor)
For the past several years Representatives, Senators, the public, and advocates have been working to find a way to protect older Iowans from physical, economic, and emotional abuse. This bill strengthens penalties for various crimes and creates a new crime for those who hurt older Iowans, which is defined as over the age of 60 in this bill. This includes increased penalties for people who commit theft, physical abuse, or financial exploitation. These new charges will help ensure that those who choose to hurt older Iowans face serious consequences. SF 522 passed with broad bi-partisan support and will be effective July 1, 2022
Securing Our Elections
HF 2589: Banning “Zucker Bucks” (Sent to Govenor)
Iowa House Republicans are committed to ensuring Iowa’s elections remain safe and secure. Under this new law, private entities would be prohibited from donating money to election offices. This practice has become known as “Zucker Bucks” because of the millions of dollars sent by Facebook CEO and coastal liberal elitist Mark Zuckerberg to election officials in Democrat areas ahead of the 2020 election. In Iowa, we have a gold-standard election system, in part, because Iowa House Republicans are always looking for ways to improve it and pass swift action to prevent any bad actions, we see taking place in other states from happening here in Iowa.
Thank you so much for sending me to the Statehouse to be your representative. Due to your support, we were able to accomplish great things. It has been a privilege to represent District 5 the past four years, however, due to redistricting, I will now be running for Iowa House District 3. Please do not forget to vote in the Republican Primary on June 7th. Thanks again for all who have supported me over the past four years and for your input this session. It was a privilege to represent you in the capitol.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me. I can be reached at my email: firstname.lastname@example.org.