Representative Chuck Holz

2017 Legislative Session — Week 14
April 13, 2017

I presented Senate File 362 (SF362) to the House of Representatives on Thursday, April 6, 2017 after I mailed my newsletter to you. The Subcommittee that helped me work on the bill was Rep. Louie Zumbach and Rep. Helen Miller of the House Agriculture Committee. The bill passed 94 to 0.

• SF 362 proposes to bar claims against State, County or District Fairs for damage arising out of the transmission of pathogen from certain animals housed on fairgrounds. The bill provides that a fair authority is not liable for damages arising from a claim by a participant or spectator alleging injury or death caused by a domesticated animal pathogen transmitted at the domesticated animal premise located at a fairground.

The liability exemption is contingent upon the fair authority posting a warning at a conspicuous place at the fair where a person visiting the fair for a first time would notice and it is visible with the specific requirement that it be a sign with a white background and black letter at least one-inch high in the following form — WARNING: DOMESTICATED ANIMAL PREMISES.

• Senate File 244 (SF 244) was also voted on Thursday. SF 244 relates to public safety on highways, including the use of electronic devises while driving and sobriety. A person who is distracted while driving while using a hand-held electronic devise, and kills another while driving is guilty of a Class “C” felony.

Additionally, SF 244 establishes a 24/7 sobriety program requiring certain offenders charge with alcohol or controlled substance violations to report twice a day for alcohol and drug testing for 90 days. If a person can show economic hardship or geographic impracticality a court may order an alternative method of monitoring consistent with the law. The bill passed 89 to 3.

• Senate File 51 (SF 51) was another bill voted on Thursday. SF 51 develops a public health initiative for Cytomegalovirus (CMV). It requires the Center of Congenital and Inherited Disorders to develop and distribute CMV information materials. Additionally it also requires a newborn who fails the current statutorily-required hearing test to further be tested for CMV. The bill passed 93 to 0.

Once again, the fourteenth week of Session was “a week of debate.” The House of Representatives continued to debate on both Senate Files and House Files. The following bills were presented along with other bills for the House of Representatives to vote on:

• Senate File 234 (SF 234) relates to the use of electronic communication devices to write, send, or view electronic messages (texting) while driving a primary offense. The bill allows a peace officer to stop or detain a person solely for texting and driving. Using a phone for talking or in hands-free mode or GPS is allowed.

The fine for violating this section would still remain $30. The effective date is July 1, 2017. The bill passed 90 to 6.

• Senate File 404 (SF 404) relates to the use of experimental treatments for patients with a terminal illness. SF 404 allows manufactures of investigational drugs, biological products, or devices to make available investigational drugs to eligible patients with terminal illnesses as long as they are provided with written informed consent.

Additionally, the bill makes it clear that it does not include an insurance mandate. SF 404 does not require any government agency to pay the costs for experimental treatment. Health plans or government agencies can pay for the costs related to the drug if they choose. The bill passed 96 to 0.

• House File 604 (HF 604) establishes a motor vehicle insurance verification program to be administered by the Department of Transportation (DOT). Additionally, HF 604 establishes fees, and includes penalties and effective date provisions. The Penalty portion of the HF 604 provides for the enforcement of financial responsibility requirements. For example, a database will be set up to show the real-time internet services model that a registered motor vehicle is not covered by an insurance policy.

If a registered motor vehicle is not covered by an insurance policy for three consecutive months, the designated agent is required to send a notice to the owner requiring the owner to respond in 15 days with proof of insurance. If the owner fails to respond, a second notice is sent.

If the owner does not respond to the second notice, the owner’s motor vehicle registration is suspended by the DOT and the owner is required to surrender the plates to the County Treasurer. In order to get their registration back, the owner will have to provide proof of insurance and pay a fee of $100. The bill passed 94 to 2.

• House File 616 (HF 616) makes appropriations for FY 2017 – 2018 and FY 2018 – 2019 from the road use tax fund and the primary road fund to the Department of Transportation (DOT). Transportation Operations budget is as follows:

Fiscal Year 2018
* Appropriates a total of $384,146,793 to the DOT
* Includes $50.8 million from the road Use tax Fund and $333.3 million from the Primary Road Fund
* Maintains Full Time Employees (FTE) allocation of 2,748 FTE positions

Fiscal Year 2019
* Appropriates a total of $187,379,099 to the DOT
* Includes $25.1 million from the Road Use Tax Fund and $162.3 million from the Primary Road Fund.
* Maintains the FT allocation of 2,748 FTE positions.
* The Road Use Tax Fund is a fund made of dedicated highway user revenue, collected through a state excise tax of fuels. No state general fund (general tax) revenue is used for highway projects in Iowa.

Established in 1949 by the 53rd Iowa General Assembly, The Road Use Tax Fund (RUTF) provides the funding for the State’s primary, secondary, and municipal roadway systems. After some off-the-top diversions, receipts into the RUTF are distributed according to a formula of 47.5 percent for the Primary Road System (State), 24.5 percent for secondary country roads, 8 percent for farm-to-market county roads, and 20 percent for city streets.

Legislation that went into effect in 2003, which involved the transfer of jurisdiction of some roadways from the state to either a city or county government, requires a share (1.7 percent) of the Primary Road System funds be paid to local governments.

• HF 616 also states that the State Treasure is required to allocate the RTUF moneys by formula as stated above. Moneys in the Primary Road Fund may be used to construct and maintain the primary road system and for expense related to the primary road system, including maintenance of DOT facilities and merit pay increases or DOT employees for which appropriations and not otherwise made.

This budgeting also pays for materials and supplies, inventoried stock supplies, maintenance and operation costs of equipment, and equipment replacement. Much of the increase, $5,169,000, is related to the change in the replacement schedule for heavy trucks and snowplows.

Currently, these trucks are on a schedule where they are replaced every 18 years. Studies have recommended a replacement schedule of every 6 years. The DOT is changing its replacement schedule to every 12 years. Another example of DOT facility maintenance is in Dubuque where a new Maintenance Garage will be built to replace the existing out of date facility for a total of $10,200,000.

The bill passed 96 to 0.

• Senate File 465 (SF465) was substituted for House File 487. SF 465 makes changes to medical malpractice claims and caps non-economic damages at $250,000. Additionally, the bill includes strengthens expert witness standards and requires experts testifying to be licensed in the field they are testifying about. SF 465 also requires a certificate of merit, certified by an expert, to serve as a screening tool to help identify claims that lack merit.

Non-economic damages cap remains at $250,000, unless the jury determines there is a substantial or permanent loss or impairment of a bodily function, substantial disfigurement, or death, which warrants a finding that such limitations would deprive the plaintiff of just compensation for injuries sustained. The bill passed 65 to 31.

This will be my last newsletter of the 87th General Assembly, 2017 Session. Hopefully next week will be our last week as we end our debate of bills and approve the budget before we end this Session which is scheduled for Tuesday, April 18.

We have accomplished many things this Session that will move Iowa forward. Thank you all for this opportunity to represent you and I look forward to next Session.

Sincerely,
Chuck Holz

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2017 Legislative Session — Week 13
April 6, 2017

Dear Friends,

Once again, the thirteenth week of Session was a week of debate. The House of Representatives focused on debating bills that had passed the Senate this Session. The following bills were presented along with other bills for the House of Representatives to vote on:

• Senate File 32 (SF 32) relates to private sector drug-free workplace testing. SF 32 adds hair samples to the list of acceptable body samples that may be taken to test an employee in the private sector for drugs while in the work place. The current list of accepted samples includes blood, urine, or oral fluid. The bill also mandates that the hair sample shall be limited to strands not longer than one and one half inches, and it must be the part of the strand that was closest to the skin that is tested.

Additionally, an Amendment was added to the bill that mandated that the use of hair as a sample for drug testing may only be done for a prospective employee. The amendment passed 96 to 0. The bill passed 75 to 20.

• Senate file 257 (SF257) relates to bass fishing tournaments in the state of Iowa. SF 257 sets forth requirements for conducting bass fishing tournaments on public waters in the State and requires a person conducting a bass fishing tournament to obtain a permit from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Additionally, SF 257 increases the legal limit of catching bass fish from three fish up to five fish. Currently, rules regulating fishing tournaments generally are contained in the DNR’s administrative rules at 571 IAC 44.4(2). The bill passed 96 to 0.

• Senate File 358 (SF 358) was substituted for House File 582. SF 358 relates to search warrants, by allowing an application for and the issuance of a search warrant by electronic means. Additionally, SF 358 establishes the policy and procedure for the issuance of search warrants through electronic means and allows for the written inventory of any property seized to be filed with the clerk of the District Court. The bill passed 96 to 0.

• Senate File 230 (SF230) concerns membership in state insurance plans by members and full-time employees of the general assembly. Current health care plans offer a separate plan for legislative employees. The changes will match legislative employees with the same policies and premiums as the largest group of executive branch non-contract employees, excluding the regents. It is effective upon enactment, and is applicable to all plans taking effect after the effective date.

This bill has been passed by the House of Representatives for the last six year only to die in the Democrat-controlled Senate. The Bill passed 98 to 0.

• Senate File 240 (SF240) requires the Department of Education- State Board of Education to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) to find a vendor that will administer a new statewide assessment starting July 1, 2018 and each succeeding school year. The assessment must be aligned to Iowa academic standards and test math and reading in grades 3 – 11 including science in grades 5, 8, and 10. Additionally, the Department of Education must consider costs, alignment, time required for the test, infrastructure and technology needs of districts among other factors.

The new State Assessment must:
* Measure individual student growth
* Be aligned to the Iowa Core academic standards
* Be given in Grades 3 through 8 and at least once in high school
* Be capable of measuring performance in English language arts, math and science
* Be available in both paper and pencil and computer based formats

Vendors can partner to meet the RFP requirements of providing all 3 subjects. The RFP is to be issued by July 1, 2017. The bill passed 93 to 3.

• Senate File 419 (SF 419) was substituted for House File 394. SF 419 is from the Board of Nursing and adapts an updated version of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). The NLC allows member states to allow a nurse that resides in and possesses a current nursing license in a member state to practice in any of the other member states without obtaining additional licensure. 14 states have adopted the enhanced NLC with another 16 states moving towards adoption. 25 states must adopt the NLC before it is enacted. Iowa is presently a member of the NLC.

Following are key components of the new and updated NLS:
* Nurses have the ability to practice in multiple state with one license
* There is a grandfathering clause for nurses that currently have a multistate license
* The nurse has to meet their home state’s licensure requirements
* The nurse must have graduated from a qualifying education program, passed the national licensure exam, have no active discipline on their license, submit to a criminal background check, have no prior state or federal felony convictions, and have a valid social security number
* A nurse has the authority to practice in multiple states via telehealth

SF 419 passed 95 to 0.

• Senate File 471 (SF 471) prohibits abortions at twenty weeks post-fertilization. Post-fertilization age means what, in reasonable medical judgement, will with reasonable probability be the post-fertilization age of the unborn child at the time the abortion is to be performed. Before an abortion can be performed, the list of requirements is as follows: a 72 hour wait period, an ultrasound, description of the child, option to hear the heartbeat, information on the abortion and options for adoption, information on the child’s development, and risk factors related to an abortion. However, this is not required in cases of medical emergency.

The bill does not ban birth control in any way. Twenty three other states prohibit abortions after five months. The bill passed 55 to 41.

This week, House and Senate Republicans announced joint targets for the FY18 budget. The agreed upon budget plan spends $7.245 billion, which is about $18 million less than FY17.

Budget Targets
Administration and Regulation — $47.39 million
Agriculture and Natural Resources — $38.84 million
Economic Development — $38.41 million
Education — $908.41 million
Health and Human Services — $1.766 billion
Justice Systems — $734.95 million
Standings — $3.711 billion
TOTAL — $7.245 billion

This budget takes a responsible and thoughtful approach to spending in recognition that revenue may continue to come in less than anticipated. This budget plan fully funds the additional $40 million promised to K-12 schools earlier this session. It’s clear that K-12 education will be receiving the largest funding increase in all areas of government. Most areas will see budget reductions.

This budget plan makes an initial down payment of $20 million to repay the Cash Reserve account. House Republicans will be looking for ways to increase the down payment this year and will pass a plan to fully repay the Cash Reserve by the end of this General Assembly.

On Wednesday, April 5, 2017, The 50th Joint Memorial Service was held by the Eighty-Seventh General Assembly to honor past Representatives and Senators who are now deceased. The Memorial Service was performed by volunteers who included current legislators, staff, former legislators, friends and family. The service included songs by an amazing “Capitol Choir”, candle lighting, and memorial readings. It was a lovely service held in the Senate Chamber at 7:00 pm.

Sincerely,
Chuck Holz

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2017 Legislative Session — Week 12
March 30, 2017

Dear Friends,

Once again, the twelfth week of Session was a week of debate. The following bills were presented, along with other bills to the House of Representatives to vote on:

• House File 233 relates to the use of step therapy protocols for prescription drugs. Step therapy is a tool used by insurers as a cost savings measure. Sometimes this requires forcing patients to fail on drug therapy protocols multiple times before the patient is allowed to take a drug that works for them.

The bill creates a step therapy override exception process. When an Insurance Company denies drug coverage due to their step therapy protocol, the patient or doctor can request an override in certain situations. The override, if approved, would allow the patient to continue taking the medication that works best for them. The step therapy override requested by the patient or doctor is required to be approved by the Insurance Company if any of the following circumstances apply:

EXCEPTION #1 – A step therapy override exception shall be approved if the drug is likely to do any of the following:
• Cause an adverse reaction to the patient
• Decrease the patient’s ability to perform daily activities
• Cause physical or mental harm to the patient

EXCEPTION #2 – The prescription drug required under the step therapy protocol is expected to be ineffective based on the clinical characteristics of the patient and any of the following:
• The characteristics of the drug in peer-reviewed literature
• The doctor’s medical judgement based on clinical practice guidelines or
peer-reviewed journals
• The patient’s documented experience with the drug

EXCEPTION #3 – The patient has had a trial of an equivalent dose of the drug under the step therapy protocol in their current or previous incurrence plan and the doctor took the patient off that drug because it was not effective for the patient.

EXCEPTION #4-The patient is currently receiving a positive outcome on a drug selected by their doctor for their medical condition while under their current or previous health plan.

The bill passed 98 to 0.

• House File 263 (HF263) relates to the criminal offenses of domestic abuse sentencing requirements. HF 263, as amended, increased the penalty and creates mandatory minimum sentencing for some crimes associated with domestic violence. Persons convicted of domestic abuse, may be required to have electronic monitoring. HF 263 also modifies the definition of stalking and the unauthorized placement of a GPS device. The bill passed 89 to 8.

• House File 410 puts Palmer Amaranth on the primary noxious weed list and the list of invasive plants that are prohibited to import, sell or distribute in Iowa. Palmer Amaranth is an edible flowering plant that crowds out crops such as corn, soybeans, and cotton. It is found in 82 Iowa counties currently. The bill passed 95 to 0.

• House File 528 (HF 528) relates to the composition of County Compensation Boards. HF 528 passed by 53 to 45 and gives the County Compensation Board duties to the County Board of Supervisors.

• House File 541 (HF 541) relates to real estate professionals and real estate disclosures. HF 541 modifies several provisions in Code Chapter 543B, dealing with the licensure of real estate brokers and salespersons. Following are some of the sections that were modified by HF 541,

• Section 3 states that if a licensee has had three violations of Real Estate laws with three year, their license will be revoked.
• Section 4 allows a brokerage to maintain more than one place of business in the State, and each branch will be issued a license.
• Section 10 states that if a real estate broker makes a deposit of funds it must be in a federally insured depository.

This bill passed 96 to 0.

• House File 562 (HF 562) permits a person who is a peace officer or a retired peace officer to be qualified as a class room driver education instructor if the person also meets the Board of Education instructor authorization. Currently peace officers can teach drivers education behind-the-wheel, but not in the classroom setting. HF 562 allows peace officers to teach drivers education in a classroom setting provided they meet standards set by the Board of Educational Examiners which includes 15 hours of instruction in classroom management, strategies for learning, diversity, and ethics. The standards set are the same for receiving a substitute teaching authorization.

The bill passed 59 to 39.

• House File 569 (HF 569) mandates that if the Director of the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) establishes a tax-shelter investment program under section 403 (B) of the internal Revenue Code, the program shall be open to any Investment provider who requests inclusion in the program. HF569 also mandates that the Director of DAS shall require each Insurance and Investment Company included in the program to utilize a common remitter and shall limit the total number of Insurance Companies in the program to no more than 30. Currently only 4 companies that qualify for this program.

The bill passed 64 to 31.

• House File 603 relates to the authority of acquiring agencies to use eminent domain and the procedures and compensation required for the use of eminent domain.

* Division I of the bill impacts the ability of merchant lines to use eminent domain
* Division II addresses the taking of land for the creation of a lake
* Division III addresses taking of land for pipelines
* Division IV determines how much a person shall be paid if the land their business or farm operation is located on is taken through eminent domain.

The bill passed 93 to 0.

Tomorrow is the end of our second funnel week. Senate bills must be reported out of House Committees for debating and voting on the House floor. It has been a busy week debating in the Committees and on the House floor.

Sincerely,
Chuck Holz

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2017 Legislative Session — Week 11
March 23, 2017

As we begin our eleventh week of Session on Monday 20th, Rev. Jan Christensen of the Presbyterian United Church of Christ in Le Mars started with the opening prayer for the House of Representatives followed by the Pledge of Aligns.

I want to update you on House File 518 that we passed late last Thursday, at the end of our tenth week of Session.

• House File 518 reverses a number of court decisions and commissioner rulings that have made Iowa’s Work Comp system unpredictable for Iowa’s employers and employees. Costs need to be reduced for workers and employers. Many small businesses are seeing Workers’ Compensation insurance rate increases that cost them tens of thousands of dollars every year. That is money that could be better spent creating new jobs or increasing wages.

House File 518 resets Iowa’s Workers’ Compensation system back to the law’s original intent, providing employers and employees with the predictability and stability that they need without the need for costly attorneys. Law-abiding workers who follow the rules need to be protected from those who recklessly come to work impaired by alcohol, marijuana or through prescription drug abuse. House File 518 ensures a safe working environment for ALL workers.

House File 518 codifies the shoulder as a scheduled member and compensates an injured employee similar to surrounding states. Additionally, workers that suffer a shoulder injury at work are eligible for vocational rehab. If eligible, a worker can be enrolled in a community college program for job training, a certificate program, or an Associate’s Degree program at the employer’s expense.

Iowa’s worker’s compensation system was never meant to put a worker to make more money than they were prior to an injury. Due to a recent Supreme Court decision, an injured worker is able to collect both partial and full disability benefits at the same time. This essentially allows them to double dip. The bill passed 55 to 38.

Once again, the eleventh week of Session was “a week of debate” and the following bills were presented along with other bills to the House of Representatives to vote on:

• House File 579 is a bill relating to criminal sentencing reform which modifies criminal sentencing for various crimes. Crack cocaine penalties are brought closer in line with powdered cocaine penalties. A person convicted of attempted murder of a peace officer shall serve 100 percent of their prison sentence and shall be denied parole, work release, or other early release. A person that murders a peace officer must serve 100 percent of sentence. Additionally, standard sentences shall be imposed in certain crimes. These standard sentence guidelines will be used, unless there is a compelling reason not to impose the standard sentences or in particular crimes listed. This bill passed 96 to 0.

• House File 548 is a bill relating to continuous quality improvement for the care of individuals who have had a stroke. The bill requires the Department of Public Health to work with the University of Iowa College of Public Health to coordinate efforts to achieve quality improvement in the care of persons with stroke. The two entities will work together to ensure strokes get reported to the statewide stroke database. The bill passed 97 to 0.

• House File 566 is a bill relating to School Elections. House File 566 changes the date of regular school elections for local school district, community colleges, and area education agency boards. The new date for all the elections will be the first Tuesday, after the first Monday, in November of odd numbered years. Special elections for each will now be held on the same date. The bill passed 68 to 31.

• I presented House File 586 to the House for vote on Wednesday, March 22 for the Commerce Committee. House File 586 is a bill relating the Iowa Finance Authority (IFA) Rent Subsidy Program. The bill makes changes to the filing requirements for various bonds and assistance awards, administered by the IFA. It also codifies the rent subsidy program which receives an appropriation through the Economic Development Applications bill, administered by IFA; however, there are no appropriations in this bill. Finally, it makes a correction to the mechanics’ lien program. It requires that either a general contractor or an owner builder who has contracted with subcontractors to post a mechanic’s lien notices so that all people are protected and know they are under the mechanics lien. The bill passed 98 to 0.

• House File 593 is a bill that allows Mental Health Professionals to preform examinations, prescribe treatment or medication (if their license allows them to), and submit written statements and reports for commitment proceedings for people with substance issues or serious mental illness. House File 593 also allows mental health professionals to examine a person when they need to be detained due to a serious mental impairment or when necessary to preserve their life. In order to make the above changes to the code, the bill goes into various sections of code and inserts the word “mental health professional”. The bill passed 99 to 0.

• House File 573 is bill for Home Rule and will provide schools with the opportunity to explore innovative and bold ways to educate our children. This will provide locally-elected school boards across Iowa the opportunity to govern their schools in a way that meet the needs of their students, teachers, and communities. Under current law, schools are governed under Dillon’s Law, which only provides them with powers expressly granted by the state. House File 573 will provide schools with Home Rule, the opposite of Dillon’s Law, allowing schools to exercise flexibility in areas not addressed in state law. Iowa law already provides Home Rule for cities and counties.

Additional funding for next school year
While many areas of government have seen budget reductions over the last several years, funding for K-12 has increased. $40 million has already been approved for schools next year. This additional funding is being provided in a year where the budget situation is going to be incredibly difficult. House Republicans are committed to fulfilling this promise.

Past Legislatures, including both Republicans and Democrats, made a nasty habit of passing funding increases that they couldn’t afford or couldn’t follow through on. The cost of these increases then fell on the backs of property taxpayers who were forced to pick up the Legislature’s tab. Since House Republicans have been in the majority, investment in education has increased by $735 million. Most importantly, schools have been able to count on this funding every year.

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2017 Legislative Session — Week 10
March 16, 2017

Dear Friends,

As we begin the tenth week, I want to update you on House File 295 that was passed at the end of last week. Certain things are best left at the state level, just as some issues should be in the purview of the Federal Government.

• Most importantly, regulating commerce and setting labor standards are absolutely the responsibility of the state in order to have a consistent set of rules in all areas of the state.

It has long been held that current law withholds the legal authority for counties or cities to raise their local minimum wages. House File 295 clarifies that the minimum wage and other commerce and labor issues are determined at the state level. A patchwork of varying minimum wages, labor standards, and employment laws is not favorable to grow Iowa’s economy. Some counties even have different wage levels from city to city, perpetuating an already confusing situation for businesses that operate in multiple states, counties, and cities.

The bill passed 56 to 41.

• House File 529 (HF 529) is the Bill I ran in Monday’s Debate Session for the Committee on Labor. This Bill will allow Iowa Law to conform to the Federal Law concerning OSHA fines. Iowa fines have not been changed or updated since 1990 and now HF 529 will bring Iowa’s fine level up to what is stated in the Federal Statute. This bill passed 95 to 0.

• House Joint Resolution 1 deals with Search and Seizure of electronic Communication and Data. By adding electronic communications and data to Section 8 Article 1 of the Iowa Constitution, this bill ensures people are secure in their electronic communications and data and the information cannot be seized without a warrant. This bill passed 90 to 0.

• After HJR 1, we debated House File 215 (HF 215). HF 215 is a bill requiring certain health insurance policies, contracts, or plans to provide coverage of applied behavior analysis for treatment of autism spectrum disorder for certain individuals, and including applicability and effective data provisions. Autism spectrum disorder is a complex neurodevelopmental medical disorder characterized by social impairment, communication difficulties, and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior. This bill passed 95 to 0.

State Budget Outlook
The State Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) met Tuesday and lowered expected FY 17 revenues by $105.9 million. That comes after the REC had already previously lowered expected FY 17 revenues in December by $117 million.

Inaccurate revenue projections are not limited to Iowa. At least 30 states nationwide have had to make budget reductions in the middle of their fiscal year.

Gov. Branstad has proposed using money in the state’s Cash Reserve Fund to make up for this second reduction in state revenues. If that happens, $131 million will need to be borrowed and paid back. The $25 million difference is due to the use of $25 million in non-recurring funds to help patch the hole left in December when the REC first lowered the revenue level.

The House Republican plan to deal with this is threefold:

• First, taxpayers and the Legislature need more accurate revenue estimates from the Revenue Estimating Conference. We understand this is a difficult task that many states are struggling to deal with right now, but we need to find a way to better predict state revenue. Changes in how the state tracks and collects revenue need to be made to make estimates more reliable.

• Second, a very hard look needs to be taken at the “what” and “where” taxpayer money is used to make sure Iowans are getting the best value and their priorities are being met. This very well could mean the state needs to curtail or end longstanding spending.

• Third, every tax credit is on the table. The sacred cows need to be reevaluated to make sure taxpayers are getting a good deal. A complete approach needs to start immediately instead of the piecemeal, year-by-year strategy that has been in place.

With only a few months left in the fiscal year, additional budget reduction opportunities are limited. This likely means that the Legislature will have to dip into the Cash Reserve Fund. House Republicans will not adjourn session without a plan to repay the Cash Reserve.

Thankfully, House Republicans rejected over $1 billion in additional spending plans offered by Democrats over the last two years. Without that strong stand, key areas like local school budgets would be facing deep cuts. Iowans can count on House Republicans to stand strong against reckless government

Sincerely,
Chuck Holz

On Wednesday, March 15th, employees of the Northwest Iowa Credit Union came to the Capitol to meet with Rep. Chuck Holz. Standing left to right are Steve De Boer, Rep. Holz, Heidi Hartman and Mindy Hodgson.

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2017 Legislative Session — Week 9
March 9, 2017

Dear Friends,

As we begin the ninth week of the Session, a lot of bills have piled up and we are making an effort to get them accomplished this week. We are doing a lot of non-controversial bills, as well as some that are quite controversial. I will begin with a non-controversial bill, House File 69 (HF 69).

• HF 69 is a modification of the penalties for trespassing onto somebody’s property. The new fines are $200 for the first instance, $500 for the second violation and $1,000 for a third and subsequent violations. This is a substantial increase over the previous penalties and hopefully it will deter people from trespassing on other people’s property. This bill passed 94 to 0.

• The second bill House File 372 has to do with turning against a red light at intersections. This bill will allow for right turns from another lane designated for right turns on to a one way street against a red light. So if there are two lanes that can turn right, both lanes can turn right on to a one way street. The bill also allows for left turns from a left turn designation street onto a one way street against a red light. This bill straightens out the requirement that a vehicle turning left against the red light on to a one way street does not have to turn into the left most lane of the other on way street. This bill passed 93 to 1.

• Another bill, House File 467, has to do with the use of the Iowa Communications Network, ICN, by the Law Enforcement Communications System. This would enhance the use of the ICN. This would allow the ICN to be used for State Communications and would be good use of the system. This bill passed 97 to 0.

• My bill that I ran this week was House File 443 which was changed to Senate File 357. This bill allows farmers to do their own electrical work as long as they meet the definitions of a farm.
Commercial and Industrial Installations must continue to be inspected by the Electrical Inspectors from the Public Safety Administration. I think this is a good bill and allows our farmers to do their work and keep biosecurity that is of the upmost importance. This Bill passed 65 to 34.

• House File 516, the Election Integrity and Modernization Act, defines the election process about current ID requirements to vote, and other important changes this bill makes to current law.

What House File 516 does not do:
• It does not suppress the vote – anyone who shows up to a polling place on Election Day will be able to, at the very least, cast a provisional ballot.
• It does not shorten the window for absentee voting – the window is still 40 days before Election Day.
• It does not shorten polling place hours – the hours are still 7:00 am – 9:00 pm.
• It does not take effect upon enactment – the earliest any voter will be required to show ID to vote in an election will be January, 2019. There will be a soft roll-out of the new election process to help familiarize and educate voters of the new regulations.

What House File 516 does do:
• Provides each citizen of Iowa the opportunity to vote by issuing, free of charge, voter identification cards to any registered voter who does not currently have a driver’s license or non-operator ID card
• Ensures Iowa continues to have one of the country’s highest integrity election systems by holding voters accountable and making sure a voter’s identification is protected.
• Encourages the use of secure, efficient, and modern polling place technology that will increase the integrity of Iowa’s voting process.
• Ensures accountability by requiring random audits of county precincts after each general election, which will ensure every Iowan’s vote is accounted for.

The bill passed 59 to 40.

House File 517 continues to protect the 2nd Amendment. The bill passed 58 to 39.
• Youth handgun use allows a parent to teach their children handgun safety.
• Permitting changes: A permit to carry will only require a training class once, rather than every five years as required under current law. Changes the annual permit to purchase to a five year permit.
• State of emergency: Prevents the government from confiscating weapons in times of an emergency thereby allowing Iowans to maintain the safety and protection of themselves and their families.
• Permit privacy: Keeps the personal information of weapons permit holders confidential.
• Stand Your Ground: Allows Iowans to defend themselves in the event of danger and removes the duty to retreat. The bill also includes civil immunity to protect Iowans from costly litigation.
• Preemption: Clarifies current state law that no city, county, or township holds the authority to limit the use or possession of firearms.

Sincerely,
Chuck Holz

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2017 Legislative Session — Week 8
March 2, 2017

Dear Friends,

As we end the eighth week of the Session, it’s hard to believe that we are halfway done with this legislative Session. We worked on a number of bills, Subcommittee and Committee meetings this week because Friday is the end of funnel week. All bills have to be through Committees in order to be debated on the House Floor. Next week will bring a large number of bills to be debated on the floor. I want to give you a preview of a couple of key issues that we worked on this week.

House Study Bill 169 (HSB 169) is an extensive overhaul of the workers compensation bill that will affect all employers and employees. It makes many changes to the current law and brings the system back into a realistic compromise to those issues with people being injured on the job. This is a good bill and it will be interesting to see with all the amendments on this bill to see how many changes take place before it is debated on the floor. This is important legislation that will make the state more competitive.

Another bill we had in the Agriculture Committee is House File 484 (HF 484), formally House File 316. HF 484 would create a Regional Water Authority and Regional Water Authority Board to control duties of Water Treatment Facilities. This is mainly associated with Des Moines Water Works and all the towns in the surrounding areas that they supply water to. Currently Des Moines Water Works has soul control over their systems and the surrounding towns that get water from them have no control or authority as to how the operation takes place.

We feel that it’s important to these surrounding towns to have some say in the system because they depend on it so greatly. We think this is a good bill and there will probably be some amendments to it before the final draft is written.

Another agriculture bill that we worked on this week is House Study Bill 135 (HSB 135). HSB 135 is the water quality bill that we worked on last year to develop a substantial water quality program and develop a sustainable funding source for water quality issues around the state. This year it was revised from how the system worked last year and as we will take money from the RIIF program which is gambling proceeds. Some of that money will go to the Iowa Department of Agriculture for development for water quality program.

This money will be used for cost share programs that will help farmers to do what is needed s to help control phosphorus and nitrates pollution. Also, money will be collected from the water sales taxes which will become an excise tax and this will be diverted then to the Iowa Financial Authority. This money then will be available to watersheds to do projects that will affect both urban as well as rural areas and this will be a collaborative effort to help clean up individual watersheds. This money will be in a revolving loan program to help with designed projects.

There will also be a push for this money to go to grants for water and sewer improvements for towns and cities to apply for. This is the attempt by the legislature to set up a program to be the center of the program to help people put together on a volunteer basis to clean up water around the State. This is a good bill in an attempt to bring all the parties together to work for good water quality.

Iowans should have confidence in their elections. Measures like voter verification and election modernization give Iowans assurance that our system is fair, clean, and ensures eligible voters aren’t disenfranchised.

House Republicans have been working with Secretary of State Paul Pate on changes to Iowa’s election process, including voter verification, that make it easier to vote and harder to cheat, and ensure that no one is turned away. This week, the State Government Committee passed the Election Integrity and Modernization bill and sent it to the House floor for consideration.

HSB 93 requires all voters to present government-issued identification at their polling location. Acceptable forms of ID include:
• An Iowa Driver’s License
• An Iowa Non-Operator ID
• A United State Passport
• A Veteran or Military ID
• A Voter Identification issued by the Secretary of State

HSB 93 provides eligible voters with a free Voter Identification Card if they cannot afford another form of identification. Voter verification measures are already law in 34 other states.

HSB 93 implements the use of E-poll Books to modernize and streamline the voting process at polling locations.

HSB 93 eliminates straight-ticket voting from Iowa ballots.
• Iowa is one of only nine states that allow straight-ticket voting
• Straight-ticket voting disenfranchises third party candidates that don’t have a box that voters can check
• Straight-ticket voting often causes confusion for voters.

A recent Des Moines Register poll finds that 69% of Iowans believe that a government-issued ID should be presented in order to vote.

I had several visitors this week and have some pictures of some of the people that joined me at the Capitol. It’s been a pleasure working down here in Des Moines and I look forward to the next few weeks where we will get some of the major issues accomplished this Session.

Sincerely,
Chuck Holz

On March 1, Woodbury County Farm Bureau Came to the Capitol. Dave Molstad of Moville and Vernon Knaack of Correctionville visited with Rep. Holz while Tony Leininger took the picutre.

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2017 Legislative Session — Week 7
February 23, 2017

Dear Friends,

As we began the last full week of February — week 7 — we are one week away from funnel week, which will end next week. So it was important we got a lot of work done this week and next. We went through several bills this week that are mostly noncontroversial.

• HF 218 which has to do with the legal length limit of single trucks to operate on the highways. The length changed from 41 feet to 45 feet. This is a good bill and it passed 99 to 0.

• HF 217, a bill that relates to disciplinary actions that can be taken over a licensed school employee if that person appears to be intoxicated, which can include drugs, alcohol or non-prescription drugs. This bill passed 94 to 5.

• HF 312 is a bill that will allow cars to stand unattended and with engines running. This of course is a bill to allow for people with automatic starters to start their car and leave it unattended for a period of time before they occupy their vehicle. It is now required that the vehicle be in park and the wheels are turned towards the curve and the brake must be set. This bill passed 98 to 1.

• HF 232 is a bill that will allow nurses and physician assistants to announce the death of an inmate in a correctional facility. Currently they are allowed to do this only in hospitals. At this time, the bill will now allow them to do this in a correction facility. HF 232 passed with a vote of 99 to 0.

• HF 313 is a bill that requires certain motor vehicles to be able to be moved after an accident if the vehicle is operable. Moving the vehicle can be done by the driver or someone else at the sight of the accident. This is an order to prevent any further accidents from occurring. The bill passed 99 to 0.

• HF 241 is a bill that puts language back into the code that was unfortunately deleted in 2013.The bill allows the current duties of the County Commissioner of Veterans Affairs Offices to be solved only by a person in charge of these duties and department. This bill passed 99 to 0.

• HF 311 is a bill that gives Insurance Commissioners specific rule-making authority to adapt rules applicable to reinsurance arrangements in addition to the existing rule making authority allowed in code. This bill is good for the Insurance Industry and was passed 99 to 0.

• HF 314 is a bill that states that if a utility truck is stopped along the side of the road with its lights flashing, you must approach with caution and pull over to the other land if there is one available. This bill agrees with the existing law as it applies to public safety vehicles and passed 99 to 0.

• HF 253 has to do with the code for the parenting of non-married parents and married parents. They are treated consistently and the same in the code of custody matters and legal matter. This is an important bill for children found in a bad situation and a good way to make sure everyone is held accountable for their actions and these children. The bill passed 99 to 0.

• HF 293 is a bill that allows companies to bid on items for the State that have previously only been purchased from the Iowa Prison Industries. This bill will allow all companies to be able to submit a competitive bid for State purchases. The bill passed 99 to 0.

• HF 303 is a bill that allows the Insurance Commissioner to give the Attorney General the notification of a receiver of a cemetery plot that is no longer needed and then that receivership can dispose of the plot to their liking. This bill assed 99 to 0.

• HF 305 will allow Pharmacist to substitute an FDA approved biological product for similar medical products or drugs for specific diseases or conditions. This bill passed 99 to 0.

• HF 308 is a bill concerning the release of certain military personnel records maintained by county records. It changes the current law that requires the release of records from and event that happened 75 years ago to 62 years ago prior to the request to match the Federal law. It’s important for historical reasons and passed 99 to 0.

Sincerely,
Chuck Holz

  

On February 8 and 9, Representative Holz was a Guest Speaker at the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association meeting at Prairie Meadows. Additionally he received a Certificate for Life Membership.

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2017 Legislative Session — Week 6
February 20, 2017

Dear Friends,
Tuesday afternoon of week six, the House of Representatives ran several bills that have to do with clean up items for current laws that were recommended by the Iowa Bar Association.

One of those bills, House File 133, differentiated the duties of a Guardian of a minor child and the duties of the Attorney for that child. The bill was a clarification that needed to be made to allow the code to read better. Additionally, another cleanup bill is House File 183 which adds Grandparents and Parents to the list of people who receive Court notification documents relating to emergency protective services for a dependent adult relative.

Another bill we debated and voted on was House File 184 (HF 184). This bill had to do with small estates less than 100 thousand dollars. HF 184 was another cleanup bill that was requested to make sure that the wording for small estates and larger estates is now the same.

The next cleanup bill we voted on was House File 195 that had to do with being able to be notified by the electronic means of email, as opposed to strictly just having material sent through the mail for probate issues.

House File 234 has to do with the mental health reports filed in the Courts by Mental Health Advocates for people with mental health disorders. Before, these reports had to be filed quarterly. This bill will now allow the reports to be filled as needed by the Court’s which will save a lot of time and paper work for Mental Health Advocates.

House File 289 (HF 289) has to do with opening up driver’s licenses locations for people in Carroll and Clay Counties. Both counties lost their DOT stations. As a result, HF 289 will allow the County Treasurer in both Counties to offer drivers licenses.

All of the above House File Bills passed and are all good bills to help make Government more efficient.

House File 291 (HF291) was passed Thursday afternoon on February 16, 2017 by a vote of 53 to 47. This bill is a bill that we were debating all week and in commonly referred to as “The Collective Bargaining Bill”.

First and foremost, this bill does not take away collective bargaining. However, this bill does make some changes to the process. Following are some of the changes:
• Under the new law, the Arbitrator must consider public and private sector job salaries. Arbitrators are prohibited from considering the ability of the employer to levy taxes to compensate for any salary increase.
• The Unions must recertify every time they go to bargain for their members.
• The bill will give back more local control to the School Boards and the people making the decisions for the entity. The bill will also streamline the process to release under-preforming teachers.
• The bill states that Health Insurance must be offered to employees and so very likely insurance policies will not change until they are up for renewal.
• Since the inception of the bill in 1974, Union dues have been collected from member’s paychecks automatically. Now they will have to either write a check or have it deducted from their bank account.

During this debate, several items have been reinstated back into the bill through an amendment.
• First of all, grievance procedures must be discussed, seniority and the benefits relating to seniority must be discussed also release time must be discussed.
• It also reinstates proper cause for suspension or discharge.
• A provision was also added that the threshold to qualify as a public safety employee was lowered to 30%, previously it was 50%.
• Motor vehicular enforcement officers were added to the Public Safety Employees list.

We worked very hard on this bill. We compromised and we think we have a good bill that is going to be good for all the employees of the State as well as the tax payers of the State. Both were winners!

Sincerely,
Chuck Holz

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2017 Legislative Session — Week 5
February 13, 2017

Dear Friends,

As we began our fifth week, we were able to pass a school funding bill, Senate File 166 (SF 166) for $40 Million. I realize that $40 million is not a lot of money for our schools, however at this point of time; this is what we can afford. The State standard is to balance our budget. In the recent Deappropriations Bill, Schools were held harmless and in the past seven years we have been able to contribute $720 million in new money to our school districts.

Educating our children is an important consideration when we do our budgets. However, we also have to realize that all other parts of our State Government need to have an equal share of the budget as well.

On Tuesday morning at the YMCA breakfast, it was a pleasure to meet with Todd Lancaster and Al Pottebaum from the YMCA. We had a very good discussion about the things with the Y and their activities that are going on. It was also encouraging to hear they are applying for some grants to help improve their facility in Le Mars.

This week, the House introduced House Study Bill 84, which updates Iowa’s law regarding collective bargaining for public employees. The law, originally passed in 1974, has remained relatively untouched for four decades.

Over the last 40 years, largely due to arbitration requirements, the scales have been tipped to favor government unions and put management and taxpayers at a disadvantage. House Republicans believe the law deserves a thoughtful review to rebalance the scales and ensure that Iowans have a fair and equitable system that works for public employers, employees, and taxpayers.

We value our public employees and the work they do in their communities. However, I’ve heard from many people who have expressed concerns about provisions in the bill that don’t actually exist.

I appreciate the opportunity to have a dialogue over this bill. Unfortunately, it seems that many Des Moines union executives are resorting to fear mongering in an attempt to scare workers over what this bill actually does.

First, let me tell you what the bill doesn’t do:
• It doesn’t affect private sector unions.
• It doesn’t repeal the right to collectively bargain for government employees.
• It doesn’t affect pensions in any way.
• It doesn’t take away health insurance. Under the bill, the employer is required to provide a health insurance plan to employees.
• It doesn’t mandate that local governments must join a statewide health insurance pool.

There are many reasons that Iowans should support and be excited for this legislation. One of the primary things the bill will do is provide flexibility to locally elected officials to make decisions that are best for their communities.

Each item that is mandated to be discussed during negotiations acts as a finger on the scale, tipping the balance towards the unions. By allowing local governments and school boards to actually manage, citizens in those communities can expect better service and more opportunities for creativity and innovation.

The bill also ends the practice of deducting union dues from government employees’ paychecks. If a government union has won the right to collectively bargain, it is completely reasonable to expect them to collect their own dues instead of having their employer do it for them. It’s unfair to expect that the government and taxpayers should serve as the union’s bill collector.

Another provision that I’m really excited about is the opportunity for schools to reward their best and brightest teachers. Our bill will allow schools, and other local governments, to pay exceptional employees based on merit rather than just seniority. It can also help schools fill positions in critical subject areas like science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) with highly qualified people. This gives schools a great opportunity to recruit and retain the best teachers, especially in rural areas.

A public hearing on the bill is scheduled for Monday night at 6:00 pm in the State Capitol. For more information or to sign up to speak, visit the Legislative website by clicking here. It will also be streamed over YouTube for those that can’t make it to Des Moines.

We will have many more important issues that we will have extreme discussions about as we go through this Session. It is unfortunate that a lot of these subjects are being passed on party lines but I respect the other side for their opinions and hope they respect our opinions as well.

Sincerely,
Chuck Holz

 

February 2, 2017 — Superintendents Day at the Capitol.  Rep. Holz and the Northwest Iowa Superintendents discuss education issues.
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2017 Legislative Session — Week 4
February 2, 2017

Dear Friends,

As we begin the fourth week of this Legislative Session, I’m pleased to report that we finely passed our first bill on Monday. This bill was Senate File 130 (SF 130) which was the Deappropriations Bill for the State. The passage of this bill was a collaborated effort between the Senate, the House, and the Governor. SF 130 defunds the State to the tune of $117 Million. Passage of SF 130 was an important step because we now have a balanced budget as the state law requires for the FY 2017. The bill passed along party lines 58 to 38.

On Tuesday, I was honored to have the Hinton FFA chapter come and visit me. They made the trip down to Des Moines to see the State Capitol of FFA day. It was a pleasure to have these ten students and their Advisor here. Additionally, it was a pleasure to have them learn about how our State Government works.

Also on Tuesday, we were honored in the House Chamber, which was in joint session with the Senate, to have Major General Timothy Orr, Commander of the Iowa National Guard, speak to us. General Orr presented the Condition of the Iowa National Guard. He was very upbeat in his presentation and said the Iowa National Guard is ready and able to do whatever it is called to do. The Iowa Guard is nationally known for its readiness and its abilities. General Orr also stressed how important Camp Dodge is. He said that many people from around the United States are training at this facility and the importance of having Camp Dodge in the State of Iowa. We are proud of our National Guard. General Orr also mentioned the 185th Air wing several times in his presentation. First he talked about the 2016 completed renovation projects at National Guard Armories in Mason City, Oskaloosa, Clinton, and Sioux City. This year the 185th Air Refueling Wing in Sioux City will consolidate three of the aging facilities into one complex costing $12.4 million. He also complemented them on their ability and their readiness.

On Wednesday, I was honored to have the Sioux City Area Realtors at the Capitol. I had a nice meeting with them and we discussed an item that they are interested in concerning house buying and tax credits for first time home buyers. Additionally, several of the Realtors were also here from LeMars and it was good to see them as well.

Next week we anticipate a School Funding Bill will be introduced in the House for $40 million. With limited financial resources, we fill this is all we can afford at this time when many other government departments need to be funded as well.

On Saturday, January 28th, we had four Town Hall meetings with very good attendance. We covered a variety of issues that were important to people. I would like to thank everyone who attended the meetings.

Sincerely,
Chuck Holz
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2017 Legislative Session — Week 3
January 26, 2017

Dear Friends,

As we end the third week in our Legislative Session, I do have good news. We have finely reached an agreement on the FY 2017 Deappropriations budget bill for the $117 million revenue short fall that we have experienced. Additionally, as part of this bill, the Legislators will vote to reduce their compensation by 10 days at the end of Session for approximately a $360,000 savings. Negotiating the FY 2017 Budget Bill was an extensive process getting the Governor plus the Senate and the House to all agree on the figures that we thought was appropriate. We plan to vote on this bill next Monday, January 30.

We hope this will pass so we can move on to other priorities that we have this Session We have already introduced over 100 Bills that have been proposed so far this Session. There are several bills that I feel are very important to the people I represent in District 5. Number one is House File 1 (HF 1) which is a process to review all state programs on a minimum rotation every 5 years. HF 1 will make sure that we stay current with our appropriations funding and that the programs are viable to the functions of the state. Another bill presented will protect our Students from sexual exploitation by school employees which is an extremely important issue. We will watch this issue as they proceed through the voting process.

Moving forward for FY18 the House, Senate, and Governor have agreed to a maximum level of spending totaling $7.455 billion. This agreement is within ongoing revenue and is $25 million below the 99% expenditure limitation. If the March revenue estimate is lowered, then that maximum spending level will be lowered. House Republicans have not agreed to spend $7.455 billion only that this number is the ceiling. A total spending level below that amount could still be approved.

With revenue projections being very unpredictable over the last several budget years, a conservative approach to the budget is necessary. Current law allows the Legislature to spend 99% of available revenue; however, House Republicans will look to spend less than the allowed ceiling in the event that revenue projections are inaccurate again.

Third Week Newsletter 1.26.2017Third Week Newsletter 1.26.2017

Capitol Visitors: Friday, January 26, 2017 Students from Western Iowa Tech Community College

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2017 Legislative Session — Week 2
January 19, 2017

Dear Friends

Week 2 was a short week in the House of Representatives due to the Martin Luther King Holiday and the bad weather that hit our state. I did attend all my Committee meetings: Agriculture, Commerce, Economic Growth, Labor and Justice System Appropriations Subcommittee. In each committee, we assigned a few bills to Representatives to investigate, discuss and recommend for passage when necessary. This process will continue throughout the Session. As of this week, 42 House File Bills have been submitter.

During one of our Agriculture Committee meetings, The Iowa Turkey Federation made a presentation indicating that 11 million turkeys are processed each year in the State of Iowa which has a significant financial impact on our state.

Additionally, I am still working on the State revenue short fall of $ 117 Million. It has been a discussion all week in the Caucus meetings.

Since entering the majority in 2011, House Republicans have been committed to funding schools in a responsible way. Funding for K-12 education has increased by $640 million over the last six years. Most importantly, House Republicans have kept our funding commitments.

The debate around education should not be limited to how big the increase for education will be but also include the quality of education provided to students.

House Republicans are interested in finding ways to give more flexibility to local school boards. Several school districts have thousands of dollars sitting in funds unused because they are limited to specific purposes. Loosing those restrictions, either temporary or permanently, is a conversation that House Republicans are eager to have.

House Republicans plan on setting Supplemental State Aid quickly and thoughtfully. The amount will be something that school districts can rely upon and it will be done responsibly within the state’s revenue.

Sincerely,
Chuck Holz
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2017 Legislative Session, Week 1
January 12, 2017

Friends,

As we begin this Legislative Session of 2017, I would like to thank the people in Plymouth and Woodbury Counties (District 5) for giving me the opportunity to represent them at the State House in Des Moines. This is a very humbling experience and an honor to be able to be the voice of all the people I represent. I appreciate this opportunity and I will do my best to represent you in the important issues that face the State of Iowa.

As we begin this Session, one of the most important parts was the Governor’s “State of the State” address which he gave on Tuesday morning. He talked about some of the things that have happened in the last few years. For example, “Teacher Leadership funding” and the advancements that have occurred with the STEM program. These are important issues for the education of our students.

He also talked about Iowa as an energy leader. Iowa has become the leading state in the nation for Ethanol production, Bio-Deasil production, and has advanced itself in Wind production. We have become the leading state in renewable energy which is important as we go through the future in producing energy that is clean, renewable and utilizes some of the products we grow in the state.

Additionally, the Governor presented his two year budget that he has outlined for the State. One of the things he proposed it that he wants to defund abortion in the State of Iowa. I agree with this 100%. He would like to see a 2% increase in Education for both 2018 and 2019. The State wide Health Care programs are another issue we have been working on. Last year Health and Human Services moved the Medicaid fund to the MCO system and hopefully this will save the State $110 million. This was done with the hope that we have more complete services for the recipients. Public Safety is also another State issue and how it’s going to be funded. As we move forward, it is very concerning to have an increase in highway deaths in the past year over the previous year. Most of this occurs due to distracted driving.

The last thing that was talked about was Water Quality. The Governor was not specific on how this could be done. However, last year the Iowa House did present a bill that would use funding for this purpose. As we move forward in the session, this is one of the items that I will be working on extensively.

On Wednesday, we heard from Chief Justice Mark Cady. He presented the condition of the Justice Department Report. He described a Youth Program that they have been working on to try to help reduce repeat offenders. He commented about how the program was structured and the success of the program. It was amazing to hear that the program was between 80% and 90% effective in preventing offenders from recommitting their original crimes. This is great news for the Juvenal Justice System. It shows that progress can be made and that prevention is better than having a cure after juveniles have been criminals.

In Adult Court, they are set up with specific Courts for specific problems such as “Drug Abuse” and “Domestic Violence” and additional crimes. These specific Courts have had tremendous success as well in preventing people from once again recommitting the crimes they were originally convicted of. This is another important step that costs the taxpayer much less if we can prevent the problem from ever occurring.

The Iowa Court System was ranked fourth in the Nation on reliability that shows that our Court System is doing a good job and is well respected among the National Judicial Systems.

This concludes the activity for the first week of the session.

Again, I would like to thank you for this opportunity to represent you in Des Moines and I will continue these weekly updates.

Thank you again.
Sincerely,
Chuck Holz


April 21, 2016

Friends,

As we start this week, I believe the Legislature is entering its final week or two of session.  We are basically down to funding the budget to help keep the state operating.  These budget bills must be passed in both houses in the same form and sent to the Governor for approval.  If one either the House or Senate doesn’t agree then they must go through a conference committee to reach an agreement.

The end of last week we did pass a budget bill in the Subcommittee Agriculture and Natural Resources.  This has remained steady for the last few years.  Earlier we passed the Justice Department bill which helps fund the Judicial Branch, and public safety.  We also passed the Economic Development Authority Budget.

Right now were working on a bill for the Health and Human Services.  This is an important bill since it pertains to Medicaid issues that we’ve been dealing with throughout the session.  Another important bill regards the mental health and disabilities services.  These are county wide budget that is monitored for how much can be assessed for property taxes to cover these expenses.  Currently, there is a wide range of assessed amounts throughout the state.

The Senate version of the bill would cap this at $47.28 per resident.  This is the highest amount that is charged by any county in the State of Iowa.  Currently, Plymouth County, Woodbury County and Sioux County are in a group.  Their assessed values are lower than that.  At some point in time it is likely that we will have to equalize in these various groups in order to cover these mental health/disability services that each county group has to cover.

I am very pleased that we were able to passed HF 2460 which is a bill regarding health and human services budget for 2017.  This is a $1.8 billion budget and makes up a large percentage of the state’s budget.  This bill has major changes to the Medicaid portion.  There is an autism support program, mental health redesign program and many other issues along the mental health area.  This is a responsible bill and we are trying to maintain the state’s physical integrity and yet provide the services that are important to the people of Iowa.

This bill passed in the House with a vote of 56-42 which is basically party lines.  It is likely that this bill will end up in Conference Committee.  An oversight proposal was attached to this bill which will be hammered out by the House/Senate in order to keep good oversight to the Medicaid Privatization Program that went into effect as of April 1st.  This is a good bill for Iowa and helps keep the state with a balanced budget.

SF 2314 is the 2017 Administration and Regulations Appropriations Bill.  This bill is approximately $50.8 million budget that funds many activities at the statehouse which includes the Governor’s Office, the State Auditor’s Office, Inspections and Appeals, Management, Human Rights, Secretary of State, Department of Revenue, Treasurer’s Office and the Ethics Campaign Disclosure Committee.  All of these are important to the State of Iowa and need certain funding.  There was approximately $1.1 million in reduction of funds to these departments.  In appropriations, the Bank Examiner’s Board received an increase in funding to hire more personnel.  This bill passed in the House along party lines 56-42.

I’ve really enjoyed serving the people of District 5 and I want to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to do so.  Please visit me at the town hall forums.  Feel free to contact me anytime using the information at the top of the newsletter or let me know of anyone who would like to receive this newsletter.

Sincerely,
Chuck Holz


April 13, 2016

Friends,

A bill that dealt with county medical examiner fees is HF 2446.  This bill states that when a person dies in a certain county that is not their home county, then the county can go to the person’s home county and collect fees for the autopsy.  This does not cover immigrants or people from outside the country.  The county would still be responsible for the autopsy fees for these people.  This helps offset the cost of autopsies for people who die in a county that don’t live there.  This bill passed in the House with a vote of 95-0.

A water quality bill that the House has been working on for the last several weeks was HF 2451.  This is the House’s version of funding for water quality clean up in the State of Iowa.  I’ve talked about this bill before in the newsletter.  The first part of the funding source is from existing funds that were already appropriated through the Agriculture Department, the Department of Natural Resources and the Iowa State University Nutrient Research Center.  This is about $20 million a year and is an ongoing amount that has been spent for a number of years.

The next source of funding will come from the water services excise tax.  Currently, sales tax is collected on metered municipal water.  This includes rural water.  The sales tax will be removed from this and will turn into an excise tax that will be charged to metered water.  This money will then flow into the Iowa Finance Authority and then appropriated for urban water quality, water infrastructure and sewer infrastructure projects.  There will be different programs such as revolving loan programs, grants, money through IDOLS to help cities with water and sewer issues.  This money is being collected from urban people, so it’s important to return that money in project form to the urban people it’s being collected from.

The third source of money comes from RIFF Program (Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund).  Most of this money is collected from gambling proceeds and is used for building projects/repairs throughout the state.  This would be a gradual increase in funding from $5 million in 2017 up to $22,000 in 2022 and then plateau at $22 million.  All of these programs would end in 2029 and at that point will be reviewed to decide on further action.  A lot of this money is designated for rural projects such as edge of field infrastructure programs, infield programs and also soil conservation/water quality programs.  A lot of this will be cost share money or grant/program money to clean up water.  I think this is a good bill for Iowa and is a good step in cleaning up water.  There was a lot of debate on this bill and it had numerous amendments.  The bill eventually did pass in the House on a vote of 65-33.

Another bill discussed was HF 2440.  This bill deals with businesses that come in the state during a declaration of disaster to help.  In the past, people who came into the state to help with clean up/repairs had to pay income tax through the State of Iowa that they received while helping in the state of disaster.  This bill will eliminate that so that they can come in and help clean up without paying income- tax to do so.  We hope that Iowa people will never have a need for this, but it is better to be prepared for times of difficulty.  This bill also makes sure that workers are covered under workman’s comp and liability insurance through their own state/organization that they work for.  This bill passed in the House on a vote of 96-0.

SF 2304 is a bill that repeals and replaces a code that oversees children’s residential facilities.  This bill will put guidelines on how these facilities are supervised, but not infringe on their religious beliefs.  This is an important distinction in that government should not dictate religious beliefs.  This will help protect people in private school settings.  This is a good bill for Iowa and passed in the House with a vote of 73-24.

I’ve really enjoyed serving the people of District 5 and I want to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to do so.  Please visit me at the town hall forums.  Feel free to contact me anytime using the information at the top of the newsletter or let me know of anyone who would like to receive this newsletter.

Sincerely,
Chuck Holz


April 6, 2016

Friends,

A bill regarding the promotional play tickets that casinos offer to people is HF 2445.  The change is in the method of calculating tax on these wagers.  Currently, there is no limit to the amount that is taxed.  Under the new proposal, a tax would cease after the amount of $25.82 million worth of promotional plays.  This is a double taxation since they are paying tax on the original amount of these tickets plus tax when these tickets are added to their total revenue.  The gambling money is taxed, but the first $25.82 million is double taxed.  I think this is a fair bill for the gaming community and Iowa.  This bill passed the House with a vote of 73-23.

Merchant electric transmission lines bill is HF 2448.  Currently, the company called Clean Line is proposing an electrical transmission line across the State of Iowa.  No customers would take electricity from this line.  It is strictly to transport electricity to other states.  This company has signed some leases (about 15% of what they need) over a two year period of time.  Now they have suspended their plans.  This bill gives them a time period of 3 years to get the 75% of the leases signed for the construction of the electrical towers. After that period of time, the leases would become null and void if that amount is not reached.  This is being responsible to landowners since it doesn’t require the leases to be maintained.  This company has halted their progress in acquiring leases so that the people who are signed up currently are left holding the bag so to speak for something to happen.  This is a good bill for looking out for landowners of Iowa by making those leases not be held forever on the landowners.  This bill passed in the House with a vote of 63-33.

The new water quality improvement plan proposed by the House Republicans would be directed from three different money sources.  The existing funding is approximately $20 million a year.  This is directed through the Iowa Department of Agriculture (IDOLS), Iowa State Nutrient Research Center and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).  These have been ongoing programs that we have funded for many years.  One of the new money sources is through the water service excised tax.  Currently, there is sales tax collected from water being used in the state.  The sales tax would be dropped on this and then the excised tax would be established on water that is used by municipalities.  This money would then be directed through the State of Iowa Finance Authority for use in urban water projects and waste water projects.  Therefore, the money collected from this would go directly to the people who are paying the tax.  Some of this money would be directed in programs through IDALS as well as other revolving loan programs and through grant programs for waste water/drinking water.

The second source of new money would come from the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure fund.  Most of this money is collected through gambling revenues.  There would be a gradual increase in the amount of these funds from $5 million in 2017, increase up to $22 million in 2022 and then maintain that level until 2029.  It would then end in 2029.  At that point in time, the legislature would look this over and decide what to do.  A lot of this money would go to IDOLS and these projects would include edge of field infrastructure programs, infield soil and water conservation programs among other methods to reduce nitrogen or phosphorous in our waters.  This is a good sensible approach that is a compromise that doesn’t use funds that were approved for other functions.  This bill is a step closer to cleaning up Iowa’s water sources.

A bill that creates a new option for the treatment of people in an outpatient setting after they are involuntarily committed is SF 2259.  This person would be under court order to undergo treatment and after they fail to do this they are given the option of being treated by injectable antipsychotic medication.  This allows people with severe mental impairment to comply with outpatient treatment.  This reduces the costs, but also keeps the treatments under the supervision.  This would also have to be ordered by a judge or same court that the case was being handled.  I think this is a step forward for treatment for people and the bill passed in the House 95-0.

The bill HF 2449 will require state agencies to commence their rule making process within six months after a bill is approved.  At this time there are several bills that were passed in previous years that are still not in place in the code book.  The legislature finds this unacceptable.  This bill will create a situation where rule makers are forced to write the rules/get them into code in a certain time frame.  If they can’t get it done in that time then they make ask for an extension.  A reason for the failure must be submitted with the application for extension.  Hopefully, this will keep the laws in the state updated in a timely manner.  This bill passed in the House 95-0.

The bill HF 2443 is the Iowa Economic Development Authority which helps clean up the language, streamlines the tax credit board policy so that two agencies aren’t handling these tax credits.  This bill makes it so that everything is strictly under the Iowa Economic Development Authority.  I worked on this bill extensively during session since I was on the Economic Growth Committee.  This helps make the tax credit award system smoother and more uniform.  This bill passed with a vote of 95-1.

I’ve really enjoyed serving the people of District 5 and I want to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to do so.  Please visit me at the town hall forums.  Feel free to contact me anytime using the information at the top of the newsletter or let me know of anyone who would like to receive this newsletter.

Sincerely,
Chuck Holz


 

March 30, 2016

Friends,

We started out the final week of March with HF 2438.   This is a bill came through the Economic Growth Committee and was regarding the renewable chemical production tax credit program.  This is a good bill for the ethanol and biodiesel programs that I helped pass through committee.

Companies that use the byproducts from those two industries will be rewarded by being given tax credits to start new businesses in Iowa.  This is probably the next big growth industry for the State of Iowa.  During the startup phase is when most companies need financial assistance.  This will help them to grow and flourish in the crucial start up years.  I am honored to have been part of this bill’s passage.  This passed with a 95-1 vote.

Another bill discussed was SF 2006 which nullified the requirement for K-12 special endorsement.  The rules committee in March of 2015 created this special endorsement.  This was almost impossible requirement to reach for Special Ed teachers due to the amount of additional education that was needed while working with the special education kids.

Colleges also expressed their concern about having the requirement because they felt they did not have programs available to fully fulfill the requirement that the Special Education teachers needed.  I think this was a good bill to pass.  This passed the House with a vote of 96-0.

A Transportation bill called SF 2228 had two parts.  The first part required that the registration of vehicles be done through electronic transfer of information.  The second part of the bill requires the work to be done electronically through the Transportation Department.  This will move the process for people who sell cars along much faster.  Generally, it takes up to thirty days for the transfer of title.  Having the process be electronic will allow the transfer of information to occur in a matter of a few days.

The bill also increases the bond requirements to be a car dealer.  In the past the bond was set at $50,000.  The bond will now be raised to $75,000 due to the increase price of vehicles.  Finally, the bill dealt with used cars.  In the past if you sold more than six cars in a year then you had to have a license to do so with the State of Iowa.  Some people would get around paying for the license by using other people’s licenses to sell used cars or transferring the license.  This bill will provide stricter penalties for people that do not have a license or use an illegal one.  This bill passed with a vote of 96-0.

The bill SF 2109 regarded the supplemental appropriations for Medicare, Department of Administrative Services, Department of Corrections, Department of Inspections and Appeal.  The Medicaid Program will now be supplemented by $67 million.  We will also increase utility money available for the Department of Administrative Services to the tune of $450,000.  The Department of Corrections will receive $1.9 million in additional funding to help supplement for Clarinda and Mount Pleasant for the fiscal year 2016.

There is also a section for the Department of Inspections and Appeal for the indigent defense cause of $3 million.  All of these appropriations are important for the function of the state.  This is a good bill and I think it’s important to keep the operations of the state funded.  The bill passed in the House with a vote of 96-0.

A bill requiring carbon monoxide and smoke detectors to be present in new house construction/multiple residence buildings was SF 2219.  This requirement starts January 1, 2018.  Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas that is deadly when confined in a closed area.  This is what is released from the incomplete burning of natural gas or other carbon based fuels.  These requirements are important to protect future generations of Iowans.  This bill passed with a vote of 87-9.

Each year there seems to be new synthetic drugs and SF 2116 deals with this by classifying different drugs under the scheduled one control substance classification.  These drugs are illegal and have no accepted medical use in the United States.  This is a bill to keep ahead of the manufacturers of these illegal drugs and help control the production of them.  The bill passed in the House 97-0.

A bill eliminating the requirement on the tax forms as to whether people have health insurance for their children is HF 2442.  As you know federal tax forms require that the government is notified of the purchase of health insurance for all people under the Obama Care Act.  This bill would eliminate that for the State of Iowa for children.  This bill passed in the house 97-0.

Senator Anderson and I had the pleasure of visiting with Mark Zeka’s government class on Wednesday.  They asked good questions and had a great discussion about the legislature.  I want to thank them again for coming to the Statehouse for a visit!

I’ve really enjoyed serving the people of District 5 and I want to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to do so.  Please visit me at the town hall forums.  Feel free to contact me anytime using the information at the top of the newsletter or let me know of anyone who would like to receive this newsletter.

Sincerely,
Chuck Holz


 

March 28, 2016

Friends,

One of the first bills for this last week that was approved was HF 2432.  This bill has to do with how the Judicial Branch of the government operates.  In the past, judge’s salaries were set by the Iowa Legislature.

This bill would allow the Judicial Branch to be responsible for the budget and set the salaries.  This would include all judges from the Supreme Court down to the Magistrate Court.  Currently, Iowa Judges salaries are not competitive with the private sector.  Therefore, it is not surprising that the number of people applying to be Iowa Judges is down considerably compared to the past.

The Legislature will continue to designate money for the Judicial Branch in two specific ways.  One is the normal line items for operations and the other is for jury expenses.  Other than that, the Judicial Branch will get to handle their own affairs.  By doing so, they will be able to spend the money in ways that will best benefit the needs of their branch.  This bill was approved with a 95-4 vote.

Gun suppressors were another item that was discussed last week.  The bill for this had passed in the House several weeks ago and was sent to the Senate for debate.  The Senate made a slight change in the bill and sent it back to the House for debate.  The House found the change acceptable and passed the amendment.  The Governor has to sign this bill yet, but it is expected that suppressors will be available in the State of Iowa soon.  This is a positive step for the Second Amendment Rights for the people of Iowa.

A bill regarding the establishment of the “Iowa Appraisal Management Company Registration and Supervision” was HF 2436.  This is a bill I had worked over the course of session.  Due to the housing crisis several years ago, the Federal Government determined that there was a need for appraisal management companies.

The role of these companies is to oversee appraisers on properties to make sure that all appraisals are handles responsibly.  In the past, loan companies would only use one or two appraisers at most.  This would force them to use all appraisers on a rotating basis.  I think this was a good bill and will be helpful for the people of Iowa.  The bill passed with a vote of 98-0 in the House.

The House received SF 503 from the Senate.  This bill requires State Sheriffs and Deputies Associations to submit a cost analysis of their operations.  This report contains the total annual county budget allocation to the Sheriff’s Office, the average cost of the services they provide, revenue collected for the year by categories, and the impact associated on property taxes for each county by them fulfilling their duties.  This bill passed the House in a bipartisan fashion with a vote of 99-0.

Bill SF 2276 pertained to land surveying standards.  For example, if a piece of land had a monument on it, the land surveyor would be required to preserve the monument and the area around it.  They would have to also present a certificate for preservation for the monument to the County Recorder.  This will protect our natural areas and monuments in Iowa from being destroyed by new construction or roads.  This bill passed in the House on a vote of 98-0.

The school funding initiative did pass in the House for the amount of 2.25% increase.  This amount is what the State of Iowa can responsibly afford at this time from the revenues received.  The 2.25% plus the teacher leadership funding totals to 153 million dollars.  Of the 176 million that is 78% of the available new revenue that is going to schools.  The Republicans feel that this is a substantial amount of new money going to schools and this is being done in a responsible manner.  By giving the schools this much money, it leave only 23 million for the rest of the state budget.  This passed the House with a vote of 55-41.

A bill regarding telepharmacy was discussed SF 453.  This bill is really important for rural areas where having a pharmacy can be more of a luxury.  This bill allows a regular pharmacy to have a satellite office that is manned by a pharmacy tech.  This person has direct contact with a pharmacist at another location.  By doing so, it allows people to get medicine dispensed under their normal prescription.

These telepharmacys can only be set up if the distance is greater than ten miles from an existing pharmacy.  The Pharmacy Board does have authority over these and how they are manned.  This is a good bill for rural Iowa so that people have access to medication refills without having to travel great distances.  This passed the House with a vote of 94-0.

Another bill debated was the use of opioid antangagnous.  This allows people such as family members or emergency employees to have the antangagnous to help counteract a heroin overdose.  This can give people who have overdosed another twenty minutes or so which can be lifesaving before paramedics can reach them.  This bill passed with a vote of 93-2.

Increasing the funding for the 911 systems was a bill that was discussed.  The funding for this comes from the one dollar charge that comes from people’s landing/cell phone charges.  This money is then used to help pay for the 911 system.  The funding for the 911 system is being increased from the 46% to 60% by using the funding that is received.  There is also money available up to $200,000 so that the 911 systems can consolidate with their neighboring systems to become a more regional system.

Currently, there are 114 systems in the state.  Ideally, there would be a few regional systems which would be more cost effective/functional.  This is a good bill and would be great for rural Iowa.  It passed in the House with a vote of 94-0.

A bill regarding license plate and specialty plates was passed in the House.  License plates will now be allowed to receive a special sticker to be part of the plate that was approved by the Department of Transportation.  This will be a more uniform system and will be less expensive.

This also allows nonprofit groups to sell the stickers, collect the money and then people can apply the special sticker to the license plate.  The Department of Transportation would no longer need to collect the money and pay the nonprofit group.  The bill passed with a vote of 95-0.

I’ve really enjoyed serving the people of District 5 and I want to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to do so.  Please visit me at the town hall forums.  Feel free to contact me anytime using the information at the top of the newsletter or let me know of anyone who would like to receive this newsletter.

Sincerely,
Chuck Holz


March 16, 2016

Friends,
As we begin the first week after the last funnel, we’re starting to see a lot of Senate bills come through the house for approval.  One of those is SF 2115.  This has to do with anyone who knowingly resists/obstructs a jailer in the performance of their duties or interferes with official acts.  This would cover people who have committed serious misdemeanors all the way through Class C Felonies.  The current law only covered policeman and deputies.  It didn’t include jailers and we believe that they should be covered since they are a crucial part of law enforcement.  The bill passed with an 86-10 vote in the House.

Another Senate bill that we debated was SF 2144.  This bill would allow information on the treatment, diagnosis and medication of patients to be exchanged between healthcare professionals who are treating a person.  This is really important for the quality of care for patients so that all medical providers are on the same page as to the current status/medications of their patient.  This bill easily passed in the House with a vote of 96-0.

A bill discussed relating to the matters of the Credit Union Division of the law is SF 2279.  One of the things the bill does is require that the Superintendent of the Credit Union be added to the list of officials required to file an annual report to the Governor.  This bill also allows Credit Unions with offices in other states to have different laws and regulations that apply to the Superintendent.  This allows the Superintendent permission to utilize those powers under the laws in those states.  Finally, the bill requires the Credit Union to notify the Superintendent of any change in its principle location of business within ten business days.  This bill passed the House with a 97-0 vote.
SF 2061 is an indigenous defense criminal proceeding bill.  It would allow a person who has been charged with a misdemeanor that could potentially result in jail time to have the opportunity to be represented by legal counsel.  It is only fair and just that all people who are potentially going to jail have an opportunity for a legal defense.  This bill passed in the House with a 95-1 vote.

The Board of Pharmacy really rallied and supported SF 2102.  The bill would allow the Board of Pharmacy to facilitate secure access to the Iowa Prescription Monitoring Program through electronic health and pharmacy information systems.  This would allow for easier access and more efficiency with electronic documentation than by using paper.  This bill passed in the House with a vote of 97-0.
The bill regarding the Disaster Aid Payment Authorization was SF 2231.  This bill removes the two week notice that is required under the Executive Council Approval Process.  Removing the two week notice would allow payments to reach people affected by a disaster quicker in an emergency situation.  This bill easily passed in the House with a vote of 96-0.

The Department of Human Services bill to help prevent sex trafficking is SF 2258.  This bill basically strengthens the Family Act which is a Federal Law from 2014.  The bill changes the age requirement of some juveniles in foster care so that they can be transitioned through the legal system in a more uniform manner.  It would also require foster parents to be labeled as reasonable and prudent parents in order to help encourage the proper treatment of the children in their care.  This is a really important bill for the safety of the kids in the foster care system.  This bill passed in the House with a 97-0 vote.

SF 2164 is a bill allowing the expunging of public intoxication records after a two year period of time with no re-offenses.  This would be particularly helpful for young adults who have made the mistake of being intoxicated in public.  It would allow for a second chance to have a clean legal record when applying for college, jobs, housing etc.  This bill passed in the House with a 97-0 vote.

SF 2214 was a bill regarding pharmacy dispensing.  Currently, pharmacies are able to dispense a thirty day supply and this would increase it to a ninety day supply.  This also helps with medical synchronization which allows the pharmacy to keep all of a person’s drug supply in sequence.  The bill easily passed the House with a vote of 98-0.

The final bill is SF 2191.  This has to do with human trafficking.  This bill coordinates the oversight efforts to combat this terrible practice.  It allows the Commissioner to appoint a coordinator to create an office to combat human trafficking.  It also establishes research and recommended training to assist Governmental Agencies to identify/respond to human trafficking victims.  This bill passed with a 98-0 vote in the House.

The Revenue Estimating Committee (REC) met on Wednesday.  I am pleased to report that they did not change the estimate for new revenue for the State of Iowa.  This still indicates that the State of Iowa is growing, but at a slower rate.  With this figure, we can now begin making our final budget arrangements.  The figure that will be used will be 99% of the total revenue which is 7.351 billion dollars.  This figure is almost 60 million dollars less than what the Governor and Senate Democrats had been using on their budget.  It is 32 million more than the House Republicans have been using for their estimate.  This shows that the House Republicans are fiscally responsible for the State of Iowa.  They have a true handle on the finances of this state and will not spend more than the state takes in.

I’ve really enjoyed serving the people of District 5 and I want to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to do so.  Please come visit with me at the town hall forums and feel free to contact me anytime using the information at the top of the newsletter.

Sincerely,
Chuck Holz


March 14, 2016

Friends,

As we begin the final week of funnel week, we’re becoming a lot busier due to the number of bills we have to pass.  We’ve had many committee meetings and then turned right around to vote on the bills as they come through.  One of the tougher bills that we approved this week was the domestic violence penalty bill.  This bill mandates minimum sentences after the third conviction for assault.  It also mandates risk assessments for people convicted of certain domestic violence crimes.  They would also be required to complete domestic abuse treatment before being released.  Part of this would require the offender to wear an electronic monitoring device.  This bill HF 2399 passed with an 86-12 vote.  One amendment was offered for this bill to define the relationship as either domestic or casual.  This becomes an important factor for a judge when working on the case.

Another bill that passed was HF 2357 with a 96-1 vote.  This bill concerns the commercial harvest of turtles in the Iowa ponds and lakes.  This bill will help keep turtles from being over-harvested by establishing a hunting season.  The reproductive phase of turtles is generally January through June.  The hunting season for turtles would then start after that time frame and go to the end of the year.  It is important to note that there is no limit on the number of turtles a person can harvest in the season.  To make sure Iowa’s turtles don’t become depleted, a commission of researchers was established to oversee the turtle population in the state.

HF 2148 is a bill regarding only having one license plate required on a vehicle.  I had worked on this bill through the process and was very disappointed when we couldn’t find enough support to pass it as it was originally written.  The bill ended up being watered down to the point where only automobiles from the 1948 and older or sports cars (classified as two-seater with less than 8 inches in vehicles height) would be allowed to have one license plate.  The bill passed with a 74-23 vote.

Another bill that passed with unanimous approval was HF 2386.  This bill allows a judge to terminate the parental rights of a parent who has committed sexual assault against the other parent (where the assault resulted in the birth of a child).  There was a lot of discussion on this bill, but in the end everyone agreed something should be done to let people know that these actions will not be tolerated in the State of Iowa.  I was very glad to see everyone come together on this bill to further help protect people.

One of the more confrontational bills we have worked on this year is HF 2329.  This bill deals with the protection or prohibiting the sale of fetal body parts.  The bill provides penalties for people who do this.  I want you to understand that we are trying to prevent the sale of fetal body parts for research or other uses.  This should not be a commercial business.

The Republican Party is completely appalled by this type of practice and we want to make sure this doesn’t happen in the State of Iowa as it has happened in other states.  There is a Federal Law already in place, but last year the Attorney General decided not to take action.  Attorney General claimed later that there were no laws on this in Iowa.  With that in mind, the Republican Party decided get something in law to stop this in Iowa.  The bill was basically drawn on party lines when it came to voting.  The Republicans passed this bill with a 56-43 vote.

Another bill that was approved was one that the Republicans passed in 2014 concerning the consumable sales tax.  This is a tax placed on items that manufactures would buy.  They would turn around and process them and then sell the item/collect a tax.  This was essentially double taxation for them.  We have removed this taxation to allow manufactures the ability to purchase products tax free and then turn around and sell them.  The sales tax would only then be applied to the finished product.  This is a good bill for Iowans and saves millions for our manufacturers.

I am pleased to tell you that Governor Branstad has signed SF 2288 into law.  This will make it so juvenile records are confidential unless a judge issues an order making them public.  This protects juveniles who have made minor mistakes from being discriminated against when applying for college, jobs and housing.  This was outlined in the Governor’s Condition of the State earlier this year.

I am also pleased to tell you that the State will approve coupling 179 for the 2015 tax year.  This is a major step that the Republicans have pushed for ever since the second week of session.  After much discussion, the Democrats finally came around on the issue.

I would also like to let you know that on Tuesday morning, I had the great pleasure of having the Brown family join us at the Capitol to sing the National Anthem.  The family includes Shelly, Michaela, Adam and Andrew.  They did a marvelous job with their rendition and received a standing ovation.  It was an honor to have the Brown family representing Northwest Iowa.

I’ve really enjoyed serving the people of District 5 and I want to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to do so.  Please come visit with me at the town hall forums and feel free to contact me anytime using the information at the top of the newsletter.

Sincerely,
Chuck Holz


March 2, 2016

Friends,

It is going to be a busy week in the House of Representatives.  On Thursday of last week, I met with Bill Rosacker who is with the EMS group.  He also introduced me to several people from Sioux City.  We had a great discussion about some of the needs of the EMS in the coming years.

In this newsletter, I will outline the bills that I think you will find most interesting or relevant.  One bill in particular I’d like to discuss regards the seizure of communication and data.  In this bill, people must be presented with a warrant before their electronic communication and data can be seized from them for inspection.  I think this is a good bill that will help protect the rights of people from unnecessary seizure and search of property.

Another bill regards online learning “offer and teach” wavers.  This passed in the House.  This allows a school district to offer a course, not necessarily an online course.  If the school district isn’t able to find a teacher for this course, then they have two options.  One is that they can use an online service to do this.  Another option is to take a one year waiver of that course requirement which would allow the school district time to find a qualified teacher.  If a teacher can’t be found, then the course may be offered online through the Iowa Learning Online Initiative.

A bill regarding the broadening of criminal offenses of sexual exploitation of students by school employees or others employed by the school district passed in the House.  This really takes into account the incident that occurred in Sioux City where a company hired by the school district’s employee was accused of this act.  This would allow people such as the ones in this situation to be prosecuted.

An important bill for non-public schools was passed this week.  This removes the sunset of July 1, 2020 for allowing accreditation through an independent crediting board that has been approved by the Department of Education.  This bill also allows them other options other than just the Department of Education for this accreditation.  Currently there are thirty-seven non-public schools in the state that are accredited through independent agencies.  There are one-hundred forty-four that are accredited through the Department of Education.

Requiring counties that receive gas tax money to report on the progress of the repair/replacement of bridges was passed in the House.  This would require the counties to report to the Department of Transportation on how many bridges are repaired, number in repair, bridges that are in good condition and bridges that are delinquent.  They are also required to give a timeline for the repair of the delinquent bridges.  This is to show that the Legislature wants to know if the gas tax money is being used in the manner it was intended to be used.

There was a bill requiring school districts that students have one computer course in 9-12th grade.  The bill also states that students are required in 7-8th grade to have at least one section for computer coding.  Currently, LeMars school district does comply with this requirement.  It has been reported that less than forty schools in Iowa do not have computer courses at this point in time.  Computer education is extremely important and we want school districts to have these courses or be able to use the Iowa Online source for this curriculum.

A bill passed that would allow exemption for military personal to get a hunting license without taking the hunter education safety course.  Reasoning is that they should be able to handle guns in a responsible manner because of their military training.

HF 2407 makes juvenile court records confidential unless they commit a felony.  These records are sealed unless a judge makes them available.  This allows juveniles who made some minor bad decisions in their young life to not be discriminated against later in life as adults when looking for work, housing or college.

A final bill to tell you about states that Department of Workforce Development will establish a central location for the purpose of providing information on Veterans in their job search.  This ensures that Veterans have a preference in obtaining a job in the State of Iowa since they served their country.

I’ve enjoyed my time here so far and I want to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve you in District 5.  Please come visit with me at the town hall forums and feel free to contact me anytime using the information at the top of the newsletter.

Sincerely,
Chuck Holz

Town Forums for Saturday, March 5, 2016

9:00AM – 9:45AM – Correctionville Forum, Community Building, 312 Driftwood Street
10:00AM – 10:45AM – Pierson Forum, City Hall, 201 Main Street
11:00AM – 11:45AM – Moville Forum, Fire Station, 24 W Main Street
12:00PM – 12:45PM – Lawton Forum, Community Building, 101 E Maple Street
1:15PM – 2:00PM – Remsen Forum, Mid Sioux Opportunity, 418 S. Marion Street


 

February 24, 2016

Friends,

The fifth week of session has been filled with lots of activity.  On Monday, I was honored to have visitors from Western Iowa Tech Community College and Neal Adler from Le Mars.  In regards to the Community College visitors, there was good conversation about the importance in shaping the young minds for the future.

Tuesday, was also a very busy day.  We started in with a very long list of bills which were to be debated in the House.  One of the first bills we discussed was the distribution of lottery tickets through self-serve kiosk machines/push button screens.  These machines dispense lottery tickets as well as other lottery material.  Let’s be clear that this is not video gaming.  It is strictly to modernize the existing machines that are present in a lot of convenient stores.  They still have to follow all the regulations that the existing machines are required to abide by.

Another bill we discussed in the House was letting private pond owners to allow people to fish on their private pond without a license.  It was decided that private pond owners should have the authority to decide who if any get to fish on their property.

A cremation bill was also debated.  This is in regards to unclaimed people (more than 180 days) who are in the possession of a funeral director.  Let’s be clear that these are people who have not been claimed by any family.  This bill allows the funeral director to check with the Department of Veterans Affairs to make sure that these people could be buried in a national cemetery if they were veterans.

Some cities have employment requirements that a person must live in the state in order to be employed.  The people this would mostly pertain to, for example, would be law enforcement or Sioux City Fire Departments.  This bill provision allows the city to opt out of the provision so it’s up to the local people to make the decision for them.

Another bill that is important especially this year is to allow seventeen year old people who will turn eighteen before the general election in November, to vote in primaries.  Current law states that they have to be seventeen and a half in order to do this.  We simply struck the half, so that these people can vote in the primary since they would already be voting in the general election.

A variety of Second Amendment issues was also discussed this week.  One of them concerns the use of having firearm possession on snowmobiles and ATVs.  Currently you must have a permit to carry in order to do that.  A person that is not required to have a permit to carry is someone who is riding on their own property.  It is important to note that a person may not shoot on or from an ATV if they are hunting.

Another bill that was discussed strikes the minimum age of a person handling a firearm. The previous law stated you must be fourteen years of age to handle a long gun or rifle.  Under this provision, if you’re under the direct supervision of a parent/guardian and your fourteen or younger, you are allowed to handle a pistol or revolver.  It also states that the supervisor is 100% liable if any injury does occur during that time.

The use of suppressors has become an important issue.  This is especially important to people who do a lot of shooting or target practice.  These suppressors now can be purchased and used in Iowa under this bill.  The law required that the person who purchases the suppressor to be a US citizen and legally able to purchase a firearm.  They must also pass a background check as well as pay a $200 transfer tax for each suppressor they want to purchase.  Suppressors can only be purchased by someone twenty-one years of age or older.  One thing to remember about suppressors is that they basically reduce the noise by approximately 30%.  If you wear ear muffs or ear plugs that has a noise reduction of about 30%.  So if you use a suppressor and ear protection, you will dramatically protect your hearing, but will still be hearing the shots fired.

The last bill pertaining to guns makes it easier to obtain a permit to carry.  It simplifies the renewal process for people who have a nonprofessional permit to carry.  It also protects the privacy of that person so that their personal information from the actual application that people submit will be protected.

A bill that discussed farm/tenant termination agreements to be in writing was also debated.  Right now it’s a recommended practice.  Verbal agreements had been used in the past between landowner and tenant.  This bill simply clarifies that a person must terminate the lease in writing.

Another bill discussed gives the owner of a property the power to physically (using law enforcement) have a tenant removed who is no longer has the right to live on the property.  This would be allowed only after all other proper legal actions are taken/approved.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) have given approval to move forward for the future of Medicaid Modernization.  There will be an extra thirty days provide for the transition.  We are working on reasonable measures for oversight to protect Medicaid patients and the healthcare they depend on.

All the bills that I have shared with you in this newsletter have been passed in the House.  However, these are not law yet because the Senate still needs to debate/vote on them.  I will let you know what happens.

I’ve enjoyed my time here so far and I want to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve you in District 5.  Please come visit with me at the town hall forums and feel free to contact me anytime using the information at the top of the newsletter.

Sincerely,
Chuck Holz


February 17, 2016

Friends,

At the end of last week, the House Republicans released their budget targets for the year 2017.  Two weeks ago, the Senate released their budget targets.  Last week’s proposal by the House set in motion the legislative process for the rest of this session.  Iowans can expect a budget where the State of Iowa collects and lives within its means.  It’s important for Iowa family/businesses to budget under their common sense approach.  Government should do the same.  House Republicans have offered a realistic budget for the next fiscal year.  This includes making meaningful investments that protect the hardworking taxpayers of Iowa.  House Republicans plan to spend 99.9% or $7.320 billion of the ongoing revenue (which amounts to $7.327 billion).  This ensures that the government doesn’t spend more than it takes in.  This is a 2% or $145.8 million increase over 2016.

Individual line items for each budget subcommittee have been determined at this point.  The House Republican budget doesn’t use any of the ending balance, cash reserve or economic emergency fund.  Those are considered one-time funding sources and we should not use one-time money for ongoing expenses.  That would not be responsible management.  Every year, the increase in school aid is tied directly to the amount of ongoing revenue that the State brings in.  It is important to note that the ending balance/cash reserve and the economic emergency funds have no impact on school funding.  Taking money from these funds would jeopardize timely payments to school districts and local governments.  Nearly 93% of the new revenue is going into supplemental state aid.  This amounts to $80.1 million plus teacher leadership (which is $53 million) and school property tax backfill of $10 million.  When these are all added together, the total is $143.1 million that is marked for K-12 school systems.  The remaining is for the rest of state government.  This clearly shows that Republicans do try to fund K-12 education.

This week is funnel week at the Statehouse.  This is where all the bills have to be passed through subcommittees/standing committees in order to be debated.  We have been very busy in our meetings passing numerous bills along for further debate.  Some of the bills I have been working on include water quality issues, anhydrous ammonia tank modifications and issues concerning bonding for companies in Iowa that do projects out of state.   In Economic Growth Committee, there have also been many extensive discussions/presentations on studies on the biochemical industry/use of biomass materials.  There has also been discussion on encouraging tax reform and tax credits for these companies.  In Transportation, we had discussion on increasing the speed limit, and potentially having one required license plate on vehicles.

We had two very controversial bills that were discussed.  One of them was in the Agriculture Committee.  The bill we passed is called the “SAVE Fund.”  This is a one cent sales tax that goes towards school infrastructure that could be used for transportation costs for a district.  This would only apply if the schools per pupil cost were above average.  The bill also included that inequity in property taxes could use this fund to remedy their financial situation when property evaluations are below state average.

Several of the schools in the district will be able to use part of their “SAVE Fund” to help with transportation and property tax inequities.  It is important to note that the bill also includes use for water quality issue that the Governor had in his budget.  In regards to the water quality issue, that money will be limited for the first few years.  Over the course of time, sales tax will increase.  There will also be a $10 million increase every year to this fund to school districts.  The funds available for water quality should also see an increase as well.  This bill also extends the sunset from 2029 to 2049.  This will enable school districts to bond against this fund in order to do infrastructure needs.

There were several amendments on this bill.  One of them was that the fund could not be used for stadium repair or new stadiums over $1 million unless it was voted on by a 60% majority of the residents of the school district.  I feel that this is an equitable way to handle some of the shortcomings our school districts have had with property tax inequity and also transportation costs.  This would still allow the small use of money for water quality which is a big issue in the state.

Another water quality bill was also discussed in Agriculture Committee.  This could potentially help redefine some of the uses for money from the Department of Agriculture toward water quality issues.  This would include money for water ways.  This is important because it pertains to water streams where a thirty foot buffer could be used in order to prevent run off.   This would help reduce phosphorus levels that have contaminated some streams in Northwest Iowa.

I also had a subcommittee where we discussed anhydrous tanks and the practice of heat treating these tanks.  This is done to reduce the chances of cracking/improve the life of the tank.  I believe this is a good thing to do and most companies will do this in the future.  Another part of this bill pertains to the injection of air into the ammonia tanks.  This is an effort done to stabilize the pressure at which the ammonia exits the tanks in the fields.  However, there are some problems with doing this.  One problem is that air can be corrosive to the inside of these tanks.  One company assured the subcommittee that the tanks could be purged of the air at the end of application.  Another concern is that Federal law states that tanks can’t have anything other than anhydrous ammonia in them when they travel down the road.  Transporting an empty tank can have the potential for explosion.  This is why the Department of Agriculture is opposed to the procedure.  In the end, this did not pass subcommittee due to the danger to farmers and the people who fill the tanks at the co-ops.

It’s been a busy week trying to get everything passed as funnel week draws to a close. Next week will be a busy week trying to get all bills run though so that the House can debate them.  I am looking forward to the discussion.

I’ve enjoyed my time here so far and I want to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve you in District 5.  Please come visit with me at the town hall forums and feel free to contact me anytime using the information at the top of the newsletter.

Sincerely,
Chuck Holz


 

February 8, 2016

Friends,

As we end the fourth week of the session, I am pleased to report that we passed an internal revenue code reference for 2015.  This section is what is referred to as “coupling for the Federal Code” for many of the tax provisions that were recently extended by Congress.  The deduction in this includes up to $250 dollars out of pocket expenses for teachers.  It will help also with tuition/fee deductions for higher education expenses.  This is crucial for small businesses and farmers because it allows them to claim $500,000 towards the cost of equipment (also known as section 179 expensing).  I am pleased to report that this passed in a bipartisan fashion with over 80 votes in the House.  With the approval of this code, the ending balance for the State of Iowa will be reduced by $96 million.  Returning this money back to the people of Iowa is important. It will increase the revenue for 2017 by $86 million.  This will be in the 2017 fiscal budget as ongoing revenue.  I will note that the bonus depreciation in the Federal Code was not “coupled” to the Iowa Code.  The passage of this is retroactive back to January 1, 2015.

Recently, Bill Northey visited our Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee.  He proposed an Agriculture budget that has very few changes.  There is one exception to his proposal that includes $500,000 as a possible one time or ongoing expense to support animal disease prevention outbreak in Iowa. This includes the development of an emergency plan for cattle, hogs, dairy, poultry and other species that are important to Iowa.

I have had a busy week in my subcommittee meetings.  Director Chuck Gipp from the DNR gave a presentation regarding the DNR budget.  He spoke about the programs they have and how the funding has been distributed.  It is important to note that the budget has remained the same for the last three or four years.  It doesn’t look like there will be any increase in the budget this year.  Many of the programs the DNR have concerning soil and water conservation are extremely important for Iowa/District 5.  They continue to work on this water quality issue.  Overall, the DNR remains an important source of information and for the completion of projects as we go forward.

Susan Heathcote from WIRP (Water Improvement Review Program) also presented.  This program is important for the distribution of funds for water quality projects.   One of the projects they completed was the Remsen project for the wells in the city of Remsen.  These wells were contaminated and were in need to be cleaned.  They were able to purchase property surrounding the wells and work with it in a way to insure that contamination didn’t happen again.  WIRP has not been funded for the last two years.  They requested that they be funded this year.

Transportation meetings included a presentation from the Director of Transportation Mr. Trombino.  He talked exclusively about the ten cent gas tax that was started/collected last year.  He discussed the improvement projects that have been funded by this additional ten cents.  Some of these projects are on the state, city, and county levels.  This has been an important source of funding to help improve our roads and bridges.  I was pleased to hear that according to the figures he has that 95% of the funds has been spent on dirt, rock, steel and concrete.  This indicates repair or replacements of roads/bridges that this money was intended to be used for.  We also heard from Dan Franklin from the DOT.  He talked about Federal Funds/distribution to the States, where funding comes from and how Iowa will use this for projects.  A lot of these projects have to do with Federal roads and interstate system.  Keeping up those routes is very important.   Part of that will help with the I-29 corridor through Sioux City as well as Highway 20 completion to a four lane road.

Economic Growth had the Director of Iowa Cultural Affairs, Mary Cownie.  They are in charge of historical preservation in the State of Iowa.  They continue to keep up historical sites throughout the state and work on creating websites for easy access to find them.  They put in a request for $65 million for the renovation of the Iowa Historical Building.  They have so many items of historical significance that they would like to display, but simply don’t have the room to do so.  The money would renovate the current building and create space to display more items.  Keeping up these artifacts is important for the State of Iowa.

Agriculture meeting this week discussed the use of industrial hemp.  A man from Kentucky talked about how he used industrial hemp to revitalize his farm after loss of tobacco production.  He is doing a lot of different products.  Two in particular include making shoes with the hemp and making American flags.  He has a backlog of American flags that will take him several years to fulfill.  This has revitalized the local town and his farm.

Next week is funnel week.  This is where all bills have to get out of subcommittee if they are to be debated in the House.  This will be a very busy week as we move toward that date.  Two weeks after that we have a second funnel week which has to do with the bills the Senate has passes.  We have passed a few bills on the floor that are important, but not considered controversial.  Having approval of school funding and the coupling bill will move things along the fastest.  These two bills will be rectified about the same time.  The school funding bill is in a conference with Senate and is trying to reach an agreement.   The coupling bill is in the hands of the Senate.

This past weekend we had our local town forums.  There was good discussion at all the locations.  I enjoyed my time meeting with constituents.  I appreciate all your support and will do the best I can for District 5.  Please feel free to contact me anytime using the information at the top of the newsletter.

Sincerely,
Chuck Holz