2018 Legislative Session — Week 14
April 12, 2018 (Last Newsletter of this Session)
Last week after mailing you my newsletter, Clark and Franklin Elementary Schools came to the Capitol to visit me and take a Capitol tour. It was a pleasure meeting the teachers and students.
This is the fourteenth week of our Session and our last full week. Therefore, this will be my last newsletter to you.
Once again, this week we will be debating House Files, Senate Files and Amendments before we vote on them to help our state.
On Monday, we voted on several bills. House File (HF) 2480 is one of them.
• HF 2480 is a bill that creates a manufactured housing program fund within the Iowa Finance Authority (IFA).
Money for the Manufactured Housing Program Fund could come from the unobligated and unencumbered money in the four following funds:
1. Senior Living Revolving Loan Program Fund
2. Home & Community-based Service Revolving Loan Program Fund
3. Transitional Housing Revolving Loan Program Fund
4. Community Housing & Services for Persons with Disabilities Revolving Loan Program Fund.
HF 2480 also amends Iowa Code section 16.54 (2) dealing with the home ownership program for military members, to provide that primary residences eligible under the program would include manufactured homes on leased land.
The bill passed 95 Ayes, 0 Nays, and 5 Absents.
On Tuesday, we continued to vote on bills. An important bill for School Districts follows:
• House File (HF) 2481 contains multiple provisions regarding the Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE) and Property Equity Tax Relief (PTER) Fund.
The bill provides for the extension of the one-cent sales tax that is distributed to school districts for the following uses:
1. Reduction of bond levies.
2. Reduction of regular and voted Physical, Plant, and Equipment Levies (PPEL).
3. Reduction of the Public Education and Recreation Levy (PERL).
4. Authorized infrastructure projects.
5. Payment of principal and interest on bonds issued under the School Infrastructure Local Option (SILO) sales tax or Secure and Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE).
HF 2481 makes some modifications to the use of SAVE dollars, the distribution to the Property Tax Equity Relief (PTER) fund, and extends the sunset on the statewide penny that funds SAVE by 20 years.
The distribution amount that goes to the PETR fund will be increased from 2.1% to 12%, getting there by 1% increments per year, assuming a specified growth in the SAVE fund is achieved each year.
From the increased funds, from 2.1% to 12%, 2/3 will be used in the same manner as the 2.1% is being used now to by DOWN the rate for high-rate districts.
The remaining 1/3 will be used in a newly created Foundation Base Percentage Fund (FBPF) which provides property tax relief to all districts by buying UP to school foundation aid level of 87.5%.
HF 2481 also requires voter approval to use SAVE funds for athletic facilities and makes changes to the Certificate of Need requirements, namely to demonstrate the need for using the funds for new construction vs. doing repairs or remodeling.
There will be athletic facilities limitation. An athletic facility means a building or structure or portion there of that is not physically attached to a student attendance center. Construction does not include replacing or upgrading an existing facility.
If a District wishes to use SAVE funds for construction that includes in whole or in part the construction of an athletic facility, the Board must adopt a resolution and hold an additional public hearing.
If a petition from voters is received, then the issue must go to a vote. If no petition is received, the resolution is considered approved.
HF 2481 clarifies that SAVE revenue can be used for school safety and security, including safe rooms, remote entry technology and equipment, security camera systems, card access systems, and emergency communications systems.
It does not include the cost of personnel, development of safety and security plans or training related to those plans.
The bill passed 95 Ayes, 3 Nays, and 2 Absents.
Wednesday we continued to debate and vote on bills as we are continuing to debate and vote on bills today.
2018 Legislative Session — Week 13
April 5, 2018
Once again, the thirteenth week of the Session was “a week of debate.” The House of Representatives focuses on debating the remaining House Bills and Senate Bills passed by the Senate this Session.
The following bill was presented and debated Thursday of last week after I mailed my twelfth week newsletter to you.
• HF 2477 deals with disclosures of information to the State Auditor and the confidentiality of certain information received pertaining to an audit or examination.
HF 2477 provides that a person shall not take any adverse employment action against a merit system employee or state employee as a reprisal for a disclosure of information to the auditor of state.
Any information received to an audit or examination, and not just received during the course of an audit or examination, shall be maintained as a confidential subject to the disclosure requirements of the code section.
Additionally, HF 2477 specifically provides that the identities of complainants and witnesses pertaining to an audit or examination shall be confidential but provides that the identities of petitioners for a re-audit shall be public record upon completion of any report related to the re-audit.
The bill passed 96 Ayes, 0 Nays, and 4 Absent.
On Monday, as I stated above, we continued to debate and vote on bills, Both House Files (HF) and Senate Files (SF).
• SF 2169 was substituted for HF 8175 by unanimous consent. SF 2196 refers to Dram Shop Insurance.
Dram Shops refer to restaurants and bars that are required by Iowa Law to carry insurance in case a person they have served alcohol to is in an accident and the person was drunk.
SF 2196 clarifies that a third party is not the intoxicated person who caused an incident.
Non-economic damages are capped at $250,000 per plaintiff, 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.
Additionally, the bill requires the Insurance Division to conduct a biannual evaluation of dram shop insurance in Iowa as compared to other states and submit findings and recommendations to the Legislature.
The bill passed with 61 Ayes, 36 Nays, and 3 Absent.
On Tuesday we continued to debate and vote on bills. We debated for about 6 hours on Senate File (SF) 481 due to the number of amendments and the importance of the bill which enforces Immigration Laws.
• SF 481 prohibits local entities from refusing to comply with a written federal detainer request for a person in their custody who is in the country illegally.
If a person is arrested, the federal written detainer will require the local authorities to hold that prisoner for ICE for an additional 48 hours. The local facility will be reimbursed for this stay by the Federal Government.
A local entity that enacts a policy of noncompliance shall lose state funding for up to a year. If they reverse their policy, they can be reinstated for funds in 90 days.
Additionally, a local entity or its employees shall not consider race, skin color, language spoken, or national origin while enforcing immigration laws, except to the extent permitted by the Constitution.
One of the Amendments that passed strikes the County Attorney from taking and prosecuting complaints under the code. The Attorney General will now be solely responsible for complaints and further judicial action.
The bill passed 55 Ayes and 45 Nays.
On Wednesday, I had several visitors and the House continued to debate bills.
• SF 2230 was substituted for HF 2270 dealing with Kidnapping in the second degree.
Under current law, a person is guilty of kidnapping in the second degree if they hold the victim for ransom, or if the kidnaper is armed with a dangerous weapon.
This bill adds that a person is guilty of second degree kidnapping if the victim is under 18, and they are not kidnapped by a parent or legal guardian with the sole purpose of assuming custody of the victim.
Kidnapping in the second degree is a class “B” felony. Because this is a forcible felony, the kidnapping is not eligible for a deferred judgement or suspended sentence.
A class “B” felony is punishable by up to 25 years in prison and must serve 70% of their sentence before being eligible for parole.
The bill passed the House with 82 Ayes, 16 Nays, and 2 Absent.
Senator Jim Carlin and I will be holding two Legislative Forums on April 14.
1. The first one will be in Hinton, Iowa at the Hinton Community Center from 8:30 am – 9:30 am.
2. The second one will be in Le Mars, Iowa at the American Bank basement from 10:00 am – 11:00 am.
Today we are continuing to debate and vote on bills.
2018 Legislative Session — Week 12
March 29, 2018
Dear Friends, Once again the Twelfth 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.
• Senate File (SF) 2203 is a bill that allows a nurse completing a nurse refresher course to be issued a limited authorization to practice in a clinical setting.
Additionally, with this bill, the Board of Nursing will pursue requirements for a nurse who has not held an active license in any jurisdiction in the previous five years to complete a nurse refresher course.
The Board will require the course to have a theory component and a clinical component. The nurse must complete the course before they will be issued a license. The bill passed 97 Ayes, 0 Nays, and 3 Absent.
• Senate File (SF) 2235 was substituted for House File 2394. Both bills create a crime for critical infrastructure sabotage. Critical infrastructure is any of the following:
* An electrical power generating, transmission or delivery system.
* A gas, oil, petroleum, refined petroleum product, renewable fuel, or chemical critical generation, storage transportation or delivery system.
* A telecommunications or broadband generation, transmission, or delivery system.
* A wastewater treatment, collection, or delivery system. o A water supply treatment, collection, storage, or delivery system.
* Any land, building, conveyance or other structure publically or privately owned that contains, or is appurtenant to, any critical infrastructure above.
Critical infrastructure sabotage is an unauthorized and overt act intended to cause a substantial and widespread interruption or impairment of a fundamental service rendered by the critical infrastructure.
It does not include accidental interruption caused by a person in performance of their work duties or caused by a person’s lawful activity.
It also does not include any condition or activity related to the production of farm products as defined in 554.9102 (Uniform Commercial Code – Definitions and Index Of Definitions.)
A person who commits critical infrastructure sabotage is guilty of a Class B Felony and shall be punished by a fine between $85,000 and $100,000 in addition to a prison sentence of no more than 25 years.
The bill passed 69 Ayes, 31 Nays and 0 Absent.
• Senate File (SF) 2318 strengthens the requirements in state law for granting high school credit to students who take high school-level courses before high school. Current law gives authorization to schools to grant high school credit for students at any grade level who have completed a high school-level unit of instruction.
SF 2318 modifies this language stating that a district shall grant that credit if the course was taken in district. The two exceptions are if the student can’t show proficiency in the subject or if the course taken does not meet the school district’s or nonpublic’s standards.
If the credit is denied, the school provide in writing to the student’s parents the reason for the credit denial. For courses taken outside of the district and taught by an Iowa licensed teacher, the district may, but is not required to, issue credit.
The bill passed 98 Ayes, 0 Nays, and 2 Absent.
On Wednesday, we continued to have Caucus, Committee meetings, debate and vote on bills and amendments.
• Senate File (SF) 449 permits a landowner to install a cattle guard in specific instances and at the landowner’s expense.
SF 449 defines “cattle guard” as a structure consisting of parallel bars placed over a shallow ditch that allows motor vehicles to pass over the ditch but prevents cattle and other livestock from passing over the ditch.
The landowner may install a cattle guard on a street or a highway if all of the following apply:
* The street or highway terminates in a dead end, is completely or partially located in a flood plain, serves no residence, and exits to a secondary road.
* The landowner owns the property on both sides of the street that ends in a dead end.
* The effective purpose of restraining livestock through fences along the street or highway is continually impaired by flooding or other natural forces.
A cattle guard that is installed will be installed at the landowner’s expense at a distance or not less than 66 feet from the secondary road that is described in the bill.
Additionally, the landowner is liable for injuries or damages resulting from the cattle guard or from the cattle on the secondary road. The landowner must provide proof of insurance to the county annually. A posted speed limit of 15 miles per hour is required.
The bill passed 95 Ayes, 3 Nays and 2 Absent.
• Senate File (SF) 2175 protects heirs from being forced to sell inherited property if one owner doesn’t want to keep their land. Under the current law, heirs may be forced to sell inherited land by the court if they cannot buy out another heir who wishes to sell their share.
The bill codifies a rule of civil procedure and recognizes chapter 651, dealing with partition of property. SF 2175 does all of the following:
* Defines terms not currently used for partition.
* Provides that the court shall file an initial decree addressing shares and interests of the owners, an appraisal by disinterested persons, a referee’s report.
* Establishes partition in kind procedures that are easier to follow.
* Authorizes division of unequal parcels in a parcels in a partition in kind by having the co-tenant with the higher value parcel make payments to co-tenant with the lower value parcel, a practice known (and authorized by this bill) as “owelty”.
* Establish partition by sale procedures that don’t change current law substantively but organize more clearly.
* Attorney fees are currently taxed as costs but the bill would prohibit that in the case of the plaintiff losing, in which case the fees shall not be taxed.
* Special heirs property procedures are established where one or more co-tenants request a partition in kind in an action to partition heirs property (if all co-tenants agree to partition by sale, none of the provisions are applied to partition).
SF 2175 passed 97 Ayes, 1 Nay, and 2 Absent.
Today we are continuing to debate and vote on bills.
2018 Legislative Session — Week 11
March 22, 2018
As we begin the Eleventh week of Session — March 19-23 — the House considers only Senate Files (SF) and unfinished Business we also had limited Committee Meetings. We do have a few debates on House Files however Senate Bills sometimes replace House Files.
On Monday we voted for six bills and several amendments that were attached to them until 7:16 p.m. in the evening.
• SF 2200 was the same as HF2368 and replaced it for debate and voting. SF 2200 regulates Veterans’ benefits by requiring certain disclosures and repeal the current code Chapter 564B regarding veterans’ benefits assistance and disclosures and provides for new provisions governing the providing of certain benefits.
1. This new section provides for the disclosures required for any person advertising or promoting any event, presentation seminar, workshop, or public gathering regarding veterans’ benefits or entitlements.
2. It requires for the agency or whoever is putting on these types of presentations, seminars, workshops or other public gathering regarding veterans’ benefits for entitlements that these are in no way affiliated with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, the Iowa Departments of Veterans Affairs.
3. Disclosures must be disseminated both orally and in writing at the beginning of an event related to veterans’ benefits and entitlement.
4. Not providing these disclosures would be a violation and a fine would be applied.
5. It also states that any person receives compensation for advising or assisting another person with a veterans’ benefit matter or for referring a person to accredited by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs or any other personal information.
These requirements do not apply to any government or volunteers that are acting in their official capacity. The bill passed 94 Ayes, 0 Nays and 6 Absent votes.
• House Joint Resolution 2009 adds language to the Iowa Constitution to protect the individual right to bear arms. The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The sovereign state of Iowa affirms and recognizes this right to be a fundamental individual right. Any and all restrictions of this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.
Under this Constitutional amendment, a Court reviewing a law must use strict scrutiny standards. Strict scrutiny is the highest standard of judicial review and requires the government to prove the law was passed to further a “compelling government interest” and the law must be narrowly tailored to achieve that interest.
This amendment is referred to the next General Assembly for consideration. The Secretary of State shall publish the language for 3 month prior to the election. If the next General Assembly passes the exact same language, it shall go to a vote of the people in the next General Election.
HJR 2009 passed 54 Ayes, 42 Nays and 4 Absent.
On Tuesday we continued to debate and vote on Bills.
• SF 2257 makes sure a Marketplace Contractor is classified as an Independent Contractor. A Marketplace Platform is a digital network connecting Marketplace Contractors to individuals or entities seeking the type of service offered by the Marketplace Contractor. Examples of a Marketplace Platform are Uber, Home Improvers, and Angie’s List.
A Marketplace Contractor is a person who enters into a written agreement with a Marketplace Platform to use the platform’s digital network to connect with individuals or entities that are seeking services from the Marketplace Contractors and perform services in exchange for compensation.
Following is the Independent Contractors classifications:
* The Independent Contractors status is agreed to in writing, and
* The Marketplace Platform does not prescribe the hours of operation for the contractor, and
* The Marketplace Platform does not prohibit outside employment, and
* The Marketplace Contractor is responsible for all expenses incurred in the performance of their services.
As a member of the House Commerce Committee, I worked on this bill. This Senate File passed the House 98 Ayes, 0 Nays and 2 Absent.
• SF 2117 makes budget adjustments for FY 2018. Additionally, the bill makes de-appropriations revisions for approximately $35 million more for various agencies in our State Government General Fund for FY 2018. This bill also makes revisions to the Budget which ends June 30th, 2018.
SF 2117 holds Schools and Medicaid harmless with their budgets and a small de-appropriation to Community Colleges. The Bill passed in the House of Representative with a vote of 59 Ayes, 41 Nays, and 0 Absent.
On Wednesday after Party Caucus’ we continued to debate and vote again until 8:00 p.m.
• SF 192 adds behavioral analyst and assistant behavior analyst to the list of licensed or certified healthcare professionals under section 147.1. Under State Code, Chapter 514c.31 covers insurance reimbursement for practitioner of applied behavior analyst that may teat children on the autism spectrum.
Currently the practitioners of behavior analyst that may treat children on the autism spectrum include:
* Physician licensed under Chapter 148;
* Psychologist licensed under Chapter 154;
* A person who holds a master’s degree or a doctoral degree and is certified by a national behavior analyst certification board as a behavior analyst.
SF 192 additionally allows a behavior analyst pursuant to Chapter 154D practice applied behavioral analyst with children on the autism spectrum, instead of some that holds a master’s degree or a doctoral degree and is certified as a national behavior analyst. The bill passed 99 Ayes, 0 Nays and 1 Absent.
• SF 2349 is a combination of 2 bills. The important part of this bill is that it allows Farm Bureau and Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield to work together to create a health care plan for people that does not follow rule from ObamaCare.
This will create much more affordable plans but will not be insurance. These will be tailored for a specific group of people. The bill passes with 68 Ayes, 31 Nays and 1 Absent.
• SF 2364 focuses on School Security plans. The bill requires school districts and nonpublic schools to develop security plans for response to active shooter scenarios and natural disasters. The plans are to apply to each building in which students are located and shall be in place no later than June 30, 2019.
Development of the plan shall include recommendations from the Department of Education and shallinclude consultation with local emergency management and local law enforcement. A drill shall occur at least once annually and it may include students.
The bill passed 99 Ayes, 0 Nays, and 1 Absent.
Today we are continuing to debate and vote on bills.
2018 Legislative Session — Week 10
March 15, 2018
As we ended the ninth week of our Legislative Session, we continued to debate and vote on 12 House Files (HF) last Thursday before we went home. All the bills passed after we finished debates and voting. Two of the bills were HF 2369 and HF 2467.
• HF 2369 is a bill that requires any election for the issuance of bonds by a County, Township, School Corporation, City, and Community College or by any local Board for commission take place on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. An exception is made for national or state declared disasters. This bill also changes the date of Local Option Tax submission to the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
The bill passed with 52 Ayes, 43 Nays and 5 Absent.
• HF 2467 creates rules and procedures around student meal debt in School. The bill establishes prohibitions for treatment of a student who owes money for meals or cannot pay for their meal, including not singling them out, forcing them to do chores to pay for the meal debt, or preventing them from participating in school activities.
Communication about meal debt is to be directed to the student’s parents, not the student. A School may send a letter home with a student address to the parents.
The Department of Education is to issue guidance for best practices for a school to reach the goal of ensuring that students have access to meals. A School District may establish a fund to help pay for unpaid meals and allows flexibility funds to be deposited into the school debt fund.
The bill passed with 96 Ayes, 0 Nays, and 4 Absent.
On Monday of our Tenth week, we continued to debate and vote on bills as we will each day this week. We passed 10 bills with a debate and vote. Three of those bills are as follows:
• Senate File 360 extends the age of a newborn infant eligible under the Newborn Safe Haven Act to 30 days or younger rather than 14 days or younger currently in the law. The Newborn Safe Haven Act has been in effect since 2001 allowing parents to relinquish child custody at a hospital. 30 newborns have been relinquished since the beginning of this Act.
Now parents can relinquish the custody of the newborn through a first responder who responds to a 911 telephone call. The first responder eligible to receive a newborn under the Newborn Safe Haven Act includes emergency medical care providers, fire fighters, peace officers, nurses and physician assistants.
The bill passed 98 Ayes, 0 Nays and 2 Absent.
• HF 2314 extended the current Fireworks Ordinance Violations of a City or County which regulates fireworks to be classifies as a simple misdemeanor and punishable by not less than $250.
The New Act allows Cities and Counties to classify a violation of a Fireworks Ordinance as a multiple infraction, which is a civil offense punishable by civil penalty of not more than $750 for each violation or if the infraction is a repeat offense, a civil penalty of not more than $1000 for each repeat offense. The bill passed 96 Ayes, 2 Nays and 2 Absent.
• HF 2350 would require annual training for all licensed school employees in Suicide Prevention and Trauma-Informed care for grades K-12. HF 2350 adds a new duty to the State Board of Education who must adopt rules to require districts to adopt protocols for suicide prevention and trauma-informed care based on Nationally recognized best practices.
The bill passed 98 Ayes, 0 Nays, and 2 Absent.
Tuesday we continued to debate and vote on 3 bills. Two Senate bills were substituted for House Bills and passed the House of Representatives.
• Senate Joint Resolution 2007 was substituted for House Joint Resolution 2008.
• Senate File 2310 was substituted for House File 2460.
• HF 2458 a bill for “Future Ready Iowa Act” passed unanimously. HF 2458 creates a future ready Iowa Act to strengthen work force development by establishing and creating the following benefits for our State:
1. A program for small and medium sized apprenticeship sponsors.
2. A Volunteer Mentor program to support future ready programs.
3. A list of high demand jobs
4. A summer youth internship program.
5. An Employee innovation program.
6. An Education last dollar scholarship program.
7. An Education grant program.
8. A program for high-school students to attend college level classes during the summer.
• HF 2458 advances Governor Kim Reynolds’ plan to train Iowans for jobs today and tomorrow. The overall goal of the bill is for 70 percent of Iowa workers to have education or training beyond High School by the year 2025. The bill passed 98 Ayes, 0 Nays and 2 Absent.
On Wednesday, we were busy with several organizations who visited the Capitol as they do each day. Because it is Spring Break, we have had several students both local and foreign come to the Capitol to see it and learn about our Government.
We continued to debate and vote of bills which gave them a good example of what we do for Iowa. We debated and voted on a few more bills.
• Senate File 220, Automated Traffic Enforcement Systems, took several hours to debate and vote on the Bill and Amendments. The bill gives local authority control of choosing to use automated traffic enforcement systems and outlines the process in which local authority must apply to use automated traffic enforcement system.
The DOT cannot use an Automatic Traffic Enforcement System; however local authority can act on their behalf if necessary and approved.
The bill defines “automated traffic law enforcement system” as a devise for the enforcement of laws regulating vehicular traffic and equipped with one or more sensors working in conjunction with traffic control signals, measuring a vehicle’s speed when vehicles travel at a prohibited speed and if there is failure to comply with the official traffic-control device constitutes a moving violation.
After lunch, we continued committee meetings, debating and voting.
2018 Legislative Session — Week 9
March 8, 2018
As we begin the ninth week of our Legislative Session, we are continuing to work on a number of House Files (HF) and have several Senate Files (SF) assigned to House Committees for Sub Committee assignments for discussions.
Last Thursday, we voted on 6 bills before going home. All the bills passed bipartisan after our debates and voting. This Monday we continued to debate and vote on bills as we will each day this week. We passed 9 bills with a debate and vote.
Two of those bills are as follows:
• HF 2304: This bill adds stationary vehicles to the list that motor vehicle operators should change lanes when approaching and provides penalties. You need to pull over if you see stationary vehicles with emergency flashers on, Stationary Construction Vehicles, and Stationary Emergency Signal Vehicles.
The fine base is $100 for a violation. The fine is separate for emergency and non-emergency vehicles. The bill passed 94 Ayes, 0 Nays and 6 Absent.
• HF 2412: Under the current law, evidence that a person was not wearing their seat belt may be used to mitigate damages in a civil case. Damages may be reduced by up to 5%. HF 2414 allows damages to be reduced by up to 25%.
The bill passed by 58 Ayes, 38 Nays and 4 Absent.
Tuesday we continued with Committee meetings and House of Representatives debates and voting. We passed 15 bills. A few of those bills are as follows:
• HF 2253 – Regarding competitive bidding requirements for construction by a private party of property to be leased or leased-purchased by certain government entities. For example:
1. Counties and Cities
2. Community Colleges, Regents and School Boards
• HF 2253 sets standards for leased or leased-purchased buildings or property under the control of a governmental agency as any determination by the governmental entity of the construction work to be performed or established by a competitive bid process.
This will allow all Construction Companies to submit bids just like we allow on all public buildings. The bill passed the House of Representatives with 57 Ayes, 38 Nays, and 5 Absent.
• HF 2277 allows for public records to be examined if it is over 100 years old and for the record of a fetal death to be publicly examined if it is at least 75 years old.
A public record will not be available for examination and copying if the public record is ordered to be sealed and is not subject to inspection by any federal or state court.
Additionally, the public record is prohibited from being disclosed under federal law, rule, or regulation. Today, state archives and county registrar are not allowed to release information regarding a fetal death. This bill allows the record of a fetal death to be inspected if the record is in the custody of the state archivist and is at least 75 years old.
The bill passed with 95 Aye, 0 Nays and 5 Absent.
• HF 2280 removes the requirement that teacher preparation students pass the praxis exam series to complete their program. This bill makes it retroactive for anyone taking the exam after 2012 and failed it to be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate.
This bill passed with 55 Ayes, 42 Nays and 3 Absents.
• HF 2382 allows for three licensed professional engineers and two licensed professional land surveyors on the Engineering and Land Surveyors Board. The board includes seven members, two which are lay people. An individual licensed as both a professional engineer and a professional land surveyor can only satisfy the requirements for one seat on the board.
I presented this bill to the House of Representatives for debate and voting. The bill passed the House with 94 Ayes, 0 Nays and 6 Absents.
On Wednesday, we continued to debate and vote on 9 bills.Four of those bills are as follows:
• HF 2401 combines multiple bills dealing with sex offenders, sexually violent predators and crimes against children:
• Sexually Violent Predators Accumulation of Earned Time
• Child Abuse – Sexual Offense and Sex Offenders
• Sex Offenders and Predators – Registration and Child Endangerment
• Lascivious Conduct with a Minor
• Sex Offenders Housing Workgroup
The bill passed 96 Ayes, 1 Nay and 3 Absent.
• HF 2372 — This bill changes how some county supervisor districts are redistricted. It requires any county over population of 60,000 and using “Plan 3” to have the Legislative Services Agency (LSA) draw up their new plan.
LSA is to use the same standards they use for congressional and legislative districts. Plymouth County is currently a “Plan 2”. This bill passed 58 Ayes, 38 Nays and 4 Absent.
• HF 2399 is a bill that relates to Eldora State Training School for male juvenile delinquents. The State Training School at Eldora provides treatment and education services within a highly structured setting to assist males between the ages of 12 to 18 who are adjudicated delinquent.
Eldora has 130 beds, and they had an average daily census in FY 2012 of 112. Eldora accepts youth that are court committed for criminal acts, not committed due to mental illness. This bill passed with 59 Ayes, 38 Nays and 3 Absent.
• HF 2442 makes several requirements in statute for coaches, state high school athletics unions, and schools in the name of student athlete protection.
1. Requires coaches to go through CPR training to obtain or maintain their coaching authorization.
2. Requires the athletic unions to establish return-to-school and return-to-play protocols for post-concussion to be distributed to school districts.
3. Requires schools to adapt those protocols, distribute concussion information to parents and obtain signatures from parents on the concussion information before students can participate.
4. Provides immunity protection for school and care providers that follow the protocols.
Today we are continuing to debate and vote on several more bills.
2018 Legislative Session — Week 8
March 1, 2018
As we begin the eighth week of our Legislative Session, we are now half way through with the Session. We are continuing to work on a number of House Files and have several Senate Files assigned to House Committees for Sub-Committee assignments for discussions.
After recommendation and acceptance of the Senate Files to the House Committees by the Sub-Committees, the Senate Files will be recommendations to the House of Representatives for voting.
We are continuing to debate and vote in the House of Representatives this week. On Monday we debated and voted on eleven Bills and several Amendments. Some of those bills were as follows:
• House File 2305, a bill from the Commerce Committee, expands insurance coverage so that telehealth care is covered by health insurance, just like health insurance would cover a face to face visit between a patient and their healthcare professional.
This will make Iowans healthier by ensuring more access to essential health care services in rural areas of the state. Many rural parts of Iowa have limited access to a doctor and other important health services. Faced with these barriers, Iowans often don’t get the care they need.
One solution to this problem is the expansion of telehealth services, which would allow an Iowan to speak with, visually see, and be treated by a doctor using audio/ visual technology. This bill includes all types of Health Care Services including mental health assessments. The bill passed the House 98 Ayes, 0 Nays, and 2 Absents.
• House File 2407, a bill from the Agriculture Committee, regulates the application of pesticides to only licensed applicators in a natural lake or artificial lake in drinking water sources for either a public or private water supply system. The bill passed the House 98 Ayes, 0 Nays, and 2 Absents.
• House File 2408, a bill from the Agriculture Committee, allows the store to sell any type of egg but they must maintain inventory specific for people in the federal program of Women’s Infant Children (WIC). The bill passed the House 81 Ayes, 17 Nays, and 2 Absents.
• House File 2422, a bill from the Agriculture Committee, was instigated between the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Management (IDALS) and local officials to change the state noxious weed law by allowing the Secretary of Agriculture to deem a weed noxious and also better address current treatment methods including cutting, mowing and spraying.
The bill passed the House 96 Ayes, 2 Nays and 2 Absents.
On Tuesday, we debated and voted on 9 Bills and several Amendments until 7:15 pm. Some of those bills are as follows:
• House File 2355, a Bill from the Veterans Committee, establishes a Veterans recovery pilot program and fund for the reimbursement of expenses related to providing hyperbaric oxygen treatment to eligible veterans. The Bill passed 96 Ayes, 0 Nays, and 4 absent.
• House File 2405, a Bill from the Judiciary Committee, prohibits a course of action for wrongful birth or wrongful life, including effective date and applicability provisions.
This past summer the Iowa Supreme Court recognized for the first time that parents have the right to a “wrongful birth” claim. They ruled that parents of a child born with severe disabilities may bring medical negligence lawsuit based on the doctors’ failure to inform them of prenatal test results showing abnormalities that would have allowed them to exercise their options to abort the child.
A doctor needs to disclose everything to parents. People can’t sue their doctor unless the doctor was totally negligent and did not give the total correct information to parents. The bill passed 59 Ayes, 40 Nays, and 1 Absent.
• House File 2456, a bill from the Human Resources Committee, is a comprehensive bill on Mental Health Services. The bill builds on Iowa’s community-based mental health system and decreased fragmentation of services to improve care by:
1. Expanding services along the continuum of care to include evidence-based preventative services to deescalate mental health patients before crisis and to treat patients in the proper setting.
2. Removing the statewide sub-acute bed cap, and allowing these facilities to transition individuals to lower level of care before they are prepared to return home.
3. Ensuring long-term sustainable funding for mental health services as Medicaid covered services.
4. Improving communications and processes between mental health professionals and law enforcement to prevent long-distance trips across the state.
5. Allowing mental health providers, rather than judges, to make mental health care determinations in the least restrictive environment.
The bill passed with 96 Ayes, 0 Nays, and 4 Absent.
In recent months, Iowa has received numerous accolades highlighting our strong fiscal management, High quality education system, and affordability for families. As a reminder, here are some of those recent reports:
• #1 state for middle Class Families
• #1 state in high school graduation rates
• #3 best managed state
• #4 in K-12 funding increases
• #4 state for retirees.
Iowa may be better known for its corn, caucuses and creative writing programs, but our state also leads the nation in efforts to bring ultra-fast internet access to every city block and every rural acre. Iowa becomes “first in the nation” not only in terms of its presidential caucuses, but also when describing Iowa’s overall placement in the U.S. News & World Report’s Best States rankings.
Iowa claims the Number 1 spot in 2018. Our Best States Rankings which combined several of Iowa’s Top 10 categories including:
• Its strong Infrastructure (No. 1)
• Health Care (No. 3),
• Opportunity (No. 4),
• Education (No. 5)
• Quality of Life (No. 9),
Last year, Iowa was ranked 6th.
Today, we will continue to debate and vote on House Files — another busy day.
2018 Legislative Session — Week 7
February 22, 2018
Week Seven is the last full week of February: Monday, February 19th – Friday, February 23rd; we are completing our first funnel week in the House of Representatives. The House considers only House bills and unfinished business. Unfinished business can be Senate Files and House Joint Bills. We have spent the week debating several House Files and a few Senate Files.
On Monday, we debated five House Bills and SF 455 which is a bill for an act relating to School District Per Pupil Equity and Transportation Funding. The bill and an Amendment passed the House 92 “Aye”s and 5 “No”s and was bipartisan. I voted for both.
The Senate passed the bill, which provides long term Solutions for fixing the District Cost Per Pupil (DCPP) equity issue and districts costs for transportation. The 10 year plan would equalize the DCPP disparity and pick up the total transportation costs for all districts. Both would be part of the school funding formula going forward.
However, because State funding has not been adequate to commit to a long term solution, the House added an amendment to provide relief for those same two issues for Fiscal Year 2019 (FY 19), but not future years. The changes the amendment made are as follows:
• District Cost Per Pupil – Increases the State Cost Per Pupil by $5 permanently for those districts with a District Cost Per Pupil equal to the State Cost Per Pupil. The effect of this would close the gap between the highest and lowest DCPP districts from $175 to $170. Based on FY 19 numbers, this is estimated to cost about $2.9 million.
• Transportation Funding – Creates a fund with the intent of supplying money to districts with the highest transportation costs on a per year basis. Those with the highest costs would be provided with funds that lower their costs per pupil to the next highest and so forth until the funds are exhausted. The bill appropriates $11.2 million for this purpose, the estimated effect of which is to lower the per pupil transportation costs from a high of $970 per pupil to $432 per pupil. Estimates are that about 140 Districts will see some relief from this.
In my District, smaller School Districts will have help in funding while larger Districts will probably not receive help in funding transportation.
On Tuesday, we debated eleven House Files. Unfortunately we had three Representatives who were absent and could not vote on any of the Bills. House File 2199(HF 2199) was passed 97 “Aye”s and 0 “No”s and was bipartisan. I voted for it.
HF 2199 makes changes to the code to ensure persons who use a skimming devise to steal credit card information face a penalty. Using a skimming device to steal credit card information is a class “D” felony. The bill makes it an aggravated misdemeanor to possess a skimmer with the intent to use the devise illegally. Intentionally damaging, defacing, altering or destroying property that can process a card payment is an aggravated misdemeanor.
Additionally on Tuesday, House File 2235, another Education Committee bill effecting Statewide School Assessment of Student Achievement, was debated and passed the House 94 “Aye”s and 3 “No”s. I voted for the bill.
Currently, statewide assessment of student achievement is provided by Iowa School Districts in the Iowa Assessment which was codified as such in 2012. The language of this bill bypasses the process currently happening and establishes the new statewide assessment as the Next Generation Iowa Assessments.
The bill has no provision for State dollars paying for the costs, just as the state currently does not pay for Iowa Assessments. The costs will be borne by Districts at $7 per student.
I also presented House File 2383 to the House of Representative to vote on. The Bill is an act relating to private employer alcohol testing policies and the Bill lowers it down to .02 to comply with Federal regulations. The Bill passed 95 “Aye”s and 2 “No”s.
On Wednesday, we scheduled debating and voting on 19 Bills for House of Representatives. However, we only debated 12 bills which passed the House. A few of those bills were:
• House File 2172 is an act that defines and prohibits establishment, promotion, or operation of a pyramid promotional scheme. The bill is for trying to protect Iowans from Pyramid Promotional Schemes. I served on the sub-committee for HSB 557 to promote this bill in the Commerce Committee to bring it before the House for voting. Needless to say, it passed the Commerce Committee and on presentation, and debate passed the House — 97 “Aye”s and 0 “No”s.
• House File 2240 is an act permitting employers to send their employees their statements of earnings electronically. The bill passed the house with 98 “Aye”s and 0 “No”s.
Today, we will continue to debate and vote on House Files, another busy day.
Here is a reminder for you that I shared with you last week in my newsletter.
On February 24th, Senator Jim Carlin and I will have forums at the following locations:
• 8:30 am – Moville Town Hall, Community Center (825 Main Street)
• 9:30 am – Pierson Town Hall, Community Center (514 2nd Street)
• 10:30 am – Kingsley Town Hall, Community Center (207 E. 1st Street)
• 11:30 am – Remsen Town Hall, Mid –Sioux Opportunity, Inc. (418 S. Marion Street)
2018 Legislative Session — Week 6
February 15, 2018
Gov. Kim Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg unveiled the most significant tax reform package in decades on Tuesday, providing immediate relief to middle class workers, small business owners, famers, families and teachers across Iowa, making good on the commitment she made in her swearing in address last May and again in her Condition of the State address in January.
“My plan combines meaningful tax relief while protecting our budget priorities,” Gov. Reynolds said. “We’ve prioritized tax relief for middle class taxpayers, small business owners, teachers and working families across the state. We’re long past due for real tax reform that simplifies and updates our system while allowing Iowans to keep more of their hard-earned money in their communities.”
“I’ve always said people can have it all when they live in Iowa: lower cost of living, shorter commutes and vibrant communities,” Lt. Gov. Gregg said. “Now, they can have even more through a simpler tax code that rewards middle class taxpayers, small business owners, teachers and working families.”
The Reynolds Reform Plan provides a straightforward approach. Here are some of the highlights:
Rates will be cut by up to 23 percent, resulting in $1.7 billion by 2023. For example, the top rate of 8.98 percent (fourth highest in the nation) will be reduced to 6.9 percent by 2023 and will only apply to income above $160,965. Currently income above $73,260 is taxed at 8.98 percent.
Middle class Iowans will experience lower taxes
a. A typical single mother with one child making $30,000 will see a 28 percent tax cut next year. By 2023, she’ll see a 54 percent cut.
b. A typical family of four making $55,000 will see a 10 percent tax cut next year. By 2023, they’ll see a 23 percent cut.
c. A typical family of four making $70,000 will see an 8.7 percent tax cut next year. By 2023, they’ll see a 20 percent cut.
d. In 2019, the standard deduction will increase from $2,070 to $4,000 for single filers and from $5,090 to $8,000 for married filers.
e. There will be an additional standard deduction of $1,500 for the elderly and blind in 2019, rising to $2,070 in 2021.
f. Iowans will, for the first time, be able to invest in section 529 plans tax-free for K-12 tuition – not just higher education – allowing for more choice in K-12 education.
Teachers will enjoy greater tax savings
Iowa will fully couple with the federal educator expense deduction, giving teachers greater tax savings when they purchase school supplies for their classrooms.
Small businesses will see lower taxes
a. Iowa business owners will be able to deduct 25 percent of the new federal Qualified Business Income Deduction from their Iowa taxable income. This will allow Iowa’s job creators to keep more of hard-earned money.
b. The section 179 expensing limit will increase immediately from $25,000 to $100,000, allowing small businesses owners to invest in their companies and in Iowa.
Last week, the Local Government Committee acted on House File 2103, a bill that would allow Iowa to tap into a federal fund meant to reimburse local EMS providers for services provided to Medicaid patients. Increased reimbursement for ambulance services passes the Committee unanimously and will move to the House floor for full consideration.
Nearly 600,000 Iowans receive care through Iowa’s Medicaid program. When a Medicaid patient receives ambulance transport, the reimbursement rate for that provider through Medicaid is $121, far below the actual costs, sometimes which surpass $1000. This burden is borne by both ambulances that are owned and operated by cities and counties, and those owned and operated privately but provide contracted services for some cities and counties.
Enacting the bill will help provide relief for EMS providers around the state that are providing critical services to Iowa’s Medicaid population. And doing so quickly will help ensure Iowa is one of the first state to have access to this funding.
Friday, February 16th is the end of the first Funnel Week. Friday is the final date for House Bills to be presented to the Committees that authorize the Bills for presentation to the House for voting. Next week from Monday, February 19th to Friday, February 23rd, the House will consider only House Bills and unfinished business.
Addressing Iowa’s Health Care Challenges
• Mental Health: The topic of mental healthcare continues to be top of mind for many Iowans and House Republicans are working to provide vulnerable Iowans with mental health services closer to home and in their local communities. Legislation was introduced this week that builds on Iowa’s community-based mental health system and makes significant improvements to ensure Iowans have access to critical mental health services.
• Individual Health Insurance Market: Thousands of Iowans have been negatively impacted by the implosion of Obamacare, which has destroyed Iowa’s health insurance market. This disaster was predicted at the outset, and now hard-working Iowans are faced with sky-rocketing premiums and no choice. House Republicans have proposed House File 2364 which would allow Iowans to purchase health benefit plans that provide a low-cost alternative to traditional health insurance. This will provide Iowans with more choice and a more affordable health care option.
Continuing our Commitment to Education, House Republicans are also working to provide rural school districts with additional funding to address unequal transportation costs. Some districts spend as little as $100 per student while others spend almost $1,000.
House Republicans want to ensure that as much funding makes its way into Iowa classrooms to improve student’s educational experience. Our plan provides $11 million in funding to bring the maximum transportation cost for districts down to $432 per student. It also commits dollars to work towards the tax equity issue that some schools in the state face. Many of the Schools in my District will receive relief.
On February 24, Senator Jim Carlin and I will have forums at the following locations:
• 8:30 am – Moville Town Hall, Community Center (825 Main Street)
• 9:30 am – Pierson Town Hall, Community Center (514 2nd Street)
• 10:30 am – Kingsley Town Hall, Community Center (207 E 1st Street)
• 11:30 am – Remsen Town Hall, Mid – Sioux Opportunity, Inc. (418 S. Marion Street)
2018 Legislative Session — Week 5
February 8, 2018
Last week — on Thursday, February 1 — I was asked to be the Speaker of the House to start the day. I called the Session to order, introduced the Pastor who said the opening prayer and our Student Page who started the Pledge to the Flag after the prayer.
I then continued our Session and ask the House if there was a correction to the House Journal for the day before. There were no corrections to the Journal so it stood approved.
Then there was an introduction of bills to the House. After completing the reading of all the new bills, I ask “Are there any announcements to come before the body?” Then I recognized the lady or gentleman from any county to speak.
After all the announcements by other Representatives, I recognized Representative Hagenow who recommended the adjournment of the House.
After that, I ask if there was any new business to be brought before the House. I then said “Seeing no further business, you have heard the motion by the Gentleman from Polk County, Rep. Hagenow. All those in favor say “aye” and those opposed say “no”. The ayes appear to have it; the ayes do have it.”
At that time, I adjourned the house. I enjoyed the opportunity to start our day in the House of Representatives.
This week we have continued to have Committee and Subcommittee meetings to discuss House Study Bills and House Files. We are continuing to work to bring bills before the House to debate and vote for or against.
On Wednesday, February 7, 2018 we debated House File 2230. HF 2230 sets Supplemental State Sid (SSA) at 1 percent for FY 2019 for both the Regular Program and the Categorical Supplements.
The bill also extends the Property Tax Relief Payment (PTRP) an additional year which has the state pick up any property tax growth in the Additional Levy portion of the school funding formula.
After debating an Amendment which did not pass and the bill, HF 2230 passed the House with 57 Ayes and 40 Nays. The eight-year total increase of State Aid to the Schools is $767,456,801. I did vote for the bill.
Amerigroup Iowa has notified the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) that the managed care organization (MCO) has capacity to begin accepting new Medicaid members.
On March 1, Amerigroup will be first accepting the 10,000 members that were shifted to the state fee-for-service program this winter. Amerigroup will be sending these members their welcome packets in the mail shortly.
New Medicaid members will then be able to select between United Healthcare or Amerigroup as their MCO starting May 1, 2018.
Senator Joni K. Ernst plans to visit Plymouth County and Woodbury County at the following locations on Friday, March 2, 2018.
• Plymouth County: 10:00am – 11:00am, Le Mars Public Library, 46 1st Street S.W., Le Mars, Iowa
• Woodbury County: 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm, Correctionville City Hall, 312 Driftwood Street, Correctionville, Iowa.
I plan to attend both meetings.
2018 Legislative Session — Week 4
February 1, 2018
As we begin our fourth week in the House, we continued with several Committee meetings. We were very active in the Commerce Committee this week. After three HSB Sub-Committees made presentations and the whole Committee discussed them, the following three House Study Bills (HSB) were passed, so they will be voted on by the total House of Representatives.
• HSB 531 – Foreclosure Time Period Changes: An Act relating to shoring the periods of time for redeeming real property from foreclosure and delaying sale of foreclosed property.
• HSB 544 – Life Insurance Investments in Mezzanine Loans: An Act relating to the maximum value of life insurance companies’ and life insurance associations’ investments in CM3 classified mezzanine loans as a percentage of such company’s or association’s legal revenue. Section 1 increases the cap on the amount of CM3 loans from two percent to three percent.
• HSB 557 – Pyramid Promotional Schemes Prohibition: An Act prohibiting pyramid promotional schemes and making penalties applicable. This is one on the Sub Committees I served on.
Tuesday, January 30th, was Future Farmers of America (FFA) Day at the Capitol. I was honored to have the Hinton FFA chapter come to visit me. It was a pleasure to have nine students and their Advisor, Stephanie Bass, here at the Capitol so I could explain how our State Government works in the House of Representatives. Additionally, they could see all the people who work here to make our state so great.
Early on Wednesday at the Education Advocacy Event breakfast sponsored by the Iowa Area Education Agency, I had a meeting with Steve Webner, Superintendent of the Le Mars Community School District.
As you know, last week on Tuesday, January 23, 2018 the House of Representatives passed Senate File 512 which is a bill relating to Water Quality. The Senate passed the bill on April 19, 2017. On Wednesday, January 31, 2018 of this week, Governor Kim Reynolds signed the bill into law.
At the bill signing, it was an honor to have my cousin’s son, James Holz and his wife Megan mentioned in the signing speech for his work on cover crops and as a dealer for cover crops.
Also on Wednesday, January 31, 2018 Major General Timothy Orr, Commander of the Iowa National Guard, made a presentation on the Financial Condition of the Iowa National to the Judicial Systems Appropriations Joint Subcommittee.
2018 Legislative Session — Week 3
January 25, 2018
Week 3 has continued with several Committee meetings. As I said last week, in each Committee, we assigned a bill to Representatives as a Subcommittee to investigate, discuss and recommend for passage when necessary. This process will continue throughout the Session.
Last week, I was appointed to work on two House Study Bills (HSB) for the Commerce Committee. This week I was appointed to three other Commerce Subcommittees to investigate House Study Bills and discuss, recommend or not recommend them to the Commerce Committee for passage. If the House Study Bills pass the Commerce Committee they will be voted on by the total House of Representatives.
On Tuesday, January 23, 2018, the House of Representatives voted on our first bill of the Session. The bill was SF 512 which passed the Senate in 2017 and then came to the House to vote on for this Session.
SF 512 is a bill relating to Water Quality by amending the wastewater treatment financial assistance program for both agriculture and urban land under the water quality initiative and several other areas of water quality for the whole State of Iowa.
Additionally, the bill provides hundreds of Millions in new funding for the Water Quality initiatives. SF 512 passed the House of Representatives with 59 yes votes to 41 no votes. I voted to pass the bill to help the whole state. We took a step in the right direction to ensure Iowans have access to clean drinking water and that our natural resources are preserved for future generations.
Governor Reynolds praised the House for its bipartisan passage; 4 Democrats voting yes and 4 Republicans voting no. The bill will now go to her for her consideration and anticipated signature and become Iowa Law.
After voting on the Water Quality Bill, I was assigned as the Chairman to a Commerce House File (HF) 2001 to lead an additional subcommittee.
HF 2001 is a bill for an act relating to services dogs and assistive animals in residential rental property, providing for landlord remedies to remove dogs and animals, and providing penalties for misrepresenting an animal as a service dog or assistive animal. We will do the same with the House File as we do with House Study Bills to bring before the House of Representatives for voting and passing.
As of the end of this week, 118 House Files have been introduced to the House of Representatives for Sub Committee work, Committee authorization, and House of Representatives voting if the House Files make it through the funnel for voting. We will have a busy Session this year.
2018 Legislative Session — Week 2
January 18, 2018
Week 2 was a short week in the House of Representatives due to the Martin Luther King Holiday on Monday. This week, 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. At this time, I have been appointed to work on two House Study Bills (HSB) for the Commerce Committee.
During our Agriculture Committee meetings, our guest speaker was Secretary Bill Northey who discussed issues concerning the Iowa Department of Agriculture.
I am still working on the State revenue short fall of $37 Million which has been a discussion all week in the our Caucus meetings.
Since entering the majority in 2011, House Republicans have been committed to funding schools in a responsible way as Governor Reynolds stated in her Condition of the State Address last week. Funding for K-12 education has increased by $735 million over the last seven 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.
Additionally, this week we have had several Legislative Receptions sponsored by the Iowa State Sheriffs and Deputies Association, Veterans Association, Fire Fighters Association, and Iowa Corn Growers Association. The Legislative Receptions are good ways to learn the important issues to the individual organizations and how they need our support.
We continue to discuss The Water Quality Bill. I hope the bill will pass next week so it can be sent to the Governor’s desk for her signature.
2018 Legislative Session — Week 1
January 11, 2018
As we begin the second year of the 87th General Assembly, I want 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. It is an honor to be able to be the voice of all the people I represent. I appreciate this continued opportunity and I will do my best to represent you on the important issues that face the State of Iowa.
One of the most important parts of this week as we began our Session was Governor Kim Reynolds’ first delivery of her “Condition of the State” Address on Tuesday morning. She said that the condition of our state is strong.
Iowa is ranked the 3rd best managed state in America, and the number one state for middle class families. Additionally, our Graduation rate is the highest in the nation and our unemployment rate is one of the lowest. In 2017, Governor Reynolds was proud to work with the legislature to move our state forward. She highlighted several areas we accomplished together.
Governor Reynolds stated that moving forwards this Session we will work on several areas to help with the success and opportunities for Iowa and its Citizens in both rural and urban areas:
• She announced a new initiative that focuses on rural Iowa which she has asked Lieutenant Governor Gregg to lead.
• She believes that managed care for Iowa is the right decision, but it is very clear that mistakes were made in how it was done which affected our Citizens. We need to make correction to the Medicaid System which is something she thinks about and works on daily because it is so important to all the people concerned.
• She believes that we must continue to work on Mental Health Care and plans to work with Des Moines University to resolve some issues. She has included money is her budget for this innovative program. She is also asking the Legislature to remove the cap on Sub-acute beds for Mental Health.
• Additionally, Governor Reynolds said that nothing was more important to her that investing in our children. Education is a priority to me and I am proposing $54 million in the 2019 budget. Also, my tax reform plan will expand 529 plans to include K-12 education.
On Wednesday we heard Chief Justice Mark Cady present the Condition of the Iowa Justice Department.
• He descried the Juvenile Court System and how the Divisional Courts are working for Children. One of the most successful programs is “To Good to Lose” in Des Moines which he would like to share with other Juvenile Courts throughout the state.
• He also shared that 47 Specialty Courts throughout the state save money for the system.
• Additionally, he believes that there is a need to invest in technology to keep Court systems safe and secure.
REMINDER: JANUARY 15, 2018 DEADLINE FOR FARMERS TO SIGN UP FOR CROP INSURANCE PREMIUM REDUCTION FOR USING COVER CROPS:
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship reminded Farmers of the January 15 deadline to sign up for an innovative new program providing a $5 per acre premium reduction on their crop insurance in 2018 for farmers who planted cover crops this past fall.
Farmers and landowners can sign up online to certify eligible land for the program at
www.cleanwateriowa.org/covercropdemo. Cover crop acres currently enrolled in state and/or federal programs are not eligible for this program.
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.
2017 Legislative Session — Week 13
April 6, 2017
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.
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.
2017 Legislative Session — Week 12
March 30, 2017
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
• 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.
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.
2017 Legislative Session — Week 10
March 16, 2017
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
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.
2017 Legislative Session — Week 9
March 9, 2017
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.
2017 Legislative Session — Week 8
March 2, 2017
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.
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.
2017 Legislative Session — Week 7
February 23, 2017
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.
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.
2017 Legislative Session — Week 6
February 20, 2017
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!
2017 Legislative Session — Week 5
February 13, 2017
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.
February 2, 2017 — Superintendents Day at the Capitol. Rep. Holz and the Northwest Iowa Superintendents discuss education issues.
2017 Legislative Session — Week 4
February 2, 2017
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.
2017 Legislative Session — Week 3
January 26, 2017
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.
Capitol Visitors: Friday, January 26, 2017 Students from Western Iowa Tech Community College
2017 Legislative Session — Week 2
January 19, 2017
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.
2017 Legislative Session, Week 1
January 12, 2017
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.
April 21, 2016
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.
April 13, 2016
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.
April 6, 2016
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.
March 30, 2016
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!
March 28, 2016
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.
March 16, 2016
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.
March 14, 2016
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.
March 2, 2016
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.
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
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.
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.
February 8, 2016
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.