The Anderson Report by Senator Bill Anderson

The Anderson Report
April 21, 2017  (14th Week of the 2017 Session)

In the Legislature
This week we spent a majority of our time on budget bills and finishing up our time in the Senate.

We passed a bill creating the Iowa First Time Home Buyer Program. The bill encourages Iowans to buy a home by allowing first-time homebuyers to receive a state income tax deduction for contributions to a savings account up to $2,000 (or $4,000 for couples) of after-tax dollars annually and apply the savings in the account and any earned interest toward the purchase or construction of a first home in Iowa.

Parents and grandparents can also make a contribution to an account for their children or grandchildren. The bill passed 49-1.

Along with our work on the budget, we took a step towards finding a better mental health funding system for our state.

Improving the mental health system in Iowa is a continual process. While there are no easy answers to solving the challenges we face, we took steps forward this week in making Iowa’s mental health system better.

Senate File 504 brings stakeholders together to develop solutions related to ongoing concerns connected to the coordination, delivery and access to mental health services. It also works to address the property tax inequity within our mental health regions by creating a balanced levy system where each county will be funding its appropriate share for services.

The bill is a big step toward developing a permanent fix in mental health funding to meet the needs of Iowans. Equalizing the funding between counties in a region reduces the growing friction that threatens to destroy the region system for delivery of mental health services.

The bill regarding medical marijuana also came to the floor for debate. We had a good discussion among our colleagues and the bill passed 45-5. This is a good bill that helps Iowa’s patients get the help and relief they deserve.

Water Quality
Water quality is an issue that has drawn the interest of many Iowans. This week, Senate Republicans moved legislation to address water quality in our state with the passage of Senate File 512. The bill creates a long-term, sustainable funding mechanism and improves policies addressing water quality throughout our state.

Senate Republicans understand Iowa producers are excellent stewards of the land. They know it is imperative to keep the nutrients in the soil so they can grow high yield crops and do their part to help feed the world. Those stewardship practices go a long way in our water quality efforts.

SF 512 will help improve the quality of surface waters flowing in our state.  It also supports efforts in watershed planning and the implementation of practices to help reduce nutrient loading while also providing for habitat and flood mitigation.

Budgets
We intend to conclude the legislative session this week. The main item that must be addressed prior to adjournment is the state budget. This budget spends nearly $7.245 billion of Iowa tax dollars, a decrease of approximately $14 million over the revised budget for this year.

Each dollar the state spends is one earned by Iowans from their work to provide for their families. Senate Republicans use those tax dollars carefully and are determined to be conservative and judicious with each dollar, and that is shown in the budget we passed.

Iowans want a fiscally responsible budget. Many state programs do good work but some are duplicative.  In some areas, funds can be used more effectively and efficiently in other places. Iowan’s tax dollars should be used carefully and cautiously in order to lower the burden, improve career opportunities, and develop an environment which rewards investment.

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The Anderson Report
April 7, 2017  (13th Week of the 2017 Session)

This Week
We had a great deal of floor debate due to the second funnel concluding last week. We have been working on bills coming over from the House and discussing the budget for the next fiscal year.

A few of the bills we passed include:

• HF 410, placing Palmer amaranth on the noxious weed list. Palmer amaranth is an invasive species that lowers crop yields.  It has been discovered in at least 48 counties in Iowa. This classification prohibits the import, sale, or distribution of the plant or its seeds in the state. It also gives county weed commissioners the authority to order the destruction of noxious weeds and keep roadways clear of noxious weeds. This bill is intended to protect farmers and ensure they are not forced into violation of their CRP contracts by county boards of supervisors or weed commissioners.

• HF 463, expanding the authority of motor vehicle enforcement officers (MVE) passed 41-9. This bill explicitly expands their authority to “enforce all laws of the state.”  The bill states MVE officers’ primary duties shall be to enforce federal motor carrier safety regulations, operating authority of semis and busses, regulation of commercial vehicles, enforcement of traffic and safety laws on operators of commercial vehicles, enforcement of other activities for the motor carrier safety assistance program and high priority program (MCSAP), investigation and enforcement of matters entrusted to the DOT, and enforcement of motor vehicle laws.

Restoring your constitutional rights
The gun omnibus bill, House File 517, was debated in the Senate this week. For years, we have been waiting to have a debate regarding the Second Amendment on the Senate floor but were rarely given the opportunity. This year, we were finally able to make these big, bold reforms we envisioned and take the first step in ensuring every Iowan’s Second Amendment right.

The bill makes several changes to a variety of firearms laws in Iowa. A few of these include striking the state prohibition on short-barreled rifles and shotguns, allowing private investigators and security officers who are licensed and have a permit to carry to do so on school property while engaged in performance of their duties (like peace officers, who are already allowed to do this), and allowing pistols and revolvers to be carried in the Capitol building, parking lots, and surrounding grounds by Iowans with a concealed carry permit.

The pistol or revolver must be concealed, and the carrier must comply with all other state laws.

It also makes it a serious misdemeanor to carry a dangerous weapon while under the influence, states a permit to acquire weapons will be valid for five years, strikes the minimum age for a person to possess a handgun while under the supervision of a parent or guardian, and requires the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the issuing officer to keep personally identifiable information of nonprofessional permit holders private. The release of this information requires a court order or consent of the permit holder.

The bill also allows a person riding a snowmobile or ATV to carry a pistol or revolver without a retention holster, and it protects property owners in unincorporated areas from noise complaints if they are lawfully shooting firearms on their property.

Additionally, the bill also puts a “Stand Your Ground” provision into Iowa Code. I have received many emails and phone calls about this part of the bill. This policy says a person may use reasonable force, including deadly force, if they have a reasonable belief the force is necessary to avoid injury or death to themselves or others. There is no duty to retreat. This provision also includes immunity from criminal and civil liability.

Reasonable force is defined as a force that is no more than a reasonable person in a like circumstance would judge to be necessary to prevent an injury or loss. It can include deadly force if reasonable to avoid injury or risk to one’s life or the life or safety of another (which is current law). Reasonable force, including deadly force, may be used even if an alternative course of action is available, if the action entails a risk to life or safety, or that of a third party.

This bill passed the Senate 33-17. Passing this legislation on the floor of the Senate was a big step forward for our state. If you have questions about the bill, please do not hesitate to contact me.

State Budget
This week, Senate Republicans released our budget targets for the upcoming state fiscal year. The targets are an outline that provides the different budgets the amount of money available to spend for the next fiscal year.

This year, House and Senate Republicans plan to spend $7.245 billion. These funds cover everything from public university spending and K-12 education to state troopers and fuel pump inspectors. This budget is $14 million lower than last year and represents Senate Republican’s commitment to funding the priorities of Iowans. Earlier this session, Senate Republicans allocated $40.1 million in new spending on Iowa public schools. This budget keeps that promise even while revenue projections continue to decline.

The budget outline also acknowledges the reality of the state’s current revenue situation. Revenue projections have been lowered for the last five consecutive estimates. A cautious and conservative approach to spending state dollars is more important now than ever. Mid-year budget cuts are especially challenging to schools and state agencies because they have no chance to plan for lower budget commitments made by the legislature. Realistic funding promises limit the need for those even more difficult choices next year.

Senate Republicans will not pass a budget that is not balanced. We will not make reckless budgeting decisions in the face of consistently declining revenue. We will operate the state budget like the family budget. When revenue is lower than expected, spending should be lower as well.

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  I am currently the chair of the Commerce Committee, and serve on the Natural Resources, State Government, Transportation, and Ways and Means Committees. Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 515-281-3371 or email me at bill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

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The Anderson Report
March 31, 2017  (12th Week of the 2017 Session)

In the Legislature
This week we did a combination of floor debate and committee work. This was the second funnel week of the legislative session. Much like the first funnel, we need to get bills out of committee for them to be considered for the rest of this session. This deadline moves the process along and helps us adjourn on time. We only have a few weeks left before we hit the hundred-day mark and we have a lot of work to do regarding our budget. After this week, our work will focus on debating House bills, bills sent back to us from the House and budget bills.

Safe Haven
This week the Senate passed SF 360 unanimously, expanding Iowa’s Safe Haven law. The Safe Haven Act is a law that allows parents – or another person who has the parent’s authorization – to leave an infant up to 14 days old at a “safe haven” without fear of prosecution for abandonment. All states have safe haven laws, although provisions differ. In Iowa, a safe haven is currently defined as a facility providing medical or health services that is open twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week and is a hospital emergency room, a residential care facility, a nursing facility, or an intermediate care facility for persons with mental illness.

This bill states that in lieu of the current options a person may call 911 to relinquish physical custody of the newborn. The 911 dispatch would send the most appropriate first responder to care for the child. The child would then be delivered to the nearest institutional health facility, which in most cases would be a hospital.

Currently, a person can leave an infant up to 14 days old at one of these safe havens. This law would extend that age to babies up to 30 days. Additionally, in order to keep the mother’s identity secret for fear of judgement or reprisals, all information, including the 911 call, are to be kept confidential and not subject to Freedom of Information Act requests.

This bill would make it easier to find somewhere to safely leave a child, therefore giving the parent more of an opportunity to ensure the health and well-being of the child in the future.

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  I am currently the chair of the Commerce Committee, and serve on the Natural Resources, State Government, Transportation, and Ways and Means Committees. Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 515-281-3371 or email to  bill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

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The Anderson Report
March 24, 2017  (11th Week of the 2017 Session)

99 Percent Expenditure limit
One of the first five bills we introduced in January was a provision that would add the 99 percent expenditure limitation to the state constitution. Though state law does require the legislature to spend no more than 99 percent of anticipated revenues for the next fiscal year, this amendment to the Iowa Constitution would help ensure the state meet its financial obligations.

Anticipated state revenue growth failed to meet expectations, once again, we learned last week.  The Revenue Estimating Conference, which forecasts state revenues for budgeting purposes, announced an anticipated shortfall of $138 million in the current year budget. This news comes after the legislature made more than $118 million in cuts in January to the Fiscal Year 2017 budget.

Senate Joint Resolution 9 cracks down on spending by capping growth, prohibiting the legislature from circumventing the law, and by eliminating the surplus from calculation of the expenditure limitation.

Putting the 99 percent expenditure limit into the state constitution also limits the increase in spending from year to year. This legislation allows state spending to grow by no more than 4 percent more than the previous year’s net revenue estimate, which places spending more in line with historic revenue growth.

The resolution provides predictability for our budget and would help avoid financial situations like we currently face.

The Second Amendment
House File 517 which makes changes to firearms laws in Iowa. It took the first steps in the Senate process last week. Some of the provisions in the bill are:
• Removing the state prohibition on short-barreled rifles and shot guns
• Making it a serious misdemeanor to carry a dangerous weapon while under the influence
• Updating permit to carry language
• Requiring firearms safety training when a new permit to carry is issued
• Striking the minimum age for a person to possess a handgun while under the supervision of a parent or guardian
• Prohibiting the governor and political subdivisions from revoking firearms rights in a state of emergency
• Allowing a person to use reasonable force if they have a reasonable belief the force is necessary to avoid injury or death to themselves or others. There is no duty to retreat.

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  I am currently the chair of the Commerce Committee, and serve on the Natural Resources, State Government, Transportation, and Ways and Means Committees. Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 515-281-3371 or email me at bill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

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The Anderson Report
March 17, 2017  (Tenth Week of the 2017 Session)

It was another busy week in the Iowa Senate. These are some of the bills we have passed.

• House File 203, allowing primary road funds to be allocated to secondary and municipal road systems in exchange for retaining all or a portion of federal aid road funds that would otherwise be allocated to counties and cities. This bill helps increase the efficiency of the planning and construction of city and county roads by eliminating federal requirements that are attached when federal money is used. This change could save our cities and counties 15-20 percent on road and bridge projects, thus allowing them to complete more projects. The counties and cities still receive the same total amount of money, just state dollars instead of federal dollars. This bill does not mandate or require the swap of money.  It allows the commission to do the swap if they believe it is beneficial. The bill passed 26-21.

• Senate File 404, known as the ‘Right to Try’ bill, allows a person with a terminal illness to have a shot at trying a medicine that could potentially save their life when all other treatments have failed. Eligible patients have a terminal illness, have tried and failed all other treatment options approved by the FDA, have a recommendation from their physician for a drug or product, have given informed, written consent, and have documentation from their doctor stating the individual meets these requirements. The bill passed the Senate unanimously.

• The Senate also passed Senate File 471 (originally SF 53), the 20-week abortion bill. The bill removes the ban of abortions after the second trimester and replaces it with a ban of 20 weeks. There is an exception for up to 24 weeks when, in the best clinical judgment of the physician, the human pregnancy has a fetal anomaly incompatible with life. This bill passed on the Senate floor with bipartisan support 32-17.

REC, Tax Credits, and Growth
The Revenue Estimating Conference this week indicated revenues for this fiscal year and next fiscal year are reduced significantly from their prior expectations. This news highlights the importance of Senate Republican’s goal of implementing policies that will spur economic growth. Growth in the economy increases state revenues because more people are working, spending, and paying taxes.

Iowa’s tax code is complicated. It contains nine different tax brackets, approximately 40 different tax credit programs and one of the highest tax rates in the Midwest. It is a barrier to growth. It limits the ability of job creators to grow and expand career opportunities for Iowans. A symptom of that uncompetitive tax code is the proliferation of tax credits to ease the burden on some businesses. However, businesses that are not as fortunate to have a special tax credit are left to pay the bill for those tax credits provided to other businesses.

A few years ago, Illinois passed a 67% income tax increase to only later pass tens of millions of dollars in special tax relief for Sears, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and other huge corporations, just so they would not leave the state. Raising taxes on everyone else to make special arrangements for the privileged is anti-growth and reduces the competitiveness of the state.

We have a vision for the state that includes job growth and making Iowa an attractive place to do business. The tax code should be simple and easy to understand for anyone and everyone.

Small businesses, which are responsible for 75 percent of job growth, are currently left behind in an uncompetitive tax structure while big businesses hire lobbyists and lawyers to get more tax credits. These businesses that are so crucial to our communities and towns need tax policy that will allow them to remain competitive with the big businesses and hire more of the help they need.

Senate Republicans are committed to lowering the tax rates in Iowa, reducing the mess of tax credits, and expanding the tax base. A simpler, fairer tax code creates an environment that encourages growth.

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  I am currently the chair of the Commerce Committee, and serve on the Natural Resources, State Government, Transportation, and Ways and Means Committees. Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can call me at 515-281-3371 or email me at bill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

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The Anderson Report
March 10, 2017  (Ninth Week of the 2017 Session)

In the Legislature
This was the ninth week of the legislative session. Last week was our first funnel week, meaning this week was full of debate on the Senate floor as we come up on more deadlines for bills. The second funnel week is at the end of March, when Senate bills need to be through House committees in order to be considered this session.

With a large amount of floor debate, we passed a series of bills this week. Some of these include:

• SF 197 authorizes public buildings to display the POW/MIA flag on POW/MIA Day, Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, and Veterans Day.  The bill also states that the POW/MIA flag, when displayed, shall be no larger than the U.S. flag and flown second in the order of precedence, immediately below or adjacent to the U.S. flag, in accordance with federal guidelines.

• HF 312 permits a person to leave a vehicle unattended while the engine is running. Under current law, a person is prohibited from letting a vehicle stand unattended without first stopping the engine. The bill still requires motorists to turn their wheels to the curb if they are on any perceptible grade.

• SF 238 expands the current definition of a “school employee” in cases of sexual exploitation of a student from just professionals licensed by the Board of Educational Examiners (BOEE) to include all licensed employees, non-licensed public school employees, public school volunteers with direct supervisory authority over the student, and public school contractors with direct supervisory authority over the student.  The bill specifically exempts students enrolled in the school district.  The bill also makes an exemption for a school employee that does not work at the same attendance center as the student in question, provided that the person does not have direct supervisory authority over the student and the person does not have a license, certificate, or statement of professional recognition from the BOEE.

• SF 401 creates a sexual abuse civil protective order, available from a court for sexual abuse. Under current law, a victim may apply for a criminal no-contact order after the defendant has been arrested for sexual abuse, or upon the convicted defendant’s release from jail or prison. A sexual abuse civil protective order would be available through the court on an emergency, temporary, or permanent basis.  The order can be obtained before the defendant has been arrested and can cover the victim and members of the victim’s family.  The protections are the same as those afforded by a domestic abuse protective order. The bill also creates a notification system located in the Crime Victim Assistance Division of the Attorney General’s Office to be used for notification of victims under domestic abuse protective orders and sexual abuse protective orders. It also notifies victims of establishment of order, its duration, expiration warning, and notifies and allows law enforcement to use and disseminate the information for purposes of enforcement.

Computer Science Education
The computer science education bill, Senate File 274, also passed through the Senate unanimously on Tuesday. This bill, a priority for Governor Branstad, establishes a requirement for computer science education standards. This goal is accomplished by requiring the Board of Educational Examiners to establish endorsements and authorizations for computer science instruction, and the bill establishes the Computer Science Professional Development Incentive Fund.

The goal is for each high school to offer at least one computer science course, each middle school to offer instruction in exploratory computer science, and each elementary school to offer instruction on the basics of computer science, all by Fiscal Year 2020.

Funding will be used for professional development activities for teachers in the area of computer science education and tuition reimbursement for teachers seeking computer science endorsements or authorizations. It also allows private, state, and federal money to be accepted into the Computer Science Professional Development Incentive Fund, in addition to a direct state appropriation.

Additionally, the bill establishes a Computer Science Education Work Group consisting of K-12 public and accredited non-public schools, higher education, business, labor, and other appropriate stakeholders.

This group would help identify ways to incentivize schools to offer the coursework, develop recommendations on how courses can satisfy high school math or science graduation requirements, identify how courses can be integrated into CTE pathways, identify how coursework could be delivered, beyond traditional classes, and identify how funding in the incentive fund can be used to accomplish the goals the bill outlines.

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  I am currently the chair of the Commerce Committee, and serve on the Natural Resources, State Government, Transportation, and Ways and Means Committees. Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 515-281-3371 or email to  bill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

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The Anderson Report
March 4, 2017  (Eighth Week of the 2017 Session)

Increasing Opportunities
Iowa small businesses supplying products to state agencies may now be on a more level playing field after House File 293 was passed Wednesday out of the Iowa Senate.

Under current law, any time a department needs a product such as a park bench, fire pit or certain furniture, it is required to purchase it through Iowa Prison Industries if that organization manufactures it. That would change under House File 293.

House File 293 would direct the Department of Administrative Services director to put together rules for a competitive bidding procedure.  Those rules would eliminate DAS and other state agencies from the current requirement of purchasing items from Prison Industries if an Iowa manufacturer has a like product manufactured in the state.  The rules also would provide an opportunity for Prison Industries to bid on the project.

There have been some concerns expressed that this bill would be detrimental to Prison Industries. This bill does not hinder departments from using Prison Industries products. It does create more opportunities for small manufacturers in Iowa currently excluded from selling to state agencies because of the restrictions in Iowa Code.

Funnel Week
This week was our first funnel week and it is one of the busiest weeks we have in the legislature. The first funnel week is when policy bills need to be through the committees of the originating chamber in order to be considered for the rest of this legislative session. If they do not pass committee, they are considered dead for this year, but they can be considered again next year.

The funnel is a self-imposed deadline to help us focus on the bills we want to get passed during the session so we can do the people’s work in a timely manner and end the session on time. Some of the bills that have been discussed are:

• SSB 1145, which prohibits government entities from requiring contractors to submit any information the contractor deems confidential or proprietary as a requirement to be considered responsible or responsive. The bill also states that government entities shall neither prohibit nor require contractors to enter into a project labor agreement (PLA) for a project or series of projects as a condition of performing work on public construction projects.

  • Taxpayers deserve the best construction at the best price when they are paying for construction projects. This bill does not prohibit a government entity from accepting a bid from a contractor that includes a PLA when it makes sense for taxpayers. This bill simply requires the market to make that determination.
  • PLA mandates increase construction costs. On government-funded or assisted projects, taxpayers deserve the best product for the best price. Numerous studies show that PLA mandates can increase construction costs by nearly 20 percent.
  • The pre-qualification requirements hurt contractors.Some local governments require contractors to complete prequalification questionnaires with intrusive questions to determine if the contractor is “responsible” enough to complete the project. These questionnaires are public record once they are submitted – even if the contractor is not awarded the project.

• SF 257, which sets forth the steps and considerations for conducting a bass fishing tournament on public water and requires the person conducting the tournament acquire a permit from the DNR. This allows possession of up to five live bass of any length for weigh-in during the tournament so long as they are kept alive and released after weigh-in.

• Events must be: held on public water for the purpose of fishing for bass; have 6 or more vessels or 12 or more individuals (events on the Mississippi river, must have 20+ vessels or 40+ individuals); and awards prizes or incentives for participation

• The commission must address the following, at a minimum, by rules:
* Minimum requirements for weigh-in, handling, and release of live bass
* Measurement of bass to length and release from a vessel
* Allowance of up to five bass for weigh-in during the tournament
* Allowance of possession of bass of any length so long as the bass are kept alive and released after weigh-in
* Cleaning of vessels before and after the event to prevent transport of invasive species

Permit requirements are already set in rules by the DNR, so this bill is simply codifying it.

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  I am currently the chair of the Commerce Committee, and serve on the Natural Resources, State Government, Transportation, and Ways and Means Committees. Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 515-281-3371 or email to  bill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

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The Anderson Report
February 23, 2017  (Seventh Week of the 2017 Session)

It was another busy week in the Iowa Senate.  Committee work is picking up as we approach the first funnel of the 2017 session.  Any legislation, with the exceptions of Ways and Means and Appropriations, will need to pass out of committee by next Friday.

On Wednesday of this week we held the final Transportation, Infrastructure, Capitals budget subcommittee. Now we will work with committee members from the House and with the Governor’s office to lineup priorities for the budget.
As with many of the committees I have served on over the past six years the TIC committee provides many opportunities to learn about projects across the state.

Sioux City
Presentations this week included the city of Sioux City and the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.

Sioux City presented on the I-29 reconstruction and utility relocation project. The estimated cost of utility relocation has expanded to over $50 million. According to the presentation many factors have contributed to the significant cost increase. That translates into roughly $1,600 per residential user and $4,000 per business user. The costs will be spread over a 20 year period.

While Sioux City did not have a specific ask regarding this project, the city would like to be considered for an appropriation from the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund (RIIF) to lessen the impact of the project on the City’s water and sewer customers.

Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program
Another presentation this week came from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association regarding their efforts to continue the infrastructure fund which has helped expand E15 and E85 dispensers, blender pumps and heated biodiesel terminal storage. I want to share some of information from that meeting.

The program has provided cost-share grants to nearly 700 projects.  Providing Iowans expanded access to cleaner burning, lower cost, homegrown fuel choices.

The funding source of the $3 million program was obtained from the penny per gallon Environmental Protection Charge that was applied to every gallon of fuel sold.  The collection of the penny ceased on December 31, 2016. This change has necessitated a new source of funding.

The number of E15 states in Iowa jumped nearly 150% in 2016 from 40 stations to 99 stations. In 2015 the record breaking sales of E85, E15 and midlevel ethanol blends made up just 1.4% of the state’s total gasoline sales.  IRFA sees a tremendous growth potential for renewable fuels in the state.

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  I am currently the chair of the Commerce Committee, and serve on the Natural Resources, State Government, Transportation, and Ways and Means Committees. Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 515-281-3371 or email to  bill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

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The Anderson Report
February 18, 2017  (Sixth Week of the 2017 Session)

It’s been a busy week as we did a couple bills on the floor for debate, and had several bills moving through our subcommittees and committees. Apart from the bigger bills, there are also smaller things we look at during the session. There are a few bills that have garnered some interest at the Capitol, and they may interest you.

SSB 1020: Under current law, a person is prohibited from letting a vehicle stand unattended without first stopping the engine.  This law means for many people who already have remote starters for their cars, using those was technically illegal. The bill now permits a person to leave a vehicle unattended while the engine is running. The bill takes an old, outdated law, first enacted in 1913, off the books. There were only six citations issued for these violations in 2016. If the law is no longer necessary, then we need to take it off the books.

SSB 1037: This bill allows motorists to make a right or left hand turn from the second lane from the curb if it is designated as a lane for right or left turns.   This bill allows you to turn into the outside lane on a left turn from a one-way street onto a one-way street. Cities are still able to put up signs which would prohibit turns from the furthest lane from the curb if they believe it is a safety concern.

SF 77: This bill passed unanimously through the Human Resources committee this week. It directs the Department of Public Health to adopt rules that require a facility performing mammography services to include information on breast density in reports sent to patients pursuant to federal law and rules. This would allow women with dense breast tissue to be made aware of warning signs early.

Texting and Driving
The issue of texting and driving has been discussed a few times in the Capitol before. There is another bill this year, SSB 1002, that would make texting while driving a primary offense.

Currently, texting while driving is a secondary offense, which means you cannot be pulled over solely for texting and driving. There must be another violation to cause the officer to pull the person over, and texting while driving can be added on as an additional charge.

This bill also has many vocal supporters, and there are those in opposition. Those in support of it say the bill will increase safety by reducing the amount of distracted drivers on Iowa roads because officers would no longer have to wait for another violation before pulling someone over to enforce this law.

There are several arguments being made to expand the bill. Some say it doesn’t go far enough to address the change in phone technology and phones can be distracting in many different ways, such as taking videos, photos, using the GPS, playing video games, etc. Some also say it is difficult for an officer to prove a person was texting and driving as opposed to using their phones for something else, like using their phone’s GPS.

I have also heard that people do not want to be told what they can and cannot do in their vehicles. The legislative process will allow all parties to voice their concerns and address the issue of texting and driving.

Health Insurance
There was a push by Senate Republicans in recent years to vote on legislation requiring lawmakers to pay 20 percent of their health care premiums.  However, it was not a priority for Senate Democrats.

When the 2017 Legislative session convened, 92 of 149 lawmakers paid only $20 each month for the health insurance.  Considering the private sector and other state employees pay more on a monthly basis for their health care premiums, Senate Republicans wanted to address this in a timely fashion this session because a dialogue never occurred in recent years.

In 2013, Senator Breitbach authored Senate File 137 which would have required lawmakers to pay 20 percent of the health care plan they selected. However, a subcommittee meeting was never convened. This was similar to the action of Senators Whitver and Kapucian in 2012 when they filed Senate File 2207. Again, a subcommittee was not scheduled.

Under a new Senate Republican majority, Senate File 230 passed unanimously on the Senate floor.

Senate File 230 requires members of the General Assembly and full-time legislative branch employees to pay 20 percent of the total premium cost for health insurance. This impacts 395 individuals. These individuals would be eligible for a $111 reduction in their monthly premium if they participate in a Premium Wellness Reduction Program.

This bill is effective upon enactment, but only applies once the new enrollment period takes effect next January. However, any new full-time employees would pay 20 percent of their premiums when they begin their employment in the legislative branch.

Please continue to contact me with the issues important to you as the legislative session continues.

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  I am currently the chair of the Commerce Committee, and serve on the Natural Resources, State Government, Transportation, and Ways and Means Committees. Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 515-281-3371 or email to  bill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

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The Anderson Report
February 10, 2017  (Fifth Week of the 2017 Session)

Fireworks
Legislation allowing for the sale and use of fireworks passed this week on a bipartisan vote of 11-3 in the Senate State Government committee.  This is an issue I have become very familiar with over the past 4 years. A similar version of the fireworks bill was adopted by the State Government committee last year on a bipartisan vote. That bill never came to the full Senate for debate.

If it becomes law, Senate Study Bill 1051 would give county boards of supervisors or city councils the ability to prohibit the use of consumer fireworks through a simple ordinance or resolution. The bill also has language which would allow the sale of consumer fireworks in both permanent and temporary structures.

Currently in the state, Iowans are permitted to possess as many consumer fireworks as they want. You just can’t set them off.

Retailers in permanent structures would be permitted to sell consumer fireworks from June 1 through July 8 and between December 10 and January 3 annually. Those selling fireworks in temporary structures would be permitted to sell from June 13 – July 8 each year.  The bill also creates procedures and penalties for violators. Sales would be prohibited to consumers under the age of 18.

With the enactment of this bill, Iowans would have the freedom to use fireworks during the specified dates. Fireworks must be used on personal property or with a landowner’s permission. I expect the bill will now move to the Senate Ways and Means committee, from there to the full Senate for debate.

Collective bargaining
There is a great deal of discussion being had about proposed changes to Iowa’s collective bargaining laws. There is also a great deal of confusion and misinformation being spread about what exactly is being proposed.

This legislation does not affect private sector workers.  The Federal Government has always held jurisdiction over private sector labor relations and reform to Iowa’s collective bargaining laws does not change this fact.

This bill does not take away or modify Iowa’s public pensions. In Iowa, public pensions have always been excluded from the scope of collective bargaining. This bill does not take away health insurance.

The bill states that public employers are required to offer all employees healthcare coverage.

Another important note about the scope of negotiations is that any non-prohibited topics may be bargained for collectively, if both parties agree to them.

The proposed changes have no effect on an individual employee’s rights to discuss or negotiate on their own accord with their employer about any topics they feel are imperative to their employment.

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  I am currently the chair of the Commerce Committee, and serve on the Natural Resources, State Government, Transportation, and Ways and Means Committees. Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas.

You can reach me at 515-281-3371 or email me at bill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

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The Anderson Report
February 3, 2017  (Fourth Week of the 2017 Session)

Senate File 2
I am a proud Pro-Life Catholic, husband, father and Senator. On Thursday, I cast a yes vote — along with 29 other legislators — for Senate File 2, which ends the subsidization of abortion providers with your tax dollars! As I wrote last week; SF2 creates a new state family planning program, thus eliminating the current family planning waiver that currently subsidizes abortion providers.

The new program opens up a host of new opportunities for women to receive all their primary health care needs from more than 200 Medicaid waiver eligible clinics. The only clinics excluded in this bill are clinics that perform abortions.

Education Funding
I am committed to providing responsible and sustainable funding for schools in my district.  Our schools have been disappointed in the past to be promised a certain amount of funding, only for the Legislature to under-deliver.  Senate Republicans want to set supplemental state aid (SSA) early in the session to help our school districts budget and plan. We want to appropriate an amount we can afford, so they can plan their budgets.

The SSA increase for FY 18 makes a promise to local schools that can be kept.  Senate File 166 provides an increase of about $40 million in state aid to local school districts. This is a first step towards meeting our obligations to set school aid in a timely manner.

The methods of the past have placed Iowa schools in difficult situations.  Requiring SSA to be established before there are even revenue estimates is irresponsible.  This has caused the legislature to over promise and under deliver, and it is our goal to end this practice.

Autism Legislation
I will be chairing a subcommittee regarding insurance coverage for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). I have been a longtime supporter and advocate for ABA coverage. I believe this will be the year we get it done.

Autism Speaks defines ABA as: focusing on the principles that explain how learning takes place. Positive reinforcement is one such principle. When a behavior is followed by some sort of reward, the behavior is more likely to be repeated. Through decades of research, the field of behavior analysis has developed many techniques for increasing useful behaviors and reducing those that may cause harm or interfere with learning. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the use of these techniques and principles to bring about meaningful and positive change in behavior.

Autism Information: Autism impacts over 6,500 Iowans, and 600 are born with the disorder each year. It impacts one out of every 88 children. The CDC estimates that up to 730,000 people from the ages of 0-21 have an autism spectrum disorder. Twenty-nine states have passed similar ABA legislation. Iowa passed an insurance mandate years ago, in 2010. (It only applies to the Iowa State Employees’ self-funded insurance plan).

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The Anderson Report
January 26, 2017  (Third Week of the 2017 Session)

Standing for Life
Standing for life has long been a priority of mine and my Republican colleagues.  Senate Republicans have filed numerous bills concerning life during my time in the Legislature. However, those bills were never given a basic hearing when Democrats were in the majority.

Holding a new majority in the Iowa Senate, Republicans demonstrated life and women’s health are among our top priorities. Senate File 2 was one of the first bills filed in the opening week of the legislative session. SF2 would create a new state family planning program, thus eliminating the current family planning waiver that currently goes to Planned Parenthood and its 12 clinics across Iowa. The bill would transition the funding to a new program.

This new program opens up a host of new opportunities for women to receive all their primary health care needs from more than 200 Medicaid waiver eligible clinics. The only clinics excluded in this bill are clinics that perform abortions. The fact this proposed bill makes more health care facilities available to women is one of the prime reasons this bill is needed.

Coupling
One year ago, you fought with us as we pushed to get Senate Democrats to pass coupling to benefit farmers, teachers, small businesses and thousands of other Iowans. Coupling was, and continues to be, a big priority for Senate Republicans. Last session Senate Republicans drafted an amendment which would have permanently coupled Iowa tax law with federal tax changes, such as Section 179 expensing and teacher classroom deduction. This would have streamlined the filing process for you, and made a complicated and difficult task a little easier. Unfortunately, that amendment never came to a vote on the floor of the Iowa Senate and the Senate Democrats took that option off the table.

Through budget negotiations with the House of Representatives and the Governor, an agreement was reached that balanced the state budget without coupling the state tax code with federal changes for the 2016 tax year.  Do not let this choice alter your faith in the task you have sent us to do here. Tax reform is a top priority for Senate Republicans and one issue which will assuredly be under consideration for future years will be a bill that makes coupling changes permanent. Our job creators, farmers, teachers, and all constituents deserve having predictability and certainty when they make decisions to invest and live in our great state.

Deappropriations Bill
Senate Republicans ran on getting our budget situation in order. We have told you consistently we would run the state budget just like the family budget. We will not spend more than we take in. We will not use irresponsible budgeting tactics.

Many of you have already heard about the tough budget year the state is facing and the deappropriations bill the Legislature must pass. Our goal is to get this bill passed quickly so the affected organizations can plan accordingly in the remaining months. We need to find over $110 million dollars in savings in just the few months we have left in the current fiscal year.  This bill is something we need to do by law.

I want to be clear: We do not have a revenue problem here; we have had a spending problem.

We are in this situation because of the budget Senate Democrats moved forward. Even though revenue continued to grow, they still spent taxpayer money in a way that was not sustainable. Nearly every time in recent years Senate Republicans opposed the budgets being passed from the Iowa Senate because too many tax dollars were being spent. This session those statements proved true.

We have to make the budget balance by law. In order to accomplish that task difficult choices were made but Iowans chose to put Senate Republicans in the majority for this reason. This week legislation moved through the Iowa Senate that balanced the budget for this current year. You can trust Senate Republicans will budget in a responsible way.

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  I am currently the chair of the Commerce Committee, and serve on the Natural Resources, State Government, Transportation, and Ways and Means Committees. Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email me at bill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.
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The Anderson Report
January 21, 2017 (Second Week of the 2017 Session)

Veterans Day at the Capitol
Wednesday was a special day at the Statehouse as we celebrated Veteran’s Day at the Capitol. It was truly an honor to pay tribute to these true American heroes who defended the very freedoms we cherish.  Every one of us has someone we know in our communities or are related to who served in the military.  As an American, I am committed to supporting our troops – both past and present. Seeing some of our Korean and Vietnam War veterans Wednesday helps put that commitment and dedication even more into perspective. These honorable men and women carried the weight of a nation on their backs when they served, and it is important we have their back today, tomorrow and in the years to come.

The Home Base Iowa Act was important to keeping our veterans in Iowa and bringing those who had been away home. One important component of Home Base Iowa is exempting military pensions from state income tax. As a believer in exploring all aspects of income tax reform, this was a great start. When we passed this initiative it moved our state in the right direction when it comes to competing with neighboring states such as Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

The Home Base Iowa Act also includes key measures such as directing Iowa’s occupational boards to adopt rules assigning credit for military training and experience in the licensing process, and calling upon the State Board of Education – to follow the lead of the Regents universities – to grant in-state tuition to veterans, their spouses and dependents at Iowa’s community colleges.

So to my fellow veterans, thank you again for your service.

Budget
One main topic of discussion in the state house this week has been the state budget. It is no secret revenue growth was lower than expected. As a result, legislators need to find over $100 million in savings for the current fiscal year. One of the tough parts of this task is the fiscal year is more than half over and much of that money is already spent. This means only a few months remain to find the needed savings, as required by the law.

Senate Republicans are committed to fixing the budget. We want to make sure the state is spending your money wisely and managing your money the same way families manage their household budgets. Senate Republicans believe we should not be spending more money than we take in and we want you to keep more of your hard-earned money.

State Spending and Jobs
One of the first five bills Senate Republicans introduced this year after taking the majority in the Iowa Senate was a provision that would add the 99% expenditure limitation to the state constitution. Iowa law currently requires the legislature to spend no more than 99% of anticipated revenues for the next fiscal year. This law was intended to put Iowa on solid financial footing and provide both taxpayers and those entities receiving tax dollars confidence the state would meet its commitments responsibly.

Senate Republicans propose putting this law into the state constitution in order to provide predictability and sustainability to the state budget. Job creators evaluate state spending decisions from the perspective of someone who balances a checkbook. They know when the legislature overspends it increases the likelihood those same politicians will come to their door demanding an increase in taxes to fund those commitments. This action leads to uncertainty and reduces the incentive to invest and work to expand the economy, create jobs and increase wages.

Senate Republican priorities are controlling state spending, reforming the tax code, and creating an economic environment favorable to job creation and higher wages. Placing the 99% expenditure limitation into the state constitution is one step the legislature and Iowans can take to give job creators greater confidence when they decide to invest in Iowa and ensure Iowan’s tax dollars are used wisely.

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  I am currently the chair of the Commerce Committee, and serve on the Natural Resources, State Government, Transportation, and Ways and Means Committees. Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email to  bill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

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The Anderson Report
January 13, 2017 (First Week of the 2017 Session)

The biggest obstacle of this upcoming General Assembly will be developing a budget that is fiscally sound. We are starting off the 87th General Assembly with disappointing news from the Revenue Estimating Conference. The revenue estimate for the next fiscal year was decreased by $96.2 million. The decrease in estimated revenue will make this legislative session challenging.

On Tuesday, Governor Branstad gave his final Condition of the State Address. In it the Governor laid out his plan for the budget, defunding abortion providers, traffic safety and other measures. It has been a pleasure to work with Governor Branstad and I am excited to continue working with Iowa’s next Governor, Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds. She will do a fantastic job bringing her energy and love of Iowa to the office.

Beyond our first priority of making sure Iowa’s budget is balanced and fiscally sound, some other priorities include tax reform, education reform, water quality and making sure Planned Parenthood is in no way funded with your tax dollars. Iowa’s tax code is one of the most complicated tax codes in the nation. By reducing taxes and simplifying the tax code, we will be able to grow our economy and help all Iowans. I have always been a strong proponent of education savings accounts and I believe by accomplishing this overdue reform we will be giving parents the choice of where and how their children should be educated. The issue of water quality became an alarming issue when the Des Moines Water Works filed a lawsuit against three rural counties in Northwest Iowa in 2015. I will continue to support voluntary practices for farmers with incentives, and will never support mandates either at the state or federal level.

Defunding Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers has been a longtime goal of mine. There are other organizations in Iowa that can assist in family planning and women’s health services. Life is sacred. The state has no business funding an organization that believes a baby’s life is not.

I am optimistic about the session. We will accomplish many things for all Iowans. I believe this session should be the most productive session we have had in over a decade with strong legislation being passed which will help Iowa flourish.
anderson bill.jpg

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  I am currently the chair of the Commerce Committee, and serve on the Natural Resources, State Government, Transportation, and Ways and Means Committees. Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email to  bill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

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The Anderson Report — Received May 13, 2016

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email tobill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

Session Wrap-Up
The 2016 Legislative session was one that neither started nor ended with much fanfare. Going into the session we knew we faced a challenging budget, and despite the Senate Democrats’ desire to spend all available revenue, I voted repeatedly to hold our state spending in check. Despite efforts to rein it in, spending continues to grow.

In fact, over the last four years government spending has grown by more than $1.2 billion. This is unacceptable considering the increased rate of government spending far exceeds the growth in Iowa family budgets. Iowa families deserve better.

Again this year we joined House Republicans in voting to end state appropriations to abortion providers. Senate Republicans offered an amendment to prohibit state dollars from going to abortion providers and prioritized funding to go to over 200 organizations which provide health services across the state. Democrats used Senate Rules to strike down this amendment and others. I am more motivated than ever to gain a Republican majority in the Senate.

After much delay we were successful in coupling with the federal income tax code including Section 179 depreciation, important legislation which provides incentives for business owners to invest in themselves.

Renewable fuels remain an important issue to me. Tax credits for E-15 and E-85 gasoline promotion, and biodiesel blended fuel B-5 and higher were all extended.  We created a biochemical tax credit which will facilitate growth in this new innovative field. HF 2468 contained a number of provisions important to renewable energy including a stand-alone state income tax credit for geothermal systems and an extension of 476C wind energy credits. Both items I have introduced legislation for during my time in the Senate.

Another issue I heard a great deal about, but didn’t capture headlines was HF 2414, a bill regulating ride sharing services such as Uber and Lyft. The bill establishes background checks and insurance requirements to ensure we can keep these innovative companies in our state.

As always, I held forums across Senate District 3 meeting with my constituents discussing the session and issues important to them. During the interim I will continue to be accountable, accessible and responsive. Thank you for the opportunity to serve.

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The Anderson Report — Received May 3, 2016

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email tobill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

2016 Legislative session adjourns
On Friday, we finally adjourned once the House and Senate were able to come to a compromise on the few remaining budget items.

As part of the compromise on the Health and Human Services budget, the adoption tax credit was doubled from $2,500 per child per year to $5,000. The Human Services budget also included a Medicaid oversight plan with an additional long-term care ombudsman and data reporting as the transition to managed-care moves forward.

This session, we worked through many issues, like Medicaid modernization and education funding. There are issues we didn’t address, like fireworks.  Medicaid oversight continues to be a priority as our state transitions to managed-care. While the Legislature passed oversight to ensure a smooth transition, I urge you to contact me with any problems.

Fiscal Responsibility

Similar to last year, a big issue this Legislative session was the budget. We had been warning for years now we are going to need more fiscal responsibility and stop spending down our savings account. We continually pushed for getting our state spending under control. Throughout session, Senate Republicans held to our budgeting principles. We stand by our principles of not spending more money than we bring in and opposing the use of one-time funds for ongoing expenses.

Senate Democrats continued to spend down our surplus as we urged fiscal restraint. They repeatedly made promises only to under-deliver on those promises.

This year, total general fund spending for the upcoming fiscal year is nearly $7.351 billion.  This is an increase of about $176 million above the current FY 2016 budget. Much of this increase will go to PreK-12 education funding.

When all is said and done, the budget spends about $7,350,600,000. This is about $200,000 under the expenditure limitation, which requires the state only spend 99 percent of state revenues. While we were able to come to a compromise this year barely staying within our spending limitations, we are going to need to be mindful in the future of the promises we make and show more restraint in spending the taxpayer’s money. After all, this is the peoples’ money, not the government’s.

It’s no secret I will be working during the interim to elect a Republican majority in the Senate. Without a Republican majority we will see the continued funding of abortion providers with taxpayer money, a continued lack of fiscal restraint which reduced the budget surplus from $927 million to under $80 million, and a growth in state government which has far outpaced family incomes. We can’t afford another two years of split government.

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The Anderson Report — Received April 22, 2016

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email tobill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

Budget bills continue to bounce between the two chambers. It appears a handful of these bills will end up in conference committee. Obviously, this development will take the session into extra innings.

This Week in the Senate
• Days were spent getting budget bills through committee to be debated on the floor.
• On Wednesday, the Senate passed SR 118, a resolution supporting the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
• We also passed SR 112 on Wednesday, commending the results of Taiwan’s 2016 presidential election reaffirming support for increasing Taiwan’s international profile for strengthening and expanding sister-state ties between Iowa and Taiwan.
• Tuesday marked the 100th day of the Legislative session.
• We’re still unsure of when adjournment will be.

Career and Technical Education

The Senate recently took up HF 2392, the career and technical education (CTE) modernization bill. The bill modernizes the “career and technical education” (often called “vocational education”) delivery model in Iowa’s high schools and community colleges.  The bill updates code references to federal law and helps to eliminate duplications in career and technical education.  The bill is intended to help create more and improved pathways to career and technical education and employment.

The changes in the bill are based off recommendations made by the Secondary Career and Technical Education Task Force in 2015.

Some of these changes include:
• Requires students to have individual career and academic plans in 8th grade in order to prepare for meeting graduation requirements, identify relevant career oriented coursework, and prepare the student for completion of a state-approved career guidance system
• Creates “career guidance teams” in each school district to consult with employers, workforce systems, higher education, and career training programs
• Updates “vocational service areas” to “career technical service areas” which are:
* Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources
* Arts, Communication, and Information Systems
* Applied Sciences, Technology, Engineering, and Manufacturing, including Transportation, Distribution, Logistics, Architecture, and Construction
* Health Sciences
* Human Services, including Law, Public Safety, Government, Public Administration, and Education and Training
* Business, Finance, Marketing, and Management
• Establishes standards for the 6 career service areas, regional CTE planning partnerships, regional centers, and career academies
• Allows for career academies to be between at least one school district and a community college to create career-oriented or occupation-oriented programs of study that are designed to meet industry standards and prepare students for future education or employment

This bill passed the Senate unanimously.

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The Anderson Report — Received April 15, 2016

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email tobill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

Budget Progress
I am told we are in the final stretch of the 2016 session. While we have a few policy bills remaining, the major focus from here on out will be the state budget. House and Senate leadership have agreed on the overall size of the budget, spending $7.349 billion for the upcoming fiscal year, FY 2017.  This is an increase of about $175 million above the current FY 2016 budget, or a 2.4 percent increase. The large majority of this new increase will go to PreK-12 schools, providing our schools an increase of about 2.25 percent in supplemental state aid. The first chart above shows the breakdown of funding in each area of the budget.

Over the next week, 10 different budget bills will work their way through the Legislative process before ultimately being sent to Governor Branstad for his consideration.  Each year about half of the bills originate in one chamber and half of the bills originate in the other chamber.  Each year we flip flop where the bills start.  The second chart above shows a list of the budget bills, where they originated and their current status.

While the increase in this year’s budget compared to last year’s seems reasonable, over the last four years government spending has grown by over $1.2 billion.  The rate at which government spending has increased over the last several years far exceeds the growth in Iowa family budgets. In addition, our surplus which reached a high of $927 million in FY 2013 is estimated to be under $80 million at the end of the current budget year, FY 2016.  Continuing down this road is unsustainable.

Uber

The Senate debated HF 2414, a bill regulating transportation network companies (TNCs) or ride sharing services, like Uber and Lyft, and also taxi companies. The bill establishes a number of regulations for these services, including background checks and insurance requirements.

The regulations in the bill include the following:
• Drivers must pass background checks, including the sex offender registry and driving history.
• Establishes minimum insurance coverage standards.
• Establishes a statewide regulatory structure for TNCs and taxi companies
• Clarifies a driver must be at least 19 and not have more than three moving violations in the prior three years
• Requires the TNC to disclose the driver’s face and the vehicle make, model, and license plate number to a rider
• Requires the TNC to provide a digital receipt to a rider
• Prohibits TNC drivers from accepting street hails
• Prohibits the disclosure of rider information to third parties without rider consent

The bill passed the Senate 50-0.  It ensures that Iowa can attract innovative companies like Uber and Lyft.

Renewable Fuels
On Wednesday we took up SF 2309, extending the tax credits for renewable fuels.

The bill extends the tax credits for E-15 gasoline promotion, E-85 gasoline promotion, and biodiesel blended fuel B-5 and higher, to January 1, 2025. This bill also includes a sales and use tax refund for bio producers.

The biodiesel blended fuel tax credit rates will change under this bill after January 1, 2018. The rate for blended fuel classified between B-5 and B-10 will be .035 cents, while the rate for fuel classified as B-11 or higher will be .055 cents.

The passage of this bill will incentivize motor fuel retailers to continue to offer ethanol products in Iowa and help ensure the biofuel sector of Iowa’s economy has demand for its products. This is a great bipartisan bill to help an industry important to Iowa’s economy and keep Iowa.

The bill passed the Senate 49-0.

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The Anderson Report — Received April 8, 2016

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email tobill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

We saw floor activity in the Senate slow down this week. There are a number of reasons for this: we are running out of policy bills, the budget is the main focus, and the Senate Democrats have had members absent. Despite the short week, my friends in the House remain optimistic of adjournment close to the 100th day of session.

Unclaimed Veterans’ Remains
A few weeks ago, the Senate took up HF 2266, a bill on unclaimed veterans’ remains. After being amended for a small clarification, it was sent back to the House.

This bill authorizes a funeral director who has custody of cremated remains, still unclaimed after 180 days, to contact the Department of Veterans Affairs and submit the name of the deceased to see if the remains are those of a veteran, and potentially eligible for internment at a veterans’ cemetery.

If the remains are eligible, and another 180 days has passed, the remains are to be transferred to an eligible veterans’ organization.

This bill came up because sometimes people don’t claim remains and current law prevents funeral homes from giving remains to anyone other than family. This would take care of veterans who are not claimed.

The bill passed the House 99-0 and previously passed the Senate 49-0. The Governor signed the bill last week.

Hearing Protection Act Signed By Governor

The Governor signed HF 2279, legalizing the use of firearm suppressors. This means anyone wanting to purchase a suppressor would have to comply with federal law. The federal law requires a person to be a resident of the U.S., legally eligible to purchase a firearm, pass a background check by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATFE), pay a onetime $200 transfer tax per suppressor, live in a state that authorizes suppressors, and be at least 21.

The passage of this bill means Iowa will be joining 41 other states that allow their citizens to possess a suppressor. This bipartisan bill passed the Iowa Senate 46-4 on March 17, 2016 and the Iowa House 78-21 on March 22.

Rep. Ron Jorgensen
This past weekend I held my final legislative town halls for the session. It was fitting they were held with my friend, Rep. Ron Jorgensen. Many of you may know Ron has decided to hang it up after six years in the Iowa House. During his three terms he has been a voice of reason as chair of the Education Committee. Ron has provided fiscally responsible leadership during challenging times. Thank you to Ron and his family for making the decision to serve.

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The Anderson Report — Received March 31, 2016

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email tobill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

Please join Rep. Jorgensen and I for legislative forums in Salix, Sergeant Bluff and Sioux City. Forums are an opportunity to discuss the session and issues important to you.

Guns, ATVs and Snowmobiles
Last week, House File 2283 came to the floor for a vote. The bill will allow a person to operate or ride a snowmobile or ATV with a loaded firearm whether concealed or not when possessed on their own land. This allows landowners to carry any type of loaded weapon while operating an ATV or snowmobile on their own land.

The bill would also allow operation of a snowmobile or ATV with a loaded firearm (concealed or not) on land that is not owned or possessed by the person, if the firearm is a pistol or revolver in a retention holster, the person has a valid carry permit and conduct is within the limits to carry.

The bill prohibits discharging a firearm while on an ATV or snowmobile. Those who are not able to walk may discharge a weapon on the snowmobile or ATV if the vehicle is stationary. Current law prohibits the operation of a snowmobile or ATV with a loaded weapon but allows for an unloaded weapon during operation.

Helping Victims of Human Trafficking

SF 2258 aims to help children under the custody, control, and supervision of the Department of Human Services and children who are sex trafficking victims. This bill changes the age from 16 to 14 for a child to be able to create a transition plan of services, supports, activities, and referrals to transition from foster care to adulthood.

If DHS has reasonable cause to believe a child under the placement, care, or supervision of the department is, or is at risk of becoming, a sex trafficking victim, DHS is required to identify the child as a sex trafficking victim or at risk of becoming a sex trafficking victim, refer the child for appropriate services, and refer the child within 24 hours to the appropriate law enforcement agency. DHS is also required to report a child who is reported as missing or abducted to law enforcement and to the national center for missing and exploited children within 24 hours after receipt of the report.

Additionally, the bill creates a Drug Endangered Children Workgroup to examine issues and develop policy recommendations relating to the protection and safety of drug endangered children for purposes of child in need of assistance and child abuse proceedings.

This is a good bill that helps deal with sex trafficking of young victims and helps those victims get assistance in their transition to adulthood. The bill passed the Senate 47-0.

Forums
Saturday, April 2
9 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.– Salix Forum, City Hall, 317 Tipton Street
10 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. – Sgt Bluff Forum, City Hall, 401 4th Street
11:15 a.m. – 12 p.m. – Sioux City Forum, Morningside Library, 4005 Morningside Avenue

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The Anderson Report — Received March 24, 2016

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email me at bill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

State Supplemental Aid (SSA) for public schools passed on Wednesday. The agreed to number was 2.25% or $153.8 million in new spending for public schools.

It was great to see my friend Pastor Ken Kraft from Kingsley. We visited about a number of issues and shared a moment of prayer. I also talked water quality and conservation with one of Northwest Iowa’s finest mayors, Jon Kruse, of Storm Lake.

I hope everyone had a blessed Easter.

The Revenue Estimating Conference
The Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) met to reevaluate their estimate for FY 2016 (current budget year) and FY 2017 (upcoming budget year) and to provide their first estimate for FY 2018. Below is a quick analysis.

FY 2016: The March estimate remains unchanged compared to the December estimate remaining at $7,045.6 million. This estimate is an increase of 3.3% percent compared to actual FY 2015 revenues.

FY 2017: The REC estimate for FY 2017 is $7,357.4 million, an increase of $311.8 million (4.4%) compared to the FY 2016 estimate.  While revenues are estimated to grow by $311.8 million compared to estimated FY 2016 revenues, our FY 2016 expenditures total $7,174.4 million.  This level of spending will continue on to FY 2017.  When you deduct spending of $7,174.4 million from our FY 2017 revenues of $7,357.4 million, you are left with $183 million in new revenues.  When you apply the 99% expenditure limitation law to the new revenue estimate, you are left with about $176 million in new revenues for FY 2017.  Of the $176 million in new revenues, $153.8 million is being dedicated to school funding.

FY 2018:
The REC estimate for FY 2018 is $7,659.1 million.  This is an increase of $301.7 million (4.1%), compared to their newly revised FY 2017 estimate.

While state revenues continue to grow each year, budgets continue to be tight as revenues struggle to keep up with the rate of spending. The surplus which topped $922 million in FY 13, is estimated to drop to around $100 million at the end of FY 17.  If revenues don’t start to grow at a much faster pace or if the rate of spending doesn’t slow, we are going to face difficult budget cuts in the very near future. All the more reason Republicans must win the majority in the Senate.

Second Funnel Week
Here are the bills that remain viable for the Legislative session:
• SF 166, the fantasy sports bill that would allow Iowa fantasy sports players to claim their winnings
• HF 2384, the medical marijuana bill that allows access only for patients with intractable epilepsy, multiple sclerosis or cancer.
• SF 2113, the fireworks bill

The following bills failed to clear the second funnel hurdle:
• HF 2281, allowing children under 14 use handguns with parental supervision
• HF 2280, a bill that would have specified that state officials can’t prohibit or curtail lawful gun possession during a state of emergency
• SF 2198, the ‘Right to Try’ bill

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The Anderson Report — Received March 18, 2016

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email tobill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

I had several visitors to the Capitol this week. Dr. Terry Murrell and Steve Warnstadt from Western Iowa Tech Community College were down discussing workforce needs. Members of Woodbury and North West Rural Electric Cooperatives made the trip to discuss the EPA 111(d) Clean Power Plan and my geothermal legislation.  If you will be visiting the Capitol please let me know if I can help with your visit.

Renewable Fuels
According to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association interest among Iowa retailers in offering renewable fuels is at an all-time high.  The Iowa Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Board awarded a record $3.2 million in state grants to 68 projects who will be offering higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel.

What this means to consumers is greater access to our homegrown, clean burning fuels like E15, E85 and biodiesel. The infrastructure program has played a major role in expanding consumer access. Unfortunately, the grant program is set to expire on June 30, 2016. With interest higher than ever in the program it is important we continue to provide funding.

Iowa is the nation’s leader in renewable fuels production. Iowa has 43 ethanol refineries capable of producing 4 billion gallons annually, including nearly 55 million gallons of annual cellulosic ethanol production capacity. Iowa has 12 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce nearly 315 million gallons annually.

Medicaid Oversight
Recently the Medicaid Oversight bill was debated in the Senate. The bill would create a Health Policy Oversight committee, Medicaid Reinvestment Fund and enhancements to other portions of the Medicaid program.

I supported Amendment S-5052 in lieu of the Senate Democrat bill. The Republican amendment mirrored the Democrat amendment but removed three sections: the Legislative Findings (Section 1), Medicaid Reinvestment Fund (Section 5) and Medicaid Program Policy Improvement/Directives for Medicaid Program Policy (Section 12).

The Legislative findings section was unnecessarily political and took the unneeded opportunity to give the Governor a black eye. The Medicaid Reinvestment fund and the other directives would have amended contracts that were already signed and agreed to. The Medicaid Reinvestment fund and the other directives would have hampered the MCOs ability to do their job by limiting their ability to reinvest dollars in additional services. The amendment Senate Republicans offered provided solid oversight without hampering MCOs and allowed them to provide the quality service Iowans expect. The amendment offered by Republicans removed highly partisan and unnecessary Legislative Intent language which didn’t add any oversight and was intended by the Democrats to simply politicize the issue.

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The Anderson Report — Received March 10, 2016

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email tobill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

This was the second funnel of the session. House bills must pass out of the respective Senate Committee to remain eligible for the remainder of the session.

This Saturday, March 12, the County GOP conventions will be held across the state. I will be attending conventions in Sergeant Bluff and Le Mars. I will hold town hall meetings in Hinton and Le Mars with Rep. Holz. Please join us for an update on the session.

Highway 20 Progress
Progress continues to be made on the completion of four lane Highway 20 with the closing of 10 miles of the road from Moville to Correctionville beginning Monday, March 14. A detour has been established for motorists taking County Road L-21 to County Road D-22, and then to Iowa Highway 31.

I want to commend the DOT Director Paul Trombino, and his staff for keeping the project moving and on time. I know I speak for many of my constituents when I say thank you from Western Iowa.

Coupling and Consumables

On Thursday, we passed the Coupling and Consumables bill out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. The bill couples with Section 179 for tax year 2015. By updating references the bill couples with federal changes including, the following major provisions:
• Deductions of up to $250 for out of pocket expenses for teachers.
• Election to deduct state sales/use tax in lieu of state income tax as an itemized deduction.
Section 179 small business expensing.

The division is effective upon enactment and retroactive to January 1, 2015. It is estimated the cost of coupling will be around a $96 million decrease in FY 2016 to the General Fund and a positive bounce of approximately $85 million in FY 2017 (coupling plus federal deductibility).

The sales and use tax rules have been a problem and a challenge for Iowa manufacturers both large and small. There has been an inconsistent policy application by the Department of Revenue.  This change will codify clarifications related to the application of this Code section.

The change to replacement parts was made in Iowa’s Administrative Rules, but rules can be changed without legislative action.  The bill codifies clarifications related to the application of this code section.

Adding clarity to the Iowa Code for Iowa businesses will reduce their cost of tax compliance and because the more modern definitions of machinery, equipment, and replacement parts will reduce their overall tax burden. By reducing input costs, manufacturers will be able to invest the savings in new employees, higher wages, and new product lines.

With the adoption of the consumables language there will be a reduction in State sales/use and local option sales tax.  The bill in its first year will have a fiscal impact of $17.3 million to the General Fund, a $3.5 million impact on the SAVE Fund and a $3 million impact on the LOST.

24/7 Program
I voted in favor of legislation which establishes a county chemical substance abuse monitoring pilot program.  The Department of Public Safety (DPS) may adopt rules for a county-wide program (known commonly as the 24/7 program). I appreciate the leadership and guidance provided by Woodbury County Sheriff Dave Drew on this issue.

The program will do all of the following:
• The program shall be available to anyone charged with, pled guilty to, or been convicted of a crime that has a nexus with chemical substance abuse (alcohol).
• Requires the person to abstain from alcohol for a period of time.
• A person wishing to participate shall apply to the court, and the court may then order participation as a component or condition of pretrial release or probation.
• The application shall include an itemized list of all costs associated with participation.
• The program does not apply to OWI 1st if under .15 BAC and no traffic accident was involved, unless the person applies, and after a court hearing, is allowed to participate by the court.
• The program shall require testing for alcohol.
• DPS may authorize use of technology and devices, including portable breath testing.
• Testing shall be at least twice a day at a centralized location, or where not practical, by continuous transdermal or electronic monitoring.
• Allegations of test failure, a refusal, or failure to appear, shall be submitted to a magistrate who may order immediate incarceration for up to 24 hours pending a hearing on the allegation, or who may issue a warrant for arrest in violation of the terms of pretrial release or probation.

Forums
Saturday, March 12, 2016
11 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. – Hinton Forum, Community Center, 205 W Main Street
12 p.m. – 12:45 p.m. – Le Mars Forum, Library, 46 1st Street SW

Town hall meetings are an opportunity for area residents to meet Senator Anderson and Representatives Holz and Huseman, voice their concerns, opinions and ideas.

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The Anderson Report — Received March 3, 2016

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email tobill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

It was another busy week in the Senate with several bills coming to the floor for debate. I also had a number of visitors from back home. Please let me know if you will be visiting the Capitol, I would enjoy hosting you in the Senate.

Just a reminder I will be holding forums this Saturday in Woodbury and Plymouth counties with Rep. Holz and Rep Huseman. We will be visiting Correctionville, Pierson, Moville, Lawton and Remsen.

On Saturday, March 12, the county GOP conventions will be held across the state. I will be attending conventions in Sergeant Bluff and Le Mars. In between the two conventions I will hold town hall meetings in Hinton and Le Mars. Please join us for an update on the session.

Iowa Hearing Protection Act
I continue to visit with constituents about the gun bills which recently passed the Iowa House. The first of the firearms bills, the Iowa Hearing Protection Act, cleared a Senate Judiciary subcommittee panel and full committee this week. The Iowa Hearing Protection Act deals with a new suppressor bill legalizing firearm suppressors in Iowa. Anyone wanting to purchase a suppressor must comply with federal law, which requires a person to be a resident of the U.S., legally eligible to purchase a firearm, pass a background check by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATFE), pay a one-time $200 transfer tax per suppressor, live in a state that authorizes suppressors, and be at least 21.

The bill would remove suppressors from the list of offensive weapons and establishes a process for purchase of a suppressor including application to the chief law enforcement officer where the person resides. The officer has 30 days to issue certification if the applicant meets all the above conditions.

Bills like this are often amended as they move through the legislative process and could be a very different bill by the time it makes it to the floor for debate. I will be keeping an eye on it. I urge you to stay informed on any changes and updates.

Section 179
The income tax coupling saga continues in Des Moines. Early in the session, Iowa House Republicans passed legislation which updates Iowa law to conform to federal tax provisions, in particular, Section 179. The legislation could save Iowa taxpayers more than $90 million when they file their 2015 taxes.  The purpose of Section 179 in the tax code is to encourage businesses to buy new property in order to stimulate the economy. Again, it is an incentive created by the government to encourage businesses to invest in themselves.

Last week, the Department of Revenue extended the March 1 filing deadline to April 30 for Iowans who earn at least two-thirds of their income from farming or commercial fishing. The deadline was extended to allow the Senate time to act on the coupling bill.

Iowans deserve answers. We need certainty within our tax code.  I want to state again, I completely support our small business owners and farmers. This is a common sense bill I support. I remain optimistic the Senate will act resolving our differences on this issue.

Forums
Saturday, March 5, 2016

9 a.m. – 9:45 a.m. – Correctionville Forum, Community Building, 312 Driftwood Street

10 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. – Pierson Forum, City Hall, 201 Main Street

11 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. – Moville Forum, Fire Station, 24 W Main Street

12 p.m. – 12:45 p.m. – Lawton Forum, Community Building, 101 E Maple Street

1:15 p.m. – 2 p.m. – Remsen Forum, Mid Sioux Opportunity, 418 S. Marion Street

Saturday, March 12, 2016
11 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. – Hinton Forum, Community Center, 205 W Main Street

12 p.m. – 12:45 p.m. – Le Mars Forum, Library, 46 1st Street, SW

Town hall meetings are an opportunity for area residents to meet Senator Anderson and Representatives Holz and Huseman, and voice their concerns, opinions and ideas.

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The Anderson Report — Received February 25, 2016

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email tobill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

It was a busy week in the Senate with several bills coming to the floor for debate. I expect we will continue at this pace for another couple of weeks leading up to the appropriation bills.  A few of the bills that passed the Senate:
• A bill relating to public utilities and sanitary sewage or storm water drainage disposal systems.
• A bill allowing schools to have online learning if a teacher is not available to instruct the course.
• A bill allowing pharmacists to provide a 90 day supply of medication.
• A bill establishing an office within the Department of Public Safety to oversee human trafficking.
• A bill creating a statewide land mobile radio communications system fund.

I will be holding forums in Woodbury and Plymouth Counties on Saturday, March 5. Rep. Holz, Rep. Huseman and I will be visiting Correctionville, Pierson, Moville, Lawton and Remsen. I hope you will be able to join us to discuss the session and whatever else may be on your mind. The schedule is below.

Right to Try

Legislation passed this week in the Senate granting terminally ill patients who have exhausted their conventional treatment options to obtain access to potentially life-saving drugs.  According to information provided to members, these patients may have attempted to enroll in a clinical trial, but many do not qualify to join a trial.  For these patients, their only hope in obtaining potentially life-saving drugs is to request access through the Food and Drug Administration.  As you can imagine this is a frustrating process.

If signed into law, Right to Try would allow a terminally ill patient access to investigational drugs when they have exhausted all conventional treatment options, their doctor has advised the use of an investigational drug, the drug has cleared Phase I testing, the patient has provided informed consent and the company developing the drug is willing to make the drug available to the patient.

Over the past two years, 24 states have adopted Right to Try polices.

Helping our rural communities
One bill to survive the funnel last week, SSB 3136, makes two changes in how the Economic Development Authority (EDA) provides money for cities to remediate nuisance properties, abandoned buildings, and blight. The bill allows the EDA to provide grants rather than just loans and forgivable loans, and changes the priority the EDA must give to certain applicants.  The Authority must provide at least 25 percent of money provided under this program to cities with less than 1,500 people. This would help small communities which cannot afford to fix nuisance property in their city limits.

There are many things that make our state great, and our rural communities rank high on that list. As more and more people move to larger cities and in and out of the state, it is important to help our smaller communities any way we can and help attract more people to the great state we know and love. This bill is one small way we can help.

Forums
Saturday, March 5, 2016
• 9:00 a.m. – 9:45 a.m. – Correctionville Forum, Community Building, 312 Driftwood Street
• 10:00 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. – Pierson Forum, City Hall, 201 Main Street
• 11:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. – Moville Forum, Fire Station, 24 W Main Street
• 12:00 p.m. – 12:45 p.m. – Lawton Forum, Community Building, 101 E Maple Street
• 1:15 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. – Remsen Forum, Mid Sioux Opportunity, 418 S. Marion Street

Town Hall meetings are an opportunity for area residents to meet Senator Anderson and Representatives Holz and Huseman, voice their concerns, opinions and ideas.

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The Anderson Report — Received February 18, 2016

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email tobill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

This week was the first legislative funnel, a self-imposed deadline in the Legislature that helps move the process along.  If a policy bill did not pass out of a House or Senate committee this week, the issue is likely dead for the year.

As you may be aware the Legislature remains divided. In the Senate the Democrats hold a 26-24 majority and in the House the Republicans hold a 57-43 majority.  The split makes it difficult to get much passed without bipartisan support.

The second funnel is March 18. At that point the Senate considers only House bills and the House considers only Senate bills.  Both may also consider any unfinished business.

Coupling Update

A large number of Farm Bureau members from across my district visited the Capitol Wednesday. They stressed their desire to see the Senate follow the Iowa House’s lead and pass a bill to couple with Section 179 federal tax depreciation changes. This has been a desire of many small business owners and farmers. Whether it was visiting with someone in the rotunda, by phone or via email, this is a topic many Iowans are following.

Let me state again I completely support our small business owners and farmers. The Iowa House passed the coupling bill weeks ago, but there remains no movement in the Senate. If the Senate fails to act, Iowa small business owners and farmers will suffer significant hardships.

Coupling with Section 179 will keep Iowa’s economy strong. This is a common sense bill I support.

Veterans’ Services
Over the course of the last decade Iowa has made great advances in providing services to veterans.  The War on Terror revealed gaping holes in state and federal programs to help veterans readjust to civilian life.  The Legislature reacted by creating a dedicated Veterans Affairs Committee and addressing numerous deficits in service from homeowner assistance to education aid and the establishment of permanent office locations in each county.

While much of the action took place in the first five years of the committee, Iowa’s commitment to veterans has been unwavering.  In 2014, Governor Branstad’s Home Base Iowa Initiative created a package of benefits and programs to assist veterans in transferring from military to civilian life:

• It fully exempts military pensions from state income tax (putting Iowa on an equal footing with common retirement destinations Florida and Texas, and with some or our neighbors like Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin).

• It fully exempts military survivor benefits from state income tax.

• Iowa licensing boards are adopting rules allowing credit for military training and experience in the licensing process.

• Private-sector companies now have authority to follow the public sector’s lead by allowing a preference in hiring and promoting veterans.

• The issuance fee for a special license plate associated with military service has been eliminated.

• It provides increased funding for the Military Homeownership Assistance Program, up to $2.5 million.

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The Anderson Report — Received February 11, 2016

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email tobill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

Thank you to all those who attended our legislative forums last weekend. We had great turnout and conversations. Rep. Holz and I will be in Woodbury and Plymouth counties in March. Please watch your local newspaper for dates, times and locations.

Autism Awareness
Last week families from across Iowa came to the Capitol to visit with their legislators about autism.  This issue hits close to home having a nephew diagnosed with autism. I have witnessed the positive effects of Applied Behavorial Analysis (ABA) on those living with autism. There is proposed legislation to provide the same services to all Iowans, which were granted to state employees in 2011. The premium impact since the implementation of the state employee benefit has been 29 cents per member per month.

Medicaid Update
More than 560,000 Iowans (18 percent of the population) are covered by Medicaid. The state will spend $1.7 billion on Medicaid. Since 2003, the cost of delivering Medicaid services has grown more than 70 percent.

The rising Medicaid costs prompted state government to explore modernizing how it delivers services to Iowans, utilizing the program through managed care organizations. Nationally, nearly 70 percent of Medicaid participants have their care overseen by managed-care companies.

In the past, Iowa has contracted with two managed care companies to deliver services for people with behavioral disabilities and for pregnant mothers served under the former TANF program.

As Medicaid Modernization began moving, a Request For Proposals was issued Feb. 16, 2015, by the Iowa Department of Human Services to deliver healthcare services for the Iowa Medicaid, Iowa Health and Wellness Plan and Healthy and Well Kids in Iowa (hawk-i) programs.  The intent was to contract on a statewide basis with companies which had a demonstrated capacity to coordinate care and provide quality outcomes for the Medicaid patients. Going to a managed care system allows the state to hire companies to coordinate care and manage spending. Under the terms of the state contracts, the managed care organizations cannot cut services or pay providers less than a base rate in order for those companies to earn profits. The Medicaid Modernization was originally planned to be fully implemented on Jan. 1, 2016, but was delayed to March 1 by federal officials.

Fireworks

This session, discussions are underway to legalize fireworks in Iowa. Senate File 508 passed out of the State Government Committee last week. This bill would legalize the sale, use and regulation of consumer fireworks designated to meet standards of the American Pyrotechnics Association.  Currently, 40 other states allow for the use of some or all consumer fireworks. The proposed legislation would place the regulation duties within the office of the state fire marshal to enforce all laws dealing with the use and sale of fireworks.  The bill also restricts the use of consumer fireworks to those 18 years or older and provides designated times of use.

I will continue to monitor this issue and provide updates at forums and in future newsletters.

Cattle beefs up our economy
Recently my colleague, Senator Tom Shipley from Nodaway, rose to speak in support of Iowa’s beef industry and its significance in our state. It is definitely significant as the cattle industry contributes more than $6 billion in business activity in Iowa, according to the Iowa Beef Industry Council.

It was rewarding to learn more about the industry. Did you know Iowa ranks seventh nationally in total number of cattle and calves, which was nearly 3.9 million? Cattle are raised in all 99 counties. There are more than 21,000 cattle operations in the state, according to the Iowa Beef Industry Council.

In many cases, the cattle business is a family operation. Statistics indicate 80 percent of cattle operations across the U.S. have been run by the same family for 25 years or more. Ten percent of American cattle businesses have been operated by the same families for 100 plus years.

I want to thank our Iowa farm families and beef producers who dedicate their lives to feeding the world and helping to grow and strengthen our state economy.

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The Anderson Report — Received February 4, 2016

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email tobill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

This was a short week without much committee or floor action due to the blizzard.

With tax season in full swing it is important to protect your identity. The Iowa Department of Revenue has made recommendations to help you do just that.

Tax-Related Identity Theft

The Iowa Department of Revenue recently reported it is working to improve protections against tax-related identity theft for the upcoming filing season. Tax-related identity theft is when criminals steal a taxpayer’s personal data (including the taxpayer’s name and Social Security number) and use this information to file a fraudulent tax return.

The department is taking action alongside the Internal Revenue Service, other state revenue agencies, and the tax filing software industry to fight tax-related identity theft and refund fraud. These groups have formed a coalition called the “Security Summit.”  Recently, they have announced stronger protections for taxpayers and the nation’s tax system that will go into effect for the upcoming tax season. These actions hopefully will reduce the chances you become a victim of tax-related identity theft.

New measures are being implemented to attack tax-related identity theft from all sides, according to the Iowa Department of Revenue. Most changes will be invisible to the taxpayer. However, there are changes which may impact you:

• There will be new security requirements when you are preparing your taxes online, especially when you sign in to your account, to better protect your account and personal information.

• Like the IRS, the Iowa Department of Revenue is doing more to attempt to verify identities before issuing refunds.  In some cases, a taxpayer who requested a direct deposit of a refund may receive a paper check in the mail. This action hopefully will assure refunds go only to the intended taxpayer.

The Department of Revenue also has requested help from taxpayers.  It has included a few steps you can take to protect your information. To help prevent criminals from stealing your refund, the department recommends:
• Protect your personal and financial information online and at home.
• Use security software such as a firewall or anti-virus/malware protection.
• Encrypt sensitive files.
• Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, texts or calls. Criminals will pose as a trusted organization or friend to try to trick you into sharing passwords, Social Security Numbers or account numbers.
• Never click a link or download an attachment from an unknown or suspicious source.

The department does not contact taxpayers by email for personal information or ask for your full security number. If you do receive phone calls, the Iowa Department of Revenue always will identify itself.

Phishing scams usually consist of incorrect spelling and poor grammar, requests for immediate action or threats, and requests for personal information, like your full social security number and credit card information.

If you suspect a phishing scam or are not sure if the department is contacting you, send an email to idr@iowa.gov or call the department at 515-281-3114.

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Forums — Saturday, February 6

8:30 a.m. – 9:15 a.m. – Kingsley Forum, Community Building, 207 East 1st Street
9:45 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. – Merrill Forum, City Hall, 321 4th Street
11 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. – Le Mars Forum,  Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor (party room), 115 Central Ave, NW
12:15 p.m. – 1 p.m. – Akron Forum, Akron Jo’s, 150 Reed Street

The Anderson Report — Received January 28, 2016

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email to bill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

The third week of session was filled with committee meetings and visitors.  It is always good to see friends from back home at the Capitol.

Biobased Chemicals
In the Economic Growth Committee we heard a great presentation on Renewable Chemical Production. Iowa is a leader in the biofuels industry, and is ranked first in corn production and second in soybean production. Our state also produces the nation’s second largest supply of biomass harvesting 14.4 million tons annually. Iowa is well positioned to move the renewable chemical industry to the next level.

You are probably wondering how the process works. The presentation provided there are several facilities around the state which produce food and fuel products from corn and soybeans. These facilities also produce certain co-products that can be further processed into higher value basic chemical compounds.  Through further processing the compounds can be used for consumer products such as plastics, textiles, paints or pharmaceuticals. In recent years, there has been a great deal of growth in the bioscience industry. State support was important in growing the biofuels industry and this will be another opportunity for Iowa to be on the cutting edge.

Condition of the National Guard
On Wednesday, we heard from Adjutant General, Major General Tim Orr regarding the Condition of the National Guard. In his remarks, he announced the Republic of Kosovo will be locating an official consulate in Iowa, a first for our state.  In addition, a change at the federal level allowing service women the opportunity to serve in any position, including combat roles, opens up 1,700 position in the Iowa National Guard to women for the first time. Currently the Iowa Guard has 15 soldiers and airmen deployed across the globe. After his remarks I would concur the Iowa Guard is “Warrior Ready.”

Caucus Season coming to an end
Iowa is known primarily for being an agricultural state. However, the eyes of the nation and the world are watching us during caucus season. This is a great privilege, and one I take very seriously – and I know you do, too.

We are only a few days from the Iowa Caucus. It has been a long election, exciting and eventful. I have had the opportunity to meet most of the candidates. Thank you for giving me that opportunity while serving as your state senator.

In some ways this year was different  than others. At one point, we had 17 candidates vying for the Republican nomination. While we still have several candidates from which to choose, the conversations we have had across Iowa will play a valuable role in selecting our nominee.

It is a tremendous honor we have to begin the process. I encourage you to take part on Monday evening.

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The Anderson Report — Received January 25, 2016

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email tobill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

For the sixth year, fifth as ranking member, I am serving on the Commerce Committee. My other committee assignments include Agriculture, Economic Growth, Ways and Means and the Transportation, Infrastructure, Capitals Subcommittee.

Two issues of significant interest to Iowans which could come before the Ways and Means Committee are the topics of this week’s Anderson Report.

Tax Coupling

Many of my constituents have reached out to me in recent days to share concerns in regard to the Iowa Legislature coupling with Section 179 federal tax depreciation changes. In December 2015, the United States Congress approved tax changes that extended many beneficial tax provisions which impact Iowans. In recent years, the “coupling” bill has been debated in January at the Statehouse. It is important we act quickly to allow Iowa taxpayers to begin their tax preparation. Over the years, the Iowa Legislature has generally voted to adopt the federal tax changes through coupling.

Senate Republicans support Iowa businesses and want to couple with Section 179, which changes how you can depreciate an asset. This could provide significant savings for Iowa taxpayers on their 2015 income taxes. I understand hard-working Iowa farmers and small businesses use Section 179 expensing.  Not coupling could create hardships for those anticipating that the Legislature would continue its practice of recent years.

It is no secret that we face a challenging budget year. Revenue growth was lower than previously forecast. Last week we learned Governor Branstad’s budget supports updating Iowa tax law to conform with changes in the Internal Revenue Code that resulted from federal legislation enacted during 2015. With three significant exceptions:

1. No tax year 2015 coupling — meaning that most of the changes are effective for federal tax purposes beginning in tax year 2015, the bill will not incorporate recent federal changes until tax year 2016.  (Items that may impact you are: deduction for state and local sales taxes, above the line deduction for teacher classroom expenses ($250), above the line deduction for qualified tuition and related expenses, discharge of indebtedness on principal residence excluded from gross income.) The estimated fiscal impact of these changes in total is minimal compared to Section 179.

2. No section 179 expensing for tax year 2015 now or into the future.

3. No bonus depreciation for now or into the future.

Estimates project just coupling with Section 179 for one year is an approximate $90 million decrease in FY 2016 budget and a revenue increase in FY 2017 estimated roughly to be more than $20 million

Coupling allows Iowans to invest back into Iowa. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the House and Senate to address your concerns and find the resources to support conforming with Section 179.  This is important because I believe it is unacceptable for hard-working Iowans to foot the bill for additional spending.

E15 Facts
As I mentioned last week, Governor Branstad highlighted in the Condition of the State speech his support for the renewable fuels industry. The Governor has recommended $2.4 million of the infrastructure budget be allocated to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program.  The program supports installing pumps which accommodate higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel. Below are some facts on E15 blended gasoline.

E15 is a blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline.  It is an environmentally-friendly fuel which burns cleaner than gasoline.

Until recently, gasoline ethanol blends were limited to a maximum of 10 percent ethanol known as E10.  E10 represents 97 percent of the gasoline sold in the U.S.  E15 uses the same type of ethanol as blended in E10, but increases the ethanol content in a gallon of gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent.

In 2009, the ethanol industry petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to approve a blend up to 15 percent ethanol in gasoline, from the current cap of 10 percent. Raising the blend from E10 to E15 would accelerate the use of renewable fuel, increase energy security, create U.S. jobs, reduce transportation costs, and improve the environment by displacing conventional gasoline with low-carbon ethanol.

Auto manufacturers approve the use of E15. Approximately 70 percent of model year 2015 vehicles have been explicitly approved for the use of E15 by auto manufacturers.

More than 136,000 green-collar jobs could be created nationwide by moving to E15 which would also reduce our dependence on foreign oil by seven billion gallons annually.

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The Anderson Report — Received January 15, 2016

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email me at bill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

The General Assembly officially convened on Monday, January 11. The week consisted of committee organizational meetings and many speeches.

On Tuesday, Governor Branstad delivered the Condition of the State touching on several issues including the economy, Medicaid, education, renewable energy and criminal justice reform.

The Governor’s remarks began with touting the economic achievements of the past five years, including a low 3.4 percent unemployment rate – the lowest it has been since 2001. In addition, the Governor highlighted the creation of 214,000 jobs and Iowa incomes growing 18 percent since 2010. Our great state is currently the third best managed state in the nation. With a Republican majority in the Senate we can make it to number one!

School Infrastructure and Water Quality
The Governor is recommending the Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE) penny sales tax be extended beyond 2029 to 2049.  This funding is currently being used for K-12 school infrastructure projects and property tax relief across the state.  Under the Governor’s proposal, the tax would be extended and a portion of the projected growth in revenues ($10 million annually) plus the current amount would be used for K-12 infrastructure. The remaining growth would be used to help fund water quality initiatives.  The total anticipated funding over the 20-year period for water quality would be in excess of $4.7 billion.

Renewable Energy
An issue near and dear to my heart is renewable energy. The Governor is proposing a renewable chemical production tax credit to incentivize companies to utilize the available supply of biomass feedstock to help grow the Iowa economy and create 20,000 new jobs by 2025. The tax credit (non-transferable and refundable) is for 5 cents per pound of renewable chemical produced by an eligible business; up to $500,000 for companies which have been in Iowa more than five years and up to $1 million for companies who have been in Iowa less than five years.  The tax credit cap for the program is $10 million.  Additionally, the Governor proposed a state energy plan that would create 40 percent of our state energy from wind power by 2020.

Supplemental State Aid 

The recommendation of $3,099.7 million is an increase of about $146.8 million (5 percent), which equates to about a 2.45 percent increase in supplemental state aid and includes $53.4 million for the Teacher Leadership and Compensation System and $10.9 million to extend Property Tax Replacement Payments in FY 2017.

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The Anderson Report — Received November 12, 2015

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email tobill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

2016 Legislative session nears
When the 2016 Legislative session convenes in January, the budget and state spending will be the biggest challenges we face. As you may have read in the last Anderson Report state revenues were lower in October. In fact, they were down 2.9 percent or $12.9 million compared to last year. Part of this is due to lower commodity prices and the bird flu epidemic which devastated producers earlier this year. The December Revenue Estimating Conference report will give us more information on the budget for the 2016 session.

We are now two months away from the start session. I have certainly enjoyed spending time with Angie and the kids, and have taken the opportunity to catch up with you, my constituents, since session ended. As we get closer to January, I want to hear from you about issues you think we should address in 2016. As I have since being elected, I will be holding town hall meetings across Senate District 3 to share information and continue the conversation.  Please stay in touch.

Medicaid Modernization
The Joint Health Policy Oversight Committee met recently at the Iowa Statehouse. The committee received more than 50 people who made comments or submitted written testimony during the five-hour meeting. The meeting comes in reaction to the Governor’s decision to change Iowa’s Medicaid program from state-run to one privately managed.

Even though it is a large transition, managed care is not new to Iowa.  Since 1990 a portion of Iowa’s Medicaid population has been under managed care and more than 39 other states contract with managed care companies.

The Governor is making this decision because the spending on Iowa Medicaid has grown from $2.6 billion in fiscal year 2007 to an estimated $5 billion plus in fiscal year 2017. Governor Branstad said it is not just the increased cost, but the health of Iowans has not improved. According to the administration, the state will now have predictability in its Medicaid budget, saving $51 million in its first six months and will incentivize quality and outcomes.

Both Republicans and Democrats believe this change must have some oversight from the Legislature.  Many of the speakers were providers who were concerned about the timeline in which this change is taking place. The Governor’s office consistently says this timeline is in line with what other states have done and he provided nearly a year of warning for the change.

The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) is working with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to obtain federal approval for the managed care transition. Based on the submission date, DHS expects CMS to approve the transition in early December and the remaining waivers at the end of December.

Another oversight meeting is scheduled for early December.

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The Anderson Report — Received October 22, 2015

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email to bill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

Revenue Estimates
FY 2016: The Revenue Estimating Conference has decreased its March estimate by $121 million to $7,054.5 billion.  This estimate is still an increase of 3.4 percent compared to actual Fiscal Year 2015 revenues.  However, the result of this decrease from the March estimate is “ongoing expenditures” for FY 2016 are now $116.5 million above “ongoing revenues” and the surplus is getting used up faster than originally anticipated.  Also, this does not factor in the necessary supplemental for Medicaid, which is estimated to be around $76 million.

FY 2017: The REC’s first estimate for FY 2017 is $7,348.9 billion, an increase of $294.4 million (4.2 percent) compared to its newly revised FY 2016 estimate.  However, if you compare the revenue estimate for FY 2017 ($7,348.9 billion) to the ongoing expenditures for FY 2016 ($7,171.7 billion), that leaves us only $177.2 million in “new spending.”

All this being said, the new revenue estimates for both fiscal years are pretty conservative, reacting to the first three months of FY 2016 revenues, and could go up in December.  However, if the estimates do not increase in December, the next session will present significant challenges.

The REC meets again in December to issue the estimate used to establish the budget for FY 2017.

Concerns voiced at the REC during the meeting:
• Nationally, and in Iowa, the economy continues to grow, but slowly.
• The reduction in farm income and the ripple effect in the economy is a major concern.
• The slowdown in the Chinese Market and in turmoil in the Middle East is a worry.
• The uncertainty of tax cut extensions at the federal level is a concern.
• Uncertainty on interest rate policy from the Federal Reserve is also a point of concern.
• It is troublesome that the leading indicators in Iowa have declined for the last eight months.
• Low unemployment in Iowa is great, but it has caused an issue with business expansion and filling highly-skilled jobs.
• State economic development incentives (flood mitigation, R and D tax credits, sales and use tax rebates and others) have greatly impacted the flow of General Fund revenue
• The strong U.S. dollar is negatively impacting manufacturing.

Iowa Manufacturing on the rise
Across the nation, Iowa’s agriculture and financial services industries are widely recognized for playing significant roles in the state and national economy. However, the advanced manufacturing industry is another sector of the state’s economy which is extremely valuable.

Whether it is the new Iowa Premium Beef operation in Tama, soda pop bottling company in Atlantic, or cereal producer in Cedar Rapids, Iowa’s manufacturing industry helps drive local, state and national economies as it employs hundreds of thousands of workers while also giving back to the communities in which these businesses thrive in various ways.

Many companies across Iowa recently celebrated National Manufacturing Week. Iowa definitely has cause to rejoice. Iowa’s manufacturers represent nearly 13.5 percent of the state’s total employment, according to the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

For the fourth-consecutive year, Iowa has made gains in manufacturing employment. From 2014 to 2015, 2,204 manufacturing jobs were added across the state, according to Manufacturer News, Inc. The organization reports nearly 269,000 Iowans are employed by 5,291 manufacturers.

Iowa ranks 11th in the U.S. in terms of manufacturing’s impact on the state’s GDP. Manufacturing accounts for 17.1 percent of Iowa’s GDP – or more than $28 billion annually – according to IEDA.

Senate Republicans realize that it is important to recognize hard-working Iowans who make Iowa’s manufacturing industry successful and help their community and state economies flourish. We will continue to push for policies which help promote private sector job growth and make Iowa more business-friendly for companies looking to expand or relocate in our state.

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The Anderson Report — Received June 11, 2015

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email me at bill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

Highway 20 by 2018

I want to applaud the Iowa Department of Transportation Commission’s decision this week to complete the four lane expansion of Highway 20 by 2018. As you know I have been a strong advocate of the completion of Highway 20 in northwest Iowa since first being elected in 2010. The commission announced it will allocate $286.4 million over three years to finish the 40-mile stretch of Highway 20 in Ida, Sac and Woodbury counties. This is a historic and long-overdue decision.

The completion of four lane Highway 20 will have a positive economic impact across Iowa. The commitment by the DOT also signals that northwest Iowa is open for business.

The Department of Transportation’s plan includes finishing 17 miles in Ida County in 2016 at a cost of $138.1 million, 11 miles in Sac County at an $80 million price tag and 12 miles in Woodbury County for $68.3 million.

Legislative Session Wrap-up
Every legislative session is different and is usually defined by a handful of issues. Education spending and the budget were two of the key issues of focus in 2015. That said, legislators understood leading up to the session we would face significant budget challenges.

The agreed budget targets for fiscal year 2016 passed the seven billion dollar mark for the first time in Iowa history. The general fund budget sent to the Governor’s desk was nearly $7.168 billion, which is up from $6.994 billion in fiscal year 2015. I am frustrated with the continued growth of government. This unsustainable spending in the state budget will most certainly create challenges in future sessions.

This session, as in past, I have introduced and cosponsored legislation protecting life, cutting income taxes, expanding individual freedoms and defending our Second Amendment rights. Unfortunately, most of that legislation was not given a subcommittee hearing. Part of this is serving in the minority. Most of it is differing political views and values. It is frustrating, but as we have heard many times “elections have consequences.”

Over the past five years I have held and participated in over 100 public forums across my district.  During those public forums I hear from constituents who worry about making ends meet, the future of our state and nation, and what it will take to get back on track. I will continue to fight for our common goals. I believe under the leadership of Senate Republicans we can grow a stronger economy through responsible budgeting which will allow government to collect less from Iowans. Reducing the regulatory and tax burden on job creators will grow and strengthen Iowa’s economy. I understand those who work hard to earn their money will spend it more wisely than politicians.

As you can imagine I am anxious to get back home to Angie and our children, and back to work for Congressman King. During the interim I will remain accessible traveling my district meeting with constituents, discussing issues important to them. Thank you for this incredible opportunity to serve the great people of Plymouth and Woodbury counties and Iowa.

Appropriation Bills
Judicial Branch – vote 26-24 – $174,586,612 – FTE 1,907
Justice System – vote 26-24 – $575,490,515 – FTE 5,756
Education – vote 28-22 – $992,236,365 – FTE 12,299
Health and Human Services – vote 33-17 – $1,839,390,492 – FTE 5,146
Economic Development – vote 27-23 – $42,250,763 – FTE 562
Admin and Reg – vote 26-24 – $51,795,769 – FTE 1,284
Ag and Natural Resources – vote 45-5 – $43,111,995 – FTE 1,569
Standings – vote 26-24 – $3,463,467,460

Avian Flu Update
Three new suspected cases of the avian flu have impacted Iowa poultry operations. The avian flu virus, as of Wednesday, was located in 18 counties with the total number of sites affected now at 73. The virus has had a devastating impact on poultry producers, affecting more than 29 million birds. Affected counties include Adair, Buena Vista, Calhoun, Cherokee, Clay, Hamilton, Kossuth, Lyon, Madison, O’Brien, Osceola, Palo Alto, Pocahontas, Plymouth, Sac, Sioux, Webster and Wright.

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The Anderson Report — Received May 14, 2015

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email tobill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

Water Quality Practices
With the spring planting season underway, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship announced money is available for farmers to implement nutrient reduction practices. $4.4 million has been allocated to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship for the Iowa Water Quality Initiative in Fiscal Year 2015.

First-time cover crop users are eligible for $25 per acre, or $10 per acre for no-till or strip till. Farmers who have used cover crops in the past may be eligible for $15 per acre for cover crops. Farmers are eligible for cost share on up to 160 acres. The funds will be made available in July, but farmers can immediately start submitting applications through their local Soil and Water Conservation District office.

This program has been in existence for the last two years with nearly 1,400 farmers implementing new nutrient reduction practices on more than 144,000 acres. The state has contributed roughly $3.4 million in cost share funding to help farmers try a water quality practice for the first time and another $3.4 million to Iowa farmers to support these water quality practices.

Avian Influenza Update
There are currently 50 affected sites with 25.6 million birds impacted. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago there are no food security issues nor is there a health risk to humans. According to information shared with senators on Monday, the dead birds do not shed the virus. Facilities affected are in the process of depopulating and disposing of the birds through landfills, composting and incineration.

I cannot stress enough the devastating impact this outbreak is having on producers. Many are unsure of when or if they will ever be in a position to repopulate their facilities.

Currently the Department of Homeland Security, Iowa Department of Agriculture, Department of Transportation, Public Health, Department of Natural Resources, and U.S. Department of Agriculture are working in conjunction to address the issue.

Details, details…
Senate Democrats have been saying for weeks their budget is the same as the Governor’s budget while questioning Republicans for not supporting a budget that spends the same amount as “their Governor.”

Senate Republicans have maintained the devil is in the details. As more and more appropriation bills are rolled out, we start to see the details emerge. Let me state this is NOT the Governor’s budget. The Governor’s budget does not shift tens of millions of dollars off budget to fund priorities and make the budget balance. The Governor’s budget does not rely on phantom savings that are not likely to materialize.  The Governor’s budget does not rely on a proposed early retirement plan for state workers that may or may not result in millions of dollars of targeted savings.

As we attempt to close down the 2015 Legislative session, Senate Republicans continue to keep our eye on the ball.  We will never forget our state budget comes from the tax payments of hard working Iowa families. We will work to support a budget that funds our priorities and spends money responsibly, like Iowa families do. We will not vote for a budget that spends more on an ongoing basis than we take in or spends one-time sources of revenue for ongoing programs. We will not support a budget that purposefully underfunds programs Iowans rely on. And we will certainly not support a budget that shifts millions off budget to be able to spend more and that relies on savings that likely will not be achieved.

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The Anderson Report — Received May 7, 2015

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email tobill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

The Family Budget
Throughout this legislative session I have said this would be a challenging budget year. Senate Republicans have maintained for years we were making irresponsible budget decisions to spend more than we receive annually in revenues. We have said again and again this will prove very costly as we’re forced to pay for these bad decisions. Now, that time has come. We have stressed the importance of operating the state budget like the family budget, and not spend more than we take in annually in revenues.

Let’s use the Iowa family budget as an example.

Your household income last year was $50,000.  However, you had $52,000 in expenses. These expenses were for ongoing bills you have year after year. Since you only made $50,000, but spent $52,000, you had to write a $2,000 check out of your savings account, which you have been building up over the years.

Your savings account was at $6,800 in 2013 and will be at $2,400 at the end of this year, due to overspending each year mixed in with increased expenses and a few pay cuts.

You have another savings account, but it is for extreme emergencies. You do not want to tap into it unless it is absolutely essential.  It is for times where you may receive a pay cut at work, are temporarily unemployed, or have an unforeseen costs arise, like a car or home repair.  This savings account is for the rainiest of days and has a balance of $5,000.

Recently, you found out you’re going to receive a 6 percent raise in 2016.  This raise equals an increase of $3,000, meaning your salary is now going to be $53,000. Though this is a $3,000 increase in your salary, because you are currently spending $52,000, your raise only gives you $1,000 of new spending money.

Unfortunately, you also learn your cable, phone and utility bills as well as other miscellaneous expenses are increasing in 2016.  The increase in your utility bill alone is projected to be more than $1,500, taking all the new money you just received from your raise and forcing you write a $500 check out of your savings account.

Your significant other comes to you and begs you to increase ongoing spending in one area of your budget by $1,500 each year.  All of this will come out of your savings account taking the account balance down to $400 at the end of 2016.

In the end, for 2016, you will now be making $53,000 and spending $55,000 and the savings account you worked so hard to build up will be down to $400 going into 2017.

This means in 2017, unless you get another raise, you will have to dip into your emergency account to be able to fund regular ongoing expenses.

If ongoing expenses continue to increase as they have each year, and/or you get a pay cut in 2017, cuts in your budget will become necessary. These cuts will be painful as much of your budget is dedicated to necessary ongoing expenses.

The same principles employed in the family budget should also apply to the state budget. Senate Republicans will continue to hold to our budgeting principles that we will not spend more money than we bring in and we will not spend one-time funds on ongoing expenses. To fund some priorities that continue to be discussed will require cuts be made elsewhere.

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The Anderson Report — Received April 30, 2015

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email bill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza
I appreciate the work of Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey to keep the public and legislature informed of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).

There have been several confirmed cases in commercial laying hen facilities and in turkey barns and the number continues to grow. Many Iowa counties have been affected. Iowa has 50 million hens and supplies 1 of every 5 eggs consumed in the United States.

There are now 90 confirmed cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in 13 states: Arkansas, California, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, and Wisconsin.

There are not any food safety concerns associated with HPAI. The risk to humans from H5N2 HPAI is low, as there has never been a reported case of infection in humans. There is no evidence that H5N2 HPAI can cause disease in mammals.  Birds on affected farms are prohibited from being processed or sold.

I am confident Secretary Northey and Department of Agriculture staff will monitor this issue working closely with poultry producers to keep Iowans informed.

Final Week of Session?
Voting on the department budget bills traditionally signals the end of a legislative session. Though the budget process lasts through much of the session, movement through committee is a sign the session is coming to a close.

Budget bills began moving last week in Senate subcommittees.  Many of those bills were voted on this week passing on a party line vote. We must not return to the practice of spending one-time funds on ongoing expenses. To fund some priorities that continue to be discussed will require cuts be made elsewhere. The state budget should be no different than the family budget.

This is going to be a challenging budget year. The difference between our current spending for ongoing programs and our ongoing revenues for the upcoming budget is only $180.9 million. Therefore, we have just over $180 million in new revenues. Built-in and anticipated expenditures total $487 million.  This figure does not include any money for collectively bargained salaries which by law have to be funded.  While we do not have a specific dollar amount as to what it would cost to fund the collectively bargained salaries, we believe that amount will be in excess of $100 million.  Our largest built-in expenditure is Medicaid which requires $206 million to fund. As a reminder, we only have $180 million in new revenues. I fully expect the session to drag on into May, possibly June.

Connect Iowa

I had the opportunity this week to sit down and discuss broadband with Connect Iowa representatives. As I have travel my district holding forums, broadband is an issue that consistently surfaces. District 3 has several delivery forms of broadband including fiber, cable, DSL, fixed wireless and mobile wireless. While the service is available in some form it does not always meet the needs of businesses and individuals.

Today, 81 percent of Iowa businesses use broadband, with approximately 16,000 Iowa businesses are still not online. Of those which do not use broadband, 10,000 are in rural parts of the state. According to data from 2013, Iowa businesses reported earning $20 billion in online sales which is the equivalent of 12 percent of the state’s Gross Domestic Product for the year. Growth in broadband adoption among rural businesses has been slower than the rest of the state. Where adopted rural businesses have seen the benefit of broadband as it allows them to reach customers who may never visit their store in person. I will continue to work with Governor Branstad, Connect Iowa and other organizations to find routes to expand broadband options and availability.

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The Anderson Report — Received April 23, 2015

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email tobill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.


Governor’s Appointees

We continue to see the Governor’s appointees coming to the floor for their confirmation vote. There are two types of confirmations: Individual (voted on individually) and En Bloc (voted on as a group). Any senator may request an appointee be moved from the En Bloc to the Individual calendar.  The confirmation process begins in committee and then a vote of the full Senate. It requires 34 votes to earn Senate confirmation.Appointees consist of individuals who are selected to lead departments and serve as members of a variety of different boards and commissions. Some appointments recently voted on were:
• Passed 46-4 — Janet Phipps Burkhead – Director of the Department of Administrative Services
• Passed 39-11 — Charles Palmer – Director of the Department of Human Services
• Passed: 48-2 — David Roederer – Director of the Department of Management
• Passed: 42-8 — Joseph S. Cortese II – Workers’ Compensation Commissioner

Morningside Lady Mustangs Honored

I was pleased to have the opportunity to congratulate and honor the Morningside College women’s basketball team on their fourth NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship. The Mustangs capped an impressive 37-1 season with a 59-57 win over Concordia in the title game. Senate Resolution 31 was a fitting tribute to a great group of young ladies.First Time Home Buyers
Legislation has been proposed to establish a first time home buyer savings account program in Iowa.A first time home buyer will be able to receive an income tax exemption for savings up to $3,000/year for up to 10 years for a potential total of $30,000 at the end of the 10th year, or $6,000/year for two first time home buyers who file taxes jointly for a total of $60,000 at the end of 10 years.Withdrawals from the account are tax-free, as long as the funds are used for closing costs and down payment on a single family, owner occupied residence in Iowa.The first time home buyer is required to set up an account with an Iowa bank or credit union to be used to purchase a home in Iowa.——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

The Anderson Report — Received April 17, 2015

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email tobill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

Budget Process
The budget process starts with state agencies submitting their budget requests on or before October 1st preceding the upcoming Legislative session.

Next, the Revenue Estimating Conference meets in October to arrive at its initial estimate for the upcoming budget.  This determines how much money the state has to spend.

The next major event occurs when the Revenue Estimating Conference sets the December revenue estimate.  The December revenue estimate is used to set the upcoming budget, unless the estimate in March is lower.

This was the case for the upcoming Fiscal Year 2016 budget. The revenue estimate was reduced by almost $20 million from the December estimate.  The current revenue estimate is $7.175 billion.  Our current spending is $6.994 billion.  The difference between the two, $180 million, is the new revenue we have to spend for FY 2016.  With that new revenue we have to fund increases in Medicaid, school aid, public health, public safety, economic development, and state government operations.  And with over $487 million in built-in and anticipated increases in spending, this will be no easy task.

After the December revenue estimate, the Governor releases his budget by February 1.  The Governor’s budget sets the tone and is a starting point for the Legislature’s budget discussions.

Usually, mid-January through the end of March budget subcommittees made up of members from both the House and Senate receive budget presentations from departments within the purview of the subcommittee.  There are seven budget subcommittees: Administration and Regulation, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Economic Development, Education, Health and Human Services, Justice Systems, and Transportation, Infrastructure and Capitals.

Traditionally toward the end of March, the majority parties in both chambers work to release their budget targets.  This is the amount of money the majority party in each chamber is willing to spend.  The budget targets specify an overall spending figure as well as specific spending levels for each budget subcommittee.  Each budget subcommittee then prioritizes spending for each line item within their specific budget.  Once this is done, each budget subcommittee gets a budget bill drafted and votes on the bill.  The bill then goes to the full Appropriations committee in the chamber in which the bill originates before moving on to the chamber floor for consideration.

Each year half of the budget bills start in the House and half start in the Senate.  The following year, the bills flip flop.  This year the Senate starts the following bills: Agriculture and Natural Resources, Economic Development, Health and Human Services, Judicial Branch (Courts), Justice Systems (Corrections and Public Safety), and Unassigned Standings (Items appropriated in Code).  The House starts the following bills:  Administration and Regulation, Education, Transportation, Infrastructure, and the Federal Block Grant Bill.

Usually at this point in the Legislative session we are well into the budget process with bills bouncing back and forth between the two chambers as they get amended and approved.  However, with demand on expenditures far exceeding available revenues the budget is extremely tight and difficult to craft.  In addition, the two chambers have been unable to agree on the amount of additional money we can afford to dedicate to pre-K through 12 schools.  This budget item is so significant that it must be negotiated first so we are able to determine how much we can afford to spend in other areas.  With the 110th day of Legislative session around the corner (May 1), it is my sincere hope Republicans and Democrats can come together to negotiate a budget that funds Iowans’ priorities and yet lives within our means.  This is how Iowa families budget and they should expect no less from their elected officials!

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The Anderson Report — Received April 9, 2015

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate. Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or emailbill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov

Commerce Committee
Last week was the second funnel deadline. This is when bills passed by the House and Senate are required to pass through the other chambers’ respective committees.  Two bills were passed out of Commerce Committee last week during our final meeting.

HF 504, Electronic Delivery of Insurance Notices – The bill, would amend Code provisions on electronic delivery and posting of insurance notices to clarify a notice of policy cancellation, non-renewal, or termination must be delivered by mail. For other notifications, the bill would require an insurer to take reasonable measures to ensure an electronic notice is actually received and to notify an insured annually of the e-mail address on file. If a delivery attempt fails, or the insurer learns an e-mail address is invalid, the insurer would be required to use a non-electronic means of delivery.

The bill would provide an insurance agent with immunity against claims resulting from use or non-delivery of electronic notifications. It would require policies or endorsements posted on an insurer’s website in lieu of mail delivery must be accessible and printable for prescribed periods of time. An insurer would also be required to provide a paper copy of a policy or endorsement to an insured upon request at no charge.

HF 229, Regulation of Buying Club Memberships and Free Offers – As amended in committee, the bill would generally exempt sales of goods and services transacted through the internet from the provisions of Chapter 552A (which establishes certain consumer protection requirements for the sale of buying club memberships). In addition, the bill would specifically exempt the sale of a buying club membership via the internet from Section 554A.4(3), requiring oral notice of a consumer’s right to cancel a sale.

The bill also would establish new requirements for “free offers” of goods or services where acceptance would cause a consumer to incur a financial obligation (such as payment for goods or services received, or for a membership or service contract). An offeror would be required, among other things, to: identify all goods or services to be provided, and any resulting financial obligation, give notice of how the consumer may reject the offer, disclose a consumer’s right to cancel by toll-free call or similar procedure, and to receive a consumer’s billing information, and affirmative consent to the terms of the offer. An amendment passed in committee would exempt an offer for a periodical subscription if it can be canceled at any time, with refund for any payment made for future issues.

Capitol Fact

Each year the Capitol is visited by over 100,000 visitors.

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The Anderson Report — Received April 3, 2015

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate. Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email bill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov

Second Amendment Rights
Often I hear from law-abiding gun owners who want legislation to protect their Second Amendment rights. This legislative session, there was talk of a comprehensive Second Amendment bill which would provide confidentiality protections for those who have gun permits, make it lawful to protect the lives of your family, and allow the ownership of suppressors in Iowa.

The Iowa House passed this bill with bipartisan support. However, it was met with resistance in the Iowa Senate. Senate Democrats chose to strip the confidentiality provisions and restrict the application and permitting process. The bill before the Senate Tuesday was not a comprehensive Second Amendment bill. It was a stripped down bill to only make it legal to possess suppressors. Unfortunately, this bill did not go far enough to protect your Constitutional rights.

Senate Democrats chose to put politics before policy by giving the impression they care about the Second Amendment, but instead stripped much of the language supported by law enforcement and a majority of Iowans.

With Senate Democrats choosing to call this bill up for a vote so close to the second funnel deadline, they sent a clear message they have no intention of passing comprehensive Second Amendment protections. I am disappointed comprehensive protections of your Second Amendment rights were not brought forward for a vote in the Iowa Senate.

Easter Weekend
I would like to wish my constituents and all of you a blessed and Happy Easter.

-Bill

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The Anderson Report — Received March 26, 2015

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email bill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.Pharmacy Benefits Managers
This week, the Senate passed SF235 which amends Code provisions enacted last year concerning Insurance Division oversight of pharmacy benefits managers (PBM). As amended in committee, it would expressly grant the Insurance Division authority to examine a PBM doing business in Iowa.The bill also authorizes the commissioner to impose certain penalties on a PBM, after notice and hearing, upon a finding the PBM violated any requirement of PBM regulation under Code, or of the regulations applicable to third-party administrators. Possible sanctions include: suspension or revocation of the certificate of registration (necessary to serve as a third-party administrator for health insurance) or of a license, issuance of a cease-and-desist order, civil penalties of up to $50,000, and payment of interest on an unpaid claim.I am hopeful these additions to the Code will give the commissioner the tools he needs to address the issues brought to me by pharmacies across District 3.Revenue Estimating Conference
You may recall me referencing the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) in my newsletter or during a public forum. I thought this week I would give a brief overview of the REC.The REC meets three times a year (October, December, and March) with the purpose of coming to a consensus on the State General Fund revenue. The conference has three members: a designee by the Governor, a non-partisan member from the Legislative Services Agency, and a third member that is agreed upon by the Governor’s designee and the member from LSA.These estimates are used by the Governor and the Legislature in determining the budgeting for the state. The estimate from December is used in the budget unless the estimate from March is lower. The REC met on March 19, and estimated revenues for FY 15 $6,767.4 million and for FY 16 $7,175.5 million. The difference between FY 15 ongoing expenditures and FY 16 ongoing revenues is approximately $180 million. Built-ins are about $487 million with the biggest being Medicaid at $206 million. These anticipated increases are over $300 million more than what is available in new revenue.It would be unwise to return to the practice of using the surplus to pay for ongoing expenses.Capitol Fact
The Iowa State Capitol was constructed between 1871 and 1886, representing one of the Nation’s finest examples of 19th century architecture.——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

The Anderson Report — Received March 19, 2015

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email me at bill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

E15

A bill is moving through the Legislature to expand the Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Board (RFIB) grant program eligibility to E15. This program offers cost share grants to owners and operators of retail motor fuel sites to help expand renewable fuel infrastructure here in Iowa.

Helping to offset the cost of installing renewable fuel infrastructure is a major component of expanding the availability and use of higher ethanol and biodiesel blends. The existing grant program has been a successful tool in encouraging retailers to offer more renewable fuel options to consumers.

At this time, ethanol retailer grants are available for E85 dispensers and blender pumps offering E85, and biodiesel retailer grants are available for dispensers and blender pumps offering a minimum of B2.

While the EPA recently approved E15 for use in 2001 and newer vehicles, E15 pumps do not currently qualify for RFIB grants. While offering E85 generally requires a brand new retail infrastructure system, many retailers may consider selling E15 by updating existing infrastructure. These system upgrades may be necessary for retailers to comply with Iowa Department of Natural Resources checklist, which is a requirement to begin offering E15 as a registered fuel.

There are currently 29 retailers who sell E15 in Iowa, but that is not nearly enough. Iowa needs hundreds of E15 retailers to meet state and national policy goals.

Mental Health Institutions
The Department of Human Services has proposed a realignment plan for Iowa’s Mental Health Institutions. The department wants to allow the majority of patients to complete their treatment in their current setting. There will be increased capacity with six additional adult inpatient psychiatric beds available at state-run institutions. Bed tracking will become more efficient with the creation of a system to monitor bed usage statewide. This will better connect local officials, families and patients with beds available in the mental health system.

Capitol Fact
There are 24 fireplaces in the State Capitol.

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The Anderson Report — Received March 12, 2015

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email tobill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.Dakota Access Pipeline
I had the opportunity this week to sit down and learn more about the Dakota Access Pipeline Project. The project is roughly 1,134 miles, 30-inch diameter pipeline which will connect the expanding Bakken and Three Forks areas in North Dakota to a terminal facility in Illinois. The pipeline will transport approximately 450,000 barrels per day with a capacity as high as 570,000 barrels per day. That is half of the Bakken’s current daily crude oil production.This project will allow crude produced domestically to support domestic consumption and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Additionally, it will reduce truck and rail traffic which increases overall safety to the public. There is a long-term benefit to communities and the state via ad valorem taxes (a tax based on the value of real estate).The Iowa portion of the project by the numbers: Project cost in Iowa $1.04 billion, number of jobs during construction 2,000-4,000, permanent jobs 12-15, estimated Ad Valorem Taxes in 2017 – $27.4 million, estimated sales tax during construction – $35.3 million, and estimated income taxes during construction $14.6 million.Broadband Bill
The Senate Democrat version of the Broadband Bill passed by a voice vote as amended from the Economic Growth Committee. The bill would assign to the Chief Information Officer (CIO) responsibility to coordinate statewide availability of broadband fiber-optic network infrastructure. The CIO would make policies and recommendations to expand fiber-optic facilities in “targeted underserved areas,” which would be anywhere a home or business does not have fiber-optic broadband. The CIO would facilitate public-private partnerships, align policies and procedures, collect data, identify options for “stakeholder resources,” and publish an annual report. These efforts are solely for fiber-optic broadband.The bill would add the CIO and the State Auditor as non-voting members of the Telecommunications and Technology Commission and would expand the Statewide Interoperable Communications System Board to include a representative of the CIO and an emergency medical care provider. Finally, the bill would amend Chapter 423A, concerning use of funds from state sales, service and uses taxes for “school infrastructure,” to allow acquisition or installation of information technology systems.

Floor Action
It was a busy week in the Iowa Senate as we spent most of our time in debate. This is quite a contrast from last week, considering the heavy load of subcommittee and committee work due to the first funnel deadline. The Senate began debate on the scores of bills passed out of committee prior to the first funnel. Monday through Thursday we debated dozens of bills, including issues which concern many Iowans such as the school start date and mental health services to Iowans.Capitol Fact
The legislative session of the Iowa General Assembly convenes each year on the second Monday in January, and has a general length of 110 days during odd-numbered years and 100 days during even-numbered years.

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The Anderson Report — Received March 5, 2015

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email to bill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.Funnel Week
Some bills I was disappointed did not survive the first funnel:• Senate Joint Resolution 10 proposes an amendment to the Iowa Constitution to put the current 99% expenditure limitation found in Iowa Code into the Iowa Constitution. The amendment also would place a cap on the growth in expenditures.  This is a pro-taxpayer amendment to ensure the legislature controls spending.• Senate File 390 would keep personal information confidential for those Iowans granted personal carry gun permits.• Senate File 389 would require the Iowa Department of Human Services to adopt rules to require any applicant for program services supported by public funds to prove they are a legal resident of the United States.• Senate File 387 is a voter ID bill requiring photo identification in order to vote. This is a common sense change to protect the integrity of our elections.Tax Credit For Apprenticeship Programs
This bill would establish a non-refundable, non-transferable tax credit for certain construction apprenticeship programs.  The taxpayer must be an apprenticeship sponsor conducting an apprenticeship program registered with the U.S. Department of Labor.  An apprentice in such a program must be working in the construction trade and employed at an Iowa worksite.  The tax credit would equal $2 for each hour worked by an apprentice in the tax year, up to a cap of $2,000 per year per apprentice (or 50 percent of apprentice wages, whichever is less).   The credit would apply against individual and corporate income tax, and would be non-refundable and non-transferable.  The Iowa Economic Development Authority would adopt rules, accept applications and issue tax credit certificates to eligible sponsors.The amendment which passed the Economic Growth Committee by a voice vote this week (Amendment SF 108.301) would require an “apprentice” to be an Iowa resident. It would allow the tax credit to an employer that is not itself a DOL-approved apprenticeship sponsor, so long as the apprentice is in a registered apprenticeship program in the construction trades. Also, it would forbid the carry-forward of the (non-refundable) tax credit, and allow an employer to claim the tax credit by verifying eligibility on a Department of Revenue form and submitting it with a tax return.Capitol Fact
There are 13 types of wood used in the Iowa State Capitol.Legislative Forums
Saturday, March 14, 2015
• 9:00-9:45 a.m. – Lawton Friendship Center, 300 Cedar Street
• 10:00-10:45 a.m. – Moville Community Center, 825 Main Street
• 11:00-11:45 a.m. – Pierson Community Center, 514 2nd Street
• 12:00-12:45 p.m. – Correctionville, Java Hub, 423 4th Street

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The Anderson Report — Received February 26, 2015

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email tobill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

State Supplemental Aid
Senate Democrats and House Republicans passed two different State Supplemental Aid (SSA) proposals. Senate Democrats proposed a growth rate of 4 percent for Fiscal Year (FY) 16. House Republicans proposed a 1.25 percent increase for FY16. The Democrat proposal increases SSA by $212.2 million during FY16. The Republican proposal increases SSA by $99.8 for FY16. Both proposals also include around $50 million in additional Teacher Leadership and Compensation (TLC) funding.

Neither proposal addresses any reductions to the Area Education Agencies (AEA). Both of these proposals would include a property tax backfill.  The bills are moving to conference committee.

Electronic Voter Registration
Senate Study Bill 1152, if passed, would allow Iowans with a valid ID to register to vote electronically. This bill is an expansion on Secretary of State Paul Pate’s proposal to use signatures and driver’s license data from the Department of Transportation (DOT) to aid Iowans in registering to vote online.

Senate Republicans want to ensure an electronic voting registration system is safe, secure, efficient, free and accessible.  We also have concerns regarding the integrity and access in the system included in a voter ID bill.  The bill provides the option for electronic voter registration and electronic updates through the Secretary of State.  The application form will be on the SOS website. Iowans applying will be required to provide a valid ID in order to submit the form, attest that the information is correct and a valid signature.

The signature can originate from the DOT, election official in or out of state, or a valid registration office. If a valid signature is not obtained, the SOS has 5 days to notify through mail of the signature not being valid and include a registration form.  Violating provisions of the bill would be punishable as a class “D” felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of $750 up to $7,500.  The bill would take effect January 1, 2016.

I am a strong supporter of Voter ID and I am not alone. More than two-thirds of Iowans think we should produce a photo ID in order to vote, according to several polls including the Des Moines Register’s Iowa Poll. This could be a great first step in making Voter ID a reality in Iowa.

Supporting Iowa Veterans
Senate Republicans unanimously voted in favor of Senate File 130, a bill which enhances the National Guard’s educational assistance program. We always have supported our state’s veterans and have tried to help them any way we can. Currently, the program supports 8 semesters as a full-time student. The bill would change that to 120 hours, giving veterans the ability to earn their degree at their own pace.

Forums — Saturday, February 28
8:30 a.m. – 9:15 a.m. – Hinton Forum – Elementary School Library, 315 W. Grand Street
10:30 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. – Brunsville Forum – American Legion, 305 Oak Street
11:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Westfield Forum – City Hall, 223 Union Street

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The Anderson Report — Received February 19, 2015

Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa Senate.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas. You can reach me at 712-898-2505 or email to bill.anderson@legis.iowa.gov.

Pension Tax Phase-Out

Iowa is not currently considered a tax-friendly state for retirees. Despite strides made in recent years to reverse that trend, Iowa continues to lose retirees who have raised their families and built lives in our state for more favorable tax environments.

Currently, Iowa taxpayers eligible for a pension exemption, which include pensions, annuities, self-employed retirement plans, deferred compensation, Individual Retirement Accounts, or other retirement planned benefits, may be able to exclude a portion of their retirement income which is taxable on federal tax returns. This exclusion can be up to $6,000 for a person who files taxes as a single and $12,000 if taxes are filed as a married couple.

The proposed legislation would phase-out the taxation of pensions, annuities, and Individual Retirement Accounts over the next five years. These exemptions would be 20 percent incremental stages until 100 percent of these retirement incomes are exempt by 2021. The exempted pension income would not be included in the calculation of the alternative tax or filing threshold. When this legislation is fully implemented, it will reduce revenues by $214 million. Tax liability will be reduced for over 11 percent of taxpayers over 55.

Iowa Next

Iowa Next is a new initiative taking a wide-ranging approach to state investment in quality of life efforts. This is being done by coordinating and streamlining public access to programs within the state that support cultural, natural, and recreational community projects.

Iowa Next consolidates the Community Attraction & Tourism Program, River Enhancement Community Attraction, Tourism Program, the Iowa Great Places Program, Iowa Cultural Trust, and the State Parks Infrastructure Fund. The Iowa Next Commission is comprised of the board of directors of the Iowa Economic Development Authority, Iowa Department of Transportation, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and seven appointed public members with experience or expertise in culture, recreation, economic, or community development. This new program will provide $26 million to be awarded in grants in FY 2016.

Iowa Next’s goal is to improve government efficiency and flexibility to effectively respond to people’s desire to improve the quality of life in communities by simplifying the way they can partner with the state to improve cultural, natural, and recreational opportunities. It also will leverage and grow public-private partnerships to empower Iowans to invest in the future of their communities. Through the efforts of this program Iowans will improve opportunity to attract and retain new talents to our state by improving the quality of life opportunities.

Upcoming Forums
Saturday, February 28
8:30 a.m. – 9:15 a.m. – Hinton Forum – Elementary School Library, 315 W. Grand Street

10:30 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. – Brunsville Forum – American Legion, 305 Oak Street

11:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Westfield Forum – City Hall, 223 Union Street