Newsletter | March 25, 2021

To the People of House District 54

As I mentioned in this week’s edition of my “Looking Ahead with Latham” video, work is underway on the House budget. Input is gathered from three sources before budgeting begins: Governor’s proposed Fiscal Year 2022 budget, an estimate from the Revenue Estimating Committee (REC), and priorities of the House majority party. The three-person panel serving as the REC last Friday raised its forecast for General Fund revenue in Fiscal Year 2021 to $8.0789 billion, which is a growth rate of 1.9 percent.  
 

Our state’s budget has shown great resilience even in the face of a global pandemic. In fact, Iowa’s budget was ranked as the #1 most prepared to withstand the financial challenges of COVID-10 by the non-partisan Council of State Governments. Thanks in part to a decade of responsible budgeting by Iowa House Republicans, Iowa’s financial position continues to look strong. 
 

Early this week Iowa House Republicans met and discussed our budget priorities. Then later in the week Rep. Gary Moore, who chairs the Appropriations Committee, and I as vice chair of the Appropriations Committee met with all the chairs of the budget subcommittees. 
 

Also this week, which was Week 11 of the 2021 Legislative Session, we spent much time debating bills in the Iowa House. A few of the bills that were messaged to the Iowa Senate for consideration include:

  • House File 586 requires the Iowa Economic Development Authority to establish a broadband forward certification program and a telecommuter forward certification program. The objective of this certification program is to encourage political subdivisions to further develop and promote the availability of telecommuting. I believe this designation can help communities recruit and attract residents. 

  • House File 694 modifies participation and lease agreement requirement and tax credit amounts for the beginning farmer tax credit program. 

  • House File 798 prohibits the discharge of a firearm from within or on a motor vehicle while in pursuit of game.

  • House File 753 allows a person driving 25 mph or more over the speed limit, who kills another, to be charged with a class “C” felony.

  • House File 724 provides that employers offering leave to biological newborn parents also offer the same leave to adoptive parents of children up to six years of age.

Public Charter Schools

Ensuring every student has access to quality education while giving parents more choice in their children’s education has been a top priority. House File 813 makes it easier to establish public charter schools, however, founding members must show community need and community support.
 

Under this bill, public funds stay with public schools. The federal funds allocated to the public school district will continue to be allocated even after the students leaves the district for the charter school. 
 

This bill also specifies rules and guidelines to ensure charter schools adhere to public school guidelines such as standards of transparency, quality, oversight and admittance that include:

  • Public charter schools must admit all who apply.

  • Public charter schools must provide special education services.

  • Public charter schools must be transparent, by adhering to Chapter 21, which is open meetings law where all board meetings are open to the public.

Nominate Your Neighbors

Gov. Reynolds, Secretary of Ag Mike Naig and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Director Kayla Lyon invite Iowans to nominate individuals or families in their communities for the 2021 Farm Environmental Leader Award. Nominations will be accepted until Monday, May 3, to be considered for the 2021 awards ceremony held at the Iowa State Fair. Farmers and landowners who invest in conservation practices, like cover crops or wetlands, and incorporate best management practices into their operations, to improve and protect the state’s natural resources, are eligible for the award. They must also actively serve as leaders in the agriculture community.