Newsletter | March 4, 2021

To the People of House District 54
 

Week 8 of the 2021 legislative session was unique as debate was limited to two bills in the Iowa House. One of these bills is SF 364, which is a bill relating to the Federal Paycheck Protection Program. This bill provides $128 million in tax relief for businesses and individuals by exempting pandemic-related grants and unemployment benefits from state income tax.

The second bill passed this week by the Iowa House is HCR 10, Joint Rules of the House and Senate. This concurrent resolution reaffirms rules that have been in place for years with one change, which permits demonstrations only on the first floor of the Iowa Capitol. Debates are prohibited on the second floor to ensure citizens are able to access their elected officials.

Because debate was limited this week, House members had time for additional subcommittee and committee work. Bills had to be reported out of committee by March 5, which is the first legislative funnel deadline. Any Committee and House bills or joint resolutions that failed to pass through committee by this date are dead. “Dead bills” cannot be considered anymore this session.

 
Subcommittee Work
One of my subcommittee assignments was HF 300, which creates a public safety equipment fund. I was glad to see this bill pass through the Appropriations Committee on March 1 because this fund is very much needed. Approximately 98% of the Iowa Department of Public Safety’s budget is dedicated to salaries and benefits, motor vehicle purchases, and infrastructure obligations. It’s not possible for the remaining 2% of the budget to cover all the equipment costs. It costs nearly $85,500 to equip one trooper, including everything from a uniform and outwear to key vehicle equipment.

This week I also was bill manager for HSB 216, which is an act relating to the established season for hunting game birds on a preserve. It was passed March 2 by the House Natural Resources Committee and is now eligible for floor debate. The bill allows a game bird hunting preserve operator to apply for a variance to extend the season beyond March 31 if the monthly precipitation is above average for at least two months during January, February, or March for the county in which the preserve is located.

 
Education
The House Education Committee this week considered separate bills that originally had been part of the Governor’s omnibus education bill. An act establishing a student first scholarship program, HSB 243, did not pass through committee this week. The committee passed HSB 240 with amendments, one of which removes the requirement for a single, statewide student information system (SIS). Another bill passed by the committee this week is HSB 242, which modifies the charter school program.
 
Virtual Town Hall Meeting on March 5 at 11 AM
Speaker Pat Grassley, Iowa State Senator Amanda Ragan, and I will hold a Virtual Town Hall Meeting on Friday, March 5, at 11:00 AM to connect with constituents. The forum is hosted by the Butler County REC and will take place over Zoom. 

Attendees must RSVP to receive a link to the meeting. If you would like to participate, please email pat.grassley@legis.iowa.gov to request the Zoom information. In the subject line of your email, please state Virtual Town Hall and your hometown. The deadline to RSVP is Thursday, March 4, at 5:00 PM.
 

 
Stay in Touch

The Statehouse is open for visitors! This week I enjoyed hosting the LaBree family on a Capitol building tour, and we climbed to the very top of the dome. It’s 298 steps from the second floor to the cupola, which is the highest point of the dome. There are so many interesting things to note along the way from life-sized statues to the trap doors that open to change light bulbs in the dome. Contact me if you’re interested in seeing it for yourself!

Feel free to also contact me with questions or concerns about bills and issues. You’re welcome to send an email to Shannon.Latham@legis.iowa.gov or message me on my political Facebook page (@ShannonLathamIA). 

“Front Row News” is distributed to local newspapers and interested constituents at the end of each week throughout the legislative session. “Looking Ahead with Latham” is a video update posted each Monday on my political Facebook page.

 
 
Sincerely,  
Rep. Shannon Latham 
Iowa House District 54