The 13th week of the 2022 Legislative Session was filled with song and dance as tulip queens from Orange City visited our chamber and shared delicious almond clusters. Last week tulip queens from Pella sang a beautiful song, inviting us to their tulip festival. They also shared Dutch letters. In addition to learning about cultural opportunities across the state, the Iowa House passed several bills.
Other noteworthy bills passed this week include:
Health and Human Services Budget (HF 2578) – This bill appropriates $2 billion (yes, with a “b”) from the state’s general fund to the Departments of Aging, Public Health, Human Services and Veterans Affairs. This budget prioritizes mental health services and community-based services for Iowans with intellectual disabilities. It provides a $14.6 million investment in home and community-based services rates. This allows for a $2 raise to front-line workers’ wages. It provides funding to increase access to mental health care by expanding the workforce and increasing beds for patients. It also provides a 35% increase for behavioral health intervention services and provides funding to increase residential substance use treatment rates.
Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund Budget (HF 2579) – This budget bill provides $6 million for state park infrastructure, which includes replacing shower buildings, constructing restrooms, replacing trail bridges, extending trail areas, and building open-air shelters. It also increases funding for water trails. It provides for a new statewide fire training facility to be built at Camp Dodge. It also allocates $2 million for the Iowa Great Places program, which provides grants for communities statewide to renovate historical buildings, expanding museums or constructing recreational trails. In addition, it provides $12 million to continue making repairs and renovating barns on the Iowa State Fairgrounds plus $1 million for improvements to the 105 county fairs in Association of Iowa Fairs.
IDALS Program and Regulations (HF 2581) – This bill provides funding for the “Choose Iowa” program, which would help promote Iowa grown and produced food commodities. It also provides funding for the creation of a Choose Iowa logo to identify an item originating in this state.
DNR & County Conservation Land Inventory (SF 2323) – I floor managed this bill, which requires the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to update its online inventory of all the land it owns or manages within 60 days of the transaction. County conservation boards must provide an annual update.
Dairy Innovation Fund (SF 2290) – My good friend Rep. Chad Ingels and I introduced this bill to create a Dairy Processing and Milk Production Innovation and Revitalization Fund. This fund could be applied to projects that expand, refurbish or build milk plants or mobile dairy processing units, expand refrigeration facilities or freezer capacity, or develop/implement technology that reduces farm labor, including robotic milkers, as well as feeding and manure handling systems.
Depredation Permits for Antlerless Deer (SF 581) – This bill could help reduce Iowa’s antlerless deer population by making antlerless deer licenses not used during the October, November and December deer seasons available in January. It also reduces the damages of illegally harvesting an antlerless deer from $1,500 to $750.
Constituents in the Capitol
Jon Baltes of Hampton, who serves as Second Vice President for the Association of Iowa Fairs (AIF), visited the Capitol on April 6. We discussed ways the Iowa Legislature can support fairs. I appreciate the role fairs play in bringing communities together and attracting tourists to our great state. Some of my best childhood memories were made while I was showing sheep or simply hanging out with friends at the Butler County Fair. My kids grew up participating in the Franklin County Fair, and I have fond memories of watching my daughter show her horse there. Our family also enjoys the grandstand acts.