To the People of House District 54

The sixth week of the 2022 legislative session was the first legislative funnel deadline. This means bills that originated in the House had to pass through both a subcommittee and a full standing committee by Friday, Feb. 18, to remain eligible for debate. Three bills that I sponsored on behalf of constituents survived the funnel, so I’ll provide a summary of each of these below.

Dairy Innovation (HF 2308)
While touring a beautiful dairy farm in Butler County last June with Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig, we talked about the importance of Iowa’s dairy industry and how the Iowa Legislature might help encourage growth. Who knew the economic impact of one dairy cow in Iowa is $25,495? Iowa’s dairy industry is responsible for nearly 15,600 jobs, but the number of dairy farmers is declining. To help keep more dairy families farming, Rep. Chad Ingels and I introduced HF 2308. This bill, which proposes to establish a dairy and milk production innovation and revitalization fund, passed through the House Agriculture Committee this week. It is now eligible for House floor debate.

Tougher Penalties for Assaulting a Pregnant Person (HF 2231)
When Kaylee Ciavarelli was seven months pregnant, she was hospitalized after being abused. Her unborn daughter wasn't moving, so doctors were trying to detect a heartbeat. She gave birth shortly thereafter and named her daughter Love. In the name of Love, Kaylee has become an advocate to protect a fetus from abuse. This session I introduced a bill to help protect pregnant women and their unborn children. Now I’m working with Rep. Cherielynn Westrich, vice chair of the House Public Safety committee, to advance HF 2231. This bill imposes a D felony sentence for those who assault a pregnant woman. This bill survived the legislative funnel and is eligible for House debate. 

House Passes Tax Cuts for All Iowans (HF 2317)
During the interim, one of my constituents from Clear Lake told me how helpful it would be if we would eliminate income taxes from retired people living on fixed incomes. I signed on to sponsor a related bill. It became part of the House tax plan, HF 2317, which was passed on Feb. 16. Beginning in 2023, Iowans over the age of 55 will no longer be taxed on retirement income earned from Individual Retirement Account (IRA) distributions, pensions or annuities. The House tax plan also implements a 4% flat tax for all Iowans by responsibly reducing rates during the next four years. We believe you can spend your money better than the government does!

Balancing the Budget
Ever since the Governor and both chambers of the Iowa Legislature released their plans to cut taxes, I’ve been fielding questions about how we can afford these historic tax cuts. We can afford these tax cuts as long as expenses don’t exceed revenue. Conservative budgeting is key! This week House Republicans announced we are moving forward with a state budget of $8.2738 billion for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2022. The proposed budget is an increase of 1.83 percent, or $148.9 million, over Fiscal Year 2022 spending. The largest increase goes to the state’s local school districts, which will receive an additional $159 million through the 2.5 percent increase in the state foundation formula. Additional funding is provided to the various budget subcommittees to address a number of critical issues facing Iowans, including mental health, workforce shortages, and childcare programs. Budget subcommittees will soon finalize work on their individual budgets, and these budget bills will start moving through the legislative process within a few weeks.

Constituent Visits 

David Sims, manager for Mason City Municipal Airport, updated me on expansion plans underway to support daily operations. I’m looking forward to touring the airport soon.
Melissa Schoneberg, Executive Director at Habitat for Humanity North Central Iowa, told me that Hammers & Heels for Habitat is back! This unique fundraiser, which brings together construction and couture, will be April 28 at the legendary Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake. 
 

As always, please contact me about issues that are of interest to you. Feel free to send me a message via my political Facebook page or my legislative email, which is shannon.latham@legis.iowa.gov.