To the People of House District 54

 

We ushered in spring during the 11th week of the 2022 legislative session and celebrated agriculture week. On March 22, I had the honor of offering a prayer in celebration of National Agriculture Day. 

It was a busy week filled with committee work and floor debate. Many fiscal year (FY) 2023 budget bills passed through the Iowa House including: Transportation, Judicial Branch, Justice Systems, Agriculture & Natural Resources, Economic Development, and Administration & Regulation.

Progress was made on other budget bills. On Thursday, the Education budget bill passed through Appropriations and will move to the House floor as a committee bill. This budget bill allocates just over $1 billion for primarily higher education programs. It increases appropriations for community colleges, Department for the Blind, and Iowa Tuition Grants. 

Also in the Appropriations Committee this week, I ran HF 750. This bill creates a voluntary Length of Service Award Program for (LOSAP) for volunteer firemen, EMS and reserve police officers. It allocates $1 million annually to provide matching funds for municipalities that create a LOSAP.

Other Bills of Interest that were passed this week during floor debate in the Iowa House include:

  • House File 2566 – Sports Wagering Fund Appropriation – I’m listing this bill first because I have received several emails, requesting me to support the County Endowment Fund. Remaining funds in the Sports Wagering Receipts Fund will be appropriated to the County Endowment Fund. It is estimated funding will exceed $6 million annually. This bill is helpful to counties in House District 54 that don’t currently benefit from casino dollars.
  • House File 2555 – Cybersecurity Simulation Training Center (CySim) – I served on the subcommittee for this bill and am glad to see it pass to the Senate. It creates a cybersecurity simulation training center at Iowa State University to conduct and sponsor research and activities that enable businesses, state agencies, political subdivisions, students, educators, and others to practice strategies that counter and mitigate cyber threats and attacks. It also will provide a venue for student events and competitions, providing training exercises for educators, and coordinating cybersecurity workforce development.
  • House File 2567 – BOEE Re-Write – This bill passed unanimously. It directs the Department of Education to develop and implement a process for reporting and investigating an incident that could reasonably lead to the conclusion that an individual with a license, endorsement, certification, authorization, or statement of recognition issued by the Board of Educational Examiners (BOEE) or has engaged in improper conduct defined in Iowa Code 272.17. One example is soliciting, encouraging, or consummating a romantic or otherwise inappropriate relationship with a student.
    The developed process shall prohibit schools from entering agreements that don’t allow the discussion of an incident, past performance or actions, or past allegations leading to discipline or adverse employment action or an employee resignation. 
  • Senate File 2245 – Personal Use Slaughter Exemptions – This legislation clarifies that a person may slaughter his/her own livestock for personal use, including non-paying guests and non-paying employees, without being inspected or paying state meat slaughter/processing license fee. Meat slaughtered in this manner may not be sold to another person.
  • House File 2355 – from Unemployment to Re-Employment– Right now Iowa has 85,946 job openings posted, which is more jobs than workers available. Because we’re facing a workforce shortage, this bill was amended to incentivize Iowans to return to work as soon as possible. This bill does not change who is required to search for employment to receive unemployment benefits. However, if a person refuses a job offer, the percentage of benefits received will decrease. Another major reform in this bill includes reducing the unemployment weeks from 26 to 16. If unemployment is due to plant closure, the weeks are reduced from 39 to 26.

Succession Plan for Iowa Governor
Both the House and Senate this session have approved House Joint Resolution 2005, which clarifies Iowa’s gubernatorial succession process as outlined in our state constitution.

This proposed amendment to Iowa’s constitution makes it clear that our state’s lieutenant governor shall become governor for the remainder of the term, which creates a vacancy in the office of lieutenant governor, if Iowa's governor dies, resigns or is removed from office. This succession process would apply to the governor-elect and lieutenant governor-elect.  

NOTE: Constitutional amendments must receive approval from both chambers in two consecutive, two-year general assemblies. The 89th General Assembly convened in 2021 and will adjourn in 2022. The 90th General Assembly will meet in calendar years 2023 and 2024. This means lawmakers will need to approve HJR 2005 again in 2023 or 2024 for Iowans to vote on it in November 2024.

Constituents in the Capitol

On March 22, members of Butler and Franklin Counties REC visited with me at the Iowa Capitol. We talked about their legislative priorities, which include ending the rural energy tax. Iowa’s not-for-profit electric co-ops were unintentionally left off the exemption list from a tax bill that was passed in 2018. House File 2520 would fix this, and on March 7, it passed the Iowa House 95-0. It is under consideration now by the Senate Ways & Means Committee.
On March 23, Iowa Farm Bureau members from Butler, Franklin, Cerro Gordo Counties visited the Capitol in support of biofuels. Iowa leads the nation in corn production. But did you know that Iowa could lead the pack in the availability and consumption of Unleaded 88 /E15 fuel? The Iowa House on Feb. 2 passed House File 2128 to increase consumer access to higher biofuel blends like E15 and B20.
Also on March 23, I met with Megan Rosenberg from the Cady & Rosenberg Law Firm in Hampton. We visited about SF 2246, which authorizes the use of remote testimony in civil trials, non-contested criminal proceedings, and contested criminal proceedings in certain circumstances.