Capitol Review 4/21/14


End of session stalled because of politics?

The 2014 legislative session began with pledges from Republicans and Democrats alike to refrain from the DC-style political potshots and partisanship that has infected any chance at success and cooperation.  Unfortunately, because of the focus on state employee settlement agreements, the work needed to wrap up the session has been sidetracked.

The Senate Oversight Committee focusing on the settlement agreements needs less politics, not more.  The coordination between Senate Democrats and the Jack Hatch for Governor campaign has been a hindrance to uncovering the truth.

House Republicans are interested in knowing the truth.  The truth is revealed through additional transparency.  HF2462 provides that additional transparency.

Senate Democrats have every intention of killing HF2462 and the additional transparency it provides.  The bill goes to the heart of the controversy regarding the confidential settlement agreements – why they happened in the first place.

Iowans now know the who, what, when and where – but Iowans do not know the why.  HF 2462 answers that fundamental question.

Capitol Review 4/13/14

One of the tools legislators have to promote the values of Iowans is called a “point of personal privilege.”  A point of personal privilege is an opportunity at the end of a day in the House to speak about any issue I want.  My experience is that opportunities to speak like this should be used sparingly.   On Monday I took advantage of this opportunity for the first time in four years, and I used my time to speak about state funding to the University of Northern Iowa.  Below is the video of that point of personal privilege.  Let me know your thoughts.

House Passes Government Transparency Bill Banning Confidential Settlements

On Monday night, the Iowa House passed House File 2462, a bill which bans confidentiality/nondisclosure clauses in personnel settlement agreements.  In addition, the bill will disclose the reason and rationale that a public employee was fired, allowed to resign in lieu of being terminated, or demoted.  The bill opens state government up to more sunshine, making it more accountable to the people of Iowa.

House Democrats argued that the bill was unnecessary, as the state already has a law on the books that bans these types of confidentiality clauses.  But the facts would beg to differ, as settlement agreements using such nondisclosure clauses have surface from each of the past three administrations.  When all was said and done, 35 Democrats voted against transparency in state government, while 10 of their colleagues joined with all 53 members of the House Republican caucus.

This bill is a step in the right direction in shedding sunlight on an embedded practice in state government.  Since the Vilsack administration at least 37 settlements have included confidentiality provisions.  House File 2462 seeks to put an end to this practice.

 I have been an advocate for government transparency and I am proud to advance this bill.  I hope the Senate will also advance it to the Governor’s desk.


Capitol Review 4/5/14


Update on Affordable Care Act

When new “Affordable” Care Act (ACA) regulations scrapped roughly 14 million Americans’ insurance policies throughout the Fall, ACA promoters claimed that number was nothing to worry about.  The cancellations were a side issue.  After all, only a small percentage of the U.S. population was losing coverage, and they’d find better, more affordable insurance on the exchanges.   

Yesterday, the Obama administration announced that 7.1 million people have enrolled in an insurance plan under the new law.  The president said the new figure proves the ACA is “here to stay.”   Ignoring the number of cancellations and the narrowly-drawn provider networks under the new policies, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said “Many more people now have affordable, quality health care.”  The statements marked the close of the exchanges’ March 31, 2014 open-enrollment period.

Meanwhile, the RAND Corporation released parts of its new study showing that only one-third of exchange sign-ups were previously uninsured.  RAND’s findings roughly match findings from an earlier McKinsey survey that indicated 27 percent of individual market enrollees were previously uninsured.  And of those that were previously uninsured, only 53 percent have paid their first premium.

Capitol Review 3/30/14

Valley Lutheran

Home Base Iowa

As we move through this session, the Iowa House will continue to work on bills that are a priority for Iowans, including the Home Base Iowa plan. This package of legislation is designed to attract veterans to Iowa and ensure they have the opportunities they need to be successful when they return. 

The package includes the following:

  • Military Pension Income Tax Exemption:  Fully exempt military pensions from state income tax.
  • Survivor Benefits Income Tax Exemption:  Fully exempt military survivor benefits from state income tax.
  • Occupational Licensure:  Directs Iowa’s occupational licensing boards to adopt rules allowing credit for military training and experience in the licensing process.
  • Hiring preference:  Allows private sector employers to grant a preference in hiring and promoting veterans.
  • Plate fees:  Eliminates the special plate issuance fees charged for plates associated with military service.
  • Monitor credits:  Requires community colleges and universities to file reports on the amount of credits they are giving veterans for their service in the military. 
  • County Veterans Affairs:  Helps County Commissions of Veterans Affairs keep veterans records confidential as well as improving the policies dealing with the care and maintenance of veteran’s graves.

I am honored to vote for this plan that will help all veterans in our state.  I hope this legislation becomes a model for many other states to follow.


PO Box 1142
Cedar Falls, IA 50613



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