Highlights from the 86th General Assembly include:
- Responsible Budgeting
For the sixth year in a row, the Iowa Legislature made a serious commitment to Iowans to not spend more than the state takes in.
- Increased Investment in Education
House Republicans continued support for K-12 as our state's top priority by increasing funding by $135 million, which accounts for 77% of the state's new revenue. Under Republican leadership in the Iowa House, yearly funding for education has increased by $660 million.
- Certainty for Iowa taxpayers
House Republicans championed and insisted on legislation that gave taxpayers a seat at the table this session. House Republicans pushed to prevent an unexpected $95 million tax increase on 177,000 Iowans and eliminated the unfair double tax on Iowa manufacturers.
- Unprecedented Oversight for Medicaid
House Republicans supported significant oversight efforts to monitor the state's transition and ensure that consumers are protected, patient health and financial outcomes are monitored and transparent, and the integrity of our health care system remains.
- Continued efforts to combat human trafficking
House Republicans continued efforts to combat human trafficking in Iowa by establishing an office in the Department of Public Safety to oversee and coordinate efforts to combat human trafficking. Other efforts were passed that protect victims and penalize those who commit this horrific crime.
- Fighting Addiction and Preventing Overdoses
House Republicans took a stand to help those suffering from addiction by providing access to life-saving medication for victims of opioid overdoses.
- Criminal Justice Reforms
House Republicans worked to advance solutions that refocus criminal justice resources on dangerous criminals rather than nonviolent offenders. Legislation passed this session will allow judges discretion when sentencing non-violent offenders which hold these individuals accountable while they rejoin and become contributing members of society.
- Sustainable funding for water quality
House Republicans were able to find a long-term, dedicated source of funding for water quality projects across the state without raising taxes. While this did not become law, it has spurred an important conversation on how we can address improving our water and natural resources for future generations.
My brother-in-law and sister-in-law visited the capital last week. Their daughter is related to Representative Deborah Berry by marriage.
Dani Boal (my clerk) and I in the last week of session. Dani has worked hard this year to organize your emails and my schedule!
House and Senate Reach Agreement on Budget Targets
On Wednesday, House Republicans and Senate Democrats reached an agreement on the funding levels for the FY 2017 budget. The Legislature is limited to spending $7.351 billion out of the General Fund under the state‘s expenditure limitation law. The budget levels include the additional funding already authorized by the FY 2017 Supplemental School Aid bills, which increased school funding by 2.25 percent.
The FY 2017 budget will be:
In addition to the budget targets, the House and Senate agreed to place certain standing appropriations under the control over the budget subcommittees. Many of these on-going appropriations had not been reviewed for years until a separate subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee examined the programs in January and February. The funding for the programs had been accounted for under the Standings Appropriations bills. Now, the programs and funding will be turned over to the appropriate budget subcommittee and accounted for in FY 2017 budget. Beginning with the next General Assembly, the budget subcommittees will be conducting oversight and review of the programs.
And Musco Said, Let there be Light!
And light there was, on April 5th at 7:45 at the front of the Capitol, specifically!
On Tuesday April 5th at 7:45 pm in front of the Capitol, Musco Sports Lighting did a demonstration of the new lighting it is proposing to install on the exterior of the Capitol Building. Musco has offered to donate time and equipment to do the outdoor lighting for the Capitol, while the State would only have to pay for the labor on this project. The labor is projected to cost $225,000.
Musco Sports Lighting LLC is a private company based out of Oskaloosa, IA. Some of their projects include: Michigan State University - Munn Ice Arena, Wells Fargo Center, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Denver Broncos Field House, and USTA National Tennis Center.
Visitors at the Capitol
Walt met with Boys & Girls Club members and Credit Union members this week from the district.
Managed Care Launches
Medicaid Modernization launches this week. The new Medicaid system will focus on wellness and preventative care to help patients lead healthier lives, while the old system simply worked to treat diseases as they occurred.
Why the move to Medicaid Modernization?
Bureaucracy and inflexibility has created unsustainable growth in the Medicaid program which threatens the state’s ability to fund core functions like education, public safety, and courts. We have done too little to address this in the past. Reform isn’t optional, it’s imperative.
Over the last several years, spending on Medicaid has skyrocketed and all the while, patients have not become any healthier. The previous Medicaid system did not operate like an efficient system should.
Is managed care a new concept?
39 other states use some form of managed care to deliver healthcare to their Medicaid populations. Additionally, the majority of Medicaid patients across the country have their healthcare delivered through a managed care system. In fact, Iowa has used a form of managed care to deliver healthcare to a portion of the state’s Medicaid population since the 1990s.
Medicaid Modernization provides the state with an opportunity to control the ever-growing costs of Medicaid and improve patient outcomes. Managed care will continue to preserve all current services for patients. House Republicans are working on legislation to provide oversight on Medicaid that focuses on access, quality of care, and quality of outcomes. If someone needs help navigating the new system, I am ready and willing to assist in any way I can.
Providing a Safe Water Supply for Iowans
House Republicans are committed to protecting our waterways so Iowans can enjoy a safe water supply and a clean natural resource for recreation long into the future. In order to achieve that, we must find a sustainable, long-term funding source to invest in water quality initiatives across the state.
The Iowa Water Quality Improvement Plan proposed by House Republicans would significantly increase the state’s investment in a manner that addresses both urban and rural water quality efforts.
The Iowa Water Quality Improvement Plan has dedicated long-term funding sources from both the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund (RIIF) and the excise tax on metered water.
The Iowa Water Quality Improvement Plan will focus on long-term infrastructure improvements that will reduce the runoff of nitrates and phosphorus into Iowa waterways and reduce soil erosion. These projects will be a public-private partnership, being funded by Iowa farmers, local communities, the state, and other private sources.
House Republicans are offering a plan that secures significant investment for water quality in the state that will preserve this precious resource for generations to come.
Pictures from the Capitol
I met with many students from UNI for Research Day on the Hill. One of the projects was a designed algorithm of a knot that can help with DNA research.
Another was a study on how we can decrease student binge drinking during UNI homecoming.