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Capitol Review 3/11/16

Reaching Consensus on Behalf of Iowans

House Republicans are fighting for and delivering results for Iowans. For weeks, House Republicans have been fighting to give taxpayers a seat at the table while also investing in the priorities of Iowans. This week, the House delivered on that promise by securing agreements on tax coupling and consumables.

Coupling
Part of the agreement between House Republicans and Senate Democrats includes House Republican’s tax coupling bill which provides $95 million in tax relief to Iowans.

The tax coupling bill has an impact on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 ending balance and the FY 2017 ongoing revenue levels.  Any agreement will impact discussions on school aid and budget targets.

The bill couples with everything except bonus depreciation in tax year 2015.  It does not couple in tax year 2016 leaving that decision to the 2017 Legislature.  There is a $95.7 million impact on FY 2016 revenue/ending balance.  That money goes directly to taxpayers.  Additionally, $86.5 million is added to FY 2017 on-going revenue with roughly $55 million of that available for appropriation under the state’s expenditure limitation law.

Governor Branstad has stated the House GOP coupling plan is something that he will support. 

Consumables
This agreement provides manufacturers with a clear and consistent definition of what is exempted from sales tax. Republicans worked to pass this same language in 2014. This provision ensures that the state is not unfairly taxing supplies and replacement parts during the manufacturing process. This amounts to double taxation on manufacturers. Placing this definition in the code prevents departmental bureaucrats from reinterpreting the current administrative rule based on the state’s revenue needs.

Education Funding Coming Together

House Republicans began this session committed to setting education funding in a timely manner. House Republicans are committed to finding a solution that provides school districts with the highest responsible increase that the state can actually fulfill.

This will be the sixth year in a row where schools have received an increase and the state has fulfilled its commitment.

Iowa House Passes Ban on Fetal Tissue Sale

On Wednesday, the Iowa House passed House File 2329.  House File 2329 prohibits a person from knowingly acquiring, providing, receiving, transferring, or using a fetal body part in Iowa, regardless of whether the acquisition is for value.  This prohibits the sale or donation of fetal tissue in Iowa. 

The prohibition does not apply to diagnostic or remedial tests, procedures, or observations to determine the life or health of the fetus or pregnant woman; the final disposition of a fetal body part; or pathological study.  The bill was amended on the floor to apply to fetal body parts aborted after the effective date of the act.  This allows research institutions in the state to continue using samples that were obtained before the passage of the bill.

A person who violates this law is guilty of a class “c” felony, punishable by a confinement of no more than 10 years and a fine of at least $1,000.

Juvenile Records Sealed in Iowa

juvenile recordsOn Wednesday, Governor Branstad signed Senate File 2288 a bill that keeps the majority of juvenile records sealed, unless a judge orders them unsealed. Many states in the country allow juvenile records to be sealed to protect adults from mistakes they made as children. Until this bill, Iowa did not seal juvenile records and a person, no matter how old, had to answer for mistakes of their youth.

Senate File 2288, as signed by the Governor, requires juvenile records to be confidential, unless the juvenile committed a forcible felony. Forcible felonies include; felonious child endangerment, assault, murder, sexual abuse, kidnapping, robbery, human trafficking, arson in the first degree, or burglary in the first degree. A juvenile charged or convicted of these crimes would not have their record automatically sealed, but could request a judge seal the records if the case has been dismissed and the person is no longer subject to the juvenile court. A judge may seal the juvenile records if the child’s interest in making the records confidential outweighs the public’s interest in the records remaining public.

Although most juvenile records would be sealed, some parties still have access to the records, including court professionals, counselors, guardians, probation officers, the Department of Corrections and others who may be assisting the juvenile. Allowing these groups access ensures the juvenile is held accountable for their actions while they receive the necessary help.

Sealing juvenile records allows young Iowans a fresh start and ensures mistakes of the past don’t destroy their future. 

Visitors This Week

politics class

Politics class from UNI

Capitol Review 3-4-16

rogers bill
Walt Passes a Bill to Keep Juvenile Court Records Confidential


Walt served as the Floor Manager for SF2288, making juvenile court records confidential. Too often, a young person’s opportunities for employment, housing, or education can be hindered by a minor crime that’s reflected on their criminal record. Senate File 2288 will help those who made a mistake when they were young, by making most juvenile records confidential for nonviolent crimes, unless a judge says otherwise.  Forcible Felonies (more serious crimes) by juveniles will still be public. 

Facts on Funding and School Aid

According to Legislative Services Agency (LSA), state revenue grew by 2.7% between 2006 and 2015.  Funding for schools grew at 4.3%.  While funding for Medicaid grew by 9.1%.

House Republicans approved a 2% increase in State Supplemental Aid (SSA) or an $80.9 million increase.  It was the first bill passed by the House in 2016 fulfilling the promise House Republicans made last fall to act quickly on Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 school aid. 

In the last 14 state budgets, there has been an increase in Supplemental School Aid (SSA) every year except FY 12 when no allowable growth rate was established. 

State Cost Per Pupil (SCPP) is used as the basis for school aid funding.  The SCPP serves as a basis for determining how much money the State sends to a school district each year for each pupil enrolled.  There has been an increase every year since FY 2003 growing from $4,557 to $6,446 since FY 2003.

Total K-12 State Foundation Aid is the total amount of state general fund dollars sent to school districts as generated through the school funding formula.  Since FY 2003 that amount has increased almost $1.2 billion. Over the last 5 state budgets, the total dollar increase for school aid is $563 million not including the $55 million vetoed by the Governor last summer.

The number of full-time teachers is up 216 from last year to 34,725; and the average teacher total salary is up $1,658 from last year to $55,356.  The number of full-time teachers is up 809 since the 2011-12 school year.

Iowa’s average teacher salary increased 2.7 percent to $55,356 in the 2014-15 school year. Iowa’s average teacher salary improved to 25th in the national rankings from 26th. Iowa’s Midwestern ranking remained 6th out of 12 states from the 2012-13 school year to 2013-14. There were 34,725 teachers in Iowa schools during the 2014-15 school year, up from 34,509 in 2013-14 and 33,610 in 2000-2001.

Medicaid Modernization

With Federal approval, Iowans finally have certainty on the future of Medicaid Modernization.

House Republicans will continue to assist those affected by the transition to ensure that Medicaid patients continue to receive high quality healthcare.

Over 85,866 provider contracts have been signed as of the end of January.  This represents over 95% of all possible provider contracts have been signed based on the Iowa Medicaid Fee-For-Service network in the past 12 months (out of 89,883)

All four major hospital systems have signed with a managed care organization (Genisis, Mercy, UIHC, UnityPoint)

An administrative law judge indicated Iowa’s Medicaid Modernization procurement process was “thoughtful and diligent.”

Benefits under managed care do not change, but the managed care organizations will provide over 80+ value-added services Medicaid patients do not currently receive.

Medicaid Modernization will create predictability and sustainability in the Medicaid budget.  In FY 2017, Medicaid costs will increase $41 million even with managed care.  Without it, costs would increase $151 million.

Medicaid is the second largest program in state government.  Its growth threatens the state’s ability to provide additional funding to schools.

Career and Technical Education Reform

The House acted this week on a bill to reform Iowa’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) delivery system, passing it in a bipartisan manner.  The bill was presented to the Legislature after 2 years’ worth of effort on the part of the Task Force convened to look at the issue.  The recommendations and legislation look at updating and modernizing what hasn’t been touched substantively since the late 1980s. 

The current economy is increasingly driven by knowledge and innovation. Technological change and globalization are changing the state’s economy and the jobs being created today require a higher skill level than in the past. In some sectors, there are education and skill gaps which result in essential positions being left vacant, hampering economic growth.

This bill is important to Waterloo voters because of the recent bond referendum that was voted on. This legislation will focus on a statewide initiative to enhance Career Technical Education.

Visitors at the Capitol

realtors1Realtors from the Cedar Valley

monroe hermsen
Dale Monroe, chief administrator of Cedar Valley Catholic Schools, and Kim Hermsen, Superintendent of Schools, Archdiocese of Dubuque

Capitol Review 2/26/16

RuudRep. Rogers discussed UNI Issues with President Bill Ruud this week.

Protecting the 2nd Amendment

The House Republicans are the caucus that has been fighting to protect the Second Amendment rights of Iowans.  This week, the House passed several common sense personal protection bills that will enhance and strengthen Iowans’ constitutional rights. These bills include:

  • House File 2279 brings Iowa in line with 41 other states that allow individuals to go through the federal process to obtain a firearm suppressor.
    • The suppressor bill is about gun enthusiasts having another tool for hearing protection.  The suppressor only decreases the sound by roughly 30% depending on the quality of the suppressor, which is good for someone who is an avid target shooter.  The federal regulations for getting a suppressor are very extensive, so it is still very hard for a criminal to get one legally.  As a matter pertaining to the issue, there has never been a crime on record where a licensed suppressor was used.
  • House File 2280 prohibits the Governor and political subdivisions from suspending Second Amendment rights during a state of emergency.
  • House File 2281 will allow parents to teach their children how to safely handle a handgun or pistol, just like current law on rifles and shotguns.
    • The issue with minors being able to handle firearms is about parental training.  Currently parents cannot properly train their children in handgun safety.  This bill allows parents to decide for themselves when is the proper time and way to train their children in handling not only shotguns for hunting, but also handguns.  Current law already allows children to handle rifles and shotguns with parental supervision, this bill just allows for that same freedom in all firearm categories.
  • House File 2314 streamlines and simplifies the process to renew or obtain a permit to carry. Additionally, the bill protects the personal information of individuals that hold firearm permits.
  • House File 2283 allows individuals to carry a loaded firearm on an ATV or snowmobile.

Each of these bills passed with bipartisan support from both sides of the aisle.

Moving Forward on Manage Care

With CMS approval, Iowans finally have certainty on the future of Medicaid Modernization. Now that this decision has finally been made, House Republicans will be looking into reasonable oversight measures to protect Medicaid patients and the healthcare they depend on.

House Republicans will continue efforts to assist those affected by the transition to ensure that Medicaid patients continue to receive high quality healthcare.

It’s clear that CMS was able to see through the politics of this transition. By providing an extra 30 days to prepare, we’ll be able to better assist those affected by the transition. House Republicans will be working to make sure that things go as smoothly as possible.

Transportation Committee and Special Registration Plates

During the 2016 Legislative Session the House Transportation Committee passed two bills for new special registration plates. One of the specialty plates was for community colleges (HF 2051) and the other for the Agricultural Literacy Foundation (HF 2088). The money raised by the community college specialty plates would go to community college scholarships, while the money raised by the Agricultural Literacy Foundation specialty plates would go to the Iowa Agricultural Literacy Foundation to be used for grants, awards, and scholarships.

While these bills both passed the House Transportation Committee, there was bipartisan discussion about the idea of eliminating the creation of new specialty plates all together and replacing specialty plates with a specialty decal that would fit onto a singular specialty plate. In order for this to happen, the Iowa Senate would have to act on HF 617, which was sent to the Iowa Senate by the Iowa House last legislative session. Some members of the Iowa House are encouraging the Senate to move on this bill.

HF 617 eliminates the current process for a person to request a new special plate and eliminates state agency sponsorship of new special plates. Under the bill, the DOT will begin issuing special registration plates with a space reserved for placement of an organization decal. The bill prohibits any organization from issuing a decal without the approval of the DOT. The bill also prohibits a person from displaying a decal other than an approved decal on a vehicle registration plate.

Pictures From the Hill

4H4H group from Black Hawk County

Refugee ResettlementRefugee Resettlement Educational Awareness; Rep. Rogers pictured with Rep. Kressig and Rep. Brown-Peters

Capitol Review 2-19-16

Putting the FUN in Funnel Week!

Several bills focused on growing the economy, creating flexibility for schools, expanding opportunities for Iowa employers, and protecting Iowa families and taxpayers survived this week’s funnel deadline. Here are some examples:

More Flexibility for Schools
House Republicans continued efforts to ease the burden on schools by loosening up professional development funds to purchase additional needed curriculum and textbooks (House File 2034).

Banning Synthetic Drugs
Keeps dangerous and deadly synthetic drugs off the streets, and makes it easier to prosecute sellers of drugs (House File 2309).

Renewable Biochemical Tax Credit
This bill will grow the economy and create new jobs by incentivizing production of renewable biochemical products, a new and expanding industry right here in Iowa. House File 2288 will help establish Iowa as a leader in production of these renewable chemical products.

Ban on the Sale of Fetal Tissue
On Tuesday, the House Human Resources passed House Study Bill 621 by a partisan vote of twelve Republicans to nine Democrats. HSB 621 prohibits a person from knowingly acquiring, providing, receiving, transferring, or using a fetal body part in Iowa, regardless of whether the acquisition is for value. This prohibits the sale or donation of fetal tissue in Iowa. This prohibition does not apply to diagnostic or remedial tests, procedures, or observations to determine the life or health of the fetus or the pregnant woman. A person who violates this law is guilty of a class “c” felony, punishable by a confinement of no more than 10 years and a fine of at least $1,000.

Providing Certainty to Iowa Taxpayers

Senate Democrats continue to hold taxpayers hostage by not acting on federal tax code coupling. We all likely know many people that would benefit from the House bill. Senate Democrats need to quit stalling and provide certainty to Iowa taxpayers.

Who benefits from the House Republican plan?

  • Small businesses are the drivers of our economy. HF 2092 is the only proposal that helps them make investments in their businesses so they can grow and create even more jobs in our communities.
  • Teachers will be able to deduct out-of-pocket expenses related to classroom supplies.
  • Seniors will be able to give tax-free contributions to qualifying charitable organizations.
  • Homeowners will be able to deduct mortgage insurance, just like they would mortgage interest, keeping more money in their pockets to spend in their communities.
  • Parents and students will be able to deduct qualifying higher education expenses, reducing the cost of college and continuing education.

The Budget Shell Game

Based on Senate action this session, the Democrats’ budget violates the 99% expenditure limitation law, wiping out the ending balance entirely and nearly half of the Economic Emergency Fund.

Based on their actions so far, the Senate Democrats’ budget plan not only can’t fund 4% SSA, it can’t even fund 2% SSA. There isn’t any money left over for SSA after they dismantle managed care and add in their new FY 16 supplemental spending bills. Their budget targets don’t match their actions.

It’s time for Senate Democrats to quit playing games and get to work on behalf of the Iowans that elected them. They refuse to act on tax coupling, they won’t settle Supplemental State Aid for schools and instead they are spending time on a Medicaid bill that faces a certain veto from the Governor.

Remember, the last time Democrats controlled both chambers of the Legislature and the Governor’s Office, they left Iowans with a $900 million budget gap and $800 million in new debt

Pictures From the Capitol

Evening SessionOn Tuesday, Walt attended a special evening session at the Iowa Supreme Court to hear oral arguments.  He is pictured here with Representative Wolfe, Justice Thomas Waterman, Representative McConkey, and Senator Smith.

BrownJim Brown, Mayor of Cedar Falls, stopped by this week.  

Address

PO Box 1142
Cedar Falls, IA 50613

 

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