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Capitol Review 3-10-17

Road Construction on U.S. 63 in Waterloo will begin March 13

The Iowa Department of Transportation has announced that the first phase of a two-year reconstruction project on U.S. 63 in Waterloo will begin Monday morning, weather permitting.  Due to this construction, there will be a detour around the work zone on U.S. 63 between Jefferson Street and Franklin Street in Waterloo.

This construction will have traffic impacts. Northbound and Southbound U.S. 63 traffic in the reconstruction project area will be restricted to one way. Local traffic will have access to the area but motorists are encouraged to use the detour or an alternate route due to expected delays that will be caused by traffic congestion.

  • Traffic heading southbound on the U.S. 63 will be detoured around the work zone using Airline Highway for 3 miles, then Airport Boulevard for 0.2 mile, then southbound U.S. 218, and then onto U.S. 63 at the interchange.
  • Traffic heading northbound will be detoured using northbound U.S. 218 at the U.S. 218/U.S. 63 interchange, then north on Airport Boulevard for 0.2 mile to Airline Highway, and then 3 miles east to U.S. 63. 

As this is a work zone, motorists should drive with caution and obey the posted speed limit as well as any other signs in the work area. Traffic fines for moving violations are at least double in work zones.

To see how this highway route or other routes affect your travel, the Iowa DOT offers the “My Routes” option on 511.ia.org where you can subscribe to get email/text alerts about traffic incidents, road closures, traffic delays, and other restrictions.

As this study points out, these issues are not easily resolved and it takes time to determine which areas need what. 

Education Committee

I’ve been very busy chairing the Education Committee! The first “funnel” came and went last week, a procedural process of the legislature whereby any bills that will continue to move forward this session must be voted out of committee by last Friday.  The process narrows the legislature’s focus on policy proposals for the remainder of the session. 

The passage through committee does not guarantee additional action.  Also, some bill numbers will change moving forward for procedural reasons.  Bills can also have amendments added to them while debated on the floor.  Below are the bills that survived the House and Senate Education Committees with abbreviated summaries:

HSB 94 – Postsecondary Institution Registration – Makes cleanup changes for post-secondary education registration and allows for provisional registration, and allows for denial, revocation, or suspension of registration for engaging in prohibited behavior 

HSB 178 – School District Fund Flexibility – Provides new allowable uses for specific funding received by school districts, including professional development, at-risk / dropout prevention, preschool, PPEL funding, talented and gifted funding, and student activity fund dollars.

HF 17 – Student Athlete Concussions Protocols – Requires CPR training for coaches, concussion protocols, including return-to-play, as well as concussion notification be in place for student athletes.

HF 26 – Statutory Home Rule for School Districts – Gives school districts in Iowa statutory Home Rule authority, providing stronger local control for school districts

HF 136 / SF 166 – Supplemental State Aid FY18, Regular Program and Categorical, and Law Changes – Sets Supplemental State Aid (SSA) at 1.11% for FY18 for school districts, a $73 per pupil increase and a $40 million increase in school aid.  Also makes changes to the process by which SSA is set every year. 

HF 217 – Board of Educational Examiners Discipline Reporting – Requires notification be sent to the licensing board if a licensed employee is disciplined by the district for being on school premises or at a school-sponsored activity while under the influence drugs or alcohol.

HF 349 – Petition for Merger or Consolidation Weighting – In the case of a school district merger or consolidation, if conflict occurs between the merger plan and the petition, the petition is given more legal weight.

HF 419 – Peace Officers as Driver Education Instructors – Allows peace officers to teach driver education in a classroom setting provided they meet minimum standards.

HF 446 – School District Flexibility Fund – Allows for the creation of a Flexibility Fund in each district, the purpose of which is to collect unexpended and unobligated funds from a few different sources of categorical funding and allow the district to use those funds to enhance local programs.

HF 474 – Uncollectible Student Debt – The College Student Aid Commission can discharge student loan debt owed to the commission if it finds the debt is uncollectable and costly to track.

HF 472 – Forgivable Loan Eligibility – Prevents qualifying for two separate loan programs that address teacher shortage areas, ensuring access to more applicants.

HF 473 – High School Equivalency Programs – Establishes the addition of multiple pathways to obtain a High School Equivalency Diploma beyond just taking an exam.

HF 507 – Computer Science Education – Encourages school districts to provide computer science courses in grades K-12, requires standards for such classes be developed, and creates opportunities for training in this area. 

HF 508 – Operational Sharing Incentives Extension – Extends Operational Sharing, the process by which school districts share various school personnel positions and receive incentive funding, indefinitely. 

HF 514 – College Student Aid Commission Board Composition – Increases the board size from 8 to 9, removes lender institution and a student loan borrower, as the commission no longer guarantees loans, and adds an additional member of the general public for balance.

HF 515 – School District Security Plans – Requires school districts to have a school security plan in place for all of the buildings in the district by June 30, 2018. A task force is to be convened to issue recommendations to school districts.

Senate Files (the Senate moved files similar to House files that are not included in this list)

SF 240 – Assessments – Requires the Department of Education to request and choose a statewide assessment for student achievement and growth measurements that measures Iowa’s academic standards.  A new assessment will not go into place for the 2017/18 school year.

SF 349 – Iowa Tuition Grant – Removes the individual student cap for maximum award on the Iowa Tuition Grant of $6000.

SF 150 – English Language Learners Weighting – Extends the number of years a student may be eligible for ELL funding from 5 to 7 years.

SSB 1114 – Children's Residential Facilities, Religion Exemption – Provides an exemption from certain standards for religious institutions that provide residential education programs for at-risk students.

SSB 1124 – School District Funding and Transportation Equity – Evens out the playing field for school districts on their authority for spending on a per pupil basis and provides additional funding to school districts with high costs for transporting students to the school.

SSB 1137 – Education Regulation Omnibus – Makes numerous regulatory changes in the areas of Department of Education control over local district operations, dental and vision screening requirements, online learning, community college courses for high school students, fees for open enrollment, and accreditation of nonpublic schools.

Second Amendment Bill Passes Iowa House

On Tuesday, we successfully passed an extensive, bi-partisan bill preserving Second Amendment rights for Iowans. Through HF 517, the firearms permitting process is made simpler and safer, parents are guaranteed the opportunity to teach their children how to safely handle firearms, the privacy of Iowans who have a firearms permit is protected, and Iowans are given the right to defend themselves. The bill also includes several other changes to the law that we have worked on for the past seven years.

Permit to Carry Weapons and Firearm Safety Training
Divisions three and four of the bill address the firearms permitting process. Nonprofessional permits to carry and permits to acquire will both be issued for five years.  In order to get an initial nonprofessional permit to carry, a person must complete a firearms safety class that can be done online or in person. Additional classes are not required when a permit is renewed. While the permits are issued for five years, the office that issues a permit to carry or acquire may conduct annual criminal history checks.

Under current law, permits to carry and acquire can look significantly different depending on where the permit is issued. HF 517 creates a uniform appearance for both a permit to carry and a permit to acquire. Having a uniform permit system will make it easier to verify the validity of a permit in any situation.

Possession of Pistols and Revolvers by Persons Under the Age of 14
Current law does not allow a parent to teach their child how to safely handle a pistol or revolver if they are under 14. There is no restrictions on shotguns or rifles and this imbalance has created problems for law abiding Iowans.  The bill allows a parent or guardian to supervise a child, under the age of 21, while they lawfully use a pistol or revolver. The guardian must remain in close proximity and have visual and verbal contact with the child using the pistol or revolver.   The guardian will be strictly liable to an injured party for all damages resulting from the possession of the handgun. Under current law, and this bill, anyone else who allows a person under 14 to possess a handgun is guilty of a class “D” felon.

Permit Confidentiality
Iowans who have a permit to carry or acquire firearms risk having their private information released to the public. HF 517 requires Department of Public Safety and the county sheriff to keep this personally identifiable information private. The information may only be released to law enforcement under certain circumstances. The Department of Public Safety or the County Sheriff can also confirm the validity of a permit.

Stand Your Ground-Justifiable Use of Reasonable Force
Under HF 517, Iowans will finally be allowed to stand their ground and protect themselves and others from violent attacks. A person will be permitted to use reasonable force, up to and including deadly force, to protect themselves or others if there is reasonable belief that force is necessary. By removing the duty to retreat Iowans no longer have to run and hide in dangerous situation and can instead stop an attack. The bill also presumes that a person is justified in using deadly force if they believe it is necessary to protect themselves or others in their home, place of business or vehicle.  A person who uses self-defense is not liable, either criminally or civilly, to the aggressor who was injured or killed. Additional language in the bill clarifies that a person who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs may not possess a dangerous weapon, however, they may still be justified in using a weapon in self-defense.

After seven years of hard work, we were successful in passing a comprehensive firearms bill that ensures Iowans freedoms are protected. The bill has been sent to the Senate where the Judiciary Committee will begin hearings on it sometime soon. For additional information on HF 517 and a complete bill analysis, please visit the House Republican’s website.

Want a dome tour?

Come and visit me at the Capitol and schedule a time with my clerk for a dome tour.  Email my clerk, Dani, at my email address to set up a time.  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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