By Representative Dean Fisher
As week 13 comes to a close we are beginning behind the scenes work on the budget bills and a tax reform bill, and we debated a few bills on the floor.
Senate File 481: Ensuring safe communities – We debated this bill at length on Tuesday. This bill seeks to uphold two fundamental responsibilities of government, to ensure that our communities remain safe and that the rule of law is upheld. This bill seeks to re-iterate the requirement that local law enforcement cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding detainer requests for illegal immigrants that have committed crimes. The primary purpose of this bill is to include penalties for the local government if they intentionally do not cooperate by withholding funds from cities or counties if they violate this requirement. One of the amendments added to the bill in the House was to reduce the time period that funds would be withheld from 12 months to 90 days. This bipartisan bill had already passed by the Iowa Senate in 2017. As amended, it passed the Iowa House 55-45. On Wednesday night the Senate concurred with the House amendments 28 – 18 and sent it to the governor for review.
Two high profile bills were signed into law by Governor Reynolds this week. The first was Senate File 2349 which allows health plans to be created and sold by associations of employers or sponsored by certain agricultural organizations such as the Iowa Farm Bureau. In her Condition of the State address in January, the governor called for lawmakers to work together on a bill to give Iowa farmers, small business owners and their employees access to affordable health care. Before the Affordable Care Act (AKA ObamaCare) took effect, Iowa had a healthy individual insurance market. There were nine carriers, with good participation and reasonable premiums. Today, the state’s market is in collapse. Premiums went up as much as 57 percent last year, forcing many Iowans to choose between going broke or going without insurance. I have some constituents that have to pay over $31,000 per year in premiums for health insurance. As a result, 26,000 Iowans left the insurance market. Senate File 2349 allows Farm Bureau to build a self-funded health benefit arrangement that will work for Iowans forced from the individual market. It also includes a provision to create Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements that gives small employers the ability to band together to create affordable health care options for their employees.
Also, Gov. Reynolds signed House File 2458, the Future Ready Iowa Act, on Tuesday at the Future Ready Iowa Summit here in Des Moines. The Future Ready Iowa Act is the governor’s plan to train Iowans for the jobs of today and tomorrow. The goal of Future Ready Iowa is for 70 percent of Iowa workers to have education or training beyond high school by 2025 to meet the demand for the mid-skilled jobs our employers desperately need to fill. In order to reach that goal, another 127,700 Iowans need to earn post-secondary degrees or other credentials. Governor Reynolds called on the legislature to pass the Future Ready Iowa Act in her Condition of the State address in January. The bill passed both the Iowa House and Iowa Senate with unanimous, bipartisan support. It passed the Iowa House on March 13, 98-0 and the Iowa Senate on March 19, 47-0. This bill is just one of many passed in 2017 and 2018 that addresses the need for better k-12 schools and a quicker and smoother transition for students into the high demand mid skill level jobs.
On Wednesday I had the honor and privilege of presiding over the House Chamber as we gaveled in. This was my first time in the speaker’s chair, I enjoyed the experience immensely. It’s a fairly simple process to introduce the morning prayer and pledge of allegiance, acknowledge those waiting to make an announcement, approving the House Journal, and announce the House will be going into recess.
As always, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 641-750-3594.