By Representative Dean Fisher
Week 6 of the session was “Funnel Week”, where all policy bills must be passed by their respective committees in order to stay eligible for consideration this session. I’ve had success in managing all three of the bills I discussed in my last newsletter through committee, so they are now eligible for floor debate (changes to the Sex Offender Registry, hunting dog collar removal, and excessive speeding).
This week, Governor Reynolds released her plan to reform Iowa’s outdated and complex tax code. This plan reduces the number of tax brackets, reduces tax rates, raises the standard deduction, and includes triggers to ensure that revenue is not impacted too dramatically. This plan will leave Iowan’s with more money in their pockets and spur economic growth. The House will work off of the Governor’s plan as we gather more input.
Other bills of note:
House File 2105 – Revocation of Power of Attorney in a Dependent Adult Abuse Case – this bill would require the authorities to revoke a Power Of Attorney (POA) when the holder of the POA is charged in a Dependent Adult Abuse (DAA) case. Currently, persons charged with DAA can continue managing a dependent adult’s funds even though they have been charged with this crime. The crime of financial DAA seems to be rising sharply and our nursing homes are being denied payment as a result. I filed this bill on behalf of nursing home administrators in my district that are concerned that the abuse could continue even though charges have been filed.
House File 2364 – Health Benefit Plans – This bill would allow a state wide agricultural organization, such as the Farm Bureau, to create their own health benefit plan for its members in a manner that avoids the so called “Affordable Care Act” (ACA) requirements. Many farmers and other citizens that do not have an employer are experiencing horrifically high health insurance costs due to the dysfunctionality of Obamacare. I have some constituents that pay in excess of $31,000 per year for health insurance, not including the deductible. This bill would give the Farm Bureau or any other organization that meets the criteria the opportunity to create a pool and offer members their own health benefit plans. I was honored to be able to vote for this bill in the Commerce committee.
House Study Bill 602 – Future Ready Iowa Plan – this bill intends to help Iowa workers increase their skills by more closely connecting our K-12 schools with community colleges and apprentice programs. I was honored to vote for this bill and advance it out of the Commerce committee this week, but it will require more work before it comes to the floor for debate.
Senate File 455 – K-12 Transportation and State Aid Inequity – This bill deals with inequities that exist within our K-12 school funding that severely impacts our rural schools. Currently our schools have widely varying transportation costs.
In my district, the costs range from $181 per student for Marshalltown school district to $747 per student for the East Marshall school district. Statewide it ranges from under $100 to nearly a $1,000 per student.
This bill appropriates $11 million in funding that is used to bring the maximum transportation cost down to $432 per student. The funding will be spread to the most needy districts first on a per student basis. This will ensure that more of the Supplemental State Aid funds go into the classroom instead of towards transportation costs.
East Marshall will receive over $174,000 as a result of this funding, North Tama over $25,000, West Marshall over $42,000, Gladbrook-Reinbeck over $6,000, and GMG nearly $4,000. All other schools in my legislative district are already below the $432 maximum threshold.
Due to uncertainty with revenue this is presently a one-time adjustment. We hope to continue this if revenue allows.
As always, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 641-750-3594.