VAN HORNE – Area legislators and about 18 local people met on Saturday, March 7, for a forum on the current legislative session in Iowa. They at the Legion Hall. The forum was sponsored by the Benton County Farm Bureau.
Sen. Tim Kapucian, R-Keystone, who represents Benton, Iowa and Poweshiek Counties, led off with an update on school funding. He expects $100 million in new K-12, spending, with $7.65 million of this going to transportation equity. He said transportation has been an issue for a lot of schools who are large geographically. The money schools spend on transportation takes away from money they can spend on education, he said. They are also working on student equity with $5.8 million.
Kapucian said the legislature has given schools plenty of time to get their budget together and certified in April.
He also gave several transportation updates, regarding licenses. He is chairman of the transportation committee. Kapucian also gave an update on the Invest in Iowa program, which they hope addresses mental health. Most of mental health now comes off of property taxes. They hope to shift some of that to the sales tax. Money would also go to the wildlife conservation trust program, if approved. Hands-free devices in cars, a law regarding hauling of hay, the color and theme of license plates, and eliminating the need for chauffeur licenses to haul grain. They also talked about rural zoning.
Rep. Thomas Gerhold, R-Newhall, represents Benton County and four townships in Iowa County. He also talked about education, average teacher salaries, pay increases for teachers vs. the cost of living, child care in Benton County and possible use of school buildings for this, child care credits, work or volunteer requirements for government assistance, incentives for developers to build daycare facilities, broadband coverage, heath care and insulin costs, tele-heath, mental health in schools, flood relief, Iowa Braille School in Vinton, hay hauling requirements, water quality, and trade deals with China.
Rep. Dave Maxwell, R- Gibson, represents Poweshiek County and the rest of Iowa County. He added information about a law regarding companion animals and rural EMS and ambulance services. He also noted in school funding that back to 2009, following the across-the-board cut, the state has been able to increase the amount to schools. They increased it 2.3 percent this year. He also addressed caps on medical malpractice.
Feedback with the audience dealt with education, mental health, Facebook, law enforcement communication equipment and a proposed law regarding rumble strips on county roads. (Click below for audio of the forum)