Hello District 84 from the State Capitol!
The second funnel week of this year’s session ended with many subcommittees and committees held, and I was part of the subcommittee for Senate File 208. This bill proposed to allow deer hunters that were unsuccessful bow hunting to be able to use the same unfilled deer tag during the late muzzleloader or the January antlerless season and be allowed the option to use a crossbow. It was passed out of subcommittee but was not taken up by the Natural Resources full committee.
On March 28th, the Iowa House passed Senate File 228, also known as the Commercial Motor Vehicles tort reform bill. This bill went through revisions and in my opinion was vastly improved from earlier this year. The Iowa Motor Truckers Association and the Iowa Association for Justice negotiated to an agreement that raised the noneconomic damages hard cap from $1 million to $5 million per individual. Although I’m not in favor of caps, this bill stipulates that these caps shall not apply if the trial court finds evidence the driver committed any of the following:
-operating under the influence of alcohol of .04 or greater
-operating under the influence of drugs or refusing to submit to required chemical testing
-a felony involving the use of a motor vehicle
-operating a commercial vehicle involved in human trafficking
-speeding 15 mph or more over the legal limit
These are some of the stipulations, and for these reasons, I voted in favor of this bill. Unless I’m mistaken, it’s the first in the country.
The legislature is now working on the state’s budgets, and there are some differences between the House budget at $8.58 billion, which is about $90 million more than the Senate’s and Governor Reynolds’ budgets. Three big reasons the House budget estimate is larger is because we are listening to Iowans and designating more dollars for nursing homes by raising reimbursement rates. This would allow nursing homes caring for Medicaid residents to be reimbursed at a higher rate. The second reason is the House would like a funding increase for the Department of Corrections to help retain and recruit corrections officers. These jobs are very difficult, and the House is trying to help with the issues of hiring and keeping these officers. The third reason is we are trying to devote more resources to expanding Iowans’ access to quality mental health care statewide.
Several constituents made the trek to the Capitol last week and had nice chats with all of them. Daniel Gibbins of Vinton stopped by to express his concern of Senate File 516. Also, Pastor Josh Graber and son Ethan of Vinton visited on March 28th. Also, Pastors Doug Woltemath of Atkins, Stephen Preus of Vinton, and David Lingard of Van Horne all visited as part of a large group of Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod pastors for “LCMS Pastors Day on the Hill”. After lunch, we burned a few calories by going to the very top of the golden dome! On Wednesday, Iowa Corn Growers Association Chair Lance Lillibridge of Vinton and member Cody Johnson of Garrison were there to discuss a few ag-related bills.
I hope this finds you healthy, please be careful, and hope you have a great Holy Week!