Hello District 84 from the State Capitol!
The session at the State Capitol continues to get close to the final days, which could be in the next couple of weeks. We passed 15 bills on the House floor, with 11 bills being pretty much unanimous (except for one bill that had one “no” vote), and four bills basically split along party lines. The budget talks continue and to get closer to agreement. The House and Senate have now arrived at a total Fiscal Year 2024 amount of $8.516 billion and how much each budget will be allocated, which is at 88.25% of the ongoing revenue. By law, the legislature is limited to 99%.
The budgets are: $70.5 million for Administration & Regulation, $43.5 million for Ag & Natural Resources, $41.8 million for Economic Development, $982.9 million for Education, $2.124 billion for HHS, $881.7 million for Justice Systems, and $4.372 billion for Standings. These numbers are rounded but total about $8.5 billion.
A top priority of the Iowa House Republicans was property taxes. On April 19th, we passed HF 718, which is a huge step for relief. This bill reduces the 5.40 levy by $1.00, of which the state will take this $204 million over. It also caps residential property tax increases at 3% per parcel and 8% for commercial/industrial, requires increased notices to taxpayers, and moves all elections for bonding to the general election date. The Senate has their version of property tax relief, and hopefully we will reach a compromise asap to send to Governor Kim Reynolds’ desk.
Senate File 496 passed the Iowa House and goes to the governor for her consideration. This bill makes big improvements to what is taught and what materials are available to our elementary students. Here are some of the main points. It ensures all books in schools are age appropriate and do not have graphic images or descriptions of a sex act. The bill prohibits a curriculum on gender identity or sexual orientation in grades K-6th and requires schools to inform parents if their child requests accommodations of a gender identity other than that at birth. Schools are required to get parental consent before giving surveys and must share who created and sponsored the survey and share how the data is used and stored.
Unfortunately, this bill is needed so parents can parent and teachers can teach. A few of the comments on the House floor during debate by democrats were that republicans were creating “one more round of shenanigans” by requiring parents to be in charge of their child’s medical care, and moral and religious upbringing through 6th grade. Another democrat representative said the bill allows “invasive physical examination of a student at school”. This bill states the exact opposite and specifically prohibits this. It’s unfortunate our society has fallen this far and this legislation is needed, but it is…
One bill that passed unanimously is House File 358, which goes to the Senate for consideration. This bill increases the penalties for people eluding peace officers. Our law enforcement officers’ (LEOs) number one job is to protect people. Everyone must abide by LEO’s instructions if the occasion arises. Eluding, especially in a vehicle, is NEVER a good idea and only makes the situation worse, more dangerous, and quite possibly deadly. LEOs are almost always performing their duties according to what a just and civil society wants.
I hope this finds you healthy, please be careful, and have a great week!