We’ve moved through week 13 in the Iowa Legislature. After last week’s second funnel deadline, policy committees are done with their work, and we are to final floor debates and budget talks.
While we have no agreement yet with the House or the governor on what the budget will look like for the next fiscal year, we continue to move forward with our budget bills. Although the Senate proposal spends the least of the three plans, I believe all of them will lead to a budget that is responsible and sustainable.
My budget priorities this session include shifting funding to support our state troopers, community colleges, Medicaid rebasing for nursing homes, as well as continuing to find ways we can provide tax relief for Iowa taxpayers.
Our budget accomplishes these goals while providing the state with some cushion in the event of slower economic growth than predicted.
Flood relief continues to be a major topic of conversation in the Iowa Legislature. Many parts of southwest Iowa remain under water, and a full accounting of the damage may be weeks or months away.
Senate Republicans are in regular contact with the governor to identify potential legislation to expedite recovery efforts and a plan is expected soon. However, the single most important aspect of flood relief is for Democrats in the U.S. Senate to stop opposing flood relief and approve the nearly $1.6 billion in aid requested by Governor Reynolds and approved by the president.
These flood relief efforts will be focused not on growing government, but getting aid directly to those people in need.
Now that the deadlines have passed, we can consider what passed the Senate that didn’t get a hearing in the Iowa House. First on this list for me is welfare reform.
I ran four bills on that subject, including eligibility verification with potentially millions of dollars of tax savings, Medicaid work requirements, and SNAP improvements.
The Senate passed a bill banning traffic enforcement cameras, also known as “gotcha cams,” and the Senate also moved a bill to inject more public input in the process to choose our Iowa Supreme Court Justices.
The Senate passed an E-Verify bill that would mandate employers in Iowa utilize the long-standing federal program to make sure their employees are in the United States legally.
This year we passed a fetal homicide bill to match the penalties for intentionally or unintentionally killing a baby in the womb to someone who has been born. None of these items were taken up by the House.
This frustration is not with the entire Republican House caucus. Our local representatives, Rep. Windschitl and Rep. Holt, are solid conservative leaders. They are not holding up any of these bills I consider important for Iowa. My hope is for our representatives to be joined by more like-minded conservatives.
I am grateful to western Iowa for giving me the opportunity to serve with a Senate caucus that is bold and decisive. If you have comments or questions, please email email@example.com or call the switchboard at 515-281-3371.