Statehouse News, March 10

There were a number of events in Fairfield this past weekend. I attended the Southeast Iowa Farm Show that had over 60 exhibits. My wife and I went to country star Aaron Tippin’s show on Saturday night. It was wonderful to see Steve and Michaela Mclain, both Fairfield locals, open the show for a national artist.

We reached another important deadline in the Legislature this week designed to help us narrow down the bills eligible for debate as we close in on adjournment. Any bills to be considered by either chamber had to pass out of committee by the end of the week. Any bills not passing out of committee are considered “dead.” The number of eligible bills is now much lower.

Every step taken by the Iowa Senate to stop the Governor’s Medicaid privatization plan or at least provide more oversight to hold these private insurance companies accountable has been delayed for weeks until the deadline this week. The oversight of this radical plan is unlikely to be considered this session, in my opinion.

On Monday, a variety of bills passed through the House. HF 2413 provides reading proficiency assessments and intensive summer reading programs for children who are not proficient in reading. I’m afraid this is another unfunded mandate that schools will have to find funding for. The house also passed HF 2143, which allows for vintage and classic cars to only have one license plate. Law enforcement officers and school bus drivers were concerned that having only one rear license plate would make enforcement more difficult. I’m glad that we were able to reach a reasonable compromise and only those owners of a very small number of what I call “parade cars” will display one license plate.

I was happy to see that HF 2357, the turtle harvesting bill, passed out of the house on Tuesday. It will now move on to a Senate subcommittee for discussion and vote. Our natural resources are important and turtles are a part of our natural resources. In my opinion, the commercial harvesting and exporting of our wildlife to Asian markets is not in the best interest of Iowans.

The Education Committee also met on Tuesday. The committee was able to pass SF 2134, which deals with the Board of Educational Examiners and licensing fees. Unfortunately, the Legislature did not address the issue of school funding. We are well over a year late setting basic funding for public schools for the 2016-2017 school year. The critical funding recommended for our public schools remains locked in a conference committee awaiting action. Republicans killed two bills already approved by the Senate to set funding for public schools for the 2017-2018 school year and even stopped a bi-partisan anti-bullying bill for the third year in a row.

I had the pleasure of meeting with several constituents on Wednesday. I met with Becky Schmitz, Matt Greiner, and Ron Bride who were here with the Iowa Association of County Supervisors. I also spoke with Dave Buford from Bonaparte concerning Iowa state tax coupling with federal tax code, a bill which I supported and the House has sent to the Senate.

I look forward to hearing from you and I will be glad to meet with you when I return to Fairfield each weekend. You may email me at Curt.Hanson@legis.iowa.gov or call me at 641-919-2314. Please remember that every third Saturday I will participate in the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce Forum and every fourth Saturday I will host a Coffee with Curt meeting in Keosauqua at 9 a.m. and Bloomfield at 12 p.m.

If you would like to visit the Capitol, I would be glad to meet with you between committee meetings or at a scheduled time. Please send a note to my clerk and she will assist you in arranging a meeting.

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