Diane and I spent an evening at the Sondheim Theater enjoying a unique experience as we listened to a Ukulele Orchestra from New Zealand. The theater was nearly full and busloads of people from as far away as the Quad Cities were in attendance.
I was pleased to see so many constituents at the Keosauqua and Bloomfield meetings this past weekend. Many people wanted to discuss the critical issues of Iowa – school funding, Medicaid, water quality and road funding were only some of the concerns discussed.
The House passed a bill to develop new recommendations for high schools related to computer science and coding classes. The Department of Education will set up an advisory council to address issues including the standards for the classes, how they could be integrated into career and technical education, and how such a course could satisfy the high school graduation requirement for mathematics. While I do feel this is a needed option for Iowa students, I am concerned that we still have not set supplemental school funding and that this lack of funding will limit opportunities for Iowa students.
State officials extended the income tax deadline for farmers and commercial fisherman to April 30 as lawmakers sort out whether or not to match tax changes made at the federal level. The Iowa house passed a coupling bill in January but the Senate has not voted on it. Tax filers impacted by this change will have until Monday, May 2 to file or postmark their taxes since April 30 falls on a weekend.
A Medicaid oversight bill passed in the Senate this week. The bill creates a Legislative Health Policy Oversight Committee to provide oversight for the publicly funded HAWK-I and Medicaid health care programs. This group would also direct the Department of Human Services and others to improve Medicaid program policies. The bill will now come to the House where it faces an uncertain future.
Thirty-one percent of the electricity generated in Iowa comes from the wind. That’s the best in the nation and the first time any state has broken the 30 percent threshold. Over $11 billion has been invested in wind farms and the wind industry supports 6,000 jobs in Iowa. Landowners also benefit from millions of dollars in lease payments every year. Iowa also continues to be a world leader in the production of both biodiesel and ethanol, which has a huge positive impact on the Iowa economy.
I’ve received concerns regarding HF 2148 that would allow registered vehicles to have only a rear license plate. School bus drivers are concerned they will not be able to correctly identify and report oncoming vehicles that pass a stopped school bus. I suggested to the bill sponsor that only classic and vintage vehicles should be issued one license plate. Other vehicles would have two license plates as they do now. He was receptive to this and I expect an amendment that incorporates my suggestions to be filed.
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.