Capitol Highlights

March 2020

It has been a busy week up here at the Statehouse. We debated until after 9 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday. Also, senators and representatives were briefed by the Iowa Department of Public Health on COVID-19, the new strand of the Coronavirus.
Bills that passed out of the House:
HF 2192 as amended
In Iowa, health insurance carriers are not required to reimburse telehealth for as much as they would in-person care. This bill would make it mandatory for health insurance to cover telehealth as much as they would any other kind of health care. Telehealth services would have to be provided in a facility that would be reimbursed for the same amount as in-person health care and the telehealth would have to be in real-time. This bill would only apply to health insurance policies that begin after Jan. 1, 2021, and will not affect employer health policies.
HF 2138 as amended
The out-of-pocket cost for insulin would be capped at $100 per every month’s supply with this bill. I don’t like the idea behind this bill. Business shouldn’t be run by the government. On the other hand, these businesses are out of line and brought this upon themselves. Insulin is necessary for some people so we are working to keep it available to them.
HF 2424 as amended
This bill would create a child care program for families with incomes that are between 225 percent and 250 percent (275 percent for families with a special needs child) of the federal poverty level. As the family’s income grows, the cost sharing on their part will also increase until they are independent of state child care aid.
HF 2097
Oftentimes, caregivers have to change their adult dependents on the floor of a bathroom, which is both humiliating and unsanitary. This bill would start placing adult changing stations in some of our public rest areas. In this way we are beginning the process of helping these people.
SF 2299
Background checks for potential health care employees can take some time. This bill would allow businesses to hire a third-party to do a preliminary background check so the prospective employee could begin working sooner. If the official check by the Departments of Human Services and Public Safety find an issue, the bill would allow for letting that employee go.
HF 2581
House File 2581 would update our hemp laws and bring them up to date with federal regulations. The manufacturing, selling, and hauling of hemp would be allowed as long as the THC level is no more than three-tenths of a percent. Smoking hemp or inhalation of any kind would be a serious misdemeanor.
HF 2589
I am very much against recreational marijuana so when we talk about cannabidiol I am cautious. This bill addresses medical cannabidiol law in Iowa. The amount of THC that a person could have in 90 days would be capped at 4.5 grams. There would be exceptions for people with less than a year to live and for individuals whose doctor believes that 4.5 grams is not enough to treat their patient. Those with PTSD and those that are severely autistic with harmful behaviors would now qualify for medical cannabidiol.
I had the opportunity to watch the Governor sign the Supplemental State Aid bill into law
Forum Last Weekend: We had a good forum in Estherville last weekend. About twenty people from the community attended. Congressman Steve King, Senator Dennis Guth, and I had the opportunity to talk about what we have been doing and what some of our legislative priorities are. I was able to have some good discussion about raising the sales tax by a cent and on the subject of marrying and staying married.
Crystal Pluth was one of our constituents at the forum. She does a lot of work with the Iowa credit unions. It has been a pleasure to work with her and get to know her in my time as a Representative.
I will be having three forums in Winnebago County March 20 and one in Kossuth County March 21.
Thank you for letting me serve you in this way. If you have any questions or concerns please email, call, write, or meet with me.
My email is: tedd.gassman@legis.iowa.gov
My cell phone number is: 515-538-0117
Representative Tedd Gassman
Clerk Carissa Wenger

_______________________________________________________

March 5,2020, week 8

We are now halfway through session. This week has been consistently busy between debate, committees and keeping up on my legislative priorities for the session. Marriage and family are very close to my heart. I like to take every opportunity that I can get to promote them. Up here there is a lot of talk about worker shortage and lack of childcare in the state. There is a bi-partisan effort to expand childcare so that more parents can get into the workforce. For those families that can or so decide, it is very valuable for children to have a parent at home. I think that if we are incentivizing those parents that go into the workforce we should also be incentivizing those that decide to stay home so that more families have that option. I am working on getting a tax credit of $500 per child for those parents that stay home to take care of their children. Another priority of mine is reducing the financial burden of mental health off of the property owners. A third priority for me is moving all the money used for REAP and similar programs into the formula for IWILL. Though things could still change, I have decided that if I can make some progress in these three areas I will vote for the 1 cent increase in sales tax. About $200,000,000 would go into the trust fund and about $340,000,000 would be used for tax reduction.
Bills that Passed out of the House:
By Wednesday we had already passed about 47 bills out of the House. Most of them are bi-partisan and move pretty quickly. Here are a few bills that I found interesting.
HF 2372:
House File 2372 would redefine the definition of “chauffeur” to exclude a farmer or his hired help (18 or older) that are hauling the farmer’s property within 100 miles of a farm that he owns or rents. It would effectively remove the requirement to get a Chauffeur’s License when a farmer is driving his own farm licensed vehicle.
SF 2142:
You may remember in one of my earlier newsletters that I talked about passing the Supplemental State Aid bill out of the House. It was sent to the Senate and now both Chambers have come to
an agreement. With this new agreement, there will be $85.5 million in new dollars for Supplemental State Aid for fiscal year 2021. The equity piece that is in the bill is $5.8 million for a total of $91.3 million.
HF 2539:
Often deaf and hard-of-hearing children can’t keep up with their peers in school. We want to help these kids in the first 8 years of their life to build a solid educational foundation so that they can be successful. The bill would provide resources for the parents of these students. It would also require the Department of Education to hire an Early Language Development Coordinator and provide resources for teachers to assess the language and literacy of their deaf and hard-of-hearing students. If a student doesn’t make the progress that they should, that student’s individual learning plan would be looked into to see what was causing the issue and how their plan could be changed. Finally, the bill provides for the creation of an advisory committee which would learn how the students’ language should be developing.
HF 2566:
The Grain Depositors and Sellers Indemnity Fund was created to help relieve farmers when a grain elevator that they had their grain stored in went bankrupt. The current indemnity fund is becoming exhausted. This bill would begin a study on the fund which would produce a report that the Governor and General Assembly would receive by December 15, 2020.
HF 2455:
House File 2455 would allow hunters that are trained in deer blood tracking to use a dog that is trained in the same, to retrieve a wounded deer. The dog would have to be on a leash 50 foot long or shorter. When hunting on private property, the hunter would have to have the permission of the owner. A $250 fine would be inflicted on violators of this law.
SF 537:
This bill would allow someone to use an infrared light, that is mounted to either the mode of take or the scope that is on the mode of take, to hunt coyotes. The only times that a person would not be able to use the infrared light for coyotes is during bow, shotgun, and muzzleloader seasons for deer.
Other Updates:
I have had the opportunity to speak with several people from Iowa Lakes Community College this week. Last Thursday some nursing students came up to the Capitol, and on Tuesday we welcomed a board member, administrators, teachers, and home construction students (seen here with Representatives Wills and Jones).
My next forum will be in Estherville at the Regional Wellness Center on March 7 at 10 a.m. There will be three forums in Winnebago County March 20 and one in Kossuth County March 21.
I truly appreciate the opportunity to serve you as your state representative. If you have any questions or concerns please email, call, write, or meet with me.
My email is: tedd.gassman@legis.iowa.gov
My cell phone number is: 515-538-0117
Representative Tedd Gassman
Clerk Carissa Wenger

__________________________________________________________

Feb. 27, 2020

Moving forward from funnel week, we have entered the part of session where a large part of the work is done on the floor of the House and Senate. At this time, committee meetings have slowed down and we have longer days due to debate. Several bills were passed out of the House this week and are in different stages in the process of a bill becoming law. Below is a list of some of the bills that I thought would be of interest to you.
HF 2310
This bill would remove the requirement to get a permit to haul straw, stover, hay, etc. but a wide load sign would still be necessary. The bill also increases the allowable width for hauling these items to 12’ 5”.
HF 2238
This bill would add food stands operated by minors to the list of places that are not considered food establishments. Stands that would qualify as “a stand operated by a minor” would have to be run by a minor (or minors). They would have to be run on private property, with the permission of the property owner, and could not be permanent establishments. A minor (or minors) could not sell alcoholic beverages, or food that is time or temperature sensitive to safety at these stands. The bill would prevent the adoption or enforcement of a rule that would make it necessary for a minor to pay a fee or have a license to be able to run one of these stands.
HF 2197
This bill revises the rural rotation qualification for residencies that are receiving funding from the Medical Residency Training State Matching Grants Program, so that the residencies apply specifically to family medicine, obstetrics, gynecology, internal medicine, psychiatry, and emergency medicine. The bill would do the same thing for the rural rotation qualification at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. This effectively gets more specialty residents into the rural communities.
HF 2383
This bill would require the University of Iowa to make sure that at least 75% of the students they accept into their medical and dentistry programs are Iowans or people attending undergraduate school in Iowa. Following a student’s residency or graduation from the University of Iowa’s medical or dentistry programs, the University would have to gather some information on these students including whether or not they stay in Iowa.
HF 2360
This bill changes the requirement for people age 72 or older from having to renew their driver’s license every two years. Under this bill they would only have to renew it every six years until they turn 78.
HF 2291
I was the floor manager for this bill. This bill would allow the College Student Aid Commission to begin a 501(c)(3) for accepting private or public funds. These funds will be used to give Iowans financial assistance with their college education and to run the College Student Aid Commission.
HF 2235
This bill would permanently disqualify an individual from getting a CDL if they were convicted of human trafficking while driving a commercial vehicle.
HF 2340
In Iowa, taxpayers can withdraw money from the Iowa Educational Savings Plan Trust to pay for special education beneficiaries, tax-free. These beneficiaries must be in elementary or secondary education. This bill would expand the definition of “elementary or secondary school” to include schools that are out-of-state.
Other Updates:
I have been working on the K-12 School Transportation Bill for five years now. This Tuesday I had the privilege of watching the Governor sign it into law. Before this bill became law, the schools had to take money for transportation costs out of the funds allotted by the state for education. The money being used for transportation was money that could have been put into the classroom. Rural schools were feeling the effects of this the most. With this new law, schools that qualify will receive funds for the purpose of transportation.
Seen above: Rep. Gassman, Rep. Dolecheck, Sen. Sinclair, Gov. Reynolds, and Lt. Gov. Gregg
My next forum will be in Estherville at the Regional Wellness Center on March 7th at 10:00a.m. There will be three forums in Winnebago County March 20th and one in Kossuth County March 21st.
I truly appreciate that you have elected me to this office. I know that we will not always agree, but I desire to do the best job that I can for you. If you have any questions please email, call, write, or meet with me.
My e-mail is: tedd.gassman@legis.iowa.gov
My cell phone number is: 515-538-0117
Representative Tedd Gassman
Clerk Carissa Wenger

Feb. 27, 2020

 

Week 6

Tedd Gassman
STATE REPRESENTATIVE
Seventh District
Statehouse: (515) 281-3221
e-mail – tedd.gassman@legis.iowa.gov
HOME ADDRESS
14519 490th St
Scarville, IA 50473
House of Representatives
State of Iowa

COMMITTEES
Education, Vice Chair
Economic Growth
Environmental Protection
Local Government

APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE
Education

February 20, 2020

Greetings from Capitol Hill:
This is the sixth week of the 2020 Session of the 88th General Assembly. It is also “Funnel Week”. A bill has to pass out of committee in the Chamber where it started. Any bills that don’t pass out of committee by the end of “funnel week” (with the exception of Appropriations and Ways and Means bills) are “dead” bills. Because of this deadline, many subcommittee meetings went on and some committee meetings lasted longer. It keeps us pretty busy up here.
Several bills have passed out of the committees that I am a part of. I have chosen a few of them to summarize for you that I thought would be of interest.

HF 2056: This bill would make it possible for county engineers to be employed by more than one county at a time. Some counties don’t have as much work for their county engineers as other counties do. This bill would allow more than one county to employ an engineer and split the cost.

HF 2350: We have a shortage of large animal vets in Iowa. This bill seeks to incentivize people to become large animal vets by making funds available to help cover their college costs. Anyone who would receive these funds would be required to practice in the state of Iowa for four years before they could move somewhere else.
HSB 666: This bill deals with the property tax levy that schools use to help drop-out students and at-risk students. There will be a 5% limitation.
HSB 680: It is difficult for hearing impaired children to keep up with the mainstream situation. This bill seeks to help deaf and hard of hearing children, ages birth to eight years, succeed in their education. The bill would require the Department of Education to engage an Early Language Development Coordinator (such as the AEA), provide parent resources, and develop an advisory committee, among other things.
HF 2461: This bill would allow people that are a part of the Rural Physician Loan Repayment Program to keep receiving payments for loans after they refinance a federal loan with a private educational loan. We are trying to encourage physicians to come to the rural parts of the state by using the incentive of paying part of their loans.
UNI Day at the Capitol: Last Monday was UNI Day at the Capitol. I had the opportunity to visit with Timothy Dirksen, a Biochemistry student at UNI. It’s always fun to run into someone you know up here. It looks like he’s doing a great job.
My next forum will be in Estherville at the Regional Wellness Center on March 7 at 10 a.m. There will be three in Winnebago County March 20 and one in Kossuth County March 21.
I truly appreciate that you have elected me to this office. I know that we will not always agree, but I desire to do the best job that I can for you. If you have any questions please email, call, write, or meet with me.
My e-mail is: tedd.gassman@legis.iowa.gov
My cell phone number is: 515-538-0117
Representative Tedd Gassman
Clerk Carissa Wenger

 
Week 5

This week we had our first floor action of the session. We passed three bills out of the House.

The first bill that passed was Senate File 2144 as amended on Monday. This bill would appropriate $333,000 for the Glenwood State Resource Center for fiscal year 2020. This bill would also appropriate $21,003,186 to the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for flood relief and mitigation for fiscal year 2020. The Department of Human Resources, Flood Mitigation Board, and Department of Homeland Security would be required to send monthly reports to the appropriate Legislators and the Legislative Services Agency. These reports would tell how they have used the funds and give a report of on-going projects that are funded through the supplemental appropriations.

Next we passed SF 2164, which would add $10 to the State Cost Per Pupil for the fiscal year 2021 to help equalize state aid. The bill would also appropriate $26.25 million for Fiscal Year 2021 to the Transportation Equity Fund.

Third, we passed Senate File 2142 as amended. It would increase state aid $ 94.7 million for the fiscal year 2021. This bill would make the current language regarding Property Tax Replacement Payments apply to fiscal years 2018 and 2019 and make a new calculation for the Property Tax Replacement Payments for the fiscal year 2021 and years following.

School Transportation:

Ever since I came up here in 2013 I have been working on school transportation. The cost of transportation in some of our school districts in the 7th House district is higher than the state average. Funding for transportation is important but the cost difference between what we are spending and the state average is substantial. The money that we are spending above the average on transportation is money that could be going towards our classrooms. I have been working on this problem for several years now. The way the law is now, the school can only use state funds for transporting secondary students that live 3 miles or more away from the school and elementary students that live 2 miles or more away from the school. I have heard that some school districts are acting outside of this law. There are people looking into this. This problem needs to be fixed.

House File 663:

I submitted this bill at the end of last session. This bill would create a savings grant fund that would make a given amount of funds available to each student that is receiving competent nonpublic education in grades K-12 for educational purposes. If a student didn’t use all of the money in his fund by the time they graduated from high school, they would be able to use the remaining funds for college. Once the student reaches a certain age the money that is left in their account would come back to the state. We held the subcommittee for this bill on Wednesday. It drew the attention of several different groups because the topic is of a controversial nature. Discussion of the bill lasted for nearly an hour with House File 663 passing out of subcommittee. The next phase in the process for this bill is to move to full committee.

Delivering the Iowa Official Register:

I had the pleasure of stopping by some of the libraries in our district and delivering copies of the Iowa Official Register I made to the Thompson, Forest City and Algona Libraries.

My next forum will be in Estherville at the Regional Wellness Center on March 7. The time is yet to be determined. There will be three in Winnebago County March 20 and one in Kossuth County March 21.

If you have any questions please email, call, write, or meet with me. My e-mail is: tedd.gassman@legis.iowa.gov. My cell phone number is: 515-538-0117.

Representative Tedd Gassman

Clerk Carissa Wenger

3/29/2019

Iowa House Republicans seek to protect 1st Amendment on college campuses:

College campuses used to be generally understood as places that welcomed the free exchange of ideas, unfortunately that has significantly changed in the past several years. Free speech zones, arbitrary restrictions on student funded groups, banning of speakers, and the removal of signs have all become common place on college campuses. The House and Senate worked on Senate File 274 in an effort to curb campus policies that unconstitutionally restrict free speech. SF 274 is a straightforward bill that prohibits public universities and community colleges from adopting so-called speech codes that violate the First Amendment. Speech codes often seek to ban speech that some students and school leaders deem unacceptable. Speech codes simply ban free expression from those with which the power brokers on campus disagree. With this bill, public universities and community colleges in Iowa will be required to add policies that acknowledge intellectual freedom and free expression are essential on campus. The bill is in response to an unconstitutional policy at the University of Iowa. As a result, language in the bill explicitly extends First Amendment protections to student groups. The bill also prevents a campus from having limited free speech zones in outdoor areas. Even with the bill, schools can still implement reasonable time, place and manner restrictions to activities, including assemblies, protests, speeches, petitions and recordings.

Iowa’s Unemployment Rate Remains at 2.4%:

Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained at 2.4 percent in January. The state’s jobless rate was 2.8 percent one year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate rose to 4.0 percent in January. “More Iowans than ever are now employed,” said Beth Townsend, director of Iowa Workforce Development. “This is the fourth straight month for job gains. These positive numbers reflect the efforts we are making through Registered Apprenticeship, Home Base Iowa and Future Ready Iowa. With historically low unemployment continuing, now more than ever, is the right time to invest in Future Ready Iowa to help Iowans improve their lives through good paying jobs and careers by ensuring access to training and education opportunities in high demand careers.” The number of unemployed Iowans increased to 40,600 in January from 40,400 in December. The current estimate is 5,900 lower than the year ago level of 46,500. The total number of working Iowans increased to 1,654,400 in January. This figure was 3,200 higher than December and 22,500 higher than one year ago. Monthly labor force data have been revised for 2014-2018 as required by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Benchmarking is the process of re-estimating statistics as more complete data becomes available. Prior year’s estimates for the Current Employment Statistics (CES) and Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) programs are benchmarked annually. In March, the revised data is incorporated with the January employment statistics.

Agriculture: Weight Limitation for Self-Propelled Implements of Husbandry bill Passes House

Passed in the House this week; HF 669 (The companion to Senate File 555) proposes to establish a 25,000 - pounds maximum for any one axle for self-propelled implement of husbandry. Such self-propelled implement of husbandry must comply with the other Code provisions when operated over bridges.

The bill authorizes local authorities to issue a special permit, based on a statewide standard developed by the Iowa Department of Transportation, allowing the operation over a bridge within the local authority’s jurisdiction of such a self-propelled implement of husbandry with a weight in the excess of the weights allowed. In addition this bill repeals a provision authorizing annual overweight permits for such self-propelled implements of husbandry originally purchased or ordered prior to February 1st, 2007, and strikes the corresponding references to that provision.

Labor: Occupational Licensing Review boards

Passed in the House this week; HF 666 requires the State Government Efficiency Board to review every professional license, certification, and registration and prepare reports for the General Assembly to vote on. This section also allows individuals with a criminal record to request from the board whether or not their criminal record will preclude them from the professional license, certification, or registration.

Environmental Protection: DNR Provides Critical Assistance During Historic Iowa Flooding

On Monday, March 25, 2018, the Iowa Department of Natural Re-sources (DNR) issued a press release in which the state agency noted that DNR conservation officers and park rangers have responded in droves providing crucial equipment and fulfilling extraordinary public safety rescue missions. Since Thursday, March 14, more than 34 DNR conservation officers and two DNR park rangers from across the state have responded to western and southwestern Iowa, working collaboratively in two-officer teams per boat from dawn to dusk. Other critical public safety missions provided so far by the DNR officers include transporting Mid-American Energy officials around towns and areas inundated by flood waters to shut down electricity, transporting other officials with assessing damage to public facilities and water treatment plants, assisting emergency manage-ment officials with assessing damage to levees and other infra-structure, as well as DOT with assessing structural integrity of I-680 bridges.

The DNR will continue to assist officials with equipment and public safety critical missions as well as provide expertise and resources as the focus eventually turns to clean-up and rebuilding.

 

 

Capitol Highlights Week 10 

03/22/2019

 

Education:

HF 546 SAVE Extension and Modifications - This bill makes some modifications to the uses of SAVE (Secure an Advanced Vision for Education) dollars, the distribution of the Property Tax Equity Relief (PTER) fund, and extends the sunset on the statewide penny that funds SAVE by 20 years. It provides for significantly more property tax relief and sets up a fund to help districts establish Career Academies.

HF 420 - Financial Literacy Implementation - Amends language passed last year by the legislature regarding financial literacy. The legislation last year required all students pass a half-unit of financial literacy as a condition of graduation. It was effective immediately. This bill delays implementation, applying it to next year's incoming freshman class. It is eligible for House Floor debate.

 

Agriculture: Protecting Iowa Agriculture

Agriculture is the backbone of Iowa’s economy. More importantly, Iowa’s agriculture industry doesn’t just consist of crop farmers and livestock producers. This wide-ranging industry includes small businesses, manufacturers, and financial services.

Due to an all-encompassing nature of the agriculture sector, it is critical that we do all we can to protect it from hostile individuals, organizations, and other countries who wish to cause significant harm. Any attack on Iowa’s agriculture sector could damage our economy, threaten thousands of jobs, and shut down family farms.

These threats are what made Senate File 519 necessary, which was passed and signed into law this last week. This legislation will protect Iowa’s agriculture industry from foreign agents or extreme environmental activists who wish to do harm. It specifically would penalize an individual that uses deception to gain access to agriculture production facilities with the intent to cause physical or economic harm.

Iowa is  a national leader in agricultural production and we have already witnessed many of these threats first hand.

House Republicans will always make Iowa’s farmers and agriculture industry a priority while fighting back attempts to harm a  critical piece of our state, culture, and economy.

 

Restoring Second Amendment Freedoms:

Last week the Iowa House took the first step to ensure Iowans’ Second Amendment freedoms are enshrined in the state Constitution for future generations. House Republicans believe it is long overdue that Iowa joins the other 44 states with this language in the Constitution. The proposed amendment is simple and easy to understand. It reads:

“The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

The sovereign state of Iowa affirms and recognizes this right to be a fundamental individual right. Any and all restrictions of this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.”

This amendment recognizes that Iowans have a fundamental, individual right to protect themselves, their families, and their liberty. It requires that the highest level of judicial review be applied to any government restriction on that right, just like other fundamental rights.

Contrary to Democrat arguments, this amendment would not nullify existing firearms laws that are already on the books.

Ultimately, Iowa voters will have the final say on the topic.

 

Ensuring a Reliable, Efficient Power Grid

Iowans understand the importance of investing in infrastructure. Iowans also understand that the people who use infrastructure should help pay for it. However, Iowa consumers who generate electricity using solar technology are utilizing the power grid but not paying for it’s costs.

That cost is passed onto every other consumer without solar. HF 669 would update how rate-regulated utilities bill for grid costs so that every consumer who benefits from the grid would help pay for it. HF 669 is a simple concept - Those who use the electric grid should also help maintain the grid.

What doesn’t HF 669 do?

  • It doesn’t create a new tax on solar energy.
  • It doesn’t force customers who already have private generation to installed to pay anything additional.
  • It doesn’t charge a fee to install solar panels.
  • It doesn’t end net-metering.
  • It doesn’t change or eliminate any sort of solar/renewable energy incentives.
  • It doesn’t hurt the growth of solar industry or other renewable energies.

            This is a simple, common sense bill that is about basic fairness.

 

Capitol Highlights Week 9 

 

03/15/2019

Greetings from Capitol Hill!

Education: Home School Families May Now Enroll in Iowa Learning Online

Home-schooling families may now directly enroll in Iowa Learning Online (ILO) courses. This is the result of legislation passed and signed last year allowing this access. SF 2131 not only provided a new option for quality education for homeschool families, but also provided opportunities for those students to interact with other students and Iowa-licensed teachers through ILO. ILO is a program run through the Department of Education. It provides an ala carte style menu of courses to public and private schools. If a district in rural Iowa wants to provide a course on Mandarin Chinese but can’t hire a teacher for the course, they can access this content through ILO. Until last year Iowa law did not allow home school students to access this same course catalog. With the change in law, now any Iowa resident family participating in full or partial Independent Private Instruction, Competent Private Instruction, or Private Instruction may choose to enroll in ILO courses. Families participating in dual-enrollment have options. Option one is to enroll the student directly in an ILO course as part of their home-school instruction and assume the tuition costs. Option two is to request that the local district enroll the student in an ILO course, assume the tuition costs and provide district credit (the local district has the right to decline). To enroll, contact the ILO registrar at registrar@iowalearningonline.org. Or for more information, visit: http://iowalearningonline.org/home-school-enrollment

Homeschool Iowa Day at the Capitol

Representative Gassman was excited to welcome Homeschool Iowa: Network of Iowa Christian Educators to the Iowa state Capitol. The discussions with parents was refreshing as they spoke of their concerns with legislation in the House. A very lively group of children of all ages brought the Capitol to life with laughter.

Future Ready Iowa internships

The Future Ready Iowa Internship Pilot Program is a funding opportunity that targets organizations who can provide high school students with internship opportunities to allow them to explore and prepare for high-demand careers. The focused audiences are youth at risk for not graduating high school, from low-income households, and are underrepresented populations in Iowa's workforce, such as minorities and youth with disabilities.

How to apply: Learn more about the Future Ready Iowa Internship Pilot Program and submit a plan on how your organization will effectively offer internships and possible employment services for at least a six week period to a minimum of 10 youth. Programs must serve high school students who would otherwise face barriers to success and gainful employment, and focus on giving them experience in high demand career fields. $250,000 is available and applications are due by March 20th.

Debates:

HF594: The Iowa House saw the passing of HF594 on Tuesday. This is a great victory for the Iowa House in defending parental rights. This legislation known as “Alfies Law” addresses parents choice over court ruling or medical professional choice to keep a minor child on life support.

SF237: (HSB 110) Passed the Senate on Tuesday amid strong debate, the House looks forward to debating the same bill (HSB 110) soon.

When looking forward to the Judicial Reform legislation, there are a few pros to keep in mind: 1. The system being suggested would improve the quality of associate justices in the district courts. 2. It would also improve geographical diversity in selecting justices. 3. The amending of the commision includes the option to pick the nominating commission chair.

 

Capitol Highlights Week 8

03/08/2019

Greetings from Capitol Hill:

First Funnel for the Iowa Legislature:

A very busy week in the Iowa Legislature as we complete the first funnel of the 88th General Assembly.

The Iowa House works to get their non-budget bills through committees to keep them alive this session. The first funnel deadline for the 2019 legislative session is Friday. After this deadline, the bills will go to a debate on the House floor. A few bills are stalled in committee right now.

Economic Growth; February Economic Development Awards Supports $125 Million Capital Investment in Iowa.

Forest City—Winnebago Founded in Forest City, Winnebago Industries, Inc. manufactures outdoor lifestyle products under the Winnebago, Grand Design, and Chris-Craft brands. The company builds motorhomes, travel trailers, and fifth wheel products and has recently entered the marine market with the acquisition of Chris-Craft boats. Winnebago plans to expand its current manufacturing footprint in Forest City, converting existing warehouse space to make room for a production line previously manufactured in Oregon. This $5.3 million capital investment consolidates product development, supply chain, and assembly operations for its diesel motorhome business in a single location and is expected to create 148 jobs, of which 23 are incented at a qualifying wage of $21.79 per hour.

 

Education; Helping the Teacher Shortage in Rural Iowa.

The legislature took steps last week to help rural districts, particularly border communities, attract and retain newly qualified teachers, a difficult task in some areas. There are definitely problems with finding qualified teachers in areas with a smaller population from which to draw, due to many factors. One in particular that was addressed, deals with the test teacher candidates have to take to finish their course of study. The most common one is called the Praxis exam, although there are others. The legislature in 2013 set a minimum bar for this test that in order to finish a teacher preparation program and enter the teaching workforce, candidates must pass with a score in the top 75% nationally. This isn’t always a problem for Iowa students, as around 95% of our teacher candidates meet this standard. But there are instances where a teacher candidate shines in all aspects of their training, receives glowing praise during their student teaching period, and despite being offered a job enthusiastically by a district, if they can’t pass the Praxis, they can’t teach. This is a barrier to entry that numerous superintendents have asked that the legislature fix. They argue that they know best who is most qualified for the job opening and they have watched the candidate complete a successful student teaching experience in the district. There were efforts last year to get rid of this 75% bar altogether (actually written in statute as passing above the 25% percentile nationally). But that would leave Iowa as the only state in the nation with no standard for teacher candidates. So the compromise made this year came in the form of two companion bills, one in the House and one in the Senate. The compromise is to allow the Department of Education to set passing scores that are more in line with what other states are doing. They are to consider not only the passing scores set in our surrounding states, but also the particular high-needs teaching areas in Iowa, and set Iowa’s scores accordingly. Additionally a one year temporary license is created to give those teacher candidates additional time to pass the test, which is sometimes only offered in limited windows that may not line up with the end of their program and the beginning of their teaching. The compromise bill received bipartisan praise as it passed through the House Education committee, with many comments thanking those who worked on it for finding a positive middle ground that will help rural and border communities find and retain quality teachers for their students. This bill is now ready for floor consideration in the chamber as House File 513.

An Effort to Lower the Cost of Teacher Licensing Fees

The House Education committee is considering taking action on a bill next week that will lower the fees for licensing for teachers and other professionals in our state’s K-12 education system. The licensing body in Iowa, the Board of Educational Examiners (BOEE), is funded entirely with fees from licensing. However, the Board is required to deposit 25% of the revenue it generates from fees into the state’s General Fund. This equates, in the most recent fiscal year, to about $650,000. The bill under consideration, House File 256, would eliminate this transfer. The practical effect is that the Board would lower their fees as they are allowed to only generate enough revenue for operation. The trickle down effect would likely be a reduction in fees that school professionals pay for initial and recurring licensing, possibly by up to 25%. While not necessarily a large sum, it is certainly a welcome move to remove this tax on teacher and administrator licensing.

 

 

 

 

Capitol Highlights Week 7                                                                           03/01/2019

Greetings from Capitol Hill:

Firearms Legislation in the Iowa House:

Various firearms bills have been proposed this year, some to strengthen Iowans freedoms, some to take them away. It’s easy to lose track of the bills with funnel quickly approaching. Below are several bills being under consideration in the House.

House Joint Resolution 3- Freedom Amendment: House Joint Resolution 3 would add firearms rights to the Iowa Constitution. The Federal Constitution has the 2nd Amendment (A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.), but Iowa’s Constitution is silent on this right. The proposed language recognizes the right of the people to keep and bear arms and subject any infringement on this right to a strict scrutiny review by the Courts. This amendment does not invalidate any current firearms laws, but instead preserves the right for law abiding Iowans to keep and bear arms, even if there are challenges in the federal courts. This bill has passed subcommittee in House Public Safety by a vote of (2-1).

House File 259- Family Defense Act: HF 259 proposes changes to the laws regarding where a person can carry their legally owned firearm. There are four separate changes addressed in the bill. First, a person, with a valid permit to carry, who has passed all necessary background checks, may bring their legal firearm on limited areas of school property. This includes the driveway, parking lot or sidewalk of a school. The second portion of the bill allows a person who legally possesses firearms to leave the firearm in their vehicle at work as long it is securely locked in their vehicle. This bill does not allow an employee to carry while at work if their employer prohibits firearms on the premises. The third part of this bill applies firearms laws equally across the state and prevents cities and other municipalities from enacting ordinances that differ from the state. This prevents legal confusion for law enforcement officers and legal gun owners. Language in HF 259 also protects concert goers by ensuring political subdivisions who own or operate entertainment venues provide armed security and metal detectors for all attendees if firearms are not allowed on the property. The fourth and final part of the bill limits where firearms can be in a courthouse. Firearms would be banned in courtrooms controlled by the Judicial Branch.

HF259 passed from subcommittee to the house floor for action last week (2/1).

House File 385- Constitutional Carry: HF 385 would require federally licensed firearms dealers to use the National Instant Criminal Background Checks when selling firearms unless the buyer has an optional permit to purchase or carry a weapon. If a person is prohibited from legally purchasing a firearm they can be charged with an aggravated misdemeanor. A person who privately sells a firearm must also ensure the purchaser has passed a background check with NICS. Selling a firearm to a prohibited person is a class “D” felony. HF 385 also increases penalties on people who give a false name or information in order to illegally obtain a firearm. In this case, the penalty is being raised form a class “D” to a class “C.”

 

Responsible Budget Plan for FY2020 Announced:

This week House Republicans announced targets for the FY20 budget. The House Budget plan for FY 2020 spends $7.668 billion, accounting for 97.45% of ongoing revenue. This is $9.5 million higher than Governor Reynolds’ FY 2020 budget proposal of $7.658 billion. The House budget plan increases spending .63% compared to the adjusted FY 2019 budget. Additionally, the budget fills all reserve accounts to the statutory requirements and leaves a healthy ending balance of $298.6 million.

Since House Republicans have been in the majority, we have brought common sense budgeting back to the Statehouse. However, the strong condition of our budget didn’t happen overnight. It took years of hard work, planning, and smart management to reach this point. In difficult budget years, we controlled growth, made tough decisions, and protected key investments - like K-12 education - from harmful cuts.

House Republicans have a strong, proven record of success when it comes to effectively managing the state’s budget. This year will be no different.

 

Forums this month;

Please join Representative Gassman for legislative forums in District 7:

Friday, March 15th. :

Thompson Forum, at 9 a.m.

Lake Mills Theater 216 W Main St, at 11 a.m.

Waldorf College, Forest City, at 1:30 p.m.

Saturday, March 16:

Algona Public Library, at 10 a.m.

*Please check your local paper for times*

Please contact Representative Gassman with questions @ 515.538.0117 or by email:

tedd.gassman@legis.iowa.gov

 

 

 

 

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