Highlights from Henry Stone, District 7 State Representative
CONTACT: District 7 Rep. Henry Stone, R-Forest City, was appointed to serve as vice chair of the House Economic Growth Committee. He is also on the Education, Labor and Veterans Affairs committees and the Administration and Regulation Appropriations Subcommittee. You can reach him at Henry.Stone@legis.iowa.gov, 515-281-3221 in Des Moines, or at 702-533-0614.
"Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” - Harriet Tubman
This week we took a big step forward in ensuring our elections will continue to be secure so every vote matters. Faith in elections is at an all-time low across the country, and we want Iowans to know we are fighting for them and the security of our elections.
We received a lot of emails with the subject line "Why are you doing this?" and "Iowa has the most secure elections, so why are you making changes?". Well, there are two answers to questions like this. The first answer, we need to continue to have secure elections, which is why we are putting in extra measures to ensure that. The second answer, the legislature has passed election-related bills in 2017, 2019, and 2020 to help reform and secure elections, and we will continue to do so to ensure our elections remain secure.
I want to make one final point. Many folks have called this bill voter suppression; that is categorically and holistically untrue, and I absolutely reject that premise of it. In 2020, Iowa had the highest turn out rate in any general election ever recorded in the state and we were the third highest in the nation, with over 1,697,000 folks casting a ballot, and this was after passing three different election reform bills. We didn't suppress a single person's vote, nor would we ever dream of passing a law to do so.
Secure elections are everything in this country. The election integrity bill was a very good bill, and it was important to pass to ensure that every vote in the State of Iowa matters.
And the good news is: 2nd Amendment Omnibus Bill moves forward
The goal of this bill:
- Improves public safety.
- Ensure the right of every Iowan to keep and bear arms.
- Eliminates unnecessary regulation for law-abiding Iowans.
What this bill will accomplish:
- Gives law-abiding Iowans the right to carry or acquire a firearm without having to ask the government's permission. (Constitutional Carry)
- Prevents landlords of government-assisted housing from the ability to ban law-abiding citizens from carrying firearms.
- Provides an opportunity to expand training by state-approved organizations so more individuals can become trained to carry a handgun.
- Allowing law enforcement and reserve officers the ability to carry on school property regardless if they are on duty to help keep our kids safe. This is common sense, and a way to help keep our kids safe in potentially dangerous situations.
- Gives EMTs, once trained and serving with a tactical team, an option to have a professional permit to carry.
What this bill will not do:
- Eliminate background checks for purchasing firearms.
- Eliminate training for individuals who want to obtain a permit.
- Eliminate landlords who operate private assisted housing to ban firearms.
House Republicans Help Schools with COVID-19 Related Costs
Last Thursday, House Republicans passed House File 532, which provides school districts with additional money to assist in covering costs related to COVID-19. This extra $27.2 million goes to schools that provided in-person instruction, whether that was fully in-person or hybrid, starting July 1, 2020 and ending January 29, 2021 with the enactment of SF 160. Legislators saw there was a need and wanted to help these schools during this unprecedented time. The bill makes sure to include all schools on all calendars whether it’s year-round or even if school districts started early to make up some time lost. All of those schools districts are eligible for these funds.
House Republicans Protect Personal Health Info from Government Snooping
Recently, the House unanimously passed House File 488 to protect the health information of Iowans. This bill narrows access to health information to ensure that government employees without proper privacy training are not unnecessarily accessing Iowans’ personally identifiable information.
Information Technology Committee Passes bills on Cloud Computing Broadband Access
This past week the Information Technology Committee considered bills in committee and passed them on to the full House for consideration. Some of the bills voted on by the Information Technology committee this past week include the following:
HSB 111 – Places an emphasis on using cloud computing solutions for the states and includes reporting requirements for transparency. This ensures the state is using the best technology available and tax dollars most efficiently.
HSB 128 – Adds telecommunications systems and services to list of allowable joint financing actions by public agencies. This adds efficiencies, both for raising funds and deploying resources so more Iowans can have access to internet.
Both of these bills all passed out of committee with bipartisan support. With the funnel deadline quickly approaching, expect to see several more bills pass out of committee before the March 5th deadline.
House Ways and Means Committee Passes Three-Part Pandemic Relief Tax Package
This week the House Ways and Means Committee passed Senate File 364 with an amendment. This bill provides three very important pandemic related tax exemptions. House Republicans maintain that collecting tax on pandemic related payments to Iowa’s small businesses and families is not the right the thing to do and not the right thing for Iowa.
First—the bill makes a fix for fiscal year filers related to the federal paycheck protection program. Current law, for the tax year 2020 and later, fully conforms with the federal treatment of forgiven paycheck protection program loans and excludes such amounts from net income and allows certain deductions for business expenses paid using those loans. For fiscal-year filers who received paycheck protection program loans during the 2019 tax year, current law excludes such amounts from net income, but does not allow certain deductions for business expenses paid using those loans. The bill fully conforms with federal law for those fiscal-year filers who previously were excluded from such conformity and allows such filers to take business expense deductions using federal paycheck protection program loan proceeds that were forgiven. This is crucial equity treatment for our Iowa businesses.
Second—the bill (with amendment) exempts from income tax any qualifying COVID-19 grant issued to an individual by the economic development authority, the Iowa finance authority, or the department of agriculture and land stewardship. A “qualifying COVID-19 grant” includes any grant identified by the department of revenue by rule that was issued under a grant program administered by the economic development authority, Iowa finance authority, or the department of agriculture and land stewardship to provide financial assistance to individuals or businesses economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Under current law, financial assistance grants provided to small businesses by the economic development authority under the Iowa small business COVID-19 relief grant program are already excluded from the calculation of Iowa individual and corporate income tax. This provision is extremely important to Iowa’s businesses and farmers.
Finally, the bill (with amendment) exempts the extra $600 of federal pandemic unemployment compensation received pursuant to the federal CARES Act from income tax. Those were payments made by the federal government to Iowa families who lost jobs during the pandemic.
In service, Rep. Stone
"One Team, One Fight."
I touched on bipartisanship last week and wanted to follow up a bit this week on why that is so important with the work we do in the State House. We are here four months out of the year from January through early May, so there is not a lot of time to get things done, and more importantly, get things right the first time.
This week we passed over 40 bills in the State House. The overwhelming number of bills had bipartisan support. We worked hard on a lot of issues together, because these issues matter to Iowans.
I carried the motto during my time in the Air Force of "One Team, One Fight", and I continue to carry that motto as a state legislator. At the end of the day, we are going to disagree and have different approaches of solving problems but that shouldn't deter us from accomplishing things for Iowans here at the State House.
And the good news is:
House Republicans passed a Supplemental State Aid (SSA) increase for schools of 2.4% for FY22 for both the Regular Program and the Categorical Supplements. It also extends the Property Tax Relief Payment (PTRP) an additional year which has the state pick up any property tax growth in the Additional Levy portion of the school funding formula.
The State Cost Per Pupil (SCPP) amount on which the school aid formula is based increases from $7,048 to $7,217, a $169 increase. However, this amount will increase to $7227 because this bill includes a $10 State Cost Per Pupil increase to narrow the District Cost Per Pupil (DCPP) gap. This also continues to address transportation equity which is raised at the same rate as SSA.
The percentage is on par with what has been done in recent years, but the fact of the matter is enrollment was down by about 7,000 students. Contrary to the narratives presented by others, public school funding is not cut under this proposal. This is a 2.4% increase. This increase also outpaces the annual inflation rate as it has in previous years as well. Since 2011, House Republicans have prioritized students and schools with continuous increases for Supplemental State Aid, transportation equity, and adding an additional ten dollars per student to address equity issues.
Last week, the House Human Resources Committee passed three bills to increase access to those that can administer the COVID-19 vaccine. House Files 514, 528, and 547 will allow dentists to administer the vaccine that has taken the training, increase administration at pharmacies, and ensure accurate reporting of those that have been vaccinated.
Even as demand has far exceeded supply, Iowa continues to vaccinate at record rates. House Republicans support the 5% increase that the state is receiving from the federal government, meaning now 49,900 doses of vaccine are being delivered to Iowa each week. As of Wednesday, 496,981 doses have been administered. This includes 125,558 Iowans that have completed both doses of the vaccine and 245,865 Iowans that have received their first dose. With just over 610,000 total doses delivered to Iowa, we have administered over 80% of those vaccinations statewide!
In 2019, the legislature directed the Iowa DOT to conduct a study on access to the driving skills test for CDLs, and asked the DOT to evaluate testing options to increase access. The report can be found here.
Based on this report, the House Transportation Committee drafted House File 521 and passed it out of committee recently with strong bipartisan support. Currently, there are 16 Iowa DOT locations, 12 county treasurer locations, and 15 third-party locations. This bill would allow the tester to retain all fees for each 30-90-minute testing slot. This legislation allows the DOT or a county that is providing the driving skills test for a CDL to charge $25 for each of the three component tests (pre-trip vehicle inspection, basic vehicle control skills, and the on-road driving skills test). Currently, counties providing this testing do not receive any extra funds, leaving little incentive to maintain testing or expand testing to additional areas of the state. The entity, whether DOT or county, will still maintain the fees that come with the issuance of the actual license.
There were several bills passed this week that strengthen sex offender laws. We continue to pass legislation that protects all Iowans from predators!
HF 201-Sex Offender Registry Requirements
HF 201 requires a person who is convicted of extortion to register as a sex offender if it is determined that the crime was sexually motivated. The bill also prevents state shopping by requiring a sex offender who is registered in another state, but who lives in Iowa, must serve their time on their registry either under the convicting state or Iowa’s laws, whichever is longer. This prevents a sex offender from coming to Iowa for a shorter sentence on the registry.
HF 489-Adam Walsh Sex Offender Registry Compliance
HF 489 should bring Iowa into compliance with federal sex offender registry laws. The bill amends how long an offender must be on the registry before petitioning the court for modification. The changes will ensure the sex offenders serve their time on the sex offender registry after being released from prison.
SF 253- Sexual Abuse and Definition of Child
SF 253 changes the definition of “child” in sexual abuse 2nd and 3rd degree. Under current law a “child” in these crimes is considered someone under the age of 12, SF 253 changes the definition to someone under the age of 14. Under current law, a person who sexually abuses an 11 year old faces a 25 year sentence with a 70% mandatory minimum, whereas the exact same abuse done to a 12 year old is only subject to a 10 year punishment with no minimum sentence
2-11-21 - "The Constitution is the guide which I will never abandon." - George Washington
We had another productive and successful week at the legislature this week. We are preparing for our first funnel, which means any new legislation for this year needs to be filed in order to potentially move forward.
In my short time here, I have worked with legislators, both Democrats and Republicans, on different issues. I'm hopeful we will be able to move some really good pieces of legislation, that I introduced, forward in this session including:
- Increasing the eligibility criteria for the Disabled Veterans Homestead tax credit.
- Providing additional options to increase dental provider reimbursement for foster children receiving Medicaid.
- Provide flexibility to school districts to help with funding needs and priorities.
I look forward to working on these issues over the next two years, and I will continue to fight to make them happen, as well as other pieces of legislation that I intend to introduce, as long as I am a Representative.
One of the things I am most thankful for is not only the opportunity to serve, but also to work on a bipartisan level to accomplish a lot of really important things for our part of Iowa. On average, about 92 percent of the legislation that is passed in the Iowa House of Representatives is done on a bipartisan level. We don't agree on everything, and we shouldn't agree on everything because that means nothing would ever improve. With disagreement comes better, more thought out, well rounded public policy. Even the most passionate people on both sides can come together on ideas and thoughts to help form policy.
We have different perspectives, different backgrounds, we represent different parts of Iowa, and this leads to a lot of different opinions, which help shape good public policy. In the end, I promise to work with everyone to the extent I believe I am doing the right thing for my constituents and as always adhering to both the Iowa Constitution and the Constitution of United States of America.
And the good news is:
(DES MOINES) – On February 10th, Representative Henry Stone (R-Forest City) of House District 7 voted to advance multiple pieces of legislation to help address Iowa's child care crisis.
Among the highlights in Wednesday's floor action was House File 370, a bill to incentivize employers to provide child care for their employees, and House File 302 which provides an "off-ramp" from Child Care Assistance so parents can continue to grow in their career without losing their child care assistance entirely, all at once.
"This is an issue many of us heard about repeatedly on the campaign trail and now we are taking action. Iowa House Republicans are committed to addressing Iowa’s need to expand access to affordable, quality child care," said Rep. Stone. "These pieces of legislation are important steps in the right direction."
HF 230 – Increases the income threshold for a Child Care Tax Credit from $45,000 to $90,000.
HF 370 – Creates an incentive for employers to provide child care for their employees by providing a tax credit up to $150,000.
HF 260 – Allows individuals providing child care in their homes to take care of 6 or fewer children, an increase from 5 or fewer.
HF 292 – Raises Iowa’s child care rates to the 50th percentile according to the Market Rate Survey.
HF 302– Creates an “off-ramp” from Child Care Assistance program so parents can continue to grow in their career without losing their child care assistance entirely, all at once.
HF 301 – Creates a fund to provide child care workforce grants on a dollar for dollar matching basis from communities. These programs will help move child care providers up the pay scale and the education pathway.
This week, the House Human Resources Committee passed multiple bills to recruit and retain health care providers in Iowa. House Study Bill 168 and House File 270 focus on medical training at the University of Iowa, the state’s only taxpayer funded medical school and hospital. This is a problem across Iowa, but particularly in rural parts of the state, so we are making it a priority to make advances on solving this problem. The committee also passed Senate File 129. This bill was brought forward by the Iowa Medical Society to expand access to the Rural Iowa Primary Care Loan Repayment Program by allowing OB/GYNs to participate in the program, allow for additional part-time practice options for those receiving the loan repayment, and to allow psychiatrists to practice in additional Iowa communities and still receive loan forgiveness.
2-4-21 - "Our Liberties We Prize and Our Rights We Will Maintain." - Official State of Iowa Motto
This week Government Oversight held on meeting on free speech on college campuses. Leadership from the University of Iowa, University of Northern Iowa, and Iowa State University came to speak on what steps are being taken on college campuses to ensure every student has a voice.
We as legislators have a responsibility of oversight to not just ensure our educational institutions are educating students, but also provide a space where every student can voice their opinion regardless of their political beliefs or candidates they support. That was the purpose of this oversight meeting. Read more on the meeting here: Iowa universities apologize for 'egregious' free speech errors
Protecting free speech goes beyond protecting the very right every person is guaranteed to say whatever they believe in. Free speech is meant to create strong debate, to encourage and foster collaborative ideas and policies that move our country forward, and it is at the heart of the democratic process.
And the good news is:
House Republicans talked about taking action on providing daycare options for parents, and this week we took action with the following bills:
- HF 3: Allows the building of onsite daycare facilities or expansion of existing daycare facilities to qualify as projects under the high-quality jobs program, qualifying them for tax incentives or project completion assistance.
- HF 2: Creates tax incentives for developers that construct child care facilities.
Iowa is providing COVID-19 Vaccines at a record rate. More information here: COVID-19 Vaccine Administration Dashboard
- A majority of nursing home residents have already been vaccinated.
- The vaccine numbers show promise as we work our way out of this pandemic. As of Thursday, 348,544 individuals have tested positive since the beginning of the public health emergency in Iowa.
- As of Thursday, 289,737 doses have been administered in the State of Iowa. This includes 74,098 Iowans that have completed both doses of the vaccine and 141,541 Iowans that have received their first dose.
Governor Reynolds recently signed into law Senate File 160. This is a good bill for education.
- Schools need to comply by February 15th, 2021 and this gives them the time to make plans to do so.
- Parents will still have options for online/hybrid learning if they wish.
- The CDC has repeatedly said that in-person education can be done, and done safely. For more information please check out this link: Schools and Child Care Programs: Plan, Prepare, and Respond
1-28-21 - Week 3. Here. We. Go.
House Joint Resolution 5 is as follows: A Joint Resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Iowa that the Constitution of the State of Iowa does not recognize, grant, or secure a right to abortion or require the public funding of abortion.
This is so important. If we want to protect the sanctity of life in the State of Iowa, making this language a part of the State of Iowa Constitution is how we move forward in protecting life and the rights of the unborn. I am so happy to cast my Aye (Yes) vote in support of HJR 5, and thankful to leadership in the Iowa State House, who made this a priority early the in legislative session.
On a personal note, as an veteran of the world's greatest Air Force, I recited the Airman's Creed on multiple occasions. The last line of the Airman's Creed is "I will never falter, and I will not fail." I carry that line with me everyday when I am working for Iowans in the State House, and the sanctity of life is no exception.
And the good news is:
Our state has struggled with affordable options for daycare for parents, especially in rural parts of the State. Republicans are tackling that head on this year by doing the following.
- Increase child care workforce
- Increase provider rates to maintain existing child care facilities
- Provide incentives to develop new child care facilities
- Support hard-working families afford the high cost of child care
The Freedom Amendment, also known as HJR 4, is another vital issue we debated and passed on the floor this week. The amendment would provide language in the State of Iowa Constitution to protect the fundamental right to keep and bear arms.
1-21-21 - "Flexibility is key to Air Power."
Week two was just as interesting, informative, and busy as the first week. However, it brought new responsibilities, commitments, and legislative priorities. I learned quickly that no legislative session is the same, and priorities change as needs of the State of Iowa change. COVID-19, obviously, is a part of just about every discussion at the State Capitol, and is at the center of all funding priorities. It also has brought hope to better telehealth, increases in rural broadband, and a growth in our rural communities as many people can now work from home and from anywhere in the country. I am hopeful for the changes and look forward to working on a bipartisan level to help move these ideas forward.
I am eager and happy to announce relief is on it's way for bars, restaurants, and other establishments. Governor Reynolds is proposing 40 million dollars as an extension of the Iowa Small Business Relief Grant Program. This is a one time grant to assist in the lack of cash flow due to limited hours and capacity. More information is available here.
I enjoyed working on smaller pieces of legislation this week to help move key policy initiatives forward in our part of Iowa, including, one that focuses on helping our disabled veterans and another that focuses on helping schools fill gaps in funding due to COVID-19. As legislative session continues, I will continue to work with leadership on each committee to ensure priorities in our part of Iowa are moving forward.
And the good news is:
- Rural broadband is complex, and no single solution is going to solve all the problems. Thankfully, we are working on many solutions, both long and short term, to help make rural connectivity a reality.
- I served on three subcommittees this week, on three different topics, including education, economic growth, and veterans issues. This gives me a first hand opportunity to have a voice on moving priorities forward in the State House.
- We are working on legislation to help move parental choice in education forward in the State of Iowa. Providing more options for students to learn in an era of COVID-19 is only going to benefit our state long term and ensure no student is ever left behind.
"Welcome to the Capitol, Freshman."
Jan. 14, 2021
The first week at the Iowa State Capitol was nothing short of interesting, informative, and very busy. I took part in committee meetings, met with fellow representatives from across the state, and took time to meet with Speaker Grassley on legislative priorities for our part of Iowa. I am thankful for this incredible opportunity and for my constituents who have entrusted me to represent them at the Iowa State Capitol.
Things I have learned:
-No two days are the same.
-COVID-19 has made being a legislator very different than past years.
-Have a legislative assistant who reminds you to go to lunch and not miss meetings.
Things I look forward to:
-Tackling issues in the coming weeks.
-Working with Republicans and Democrats on budget priorities.
-Proposing legislation to help move forward priorities for our district of Iowa.
In service, Rep. Stone