We enjoy hosting visitors from District 63
and from around Iowa:
Janesville Memorial Day Ceremony
The Janesville Memorial Day Service called us all to recognize and thank the veterans, who for love of God, country, family, and freedom, laid down their lives for us. Indeed they paid the ultimate price to secure our freedom.
Making Progress on the State Budget
While we all would like to see adjournment of the legislative session at the Capitol, we know we must take the necessary time to pass a fiscally responsible budget, while meeting the needs of Iowans. We are making progress in key areas and I'm hopeful final resolution will soon be reached. During these final negotiations, we will stay focused on doing what is in the best interest of our state.
There are 2 major areas in which agreement is being worked on now by leadership in both chambers: the overall general fund appropriation limit, and the supplemental state aid to education.
Next are the budget bills which must be agreed upon. Below is a chart of all our primary budget bills and their status. Two have been passed. The rest, excluding the Standings bill, are each in conference committees. This is where members of both chambers, assigned by Speaker of the House and the Majority leader in the Senate, come to a compromised conclusion on that specific budget bill and then move it to both Houses for consideration. Because it is a compromise bill, it cannot be amended but must be voted either up or down.
As our conference committees continue working through each budget, we remain vigilant about sticking to our budgeting principles. These are the same principles we've insisted upon over the past four years that have served the state well.
Since beginning debate on the state budget, we have seen amendments offered that would increase state spending by over $165 million. We have resisted these proposals in order to ensure we do not spend more than the state has available. Living outside our means and spending one-time money on ongoing expenses will only lead to uncertainty, economic trouble, and decreased services for Iowans in the future.
Janesville Memorial Day
Janesville American Legion Commander Bill Bloker led a heartfelt and touching Memorial Day Ceremony in front of quite a large crowd in the Janesville High School Gym.
With ever-increasing Medicaid obligations, a decrease in expected revenue for the next fiscal year, and maintaining our commitment to increase K-12 funding by $85 million next year, we have had to make some tough budget decisions this year. Additionally, we do not yet know the full impact the avian flu outbreak will have on the state's economy as it currently is affecting 45% of the state’s entire egg-laying flock. It is likely many Iowa families' budgets will be affected and there will undoubtedly be an impact on the state through tax revenue. For all of these reasons, it is now more important than ever to pass a sustainable budget plan.
As we move forward, we will continue to work with the Governor and Senate to pass the most responsible and commonsense state budget for Iowans.
Budget Statuses – May 20, 2015
Memorial Day Presentation
Bremer County American Legion Auxiliary member Vera Hoins of Waverly assisted in the presentation of a special “Quilt of Valor”.
House Passes Standings Bill
The House passed the last major budget bill on the floor last week which was the Standings Appropriations bill. Included in the Standings bill are a number of important policy items that we have worked on this session. This bill strengthens Iowa's families, increases public safety, and protects Iowa taxpayers.
The bill includes a provision to combat the increased spread of dangerous synthetic drugs in Iowa. It reorganizes and adds additional chemicals to the synthetic drug list thus enabling law enforcement to keep up with the ever-changing world of drug crime. Our proposal also treats simulated substances and imitation substances the same for prosecution, which is key to stopping the spread of synthetic drugs throughout the state.
We have included a provision in the bill that we have passed and sent to the Senate before and they have not taken it up. This provision further improves and protects Iowans' 2nd Amendment rights. Our proposal makes it simpler to renew an individual's carry permit, includes better protecting the privacy of permit holders, and extends the validity of a permit to purchase from one to five years. The bill also gives parents the right to decide if and when to train their child on how to safely operate a gun. Finally, the bill legalizes the use of suppressors after all federal requirements have been met.
Also included in the Standings bill is legislation to help families save for higher education. Our proposal provides an extension for individuals to contribute to a child's 529 College Savings account. Currently a contribution must be made during the calendar year to be deducted in that tax year. This legislation allows contributions to be made on or before the tax filing deadline.
WW2 Veteran Otto Lewis Boeck
Janesville American Legion Auxiliary President Esther Folkerds introduced the recipient of the “Quilt of Valor”, Otto Lewis Boeck of Janesville.
We also included legislation to protect Iowans from income-tax identity theft. In 2014, for the fifth consecutive year, income-tax related identity theft was the leading identity theft complaint received by the Federal Trade Commission. Criminals are stealing an individual's personal information and using it to file a fraudulent tax return. The fraud is often not discovered until the actual person goes to file their tax return and they are not paid their refund. Our proposal would require the Department of Revenue to proactively verify identities of individuals filing tax returns. The Department would also implement procedures to prevent income tax returns from being filed via foreign internet service providers.
House Committee Passes FY17 School Funding
The House Appropriations Committee this week passed a school funding bill for Fiscal Year 2017, for the 2016/17 school year. Current law requires the legislature set, and the Governor sign, a school funding increase for FY17 by early February. The deadline was missed as the House and Senate are still at an impasse on FY16 school funding.The bill passed by the House committee sets Supplemental State Aid (SSA) at 2%. This is an increase of $125.2 million.
The difficulty with setting SSA at this point is the uncertainty about FY17 revenues. At this point the legislature won’t see any revenue estimates for FY17 until October, meaning this commitment of $125 million is a move of good faith that Iowa will see revenues that can support such an increase and that we fully intend to stand by this commitment.
Quilt of Valor
Auxiliary ladies Vera Hoins and Esther Folkerds presented WW2 veteran Otto Lewis Boeck with a patriotic “Quilt of Valor”. He shared with us his experiences as part of the Battle of the Bulge. Many thank you’s to Mr. Boeck for his service to our country!
Feel free to contact me with ideas, thoughts, and concerns. My phone is 319-987-3021 or you can email me at email@example.com. I want to hear what you are thinking and will listen to your input. Together we will work to make a difference for the future of Iowa. Thank you very much for the honor of representing you!