Greetings to you all,
It was another very busy week at the Capitol. This week House File 577 was passed in the house 92-0. This bill helps people with Lyme disease or other tick-borne diseases find treatment by a licensed to practice health-related profession. This is a big success for the people of Iowa with Lyme disease who had to travel out of state to seek treatments.
Another success for the people of Iowa was the passing of House File 215. This bill requires certain health insurance policies, contracts, or plans to provide coverage of applied behavior analysis for treatment of autism spectrum disorder. I’ve been advocating for Autism for some time now and I am excited that this bill finally passed the House 96-0. I’d like to thank my colleague Dave Heaton who was able to help convenience the majority party leadership to pass this bill.
Earlier this session filed a bill, House File 35, which establishes a veteran’s treatment court in each judicial district to serve veterans and integrate court sanctions and incentives with substance abuse treatment, mental health treatment, and transitional services. Several veterans groups have been advocating for the Veterans treatment court. Not sure what will happen this year with the bill but I’m always hopeful.
The House approved a bill Monday; House File 476 that Republicans say will ensure a streamlined process for victims of cancers caused by workplace-related asbestos. Democrats fear this bill will create barriers for families in pain, are burdensome, and do little to actually help those affected. The bill sets some new filing requirements for plaintiffs and includes provisions relating to legal discovery and use of materials, identification of asbestos trust claims by the plaintiff, valuation of claims, and failure to comply with disclosure requirements. The bill passed on a vote of 56 to 39. It previously was approved by the Iowa Senate and now is headed to the governor's desk for final approval.
On Thursday, March 16th, Representative Bob Kressig spoke to the members of the Epilepsy Foundation group. Representative Kressig was advocating for Iowan’s to have access to medical cannabis.
At the beginning of session, Republicans were forced to trim over $100 million from the state budget to pay for their unsustainable tax giveaways to out-of-state corporations. That led to higher tuition at community colleges, job losses, and another year of anemic investment in our k-12 schools. Earlier this week the state’s non-partisan budget experts ordered Republican lawmakers and the Branstad/Reynolds Administration to fix the $131 million shortfall in the state budget. It’s the 2nd time this has happened this year.
The second cut to this years’ budget comes right after the House approved a bill to actually lower wages for 65,000 Iowans, by reducing wage for 4 counties back to $7.25, and rejecting an alternative to raise the minimum wage for the first time in a decade for over 300,000 Iowans.
Worker’s compensation bill was up for debate this Thursday. House File 518 would punish Iowa workers’ who get injured on the job. According to the Insurance Journal, they rank Iowa’s workers’ compensation 3rd in the nation, and overall ‘A’ grade. With this bill it increases financial hardships for those injured workers by delaying benefits, rigs the systems and favors bad employees, and burdens the taxpayers with picking up the tab for benefits owed to disabled workers by letting employers escape their responsibility.
Local Credit Unions visited with Waterloo Representatives Timi Brown-Powers, Bob Kressig and Ras Smith at the Statehouse on Wednesday, March 15.
On Wednesday, March 15th, 2017, Representative Lisa Heddens and Representative Bob Kressig met with members of the Iowa Credit Union League. Pictured above from left to right are Representative Heddens, Scott Zahnle, Representative Kressig, Andy Ask, Donald Borcherding, Kathy Burns and Shana Davison.
On Wednesday, March 15th, 2017, Representative Bob Kressig welcomed members of the Iowa Credit Union League into the House Chamber.
Wednesday, March 15, was Physicians Day on the Hill here in Des Moines. Susan Wing Lipinski, MD and Shannon Leveridge met with Representative Timi Brown-Powers and Representative Bob Kressig to advocate for women's health issues and the tort reform.
Earlier this year the Department of Revenue had this release about their cyber security efforts and that may delay tax refunds: https://tax.iowa.gov/press-release/iowa-taxpayers-will-see-additional-protections-against-tax-related-identity-theft To give you some idea how far behind they are in paying refunds, see the daily receipts table, that shows Iowa Income Tax Refunds are down 35% year to date from this time last year. That amounts to $124 million in refunds not being paid out compared to this same time last year: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/publications/fiscal/dailyReceipts Here is the link to the Department of Revenue site, where people can track refunds: https://tax.iowa.gov/contact-us
As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live; when we are in session. All of the debates are then stored in a video archive that allows you to watch them at any time, at your convenience.
Please don’t forget to check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website BobKressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. You can also like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter, to stay even more connected. I appreciate hearing from you.
Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!
Upcoming Community Events
17 Family Fun Spring Break Adventures Various Cedar Falls Locations, 268-4266
17 World’s Greatest Spring Break for Kids Various downtown Waterloo sites, worldsgreatestspringbreak.com
17 Annual Mulligan Stew Cedar Falls Woman’s Club, 5pm, 266-1431
17-19 UNI-Dome Antique and Vintage Market UNI-Dome, antiquespectacular.com
18 Black Hawks Hockey vs Chicago Young Arena, 7pm, 291-7680
20 Awards Ceremony & Opening Reception for Juried Student Art UNI Gallery of Art, 7pm, 273-6134
21 Hearst Film Series-Films by Martin 28 Scorsese Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
23-25 FIRST Regional Robotics Competition UNI-Dome/McLeod Center, firstinspires.org
24-4/2 Neil Simon’s Rumors Hope Martin Theatre, 7pm; Sun 2pm, 291-4494
25 Cedar Valley Baconfest McElroy Auditorium, Waterloo, 3 & 6pm, cedarvalleybaconfest.com
25 Black Hawks Hockey vs Dubuque Young Arena, Waterloo, 7pm, 291-7680
25-26 Funky Junk-a-loo Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, 9am, Waterloo, 291-2038
28-31 Waverly Horse Sale Waverly Sales Barn, 8am, waverlysales.com
30 Final Thursday Reading Series - Julianne Couch Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
31-4/2 USA Kids & Cadets National Folkstyle Wrestling UNI-Dome, usawevents.sportngin.com/folkstylena¬tionals
31 More Than You See Hilton Garden Inn, 6pm, 232-6671
4/1 Bunny Brunch Waterloo Center for the Arts, 10am, 291-4490
4/1 Fools 5K George Wyth State Park, 9am, trekmanracing.com
4/1 RodCon 17 UNI Rod Library, 10am, 273-2462
*GBPAC = Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center
State Budget Goes in Red for 2nd Time This Year
The state’s non-partisan budget experts said the state budget is in deficit again and lawmakers will have to find another $131 million to keep the state budget balanced this year.
The non-partisan Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) met on Tuesday and reduced their projected revenue for fiscal year 2017 (FY17), which ends on June 30, 2017, to $7.1 billion. The Governor and Republicans are signaling that they plan on taking the $131 million shortfall from the state’s reserve funds, which are full at $738 million.
The members of the REC noted that the growth in Iowa’s economy is slow, but we still have unprecedentedly low unemployment rates, commodity prices seem to be stabilizing, and home sales remain strong. Two revenue items that didn’t meet their expected levels are sales taxes and income taxes.
Earlier this year, Republican lawmakers had to make an additional $114 million in budget adjustments and those have already been signed into law.
FY 2018 & 2019
For the fiscal year 2018 state budget, which the Legislature must approve before adjourning this year, budget experts told lawmakers there will be $192 million less in revenue than previously predicted with revenues totaling $7.36 billion. After applying Iowa’s 99% expenditure limitation, the Legislature can appropriate just under $7.3 billion for FY 2018. Fiscal year 2018 begins on July 1, 2017, and runs through June 30, 2018.
This was the first time that the REC made a prediction for FY 2019, and they predicted 3.6% growth, showing revenue at $7.6 billion.
Lower Wages for 65,000 Iowans Passes House
Instead of increasing the minimum wage, Republican lawmakers approved a bill last week that lowers wages for 65,000 Iowans.
Passed on a party line vote, the bill would preempt local ordinances on wages and products sold. After waiting for Iowa lawmakers to act for nearly a decade, four counties have recently increased the minimum wage in their own community to finally give a boost to the lowest wage earners. The bill, House File 295, takes away the minimum wage increases already approved in some Iowa communities.
Now set at $7.25 per hour, Iowa’s minimum wage was last increased in 2008 and every state surrounding Iowa (except Wisconsin) has increased their minimum wage above $7.25. To meet basic living expenses, a single person in Iowa resident should make at least $13.16 an hour and that rises to $21.52 an hour for a single parent with one child. One of the counties that took action to increase the minimum wage is Wapello County, which has the 3rd highest poverty rate in Iowa and 2nd lowest per-capita income.
The bill will now go to the Iowa Senate for further consideration.
Continue Reading the Statehouse News
State Income Tax Refund Delays
Bills Allow Schools Flexibility in Funding
Medicaid MCO Re-Enrollment Period
House Considers Bicycle Safety Bill
Hirschman to be New State Ombudsman
Emerald Ash Borer Now in 43 Iowa Counties
To read the rest of my Statehouse News go to:http://iowahouse.org/StatehouseNews/3-17-17