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 Statehouse News

Dear %%First Name%%,

Hi everyone back in House District 82!

This week marks the first deadline this session to winnow the number of bills that are still eligible this year, known as funnel week.  In order to remain eligible this year, a bill must be approved by a committee in the House or Senate. That means there will be heavy subcommittee and committee work in the House next week.

The big news this week from the Capitol seems to be centered around proposed changes concerning public education in Iowa.  Bills allowing public tax dollars to move towards private schools and home schools are moving forward.  Currently, over $50 million dollars per year goes to private education of children.  I am against vouchers.  We need to shore up our public schools before thinking about more help to private schools.

I am optimistic that there is bipartisan support to extend the SAVE penny tax for schools for another 20 years, or until 2049.  There will be some changes including more public voter input on athletic facilities.  I think this is okay.  A bill to provide help with the cost of school transportation for rural districts may also be proposed.  

On Wednesday morning I had the pleasure of meeting with three people from our area advocating for AARP.  They talked to me about a bill that they support, Iowa’s Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act, HF 2289/SSB 3123.  Family caregivers play a critical role in keeping their loved ones out of costly institutions.  This bill features a provision that if a patient chooses they can name a family caregiver when entering the hospital.   That person would receive live instruction on the medical tasks to be performed at home.  I think this is a good idea.

Advocates for Iowa's Water & Land Legacy "Fund the Trust" were at the Statehouse this week. Included were Dennis Lewiston, Director of Jefferson County Conservation Board and  Detra Dettman, former Chief Executive Officer of Fairfield Community Chamber of Commerce.

AARP had their annual day at the Capitol on Wednesday and Phil visited with Judy McDonough and Michelle Weber - retired teachers Fairfield Community Schools and Ralph Johnson of Bloomfield.

On Wednesday, February 14, 2018, Representative Phil Miller met with Ralph Johnson from Bloomfield who is a member of AARP.

Home School Teacher with Davis County schools Jill Watson visited with Representative Phil Miller on Thursday.

News from the Statehouse

House Committee Approves Budget Cuts
On a straight party line vote, the House Appropriations Committee approved over $32 million in mid-year budget cuts this year.  Iowa State University and the University of Iowa as well as the Department of Human Services will see the biggest cuts to their current fiscal year 2018 budgets.

The budget cuts come after the Governor and Republican lawmakers were forced to borrow $144 million on the state’s credit card last year to keep the state budget out of deficit.

This year, the state budget has been projected to be out of balance since October but the Governor and Republican leaders in the Legislature have not agreed on how to fix the budget crisis. The House proposal cuts less from the budget than the Senate version, and yet both are different than proposed by the Governor.  It is likely Iowans will see rising tuition costs at community colleges and state universities while others will find a loss of vital services that Iowan’s depend on.

The Revenue Estimating Conference who forecasts revenue projections that are used to craft the state budget heard a presentation from the Department of Revenue (DOR) that projected more than a $20 million increase in state revenues from the Federal Tax Cut. Even with those changes, the budget adjustments are still needed to bring the budget back into balance.  

The proposal will now head to the House floor to be debated by the entire Iowa House.

School Voucher Plan Debate Continues

Lawmakers started debate on a new school voucher bill introduced this year that would shift millions from public schools to private schools and homeschools instead.

Iowans packed a meeting at the State Capitol on Tuesday to voice their opinions.  Several parents and educators expressed concern with the bill. They pointed out that Iowa parents already have options for educating their children, including open enrollment, private schools, and home schools.  

School leaders have also expressed concern that taking away more money from schools when they are already underfunded will result in more school closings, higher class sizes, and fewer opportunities for kids in public schools.

Currently, the State of Iowa already provides over $54 million in public tax dollars for private schools and homeschool assistance. That includes millions in tax credits to private and corporate donors that get state tax incentives for donations to nonprofit organizations that fund tuition scholarships for private schools and homeschools.

Iowa’s publicly funded Area Education Agencies (AEA) also provide support to private schools for special education programs, health services, services for remedial education programs, guidance services, and school testing services.

To enact a voucher program statewide, it is estimated to cost the state over $200 million annually.  In Iowa, 92% of kids attend public schools.

If the House version of the voucher bill is not approved by the House Education committee this week, a separate voucher bill in the Senate will be eligible until the end of session.

Iowans concerned about starting a new voucher program in Iowa are encouraged to contact lawmakers and sign this petition:

Upcoming Events

February 17--Fairfield Legislative Forum, 7:30am-9:00am, @Best Western, 2200 W Burlington Ave

February 24-- Keosauqua Legislative Listening Post, 9:00am @Keosauqua Great Day Café, 202 Main St
February 24-- Bloomfield Legislative Listening Post, 12:00 pm @Rancho Centinela, 102 South Madison

March 17--Fairfield Legislative Forum, 7:30am-9:00am, @Best Western, 2200 W Burlington Ave

March 24-- Keosauqua Legislative Listening Post, 9:00am @Keosauqua Great Day Café, 202 Main St
March 24-- Bloomfield Legislative Listening Post, 12:00 pm @Rancho Centinela, 102 South Madison

April 21-- Fairfield Legislative Forum, 7:30am-9:00am, @Best Western, 2200 W Burlington Ave

April 28th-- Keosauqua Legislative Listening Post, 9:00am @Keosauqua Great Day Café, 202 Main St
April 28th-- Bloomfield Legislative Listening Post, 12:00 pm @Rancho Centinela, 102 South Madison

More News from the Statehouse

More Funding to Help Veterans
Two Long Standing Issues Addressed in Education
Changes to OWI Law Will Make it Easier to Complete Sentence
Bill Aims to Stop the Spread of Chronic Wasting Disease
89 Counties Adopt Livestock Master Matrix
Working Group for Hard to Place Offenders

Contact Representative Phil Miller

1009 Grand Ave
Iowa House of Representatives
Des Moines, IA 50319
902 S. Suncrest Drive
Fairfield, IA 52556
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