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 Statehouse News

Dear %%First Name%%,

I will have to admit at times I feel frustrated, being a member of the minority party, we have little say on what bills will be brought up and discussed and voted on or when.  However, this is the way our democracy works.  The majority is there because we the people put them there.  We spent most of the day yesterday trying to amend a school safety bill, School Emergency Operations Plans (SF 2364).  The bill requires all school districts to develop a high quality emergency operations plan for all school buildings by June 30, 2019.  This includes responses to natural disasters and active shooter scenarios.  School boards are required to consider recommendations from the Dept. of Education.   It also requires them to consult with local law enforcement agencies in the development of the plan.  It is to be kept confidential and it is exempt from the Iowa Public Records Law.  An emergency operations drill in each individual school building is required at least once per school year.  Persons participating in the drill may include students.  No funding is attached to this new law.  This is a reactive measure.

The minority tried to make this bill better with amendments.  One was passed unanimously.  Wordage now includes secretaries and receptionists to be included in all training and drills.  They are often the first people inside the building at the front door.  An amendment that failed by party line vote would have created an anonymous statewide tip line.  Six known states, starting with Colorado have such a program.  It has been credited with saving lives and stopping threats of violence at school before they happen. This amendment failed to pass in the Iowa House.  I voted yes.  It is proactive in prevention. On March 14, the US House of Representatives passed a bill that would authorize grants for such programs.  The bill is currently in the US Senate.

A de-appropriation bill was passed by the House this week also on party lines.  It’s the fourth budget adjustment in the last year that has been needed.  Where do our tax dollars go?  I thought it would be good for you to know how we are all helping some very large corporations in our state with research activities tax credits.  Rockwell Collins (2016-$12.3million), Deere & Company (2016-$8 million), Dupont (2016-$5.1 million), Golden Grain Energy (2016-$4 million) and John Deere Construction & Forestry Company (2016 $2.6 million). The approximate fiscal impact is $22 million per year.  Iowa’s tax credit system is unfair.  We taxpayers are paying companies to do business here by sending a check for millions of dollars to just a handful of corporations.  I believe we should reduce and cap these credits.  Small businesses don’t get the same benefit.  

I will be back home this weekend and visiting all three counties in my House District.  It will be good to see you. 

A member of the Iowa Finance Authority's Iowa Council on Homelessness, David Binner was at the Statehouse for their advocacy day to visit with Representative Phil Miller and Representative Jerry Kearns.

On March 20th, 2018 Representative Phil Miller was joined by his family at the Capitol. His grandchildren led the chamber in the morning pledge of allegiance.

Miles Gaston of Libertyville Savings Bank in Fairfield and Richard Nichols of First Iowa State Bank in Keosauqua were at the Statehouse for Iowa Bankers Day on Wednesday.

News from the Statehouse

Lawmakers Push for Answers on State Income Tax Refund Delays
Iowa lawmakers sent a letter to the Reynolds Administration and the Department of Revenue this week to get more information for Iowans who have had their state income tax refunds delayed this year.

After being contacted by many constituents who are frustrated by the long delay getting their state income tax refund this year, lawmakers sent a list of questions to the department asking why refunds have been delayed and to find out when Iowans can expect their refunds.

According to the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency (LSA), refunds are currently $41 million behind those of February 2017.  Last year, refunds were 40% behind the previous year and many Iowans were disappointed to have their income tax refunds delayed by months without notice or warning.  Last year, the Department of Revenue claimed new fraud protections were slowing refunds, but lawmakers later found out the state didn’t have the money to pay refunds.   

Iowans deserve to know why the delays have increased even more this year and how long they will have to wait to get their money back.

House Approves Mid-Year Budget Cuts

On a straight party line vote, the House approved over $35 million in mid-year budget cuts this week.  Iowa State University, the University of Iowa, community colleges, and the Department of Human Services make up the biggest portion of the cuts with just a few months left in the state’s fiscal year.

Those budget reductions will result in rising tuition costs for Iowa students, as well as longer waiting lists for some health care services including mental health.

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.  The state’s budget deficit is largely the result of hundreds of millions in new corporate tax giveaways that the state couldn’t afford.

The state budget has been out of balance since October but the Governor and Republican leaders could not agree on how to fix the state’s budget crisis.

The bill, SF 2117 now goes back to the Senate for reconsideration.

Upcoming Events

March 24
-- Keosauqua Legislative Listening Post, 9:00am @Keosauqua Great Day Café, 202 Main St (CANCELLED DUE TO COUNTY CONVENTIONS)
March 24-- Bloomfield Legislative Listening Post, 12:00 pm @Rancho Centinela, 102 South Madison (CANCELLED DUE TO COUNTY CONVENTIONS)

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

Public Hearing Held on Unconstitutional 6-Week Abortion Ban
Constitutional Amendment on Guns Goes to Senate
Utility Companies Move to Scale Back Energy Efficiency, Solar
Protections for Students that Seek Help for Alcohol Overdoses Advances   

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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