Caucus Newsletter 1-29-2015

Thursday, January 29, 2015
Inside this issue:
House Republican Talking Points
2015-16 House Republican
Budget Principles
House Republicans are committed to
these principles to produce a balanced
and sustainable state budget:
 We will spend less than the state
 We will not use one-time money to
fund on-going needs;
 We will not balance the budget by
intentionally underfunding programs;
 We will return unused tax dollars to
Iowa’s taxpayers.
Governor Branstad’s Budget
For FY 2017, the Governor is proposing
a General Fund budget of $7.5252 billion. This would be an increase of
$184.2 million or 2.50 percent.
90 percent of Iowa’s budget goes to
three areas - School aid ($2.9 billion),
wages and benefits for state employees
($2.1 billion), and Medicaid ($1.6 billion).
tion’s Allocation Summary documents,
Iowa will spend $10,231 per student in
FY 15. That means in classroom of 20,
Iowa spends just over $200,000.
If we adopted the 6% increase in supplemental state aid for education pushed by
Democrats in FY 16, the state would
spend 104.4% of on-going revenue.
Economic Growth
If the Legislature approved the 6% increase in supplemental state aid for education pushed by Democrats, revenue
growth in FY 16 would need to be about
8.63%. Add the FY 2016 funding for the
Education Reform package, and revenue
growth would need to be 9.54%. Over
the last 20 years, revenue growth has
averaged 3.27%.
Human Resources
Or, if 6% Supplemental State Aid is approved, $316.7 million would need to be
cut to balance spending with on-going
revenue. That’s like not funding both the
University of Iowa and the University of
Northern Iowa or shifting the cost of Iowa’s mental health system to property
Natural Resources
Public Safety
Veterans Affairs
Ways and Means
Statistics that show Iowa is in 35th place
Over the past decade, state revenue has nationally in regards to per-pupil spending are questionable. Notably that rankgrown by 4.1 percent annually, state
spending on K-12 education grew by 4.2 ing comes from the NEA and its inherent
percent, and Medicaid grew by 11.7 per- union biases. The US Dept. of Education’s National Center for Educational
Statistics shows Iowa in 28th place.
55 percent of the Governor’s FY 2016
budget proposal is targeted to education. The result of increasing state spending to
unsustainable levels and spending onetime money for ongoing expenses mixed
School Funding
with an economic collapse caused eduHF 80 continues the legislature’s trend of cation funding in this state to take a $530
million loss in one single year (FY 2010).
providing significant increases to the
state’s K-12 system, bringing the 5 year The state is still recovering from that
loss. That recovery is only possible if we
total increase to over $570 million, a
spend less than we collect.
nearly 22% increase.
According to the Department of Educa-
If you use the 35th in the nation ranking
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House Republican Newsletter
ment Payment (PTRP) of $5.6 million in the
bill arguing that money could have gone to
of per-pupil spending and the dollars asso- education instead of property taxpayers.
ciated with it, Iowa taxpayers would need to 15 House Democrats still voted for it.
back over $767 million in additional spending this year to the national average. IoDepending on the calculations you are uswans would face a 20.55% income tax ining Iowa is spending about $10,231 per
crease to support this level of spending.
pupil. The continued emphasis on this
For a family of four, it would mean an indollar amount further cements the focus on
come tax increase of $979.
inputs rather than outputs. The true evaluation of K-12 performance is outputs. Or in
If Iowa wanted to be in the top 10 in per
other words, the academic performance of
pupil spending, Iowa taxpayers would need our students. In the end, whether you
to pony up over $2.8 BILLION in additional agree with a program’s purpose or not,
spending. Iowans would face a 76.82%
programs are supposed to help people, not
income tax increase to support this level of bureaucracies. The focus on inputs is a
spending. For a family of four, it would
focus on bureaucracies.
mean a $3,654 income tax increase.
During debate on HF 80, House Democrats
According to a Friedman Foundation for
suggested raising business taxes and usEducational Choice study in 2013, 66% of
ing money originally targeted for debt reIowans do not think per-pupil spending is
duction to increase spending on education.
too low and 65% believe the public school
system is either good or excellent.
(Continued from page 1)
Some House Democrats complained about To address the continual growth in Medithe inclusion of the Property Tax Replace- caid, the Governor is proposing major re-
forms. He expands the use of managed
care in Medicaid and other cost containment initiatives, lowering state expenditures by $70.2 million in FY 2016. The
Governor funds the rebasing of Medicaid
rates for hospitals, nursing homes, and
home health agencies. The Governor is
not recommending a supplemental appropriation for Medicaid in FY 2015.
Medicaid is the second biggest program in
state government, and without major reform it will continue take funding away from
other priorities like schools.
Medicaid was 9% of the state budget in FY
2000. Today it is over 20%. While many
are focused on targeting more money to
schools, Medicaid is a looming issue that
cannot be ignored. Over the past ten
years, state revenue has grown by an average of 4.1%. School aid during this time
grew at 4.2% annually. While Medicaid
had an annual growth rate of 11.7%. The
growth of Medicaid is crowding out other
areas of the budget within the debate for
additional resources.
(Contact Brad Trow at 1-3471)
Board of Regents Discuss Variety of Topics
Continuing the efforts to better educate
members on the major budget issues facing
Iowa, the House Appropriations Committee
had a marathon session with the Iowa
Board of Regents and the state’s three universities on Monday.
The main topic discussed was the Regents’
proposal to change how state funding to the
three universities is distributed. Instead of
maintaining the current process of simply
adding a certain percentage to the current
budget (a process that dates back at least
to World War II), the Board establishes a
formula focusing primarily on the enrollment
of in-state kids. Members from both parties
had substantive questions about the new
formula and its impact, with House Democrats repeatedly stating the proposal sent a
negative message on the importance of
getting out-of-state kids to come get their
degree in Iowa.
The Board’s proposal for a third straight
year with a tuition freeze for in-state undergrad students also engendered strong conversation in the committee. Members expressed concerns about the continued rising tuition for graduate students. The Regents also got the message that many parents have issues with rising student fees.
such a deal, which does not share the $1
million with Johnson County or the Iowa
City School District. Representatives of the
Board reported that the Regents had implemented a policy to address these situations
in the future. The impression left with committee members and others was that such a
deal would not happen again.
Another issue that generated a high level of
discussion was the Payment in Lieu of Tax
“issues with rising
made by the University of Iowa Hospitals
and Clinics to the city of Coralville. This
student fees”
arrangement was part of a deal made for
UIHC to construct a major clinic facility at
the Iowa River Landing development. In
exchange for permission to build on the
land, the hospital agreed to pay Coralville
The House Appropriations Committee will
$1 million annually to offset lost property tax continue inquiring into the major budget
issues next week, with a discussion on the
spike in costs of the state employee health
Members from both parties expressed their insurance plan.
displeasure to the University for agreeing to
(Contact Lew Olson at 1-3096)
House Agriculture Committee’s Regulatory Review Subcommittee Meets
On Tuesday, January 27, 2015, following
completion of the House Agriculture Com-
mittee meeting an empaneled subcommittee charged by House Agriculture Chair
Grassley to review regulations applying to
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(Continued from page 2)
agriculture officially convened for the first
time. The subcommittee of Representatives Paustian, Klein and Bearinger and
chaired by Vice Chair Paustian has been
tasked to collect stakeholder and public
input on regulations. Their goal is identify
and remedy excessive regulations that are
no longer effective due to technological or
farming improvements or ineffective because of multiple agency oversight
For example, the subcommittee was told
how the poultry industry is being frustrated
House Republican Newsletter
by regulations that apply to transporting
baled and bedding materials generally
doesn’t apply if the bales are wrapped in
plastic which is done in the situation of
transporting wood chips to both limit losses
in transportation and to ease loading and
unloading of the product.
The subcommittee solicited the public in
attendance of the meeting to come forward
with concerns and thoughts on this issue.
More broadly, the Subcommittee hopes
that farmers, agribusinesses and the general public will take advantage of this opportunity to provide public input on the as-
sorted regulations applicable to farming
and agribusiness that either need updating
to reflect new technology or perhaps rescinding if the justification for the regulation
has dissipated or have been superseded
by new concerns and circumstances. The
intent of the Regulatory Review Subcommittee is that it will continue to collect input
on this issue over the next several weeks
and will likely hold two more official meeting on this matter to digest and discuss
whether some type of legislative action
should be taken to redress the changing
regulatory environment.
Water Quality Improvements Complications and Considerations
Beware of Rushing where Angels
Fear to Tread
The effort to improve water quality in the
state of Iowa is incredibly complex and
likely to be fitful with unanticipated consequences that are frequently counterintuitive. For example, while ongoing recent nutrient reduction research efforts
have detected that sedimentation
(phosphorous loading) in Iowa water and
waterways arising from agricultural activity
is clearly downward; the trend of nitrate
levels is generally trending upwards in regions where the proportion of row crop
production acreages are rebounding from
1980’s federal farm programs land retirement and conversion to Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). In a January 11,
2015 article in the Cedar Rapids Gazette
Iowa Geological Survey scientist Keith Shilling noted that his institution’s research has
shown that you can estimate the mean
annual nitrate concentration in Iowa river
by simply multiplying the percentage of row
cropped land in its watershed by 0.1. He
went on further in that article to state--“…
Despite an increase in monitoring activity,
results are pretty inconclusive; levels seem
to rise and fall with climatic variability, higher during wet months or years and lower
during dry periods. Care must be taken to
decipher trends in water quality over the
last decade as weather-dominates year-toyear changes. The same monitoring records can show both increasing and decreasing trends depending on the starting
and stopping points in the time series.’
characteristics due to weather pattern cycle
oscillations and perhaps abetted by unexpected nutrient conservation effort consequences
Regrettably, most Iowa waters and waterways now contain historical phosphorous
loads of the size that even if all future phosphorous loading from farming, residential,
industrial and municipal sources were cut
to zero, it would take decades to centuries
for natural watershed processes to lower
the phosphorous level to pre-European
settlement levels and availability. In the
meantime, such waters will likely support
larger than normal plant populations of
either leafy vascular plants along banks
The trend in river nitrate is most notable in and in shallow and quiet waters or instream
that it appears to be largely driven not by
algae with the type of algae being deterbaseflows, but by an increase in elevated
mined by the balance of nutrients or seaspikes exacerbating agricultural stormwater sonal paucity of nitrates.
runoff likely due to shifts in precipitation
(Contact Dane Schumann at 1-3626)
CoOportunity Going to Liquidation
The Iowa Insurance Division has asked for
a court order to liquidate CoOportunity
Health, marking the first failure of an Iowa
insurance company in 26 years and the
first of the nonprofit cooperatives spawned
by the Affordable Care Act. Iowa Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart took over
the company’s operations in December
when the company began to look unhealthy. He announced last week that the
liquidation would likely take effect on February 28.
CoOportunity enrolled both Iowa and Nebraska customers, and about 68,000 still
have insurance through the fledgling company. Both states have special funds designed to protect customers when one of
their insurers falter. The Iowa Life & Health
Insurance Guaranty Association is paying
the claims of Iowa customers.
The Affordable Care Act created 23 nonprofit insurance cooperatives to help spur
competition in the insurance market. But
according to the IID, the company’s large
population of high-cost enrollees created
too much financial pressure for CoOporCoOportunity enrollees--especially those
tunity to sustain itself. The federal governreceiving federal tax credits to pay for cov- ment also failed to provide $126 million that
erage--are strongly recommended to find
was supposed to protect companies with
new insurance quickly before the February high-risk enrollees, a cash crunch that also
15 open-enrollment deadline. Employers
prevented CoOportunity from obtaining
with coverage through a group market have private loans.
more time to switch companies but only
about 30 to 45 days after the liquidation.
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House Republican Newsletter
Economic Growth
(Contact Dane Schumann at 1-3626)
Business Group Grades State Competitiveness
The Iowa Business Council, a group made
up by the state’s largest companies, released its yearly economic report this
week. The report examines five broad economic indicators for the state: economic
growth, education, governance and fiscal
management, heath and workforce demographics.
Iowa’s rankings remain largely unchanged
from last year, but the report also highlighted how the state’s economy looked 15
years ago in 2000. Under the economic
growth category, the state jumped from
23rd in 2000 to 22nd currently in per capita
income of $45,114. The state’s unemployment rate is also among the nation’s best.
The education numbers were more troubling, where Iowa slid from 11th in 2003 to
18th in 2013 in eight grade reading. It tumbled ten spots in eight grade math across
that same period, from 12th to 22nd. Both
despite higher education funding. The
measurements contain higher percentages
of proficient students than before, but the
report suggests other states are passing
Iowa on their way up. Meanwhile, the number percentage of both high school and
four-year college graduates has increased.
The state still ranks high in ACT scores-tied at 3rd--within the ranks of the 30 states
where at least half the students take the
ACT test.
New population estimates released late last
year showed Iowa's population grew 2 percent to more than 3.1 million over the last
four years, but national average is 3.3 percent. The report points out that Iowa is the
only state that didn’t experience at least 50
percent population growth between 1900
and 2010.
Contact Jason Chapman at 1-3015)
School Start Date Discussion Begins
The school start date has long been a controversial topic in Iowa, even prior to the
current law’s enactment in 1985. Talk
about what to do with the start date is usually part of every new legislature, but for
the past 30 years no action has changed
what current law requires. This past December, however, Governor Branstad issued a letter to the Director of the Department of Education, Brad Buck, that
changed the conversation.
The current law, Iowa Code 279.10, subsection 1, requires that schools start no
later than a day during the week in which
September 1 falls. Subsection 4 then provides a waiver opportunity for schools that
want to start sooner if they can prove that
starting during the week of September 1
would “have a significant negative educational impact.” That language has been the
crux of the problem.
The Department of Education has for years
declared they have no guidance from the
legislature to enforce that clause. As a
result any requests from schools to start
earlier than the statutory date have had
their waivers automatically granted.
“start no later than a day
during the week in which
September 1 falls.”
Branstad’s letter in December asked Director Buck to put an end to that practice.
Schools can still receive waivers, but they
should no longer be automatically granted.
Following the Governor’s request, the Department created and issued guidance on
January 21st (located here: https://
documents/2015-0121GuidanceSchoolStartDateWaivers_0.pdf) that puts the burden of proof on
school districts. The guidance outlines
what will and won’t constitute a “significant
negative educational impact”.
The fight here doesn’t fall along partisan
lines, as many issues before the legislature
typically do, so the conversation is playing
out a bit differently than others. Two bills
are currently moving through the legislative
process, one in each chamber. House File
13 held a subcommittee last week and
passed unanimously. It now sits before the
full committee. Senate Study Bill 1058 is
scheduled for a subcommittee later this
week. Both of those bills remove any start
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House Republican Newsletter
date from statute and leave the decision to
local school boards.
statutory start date. In the previous 2
school years similar stories played out with
10 starting at the statutory date in 2013/14
and 8 starting there in 2012/13.
ism to maintain a customer base and employed staff with kids returning to the classroom, and negatively impact the revenue
the state brings through tourism activities.
The education community is fully behind
this approach, and as can be seen from the
graph, it’s quite evident that schools favor
an earlier start date. Only 2 of the 338
school districts started according to the
The tourism industry has been the primary
driver behind any opposition to House File
13, stating that early starts reduce the opportunities for families to plan summer activities, for businesses that thrive on tour-
Leaders in the House have expressed an
interest to work on this issue in a manner
that will hopefully satisfy both sides of the
issue as much as possible.
(Continued from page 4)
House Passes Sustainable School Funding Bill
The House, this week, passed a school
funding bill, working diligently to provide a
funding number to school districts before
they are required to certify their budgets this
spring. The bill continues the legislature’s
trend of providing significant increases to
the state’s K-12 system, bringing the 5 year
total increase to over $570 million, a nearly
22% increase.
around $200 million available for additional
expenditures for the upcoming year. The
House proposal, which fits in line with the
Governor’s proposal, for school funding for
next year would spend half of that new
available revenue on the state’s K-12 education system.
House File 80 and 81, providing school aid
growth, propose an additional $100 million
While state revenues increased this year
in state dollars going to the K-12 education
providing the legislature money to increase system next year. In this figure is included
some appropriations for FY16, a number of $50 million for the state’s new Teacher
built-in expenses and prior commitments via Leadership Compensation (TLC) system
legislative action in past years leaves
designed to fundamentally change how
teachers cooperate and grow in their profession. Additionally, just under $6 million
of the funding will provide property tax relief
to millions of Iowans.
“5 year total increase to
over $570 million, a
nearly 22% increase”
Here’s a 5-year snapshot of state aid to
Fiscal Year (school year)
Percent Growth
State Cost Per Pupil
General Fund Increase
FY12 (11/12)
$178 million (1)
FY13 (12/13)
$30 million (2)
FY14 (13/14)
2% + 2% one-time
$65 million + $57 million (3)
FY15 (14/15)
$148 million (4)
4-yr total increase
FY16 (15/16) (proposed)
$421 million + $57 million
$99.8 million
$520.8 million + $57 million
5-yr total increase with FY16 proposal
House Republicans are the products of this
state’s education system, through Iowa’s
public elementary schools, private schools,
home school families, community colleges,
private colleges, and the state universities.
The state spends around 55% of its dollars
on education at all levels in this state proving that education is a top priority.
House Republicans made a campaign
promise that they would keep the budget
under control and avoid bad budgeting
practices and out of control spending.
They vowed not to spend more than the
state takes in. They vowed not to spend
one-time money on on-going expenses.
And they are adhering to those principles
year after year, providing stability while at
the same time providing unprecedented
growth in education.
The bill will now head to the Senate for
Condition of Ed Report Released
Last week the Iowa Department of Educa- er salaries and characteristics, student
tion released the latest edition of the Annu- achievement results and school financial
al Condition of Education report that details information.
the 2013/14 school year.
A few highlights from the report:
The report contains 260 pages of detailed
478,921: The number of students eninformation, charts, and graphs on a numrolled in Iowa’s public schools during
ber of data points, including shifts in stuthe 2013-14 school year, up from
dent populations and demographics, teach476,245 the year before.
21.1%: The percentage of minority
student enrollment, up from 20.2 percent in 2012-13 school year and 5.5
percent in 1990.
41.1%: The percentage of students
eligible for free or reduced-price lunch,
up slightly from 41 percent a year ago
and up from 27 percent 13 years ago.
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House Republican Newsletter
(Continued from page 5)
89.7%: The percentage of students
from the Class of 2013 who graduated
from high school in four years, up
slightly from the year before (89.3 percent).
Iowa’s average teacher salary increased 3.7 percent to $51,937 in the
2013-14 school year.
There were 34,509 teachers in Iowa
schools during the 2013-14 school
year, up from 33,610 in 2000-2001.
“increased 3.7 percent to
Environmental Protection
There were 346 school districts during
the 2013-14 school year, down two
from the year before. There are 338
school districts in the current school
To view the full report and reports from
previous years, visit: https://
(Contact Lew Olson at 1-3096)
DNR Touts Cooperation that Builds Lasting Results at North Bear Creek
On Friday, January 23, 2015, The Iowa
Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
posted a press release which touted collaborative water quality efforts which have
been made been made in the North Bear
Creek and noted in this release that revues
of other water quality successes can be
accessed in DNR’s annual watershed success publication--‘ Working For Clean Water.’
Fish Hatchery. But preserving and expanding populations of brown, brook and rainbow trout is much more involved than simply stocking fish.
Trout thrive in clear, fast moving, oxygenrich, 50-degree water and need a gravel
stream bed to thrive. The spring-fed
creeks in northeastern Iowa are the perfect
habitat. But since settlement, water quality
declined due to soil erosion and chemicals.
The DNR press release which credited
Prior to retiring from the DNR, Bill Kalishek
some aspects of the story courtesy of Iowa worked with area farmers for more than 25
Public Television commented that when
years to restore trout streams. He says,
the hit film ‘A River Runs Through It was
"The biggest impediment to trout is silt on
released in 1992, it helped rejuvenate local the bottom. Trout feed off insects that live
economies and waterways in northeast
on the rocks. And their eggs can get
Iowa, as the beauty and skill showcased so smothered by silt or mud, too. Trout need
vividly in the film helped inspire more than a rock and gravel bottom so their eggs can
half a million trips to trout streams, injecting fall between—safe from predators."
more than $14 million into Iowa’s economy
every year. While casting long, graceful
Most efforts to improve water quality and
loops of his fly line at North Bear Creek,
reduce sedimentation began 15 years ago.
Kent Kleckner says, "It makes me feel like Today, the work still holds up. Upgrades
I’m in the mountains and I’m a long ways
made to last targeted actively eroding
from work and everything else. This is one banks. Small trees growing on vertical
of the prettiest places I fish. And I get here banks were grubbed out so banks could be
as often as I can." For Kleckner—president shaved off to proper slope. Portions of
of the Driftless Chapter of Trout Unlimited, those tree trunks were embedded 8 to 10
fishing guide and owner of Bear Creek An- feet into the bank for support. Root balls
glers in Decorah—this is more than just
left exposed underwater now provide trout
another day wading the clear, cold waters
havens. Properly sized rock bolsters banks
of North Bear. He knows each trout he
for greater stability. Kalishek says landcatches and releases is there because
owners keep cattle from the creek and
many people worked together. The trout
don’t plow to the edges of banks. Farmers
come from two sources—native populakeep cattle off sensitive areas, reducing
tions that reproduce in North Bear and oth- siltation and animal waste entering the waers stocked from the nearby DNR Decorah ter, where excess nutrients can cause al-
Human Resources
gae blooms and excessive plant growth.
But cleaning water extends beyond the
stream itself. In the watershed, dry run
dams slow runoff during rain events, allowing silt to settle out before entering the
creek. Efforts ramped up during the past
two decades, as a strong relationship between farmers, the DNR and the USDA
Natural Resources Conservation Service
was forged.
Since the early 1990s, projects have seeded riparian areas next to the stream to filter
water and hold back soil, placed rip-rap
along banks to reduce erosion, added bank
hides to give trout a place to escape predators, and the installed fences to keep cattle
out of the water. Efforts by landowners,
volunteers and government agencies have
helped clean up the water and keep gravel
stream beds clear of silt, allowing trout to
lay eggs. Those efforts have helped
reestablish naturally reproducing trout in
more than 40 of Iowa’s 105 trout streams.
For Kleckner, just catching the trout tells
him things are improving, as soil remains in
fields and out of the stream. "Having a pretty stream with nice rocky banks, and all
that sort of thing is important and that’s
nice. However, if the farmers don’t take
care of the 500 or thousand acres that are
in the watershed, pretty streambanks aren’t
gonna help natural reproduction of brown
trout. So, it’s all the farmers taking care of
the watershed that have allowed us to have
natural brown trout reproduction going on
here," he adds.
(Contact Carrie Malone at 5-2063)
Governor’s Budget Proposes Medicaid Cost Containment Initiatives
Iowa’s Medicaid program currently serves
about 545,000 people at a cost of $4.2
billion (state and federal) annually. Medicaid serves the children, the disabled, the
aged, and adults with children that meet
certain criteria. The cost of delivering this
cludes millions of dollars of cost containprogram has grown by 73% since 2003.
ment initiatives. Some of these proposals
This is one reason that the Governor’s
are outlined below.
budget proposes to place some of the Med(Continued on page 7)
icaid program into managed care and in-
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House Republican Newsletter
(Continued from page 6)
Increase Nursing Facility Quality Assurance Assessment Fee to 3% - The Governor proposes to increase a fee imposed on
nursing homes as a way of funding a portion of the nursing facility rebase that he
included in his budget recommendation.
This would increase Medicaid revenue by
$3.8 million that can then be used for other
Medicaid expenses. This idea will require
approval by the federal government.
“grown by 73% since
Reduce Home and Community Based Services costs - The Governor proposes to
decrease the transportation rates for this
population. This change will not impact
non-emergency medical transportation to
medical services.
Complex Pharmaceutical Oversight Program (CPOP) - This program will provide
oversight of high cost drugs. The effort is
to reduce waste and improve the health of
the Medicaid member.
Medicaid Modernization - The Governor
proposed to transition portions of Medicaid
into a managed care system. The estimated savings for this program will be about
$50 million in the first six months.
(Contact Amanda Freel at 1-5230)
Judiciary Committee Begins Work on Legislation
In the past three weeks the Judiciary Committee has held numerous subcommittees
on issues important to Iowans. Once out of
subcommittee, these bills must pass committee with at least 11 votes before they
can proceed to the House Floor for debate.
Below are some bills that have passed
subcommittee and may be discussed by
the full committee soon:
House Study Bill 25- Occupancy
This bill would prohibit a city from regulating who can live together based on familial
status. This means that a city could not
prohibit people who are not related from
living together. Cities would still be able to
regulate based on other legal standards.
House Study Bill 35- Sledding
This bill would protect municipalities from
lawsuits if a person is injured while sledding or tubing on municipal property. The
municipality would still be required to keep
the area safe in accordance with recognized engineering and safety standards.
Under current law, many cities in Iowa
have banned sledding and tubing on their
property for fear of a law suit if a person is
House Study Bill 53- Air Bags
House Study Bill 53 will protect consumers
from counterfeit, nonfunctional or unsafe
airbags. The bill lays out penalties for
someone who knowingly installs or sells
one of these airbags. This bill was brought
forward due to the number of recalls on
airbags and to ensure Iowans are getting
safe working replacements.
House Study Bill 31- Crimes Against Children Under 15
This bill will increase the penalties for persons who commit specific crimes against a
child under the age of 15. Last year the
House Judiciary Committee passed a similar bill, but it did not receive support in the
Senate. The legislation is in response to
the kidnapping and murder of an Iowa teen
by a convicted sex offender.
(Contact Colin Tadlock at 1-3440)
State Unemployment Down to 4.1%
The unemployment rate in Iowa dropped
from 4.3% in November to 4.1% in December according to the latest Iowa Workforce
Development report. Total Iowa nonfarm
employment added 2,100 jobs in December and now rests at 1,642,900 jobs. Iowa
was one of 42 states that saw a decrease
in its unemployment rate.
In Iowa the labor force continues to expand, with 400 Iowans entering the job
market in December. Between December
of 2013 and December of 2014, 38,200
workers have joined the labor force. Additionally, the number of unemployed Iowans
decreased by 2,500 in December. Since
December of 2013, 38,100 Iowans have
found employment.
“10th lowest
unemployment rate”
Manufacturing led the state in job gains,
adding 1,600 jobs in December. Manufacturing was followed by Professional & Busi-
ness services (+1,500 jobs) and Other services (+600 jobs) respectively. Additionally, the Trade, Transportation & Utilities industry shed 1,000 jobs in December, which
constitutes as the largest decrease in all
sectors of employment.
Iowa has the 10th lowest unemployment
rate in the country, and Iowa’s rate continues to remain lower than the national rate,
which stood at 5.6% in December. Additionally, Iowa’s labor force continues to
grow from month to month, a trend opposite of the national labor force.
Page 8
House Republican Newsletter
Natural Resources
(Contact Carrie Malone at 5-2063)
Tips for Ice Fishing
With an unusually mild period of weather
this winter, ice fishing can put anglers in
dangerous situations. Before going out on
the ice, below are a few tips from the Iowa
DNR about how you can stay safe.
Check - Take the time to check the ice
thickness and quality before you settle on a
spot. Before going out, make sure you drill
a hole in the ice from the shore. Four inches of clear ice or eight inches of black ice
will hold an adult. Five to six inches is required to hold a snowmobile or groups of
three or more.
Hello, partner! - it is always a great idea to
use the buddy system. Fish in groups
when possible. If that is not possible, tell
someone else where you will be and when
you will get back.
sonal flotation device in your gear. Rope is
also helpful in emergency situations and
can be used to pull someone to safety. In
addition to safety equipment, an ice auger
will help anglers drill through the ice to
measure thickness. Measure the ice with a
tape measure.
Get the gear - Safety equipment is an essential tool. The Iowa DNR recommends
anglers take a five gallon bucket along with
them. The bucket can be inverted and
used as a flotation device. Include a per-
Bundle up - Frostbite and hypothermia are
possible in cold temperatures. If you feel
burning, itching, or tingling on your skin it
could be a sign on frostbite and you should
get out of the elements.
Public Safety
(Contact Amanda Freel at 1-5230)
Medical Cannabidiol Card Application Available
The Iowa Department of Public Health has
announced that Iowans can now apply to
receive a Medical Cannabidiol Card. The
card will be issued in accordance with the
Medical Cannabidiol Act passed by the
Iowa Legislature last year.
Iowans who qualify can apply for a Medical
Cannabidiol Card by filling out the application on the Department of Public Health
MCARCP/Default.aspx. If the applicant
meets all the standards, the card will be
diagnosed with Intractable Epilepsy by an
Iowan Neurologist may request a letter
recommending they use medical cannabidiol. The patient or their guardian must fill out
the application on the DPH website. If the
application is accepted, the individual or
their guardian may receive a Medical Cannabidiol Registration Card. A person who
possess a legal card may possess up to 32
oz. of Cannabidiol in Iowa. The drug may
not be purchased, sold or produced in Iowa.
Cannabidiol is a nonpsychoactive chemical
found in the marijuana plant. Unlike THC,
Last year, Senate File 2360, was passed
cannabidiol, does not produce the high
with bi-partisan support. The new law alnormally associated with marijuana. Inlows Iowans to possess Cannabidiol for the stead, some believe cannabidiol may have
treatment of Intractable Epilepsy. A person a medical purpose, particularly for those
individuals diagnosed with intractable epilepsy. Intractable epilepsy is a seizure disorder for which standard medical treatment
has not been able to prevent or reduce the
seizures. Cannabidiol may help reduce
seizures in these extreme cases.
“may not be purchased,
sold or produced in
For the next two years, the legislature will
be monitoring the implementation of this
program and studying if the program is truly
benefitting Iowans. As of now, the Medical
Cannabidiol Act sunsets in 2017.
(Contact Brittany Telk at 1-3452)
Fuel Tax Concerns
With gas prices at a tumbling across the
US and little movement at the federal level
regarding a gas tax increase, many states
are seriously discussing a hike in their fuel
taxes. Earlier this month, members of the
U.S. Senate proposed raising the federal
gas tax by 12 cents over two years while
also indexing it to inflation, with lowering
taxes elsewhere in an effort to achieve
bipartisan support.
However, President Obama, not to mention
Ways & Means Chair Paul Ryan, RWisconsin, has already spoken out about
the measure, stating this proposal is unlikely to be taken up this year. The President
has previously proposed a four-year $302
billion infrastructure bill which involved the
closing of tax “loopholes” but this was
heavily criticized and referred to as a onetime fix. Obama has also proposed changing the tax code in an effort to urge private
companies to invest in infrastructure
through municipal bonds. But gas tax supporters are saying this doesn’t go far
Regardless of the funding plans, the facts
remain the same. The federal fuel tax has
remained untouched since 1993 at a rate
of 18.4 cents per gasohol and gasoline
gallon. And much like Iowa’s Road Use
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Tax Fund, the federal gas tax revenues go
into the federal highway trust fund to be
used for highway infrastructure throughout
the country. The differences between the
two funds being that Iowa’s RUTF has never gone dry, while the highway trust fund
has been in danger of depletion since
2008. Between 2008 and 2010, Congress
moved nearly $35 billion from general fund
money to the highway trust fund to stall the
House Republican Newsletter
fund’s depletion, with another 11-month
short-term $9.7 billion transfer to continue
operating costs through the 2014 fiscal
year…which will run out this May 2015, or
in four months.
Federal problems match those of most
states; gas tax revenues go to fund roadways, but with increasing fuel efficiency
and alternative fuel vehicles, revenues are
down meaning less money for these projects. Additionally, legislators are weary
about raising a tax due to unpopularity
among constituents. Some states, Iowa
included, have taken the initiative to try and
fix their own problems before federal funds
cease to exist. Over the summer, Missouri
residents voted a fuel tax down by an overwhelming 60%, aiding the argument that
other solutions must be found. In Iowa, an
increase in the fuel tax remains a key issue
in the Legislature.
Veterans Affairs
(Contact Kristi Kielhorn at 2-5290)
Disabled Veteran Property Tax Exemption Legislative Fix Clears Subcommittee
Last year Senate File 2352 was passed by
the legislature and signed by the governor.
That bill was intended to provide Iowa’s
most injured heroes with a 100 percent exemption from state property taxes. Veterans
certified by the United States Department of
Veterans Affairs as having a 100 percent
service-connected disability, or spouses
and children of servicemen and women
killed in action since September 11, 2001,
are eligible to apply for the exemption.
Another group of heroes that the legislation
intended to include, but technically did not,
was those disabled veterans identified by
the United States Department of Veterans
Affairs as Individual Unemployables. These
servicemen and women might technically
have a disability rating of less than 100 percent, but for one reason or another are
deemed 100 percent disabled by the department and are paid at the 100 percent
from these servicemen and women, deny
them initially, but hold them in a file until a
fix could be made. About 227 individuals
were denied the exemption based on this
This year’s legislation, House Study Bill 40,
specifically adds Individual Unemployable
veterans to the list of those eligible for the
exemption. The change is retroactive to
After it became apparent that this group of
January 1, 2014. The bill was supported by
veterans had been unintentionally left out of all three members of the subcommittee and
the legislation, county assessors were inwill move to committee for further considerstructed to continue to take applications
Ways & Means
(Contact Kristi Kielhorn at 2-5290)
Coupling Bill Passes House Ways and Means
House Study Bill 67 passed the House
Ways and Means Committee this week by
a vote of 25-0. The bill updates Iowa law to
conform with certain tax provisions Congress finally enacted in December for tax
year 2014.
The bill updates the provisions in the Iowa
Code for the Iowa research activities credit
to include revisions in the federal research
credit (the basis for the Iowa credit). The
federal research credit was extended for
the 2014 tax year in the Tax Increase Prevention Act.
House Study Bill 67 also updates the Iowa
income tax code to couple with the 2014
federal changes (with the exception of bonus depreciation). The more significant
federal tax changes that this bill couples
with include:
Deduction of up to $250 for out-ofpocket expenses for teachers
Tuition and fees deduction for higher
education expenses
Election to deduct state sales/use tax
in lieu of state income tax as an itemized deduction
Deduction for mortgage insurance
premiums as deductible qualified resi-
dence interest
Nontaxable IRA transfers to eligible
Small businesses can now expense
(instead of depreciate) the first
$500,000 of equipment cost (known as
Section 179 expensing)
The bill does not couple with the federal
provision for 50 percent bonus depreciation
for both individual and corporate income
tax for assets acquired in 2014. This is the
same stance that has been taken since
2008. The bill will now move to the floor for
further consideration.