With funnel week fast approaching, committee work took the focus this week to make sure that key legislation continues to stay alive. The legislative “funnel” is a rule that requires bills to receive approval from at least one committee to remain eligible for consideration. If a bill fails to advance out of committee, it is considered dead until next session begins. I’ll have more information on bills that survived the funnel in next week’s newsletter.
In addition to committee work, we debated a handful of non-controversial bills on the floor this week. One of the bills that passed, House File 312, will allow vehicles to run unattended while you warm it up in the driveway or you’re running into the gas station. I’m guessing most folks thought this was already the case, but the previous law dates back to the very early days of automobiles and was never updated. This bill gives Iowans the peace of mind to use remote start technology without fear of being ticketed!
Flexibility for Schools
Our work continues on school funding flexibility. We’ve been working with schools and superintendents over the past few weeks on ways to provide more flexibility. As I’ve mentioned in previous newsletters, many schools have a significant amount of dollars sitting in funds that go unused from year to year simply because they are limited to very specific purposes.
No school district is the same. They each face their own unique challenges and opportunities. We will have a proposal out very soon that will loosen funding strings and allow schools to spend some of these funds in a way that meets students’ needs and fits their individual districts best.
Combating Opioid Addiction
We’re also looking at a number of proposals to combat opioid addiction. Across the country, many states are facing a major problem with overdose deaths climbing each year. Thankfully, we haven’t reached epidemic levels here in Iowa like other states. We have a relatively low amount of deaths related to opioids, but that number has been increasing each year. We have a number of bills introduced this year that will build on our efforts last year and fight this escalating problem.
Protecting Iowans from Synthetic Drugs
Another bill on the move is House File 296, which will keep deadly synthetic drugs off the streets, while also making it easier to prosecute the sellers of those drugs. For years, the House has worked to prevent deadly synthetic drugs from getting into the hands of Iowa’s kids. We think we can get this done this year.
As the session continues to move along, please stay in touch. Legislation is going through the process, so please let me know your thoughts as different bills or issues arise. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (515) 281-3521.