SUNDAY TALK: Gassman on School Funding Flexibilities

We are swiftly approaching the first funnel for the 2017 session. Friday, March 3rd is the last day for bills to be voted on in House committees. After this week, bills that have not been voted out of committee are considered dead for the year. The House has been working hard this week to debate and pass important bills out of committee so that they can be further considered on the House floor. I am pleased to say that several bills I have been working on have cleared the first funnel, including bills to modify the College Student Aid Commission and a bill to allow for high school equivalencies in the state of Iowa. In addition, HF 84, which allows parents to teach driver’s education to their children, has cleared the House Transportation committee.

Bills of Interest:

HSB 93-Election Integrity and Modernization

HSB 93 is a bill recommended by Secretary of State Paul Pate which modifies certain aspects of the election process. HSB 93 requires all voters to present government-issued identification at their polling location.  Acceptable forms of ID include: • An Iowa Driver’s License
• An Iowa Non-operator ID • A United States Passport • A Veteran or Military ID • A Voter Identification issued by the Secretary of State

HSB 93 provides eligible voters with a free Voter Identification Card if they cannot afford another form of identification. HSB 93 also implements the use of E-poll Books to modernize and streamline the voting process at polling locations and eliminates straight-ticket voting from Iowa ballots. This week, the State Government Committee passed the Election Integrity and Modernization bill and sent it to the House floor for consideration.

School Flexibility

This year we are making a conscious effort to provide flexibility to locally elected school boards by loosening funding restrictions and allowing for more local decision making.  Several school districts have a significant amount of funds sitting in accounts that go unused because they are limited to specific purposes. No school district is the same, and they each face their own unique challenges and opportunities.  House Republicans are working to loosen funding strings and allow schools to spend some of their categorical funds where they need it most to meet students’ needs. Two bills that seek to provide flexibility are HF 446 and HSB 178. I am especially pleased with HSB 178 because it includes components similar to what I have been working on over the last few years including at-risk funds and professional development.

HF 308

This bill modifies the laws regarding military records confidentiality. Under current law, military records are to be kept confidential unless 75 years has transpired since the filing of the record. HF 308 changes the amount of time to 62 years in order to match federal law.  HF 308 has passed the House floor.

HF 218   HF 218 relates to the regulations for single truck length. Under current law, the length of a single truck operated on the highways of this state cannot exceed 41 feet. Under this bill, the permitted length will be increased to 45 feet. HF 218 has passed the House floor.

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