SUNDAY TALK: Gassman on the Current Issues in the Legislature

Representative Tedd Gassman is currently working on legislation before the Iowa House of Representatives in a wide range of subjects. Gassman took a moment to highlight these issues in our Sunday Talk.

Budget Update

The State Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) met Tuesday and lowered expected FY 17 revenues by $105.9 million.  That comes after the REC had already previously lowered expected FY 17 revenues in December by $117 million. Gov. Branstad has proposed using money in the state’s Cash Reserve Fund to make up for this second reduction in state revenues.  If that happens, $131 million will need to be borrowed and paid back.  The $25 million difference is due to the use of $25 million in non-recurring funds to help patch the hole left in December when the REC first lowered the revenue level. The House Republican plan to deal with this is threefold. First, taxpayers and the Legislature need more accurate revenue estimates from the Revenue Estimating Conference.  We understand this is a difficult task that many states are struggling to deal with right now, but we need to find a way to better predict state revenue. Second, a very hard look needs to be taken at where taxpayer money is used to make sure Iowans are getting the best value and their priorities are being met.  This very well could mean that the state needs to curtail or end longstanding spending. Third, every tax credit needs to be reevaluated to make sure taxpayers are getting a good deal.  A complete approach needs to start immediately instead of the piecemeal, year-by-year strategy that has been in place.  With only a few months left in the fiscal year, additional budget reduction opportunities are limited, and it is likely that the Legislature will have to dip into the Cash Reserve Fund.  As
we navigate the necessary adjustments of the REC, House Republicans will continue to work to balance the budget while funding the priorities of our constituents.

Bills of Interest

Article V Resolution

Wednesday, the House passed HJR 12 which calls for a Convention of the States to amend the Constitution in order to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government and limit the federal government’s power and jurisdiction. Iowa is on the road to joining several other states which have already passed this resolution. Once a convention is called, the Iowa Legislature will select delegates to represent the state of Iowa at the convention. Delegates will be limited to only considering and supporting amendments that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government. The federal government has overstepped its bounds in many ways in recent years, and the amount of debt facing our nation is exorbitant. It is time for the people to use this constitutional provision to reign in the federal government and enforce greater fiscal responsibility. HJR 12 is now up for consideration in the Senate.

HF 464

This bill authorizes ATV’s and Off-Road Utility Vehicles to cross highways as long as certain requirements are followed. Under this bill, ATV’s and Off-Road Utility vehicles may make a direct crossing of a highway as long as the crossing is made at an approximately 90 degree angle to the roadway, the crossing is made at a place where no obstruction prevents a quick and safe crossing, the vehicle comes to a complete stop before crossing, and the driver yields to oncoming traffic. HF 464 passed the House floor on Wednesday, and was messaged to the Senate for consideration.

HF 563

HF 563 adds requirements for coaches, state high school athletic unions, and schools in order to more effectively protect student athletes. This bill requires all coaches to go through CPR training in order to obtain or maintain their coaching authorization. This bill also requires the athletic unions to establish return-to-school and return-to-play protocols for concussion situations that will be distributed to the school districts. In addition, schools will be required to adopt those concussion protocols, distribute information to parents and obtain signatures from parents regarding the concussion information before the students can participate in school sports. Finally, HF 563 requires coaches or school administrators to notify parents immediately or as soon as possible if a student shows signs or symptoms of a concussion during play. The purpose of this bill is to equip school districts to better handle concussions as the result of school sports, in order to protect students and ensure they receive prompt medical attention in the event of a concussion.

HF 545

This bill relates to the information released by DHS in the case of a fatality or near fatality of a child in a child abuse case. Under this bill, disclosure of information in the case such as the cause of and circumstances surrounding the child fatality and the age and gender of the child shall be disclosed. Information shall also be provided which describes previous child abuse or neglect investigations and services provided to the child by DHS. HF 545 aligns Iowa’s public disclosure laws relating to child fatalities with federal law.

HF 523

HF 523 allows medical examiners to access the prescription monitoring program as a part of their investigations. The prescription monitoring program is a health care tool used by practitioners to assist in identifying potential diversion, misuse, or abuse of controlled substances by their patients. Allowing medical examiners access to these records will give them additional important information which will ensure medical examiners can accurately determine a of cause of death.

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