As I sit down to write my newsletter each Thursday, I often wonder what readers want to know. Perhaps you’d like to know how I decide what position I take on an issue. The process of deciding how to vote has many parts. I gather information from staff and lobbyists on both sides of an issue. I talk to people I know from my district and read emails from concerned citizens. Then I consider what lines up with the real purpose of government: to protect our God-given unalienable rights. This affects everything I vote on, from traffic laws, to labor issues, to defining when we protect the life of a baby.
The biggest issue the Senate dealt with this week was Workers’ Compensation reform. Two hundred and fifty businesses formed a coalition to promote this legislation that attempts to correct some costly and anti-competitive actions taken by bureaucrats and judges. Legislators have been working on this for three months and have received input from employees, employers, healthcare and workforce people. Compromises were worked out that protect injured workers, encourages new business, and keeps most cases out of court. The bill says if you are injured out of state but live in Iowa, you must claim benefits in the state where you are employed. Since Iowa has been more generous with benefits than surrounding states, many people employed out of state have claimed benefits in Iowa. Also, many cases of double dipping were eliminated, such as collecting from both partial and total disabilities so benefits exceed 100%. Some of the businesses in District 4 played a big part in how this legislation was written. I was glad to see it pass the Senate and go to the Governor’s desk this week.
Another bill that helps establish a welcoming environment for business was the pre-emption bill. This bill creates uniformity in Iowa by keeping the minimum wage consistent across the state, as is currently in code. Any business can pay more than the minimum wage, but the bill says the state sets that minimum. The bill also prohibits a city or county from prohibiting certain types of packaging. Companies with locations in several counties (like Casey’s) would incur extra costs if one city said all bags and disposable cups had to be paper rather than plastic or foam.
Senate File 360 expands Iowa’s Safe Haven Law. Current law allows parents, or someone with their authorization, to leave an infant up to 14 days old at a hospital without prosecution for abandonment. The revision we passed this week allows a person to call 911 to relinquish physical custody of a newborn. The 911 dispatch would send the most appropriate first responder to care for the child and deliver it to the nearest health facility. The window for giving up the child was also extended from 14 to 30 days after birth. In addition, we provided that the mother’s information is kept secret and not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. We hope that even more babies will be saved after these changes.