SUNDAY TALK: Gassman on the Halfway Point

We are now halfway through Session. This week has been consistently busy between debate, committees, and keeping up on my legislative priorities for the Session. Marriage and family are very close to my heart. I like to take every opportunity that I can get to promote them. Up here there is a lot of talk about worker shortage and lack of childcare in the state. There is a bipartisan effort to expand childcare so that more parents can get into the workforce. For those families that can or so decide, it is very valuable for children to have a parent at home. I think that if we are incentivizing those parents that go into the workforce we should also be incentivizing those that decide to stay home so that more families have that option. I am working on getting a tax credit of $500 per child for those parents that stay home to take care of their children. Another priority of mine is reducing the financial burden of mental health off of the property owners. A third priority for me is moving all the money used for REAP and similar programs into the formula for IWILL. Though things could still change, I have decided that if I can make some progress in these three areas I will vote for the 1 cent increase in sales tax. About $200,000,000 would go into the trust fund and about $340,000,000 would be used for tax reduction.
Bills that Passed out of the House:
By Wednesday we had already passed about 47 bills out of the House. Most of them are bipartisan and move pretty quickly. Here are a few bills that I found interesting.
HF 2372:
House File 2372 would redefine the definition of “chauffeur” to exclude a farmer or his hired help (18 or older) that are hauling the farmer’s property within 100 miles of a farm that he owns or rents. It would effectively remove the requirement to get a Chauffeur’s License when a farmer is driving his own farm licensed vehicle.
SF 2142:
You may remember in one of my earlier newsletters that I talked about passing the Supplemental State Aid bill out of the House. It was sent to the Senate and now both Chambers have come to an agreement. With this new agreement, there will be $85.5 million in new dollars for Supplemental State Aid for fiscal year 2021. The equity piece that is in the bill is $5.8 million for a total of $91.3 million.
HF 2539:
Often deaf and hard-of-hearing children can’t keep up with their peers in school. We want to help these kids in the first 8 years of their life to build a solid educational foundation so that they can be successful. The bill would provide resources for the parents of these students. It would also require the Department of Education to hire an Early Language Development Coordinator and provide resources for teachers to assess the language and literacy of their deaf and hard-of hearing students. If a student doesn’t make the progress that they should, that student’s individual learning plan would be looked into to see what was causing the issue and how their plan could be changed. Finally, the bill provides for the creation of an advisory committee which would learn how the students’ language should be developing.
HF 2566:
The Grain Depositors and Sellers Indemnity Fund was created to help relieve farmers when a grain elevator that they had their grain stored in went bankrupt. The current indemnity fund is becoming exhausted. This bill would begin a study on the fund which would produce a report that the Governor and General Assembly would receive by December 15, 2020.
HF 2455:
House File 2455 would allow hunters that are trained in deer blood tracking to use a dog that is trained in the same, to retrieve a wounded deer. The dog would have to be on a leash 50 foot long or shorter. When hunting on private property, the hunter would have to have the permission of the owner. A $250 fine would be inflicted on violators of this law.
SF 537:
This bill would allow someone to use an infrared light, that is mounted to either the mode of take or the scope that is on the mode of take, to hunt coyotes. The only times that a person would not be able to use the infrared light for coyotes is during bow, shotgun, and muzzleloader seasons for deer.

Other Updates:
I have had the opportunity to speak with several people from Iowa Lakes Community College this week. Last Thursday some nursing students came up to the Capitol, and on Tuesday we welcomed a board member, administrators, teachers, and home construction students.

My next forum will be in Estherville at the Regional Wellness Center on March 7th at 10:00 a.m. There will be three forums in Winnebago County on March 20th and one in Kossuth County March 21st.
I truly appreciate the opportunity to serve you as your State Representative.

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