by Iowa State Representative Henry Stone
“One Team, One Fight.”
I touched on bipartisanship last week and wanted to follow up a bit this week on why that is so important with the work we do in the State House. We are here four months out of the year from January through early May, so there is not a lot of time to get things done, and more importantly, get things right the first time.
This week we passed over 40 bills in the State House. The overwhelming number of bills had bipartisan support. We worked hard on a lot of issues together, because these issues matter to Iowans.
I carried the motto during my time in the Air Force of “One Team, One Fight”, and I continue to carry that motto as a state legislator. At the end of the day, we are going to disagree and have different approaches of solving problems but that shouldn’t deter us from accomplishing things for Iowans here at the State House.
And the good news is:
The State Cost Per Pupil (SCPP) amount on which the school aid formula is based increases from $7,048 to $7,217, a $169 increase. However, this amount will increase to $7227 because this bill includes a $10 State Cost Per Pupil increase to narrow the District Cost Per Pupil (DCPP) gap. This also continues to address transportation equity which is raised at the same rate as SSA.
The percentage is on par with what has been done in recent years, but the fact of the matter is enrollment was down by about 7,000 students. Contrary to the narratives presented by others, public school funding is not cut under this proposal. This is a 2.4% increase. This increase also outpaces the annual inflation rate as it has in previous years as well. Since 2011, House Republicans have prioritized students and schools with continuous increases for Supplemental State Aid, transportation equity, and adding an additional ten dollars per student to address equity issues.
Last week, the House Human Resources Committee passed three bills to increase access to those that can administer the COVID-19 vaccine. House Files 514, 528, and 547 will allow dentists to administer the vaccine that has taken the training, increase administration at pharmacies, and ensure accurate reporting of those that have been vaccinated.
Even as demand has far exceeded supply, Iowa continues to vaccinate at record rates. House Republicans support the 5% increase that the state is receiving from the federal government, meaning now 49,900 doses of vaccine are being delivered to Iowa each week. As of Wednesday, 496,981 doses have been administered. This includes 125,558 Iowans that have completed both doses of the vaccine and 245,865 Iowans that have received their first dose. With just over 610,000 total doses delivered to Iowa, we have administered over 80% of those vaccinations statewide!
In 2019, the legislature directed the Iowa DOT to conduct a study on access to the driving skills test for CDLs, and asked the DOT to evaluate testing options to increase access. The report can be found here.
Based on this report, the House Transportation Committee drafted House File 521 and passed it out of committee recently with strong bipartisan support. Currently, there are 16 Iowa DOT locations, 12 county treasurer locations, and 15 third-party locations. This bill would allow the tester to retain all fees for each 30-90-minute testing slot. This legislation allows the DOT or a county that is providing the driving skills test for a CDL to charge $25 for each of the three component tests (pre-trip vehicle inspection, basic vehicle control skills, and the on-road driving skills test). Currently, counties providing this testing do not receive any extra funds, leaving little incentive to maintain testing or expand testing to additional areas of the state. The entity, whether DOT or county, will still maintain the fees that come with the issuance of the actual license.
There were several bills passed this week that strengthen sex offender laws. We continue to pass legislation that protects all Iowans from predators!
HF 201-Sex Offender Registry Requirements
HF 201 requires a person who is convicted of extortion to register as a sex offender if it is determined that the crime was sexually motivated. The bill also prevents state shopping by requiring a sex offender who is registered in another state, but who lives in Iowa, must serve their time on their registry either under the convicting state or Iowa’s laws, whichever is longer. This prevents a sex offender from coming to Iowa for a shorter sentence on the registry.
HF 489-Adam Walsh Sex Offender Registry Compliance
HF 489 should bring Iowa into compliance with federal sex offender registry laws. The bill amends how long an offender must be on the registry before petitioning the court for modification. The changes will ensure the sex offenders serve their time on the sex offender registry after being released from prison.
SF 253- Sexual Abuse and Definition of Child
SF 253 changes the definition of “child” in sexual abuse 2nd and 3rd degree. Under current law a “child” in these crimes is considered someone under the age of 12, SF 253 changes the definition to someone under the age of 14. Under current law, a person who sexually abuses an 11 year old faces a 25 year sentence with a 70% mandatory minimum, whereas the exact same abuse done to a 12 year old is only subject to a 10 year punishment with no minimum sentence