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Sunday Talk: Stone on the Legislative Week

The large amounts of committee and subcommittee meetings have died down and we have started floor debate for lots of bills. Most of the bills that we passed this week were noncontroversial and had support from both sides of the aisle. Each year, most of the legislation that is passed has bipartisan support. This is important because it means that we all know that we are helping Iowans. Of course there will always be division in politics, but we will always try to work together.

The most controversial bill this week was House File 2416. I was proud to co-sponsor this bill to make sure that we’re protecting our girls. This bill prevents biological males from playing in girls’ sports. This new law creates a level playing field for female athletes at K-12 and college levels in Iowa. It is important to give our athletes a fair chance at winning.

House Republicans Advance Bills to Help Teacher Shortage

House Republicans have heard from all parts of the state that schools are experiencing staffing issues.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a rural area or an urban area, teachers are in high demand. House Republicans have multiple bills that survived the first funnel week and advanced out of education committee. These range from removing assessments students who are graduating from a teacher prep program are required to take prior to being able to apply for licensure, opening up eligibility for the Teach Iowa Scholar program, two alternative teacher licensure programs to get teachers into the workforce quicker, and a permanent teacher license for those with Master’s degrees or higher. These bills remove barriers for teachers and potential teachers, save teachers and potential teachers money, get teachers into the workforce quicker, and demonstrate a commitment to helping parents and students.

House File 2081 – Elimination of Praxis/Ed TPA Standardized Assessments 
This bill removes the requirement for practitioner preparation students to take and pass the Praxis II or edTPA Exam prior to being eligible for licensure. This bill also strikes language relating to the Praxis I test being administered prior to entering into a teacher prep program.

House File 2083 – Teach Iowa Scholar Eligibility
This bill removes the requirement that an applicant must be in the top 50% of their class to receive the Scholarship. This bill also states that 50% of the awards shall go to applicants who are teaching in small districts with 1,000 students or less and 50% of awards shall go to applicants who are teaching in large districts with more than 1,000 students.

House File 2421 – Alternative Teacher Licensure
Creates an alternative teacher licensure path for those who have at least a bachelor’s degree and three years of work experience to apply for a teacher intern license while completing additional coursework. Upon meeting requirements, an initial teacher license is granted at the recommendation of the school they are an intern at.

House File 2085 – Alternative Teacher Certification Program
This bill creates an alternative licensure program and lays out specific requirements that must be met for in-state versus out-of-state programs. An applicant would receive a temporary initial teaching license for one year prior to applying for a standard initial license.

House File 2398 – Permanent Teacher Licensure
Creates a permanent teacher license for those who have a master’s or doctoral degree where there are no renewal requirements.

Wide Variety of Bills Advance Out of House Judiciary Committee

The House Judiciary Committee passed an assortment of bills out of committee covering areas including religion, child abuse, adoption, abuse, and court reform. Below are a few of the bills that are expected to be passed out of the house in the next week.

HF 2220 – Anti-Semitism
Provides a clear definition of anti-Semitism. The definition is one adopted by the international Holocaust remembrance alliance on May 26, 2016. This definition will be used for helping determine when instances of illegal anti-Semitism actions occur.

HF 2239 – Rape Shield 
Rape shield laws protect a victim of sexual assault from being questioned about past sexual experiences while testifying. HF 2239 extends that protection to depositions and post-conviction relief. It will prevent a defendant from asking intrusive questions that would not be permitted in court testimony.

HF 2372 – Nonconsensual Termination of Pregnancy
Makes it a class “D” felony to attempt to terminate a pregnancy without the mothers consent.

HF 2385 – Sexual Exploitation School Counselor
Prohibits relationships between students and a person with authority over students in the school building. There were loopholes in current law that allowed some people who were not teachers to avoid prosecution after having an improper relationship with students

HF 2478 – Victims
Ensures that victims of first offense domestic violence are covered under the victims’ rights code section, 915. This allows the victims better notification of trial proceedings, and rights in criminal proceedings.

House Veterans Affairs Funnel Survivors

The House Veterans Affairs Committee passed 7 bills that survived the first funnel, a legislative deadline of the session. Below are some of the bills:

HF 2287 – Disabled Veteran Homestead Tax Credit
This bill creates additional homestead tax credits for disabled veterans by making the percentage of their homestead tax credit equal to their disability rating. Under current law, credit eligibility is limited to veterans with a 100% disability rating and the credit is 100% of their property taxes based on the definition of homestead. This bill would allow all disabled veterans to receive a property tax credit equal to their disability rating.

 HF 2293 – Veterans Trust Fund Allocation
This bill increases the amount sent to the Commission of Veterans Affairs from the State Lottery Fund from $500,000 to $800,000 annually.

HF 2300 – Civil Air Patrol 
This bill adds in members of the Civil Air Patrol to the list of military branches protected under law from car and health insurance termination and from employment discrimination while performing official duties. Last year, the legislature added the Coast Guard to this same list.

HF 2427 – License Plate Certification
This bill adds VSOs to the list of entities that can certify that the owner of a vehicle requesting veteran plates has served in the military and was discharged under honorable conditions.

HF 2501 – Veterans Trust Fund Investment
This bill requires the state treasurer to invest moneys in the Veterans Trust Fund along with the investment for IPERS. The earnings will be credited to the Veterans Trust Fund.

HF 2435 – Disabled Veteran Car Registration
This bill reduces one annual car registration fee per disabled veteran by a percentage equal the veteran’s service-related disability rating. This bill also reduces the annual fee for special or personalized registration plates by the same percentage.

House Ways and Means Passes Tax Credit Change and Sales Tax Exemption

This week the House Ways and Means Committee passed HSB 615 and HSB 718 unanimously.

House Study Bill 615 exempts from the state sales and use tax the purchase price of specified digital products, prewritten computer software, and related services sold to public utilities. It expands the definition of “commercial enterprise” to include a “public utility” as defined in Code section 476.1(3). As a result, the sales price of specified digital products, prewritten computer software, and other enumerated digital and computer services furnished to a public utility are exempt from the sales tax, if exclusively used by the public utility. This exemption was created in the 2018 tax reform bill.

House Study Bill 718 relates to the Endow Iowa Tax Credit. Under current law, the tax credit is capped annually at $6.0 million. Additionally, taxpayers cannot be granted more than 5 percent of the cap ($300,000). House Study Bill 718 reduces the maximum amount a taxpayer can receive to $100,000. Proponents of the bill stated that current participants were okay with the change because it would allow for more individual donors.

Both bills are now eligible for consideration on the House Floor.


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