The fourth week of session was busy, but the fifth week promises to be more intense as the first deadline for filing bills is February 10. Over the last several weeks, as the chair of the Administration and Regulation Appropriations Subcommittee, I’ve met with several departments to review their budget requests. The scheduled meetings included Iowa Workforce, the Treasurer’s Office, Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO), LSA, and IPERS. I look forward to learning more about our agencies and their operations.
This week of the legislative session we focused on standing committee and subcommittee work, which filled most of my schedule. Two bills I am chairing are now eligible for floor debate: SF133, regarding requirements for prescribing psychologists, and SF147, regarding juvenile courts and establishing paternity in CINA cases.
In Commerce I will be floor managing bills relating to the Iowa Division of Banking and the Iowa Insurance Division. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jeff Plagge, Superintendent of Banking, for the first bill. I am currently following SF 80, the Across County Titling bill, which dovetails well with working strategies to lower property taxes.
Personal bills in the works are: tax relief and school funding for schools in districts with higher than usual property values. I am also working on a companion bill to address local authority for short term rentals.
On Thursday we debated SF 181, which is the funding for K-12 education. I am in full support for SF 181. Since 2017, Republicans have increased funding for K-12 (in that 7 years) by over $1.5 billion. Iowa taxpayers currently spend $8.4 billion for K-12 education. This number includes state aid, federal dollars, sales taxes (SAVE) and local taxes. We all support our schools and look for long term planning that makes sense and provides opportunities for all K-12 aged children.
On Wednesday we debated the “fix” for the recalculation of assessment limitations for certain property and the equalization of multi-family with residential assessments and rate. This stems from rollback provisions which became law in 2013. The recalculation is necessary due to an error in the original calculations last October 2022 to equalize those two rates. The error was recognized but not communicated to city and county governments in a timely manner. The result was SF 181 to make the corrections as needed, but also give those city and county budgets additional time for adjustment and reporting.
While it is an undertaking for local government and services, if we had not adjusted this, carried the budgets into the next fiscal year, and then made the adjustment, Iowans would be overpaying $120 million in taxes. That was not an option, and that is why we passed SF 181. It now advances to the Iowa House of Representatives. I was grateful to hear from county supervisors in our District 5 as well as our auditors, treasurers, and departments. That information was shared with the Governor’s office, the Department of Revenue’s office, and our Ways and Means Chairman Senator Dawson.
Before signing off I want to recognize several visitors from District 5 this week. Directors of tourism from the Iowa Great Lakes, Clear Lake, Mason City, and Fort Dodge to discuss priorities. Travel Iowa also visited, along with the IA Assoc. of Realtors, IA Soybean Assoc., Iowa Chiropractic Society, IA Physician Assistants, Iowa FFA Association (hundreds of visitors), Habitat for Humanity, and many more.
If you would like to visit, please email me or call anytime. My clerk, Mary Ryan and I, work very hard to keep communication free-flowing.
Thank you for this opportunity to serve,
Senator Dave Rowley