I had the opportunity to floor manage HF 182 in the House Veterans Affairs Committee, which passed last week. The bill expands the National Guard Education Assistance Program (NGEAP). Currently, a National Guard member can only use NGEAP funding for undergraduate studies.
House File 182 provides that the adjutant general can waive that requirement and allow a guard member to use NGEAP funding for postsecondary education if the education sought corresponds to the current critical manning list issued by the National Guard.
The bill also contains a recoupment provision requiring the recipient to complete six years in state military duty after receipt of last education payment. The bill also provides that the benefits under House File 182 would allow for tuition assistance levels associated with professional degrees and not be capped at the current program’s rate (tied to undergraduate tuition).
At the end of last week, the first funnel has come to an end. Several bills that were perceived as negative by Republicans have died. For example, HF 400 would have effectively repealed Iowa’s Right-to-Work law by requiring non-union workers to pay union dues; HF 97 would have increased the cost of doing business in Iowa. It would have allowed injured employees to visit multiple doctors, paid for by an employer, which would have allowed attorneys to exploit the system and reap the most beneficial award possible at the employer’s expense; HF 157 and 398 would have made common self-defense, hunting and sporting weapons like handguns, rifles and shotguns illegal; HF 192 would have banned employers from reviewing the criminal records of prospective employees; HF 479 would have banned the state and local governments from assisting federal authorities with immigration enforcement, shielding potentially dangerous criminals from prosecution.
Some positive initiatives that made it through funnel relates to the Election Integrity and Modernization Act. A recent Des Moines Register poll found that 69 percent of Iowans believe that a government-issued ID should be presented in order to vote. This initiative insures level ground for both parties in the election process.
Let me share a few brief highlights from this bill to dispel any confusion. HSB 93 requires all voters to present government-issued identification at their polling location. Acceptable forms of ID include:
- An Iowa Driver’s License
- An Iowa Non-operator ID
- A United State Passport
- A Veteran or Military ID
- A Voter Identification issued by the Secretary of State
HSB 93 provides eligible voters with a free Voter Identification Card if they cannot afford another form of identification. Voter verification measures are already law in 34 other states.
HSB 93 implements the use of E-poll Books to modernize and streamline the voting process at polling locations. HSB 93 eliminates straight-ticket voting from Iowa ballots.
- Iowa is one of only nine states that allow straight-ticket voting
- Straight-ticket voting disenfranchises third party candidates that don’t have a box that voters can check
- Straight-ticket voting also causes confusion for voters oftentimes.
We have also worked to protect Iowans from dangerous synthetic drugs. For years, House Republicans have worked to prevent deadly synthetic drugs from getting into the hands of Iowa’s kids. In the past, legislative Democrats have chosen to play games with this legislation, refusing to take action on such a critical issue. House File 296 will keep deadly synthetic drugs off the streets, while also making it easier to prosecute sellers of those drugs.
I’ve had numerous people contact me related to the Second Amendment Ominous Bill (HSB 133). House Republicans are strong defenders of Iowans’ Second Amendment rights. Over the last six years, the House has passed a number of bills that expand and protect the rights of Iowans to keep and bear arms. The original bill will have some amendments moving forward, but it promises to be a strong bill.
There are many other bills that I don’t have time or space to mention. Please go to the House website to check if any bill you are concerned about or watching have cleared the funnel. Keep in mind; they have to be through both the subcommittee and the full committee in order to move forward this year. Technically, all bills introduced this year are alive next year as well.
I was honored to welcome Farm Bureau and FFA members from my district to the House Floor this week. It’s always exciting to share stories and opinions about the progress of Iowa’s agriculture and farming.