This week was the first legislative “funnel” which means policy bills need to be voted out of at least one committee to remain eligible. It has been a busy two weeks, as we held subcommittees on bills to get them to committee and then met in committee to discuss bills and decide which bills would move forward.

Last week the House debated HF 2230 and passed a supplemental school aid increase of $32 million. We also proposed a bill to address transportation costs. Some districts spend as little as $100 per student while others are close to $1000. Our plan provides $11.2 million in funding to bring the maximum cost of transportation down to $432 per student and commits $2.8 million towards the tax equity issue that some schools face. We are also working to provide schools with continued flexibility and local control over resources and the school infrastructure fund, known as SAVE.

Several bills were moved forward addressing Iowa’s health care challenges. Nearly every Iowan has been affected or knows someone who has been affected by opioid addiction and abuse. Republicans have proposed HF 2299, a comprehensive plan to combat the opioid epidemic by preventing doctor shopping, reducing overprescribing, and supporting Iowans suffering from addiction.

Legislation was introduced this week that builds on Iowa’s community-based mental health system and makes significant improvements to ensure Iowans have access to critical mental health services closer to home.

HF 2364 was proposed to allow Iowans to purchase health benefit plans that provide a low-cost alternative to traditional health insurance. With sky-rocketing premiums and no choices, this will provide Iowans with more choice and a more affordable health care option.

Governor Reynold’s Future Ready Iowa plan to help Iowa workers “skill up” continues to move forward. Future Ready Iowa will more closely connect our K-12 schools with community colleges and local businesses to create a workforce talent pipeline across the state.

Governor Reynolds released her plan to reform Iowa’s outdated and complex tax code. Her plan reduces the number of tax brackets, reduces tax rates, raised the standard deduction, and includes safeguards to protect the budget sustainability. Her plan provides relief to middle class Iowans. Tax reform at the federal level has caused Iowans taxes to increase due to federal tax deductibility. With tax reform, that money will remain with Iowa taxpayers, not grow government. The last time Iowa reformed its tax code Hayden Fry was the head football coach at the University of Iowa and Titanic was the number 1 movie at the box office. A review of the tax code is well in order. The House will work off the Governor’s plan and will continue listening to Iowans to gather more input. We believe Iowans deserve a tax code that is simpler, fairer, and more competitive. Tax reform needs to focus on the average, middle class Iowan.

Last week I had an opportunity to address the League of Cities at their Legislative day and discuss the transition from mayor to legislator. Representative Bergan, Senator Brown, and I met with local veterans at the Winneshiek County Courthouse last Friday afternoon. Faith Hlubek coordinated the event as an alternative to veterans driving to Des Moines. I appreciate the opportunity to hear from veterans about their priorities and also a little about their experiences in the service.

I had several visitors at the Capitol the last two weeks. Several North Iowa Realtors, including Julie Robb and Bob Vandenbosh, were in Des Moines last week and I had an opportunity to meet with them and discuss their legislative priorities. Jim Hanson, Adam Shirley, Lilly Jensen, Craig Fencl, Harold Chapman, Dustin Doty, Jobe Goodale, Jeff Kosmo, and several others from North Iowa were in Des Moines for Iowa Water and Land Legacy Day at the Capitol. It was nice to have a chance discuss IWILL and the Trust. We had visitors from schools across the state on STEM Day at the Capitol. I met with several high school students representing Iowa Big North, which includes Osage, New Hampton, Charles City, and RRMR school districts. Joe Myhre, Executive Director of NIACOG, was in town last week. Great to catch up with him and hear about some of the projects in our region. Last, but not least, Clifford, the Big Red Dog, was at the Capitol with IPTV.

I continue to encourage you to contact me with any questions or concerns. You can reach me at jane.bloomingdale@legis.iowa.gov.

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