APRIL 18 UPDATE
IT'S NOT OVER YET! KEEP FIGHTING THESE BAD BILLS!
The following are bills that passed either the IA Senate or House this past week, and therefore advance in the other chamber.
Attend a forum, contact representatives to fight these bills.
TAX BILL UPDATE- HSB 671
NEW VOUCHER BILL - SSB 3206
UPDATE April 18
SSB3206 vouchers still has to pass thru Senate Approps (the full committee) before it can advance to floor as a free-standing bill. Earliest Senate Approps could meet would be next Monday afternoon
RED ALERT! Please contact all the State Senators on the Appropriations Committee to tell them you oppose SSB 3206 - the latest version of the voucher bill.
Contact State Senators (515-281-3371) to oppose the bill.
Instructions are here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1743250372404288/
|03/22/2018||Subcommittee recommends passage.|
SSB 3206 allows all new kindergarten students and any student previously enrolled in public school to be eligible for a voucher in the amount of $4000 (60% of the state cost per pupil) to attend private school. This diverts state tax dollars to subsidize private education, at the expense of our public schools. We hear time and time again about the budget difficulties at the statehouse and we just can’t afford to invest more resources that would benefit our nearly 500,000 public school students. If we can’t afford to do better than 1% SSA for our students, how could we possibly justify subsidizing non public school expenses?
ATTACK ON ENERGY EFFICIENCY IN IOWA
Senate File 2311
April 5: Update from Rob Hogg:
Hope you can contact legislators, especially Iowa House members, this weekend to support energy efficiency and oppose Senate File 2311.
Action Alert for this weekend: Please speak up with legislators in support of the state's utility energy efficiency programs which save all consumers money, create jobs, and help businesses grow. Energy efficiency is the cheapest, cleanest, quickest, and most secure way to meet our state's energy needs. This article from two former members of the Iowa Utilities Board, including a former Republican state legislator, is a few weeks old, but SF2311 is back on the House calendar and could be taken up as early as Monday. Speak up this weekend. Contact information is available at www.legis.iowa.gov.
March 12: UPDATE FROM IOWA SIERRA CLUB
We're still fighting Senate File 2311, which would essentially eliminate Iowa's effective and beneficial energy efficiency programs. Our energy efficiency programs keep our energy bills low and prevent utilities and ratepayers from needing more expensive fossil fuel power plants. This bill would also deregulate energy utilities by significantly reducing oversight by the Iowa Utilities Board and the public at large. This would lead to utilities sneaking through expensive power plant projects and raising rates on energy ratepayers.
Join us at the Iowa statehouse on Wednesday, March 14 at 10am for a rally to kill the bill and save energy efficiency programs in #Iowa.
Utility Regulations – This bill would take away regulatory authority from the Iowa Utilities Board and slash energy efficiency by putting a cap on utility energy efficiency programs, raising rates for Iowans by an estimated $400 million each year. This bill has not yet been assigned to a House committee.
Iowa Legislature Forums: April 20-23, 2018
UPDATES FROM THE STATEHOUSE
Update by Mike Weinard - Monday April 9
April 9 @ 2:30 p.m.:
*House convened @ 1:05p.m., conducted usual start-of-day business, then was At Ease @ 1:14p.m. for party caucuses. As of 2:30p.m. most GOP members have returned to chamber, but Dems still in caucus. Only committee mtg on today’s schedule is 3p.m. Appropriations, which has 25 members. Then from 5:00-6:30p.m. House will have a “public hearing” on HSB671 which is the Reynolds/House GOP version of a proposed “tax reform” package. House does have 10 bills listed on today’s floor debate calendar. At this point one wonders if they will get to any of them.
April 9 @ 2:15 p.m.:
*Senate convened @ 1:07p.m., conducted usual start-of-day business, & adjourned for the day @ 1:10p.m. Senate has NO committee mtgs today. Notable that GOP leaders plan to reconvene @ 10a.m. tomorrow rather than the usual 9a.m.
*Lots of speculation that Senate GOP leaders are involved in closed-door FY2019 budget discussions & “tax reform pkg” discussions. I might also note that perhaps some senators from each party are spending some time today doing GOTV for their respective candidates in tomorrow’s SD25 special election.
April 9 @ 12:45p.m. *Just arrived @ Statehouse a few minutes ago to begin another week as a citizen-observer, in conjunction with Activate Iowa. Reminder–you can find my Statehouse updates on our page “Activate Iowa Statehouse Hub”, on Activate Iowa, and usually on my personal FB page, as well as on FB with Democrats of Johnson County, AFSCME Iowa Chapter 61 Retirees, & Iowa City Federation of Labor Community Board.
When I arrived this afternoon, it was good to immediately talk with Teagan Roeder of City High, who had organized a group of students to lobby legislators regarding gun control!
Update by Mike Weinard--Wed. Mar. 28
Update by Mike Weinard–Wed. Mar. 28 @ 7:50a.m.:
*My Day 3 @ Statehouse. Senate has 7 standing committees meeting; all are to confirm Reynolds’ appointees.
NOTE: Senate Approps Committee DOESN’T meet today, so no action on SSB3206 vouchers today.
House has 3 standing committees scheduled to meet this aft; I see nothing “major” there.
NOTE: House debate calendar again lists SF481 “enforcement of immigration laws” today; it was also on an early list yesterday a.m. but wasn’t brought on the floor.
I don’t see anything in either chamber today re: backfill, tax reform pkgs, FY ’19 budget, fetal heartbeat, BOS districts, SF2311 terrible “utilities bill”.
Update by Mike Weinard--Thu Mar 22:
Update by Mike Weinard–Thu Mar 22:
Update–Thu. Mar. 22 @ 12N: *GOP Rep. Sandy Salmon is trying to add Amendment H8111 “bible studies in elective social sciences” to SF475 the “Education Omnibus” bill!!! NOOOO!
Feb 16: Update ~Mike Weinard
Update by Mike Weinard–Fri. Feb. 16:
Iowans who follow the Legislature: altho the 1st funnel week has just ended, I call your attention to this paragraph in the Friday, Feb. 16 Cedar Rapids Gazette, a story by James Q. Lynch & Rod Boshart on the Legislature’s first “funnel week”, on Pg. 9A a paragraph beginning with a quote from GOP House Speaker Linda Upmeyer:
But nothing’s dead forever,” she added. “Things are, from time to time, resurrected” — often as amendments to other bills.
Feb 7: Update ~Mike Weinard
UPDATE FROM MIKE WEINARD, WED. Feb 7
A reminder that in one hour–3pm–Iowa Senate Democrats will be livestreaming the Senate Human Resources Committee meeting. Their presenter will be Michael Randol, recently-hired director of Iowa Medicaid.
Iowa House just approved, 55-40 on party lines, the Republican HF2230 to set State Supplemental Aid at 1.0% for K-12 for F.Y. 2019.
Floor debate on the Steckman amendment H-8004 to fund 3.0% SSA to K-12 for F.Y. 2019 continues. Democrats continue speaking in support. GOP Walt Rogers cooked up a bunch of numbers to say Republicans are really good guys.
Iowa House now debating H-8004, amendment offered by Dem Sharon Steckman, to make next yr’s K-12 SSA 3.0%.
Mascher, Staed, Ourth, Winckler, Prichard, Phil Miller, Marti Anderson, & other Democrats speaking strongly in favor of this amendment!
Iowa House is just now starting floor debate on HF 2230, which would set State Supplemental Aid for schools for FY 2019 at 1.0%. This can be viewed on the Iowa House video. http://www.legis.state.ia.us/dashboard…
Jan 31: Update ~Mike Weinard
UPDATE FROM MIKE WEINARD, WED. JAN. 31: cloudy, no red moon/blue moon/blood moon from where I commuted from.
Tuesday was another busy day @ Statehouse. Some bad bills passed out of subcommittees, including but not limited to:
SF481 “enforcement of immigration laws”;
SSB 3025 “ban traffic cams”;
HF 2031 “teaching the Bible in elective social studies courses in IA schools”. Iowa Starting Line and Iowans for Public Education have good summaries in their posts.
Tuesday it was good to see Johnson Co. Recorder Kim Painter; Jodi Clemons, Dem. for IA HD 73, & Iowa City Police Chief Jody Matherly who was here to comment against SF481.
Many groups @ Statehouse yesterday, including reps from many United Way agencies, and FFA members from all over Iowa.
View of same hallway as 7:30a.m. yesterday, but today it’s busy! This is the overflow crowd from the Asian & Latino Coalition Legislative Breakfast in the legislature dining room!
Jan 30: Update ~Mike Weinard
Wow! This is the crowd in hall outside of Rm. 19, 10 minutes before a House Public Safety subcommittee meets to discuss SF481, the “immigration law enforcement bill”. FOUR state troopers out here too!
Jan 26: Update ~Mike Weinard
Update from Mike Weinard: following is a Jan. 24th story from the Des Moines Register about SJR8, which was passed out of a subcommittee Jan. 24 & will be considered by the Iowa Senate State Government Committee, likely next week. It is ill-advised & a waste of time–another Koch Brothers-inspired effort for the ultra-right to control this country. I recommend contacting legislators–especially Senate right now–to oppose this!
Convention of states: National bid to amend U.S. Constitution advances in Iowa Senate.
William Petroski | email@example.comUpdated 9:05 p.m. CT Jan. 24, 2018
An initiative aimed at amending the U.S. Constitution to restrict the authority of the federal government is advancing in the Iowa Senate, despite contentions it could create a political free-for-all.
Senate Joint Resolution 8 is intended to call a convention of states that would impose fiscal restraints, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and to ask Congress to propose similar amendments.
William Petroski/Des Moines Register
The resolution was supported via a 2-1 vote Wednesday by an Iowa Senate subcommittee, and some Republicans hope it will be approved by the full Senate this session. The measure cleared the House last year, which means Iowa could become the 13th state to call for a convention of states. Article V of the Constitution requires support from at least 34 states for a convention of states to proceed.
“The reason for this is because our federal government is out of control,” said Sen. Jason Schultz, R-Schleswig, who chaired the subcommittee. “They are not going to reduce their own power or reach and it is up to the states, according to the convention, to pull the federal government back into the reins of the Constitution.”
Sen. Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, opposed the resolution, saying it’s a priority of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative group with ties to brothers Charles and David Koch, a pair of billionaire industrialists who have founded and funded a number of conservative and libertarian organizations.
“First and foremost, I just think our Constitution is a living, breathing, document that has served our nation well and has protected our liberties and our freedoms,” Jochum said. “I have some deep concerns about what the outcome of a convention would actually do. Rewriting the Constitution is not a good idea.”
Several Iowans told the subcommittee that passing the resolution is a sensible proposal.
“I have more faith in Iowans than I do in the federal government,” said Mike Wyatt of Indianola.
Jeremy Danilson of Grimes, a lawyer representing the Convention of States movement in Iowa, said the requirement of 34 states to hold a convention represents a “high hurdle” that should be met to restore the freedoms of Americans and decision-making responsibilities originally held by states.
But Tamara Scott, a Republican national committeewoman who represents the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition and Concerned Women for America of Iowa, strongly opposed the resolution. She suggested it’s the the wrong political tool at the wrong time.
“If you can’t get people to come together and support the Constitution that you have now, what makes you think that they are going to come together later for a revised edition?” Scott said in an interview. “This is going to cause unrest, it is going to unsettle what we have. The Constitution is not outdated. It is simply ignored. We need to uphold it; the power is already in place.”
Sen. Charles Schneider, R-West Des Moines, joined Schultz in supporting the measure, which could be considered by the Senate State Government Committee as soon as next week. He said he’s concerned about federal deficits and entitlement programs and he believes protections are in place to protect Americans from a “runaway convention.
“This would be a way to send a message to Congress,” Schneider added. The American Legislative Exchange Council lists Schneider as an Iowa chair, along with Rep. Rob Taylor, R-West Des Moines.
The push for a convention of the states as been endorsed by a host of prominent conservatives, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, broadcast hosts Sean Hannity and Mark Levin, and David Barton, an evangelical Christian minister from Texas who disputes the idea that the U.S. Constitution requires a separation of church and state.
Each state would have one vote at a convention of states, and 38 states must ratify any amendment. Once states ratify, the amendments would become part of the Constitution.
Originally Published 5:33 p.m. CT Jan. 24, 2018
Updated 9:05 p.m. CT Jan. 24, 2018
© Gannett 2018
Jan 24: Update ~Mike Weinard
House & Senate both convened briefly this a.m. Senate adjourned til Thu. a.m. House to re-convene 4pm today.
This a.m. I attended Joint Senate-House Economic Development Appropriations Committee. Presenter: Beth Townsend, Iowa Workforce Development director. Partial summary:
IWD has had 15 regions; due to funding issues they’ll be reducing # at some point, but they will not close any of the 15 “one stop centers”. Dec. Unemployment rate was 2.8% (11K more job openings than there are people who are unemployed). IWD wants more employers interested in creating apprenticeships. IWD is working on bolstering re-entry programs in correctional facilities. IWD notes that “there are employers out there who DON’T advertise their openings on our website.”
Jan 24: We Have our Vouchers Bill ~Randy Richardson, Iowans for Public Education
WE HAVE OUR VOUCHERS BILL. Randy Richardson reporting: Late this afternoon Republican Senator Marc Chelgren introduced SF2091 which calls for the creation of Education Savings Grants. The bill has been assigned to the Ways and Means Committee. This is not revenue neutral and will cost a small fortune. I haven’t had time to run numbers on it yet. There will likely need to be a fiscal note attached. At this time lobbyists have not had time to register a position on the bill. For now we need to watch this closely and we need to be sure to let our elected officials know this is unacceptable.
My summary of his bill can be found below.
This bill establishes an education savings grant program for pupils attending a nonpublic school or receiving competent private instruction and establishes an education savings grant fund. For the school budget year beginning July1, 2019, and each succeeding school budget year, resident pupils who are attending a nonpublic school or who are receiving competent private instruction are eligible to receive an education savings grant if:
- the pupil is eligible to enroll in kindergarten, or
- is eligible to enroll in grade 1 through grade 12 and has attended a public school for the equivalent of the two immediately preceding semesters, or
- if the pupil received an education savings grant for the immediately preceding school budget year.
Parents or guardians would be required to submit an application for an education savings grant to the Department of Education by January 31 of the year prior to enrollment stating that they intend to enroll their child in a nonpublic school or place the child in competent private instruction.
By March1 proceeding each school year, the department of education must notify the department of management of the number of pupils designated for the following school year to receive an education savings grant and the amount of the education savings grant for each pupil.
An application from the parent or guardian of an eligible pupil shall be approved for the duration of the education savings grant period and the department of education shall enter into a contract with the parent or guardian requiring provision and funding of the education savings grant for each school budget year of the education savings grant period for which the pupil remains eligible. The education savings grant period is five years or the number of years until completion of the school year during which the pupil graduates from high school or completes an equivalent level of competent private instruction, whichever is less, provided that the parent or guardian may terminate the contract at any time. The amount of each education savings grant is equal to the difference between 87.5 percent of the regular program state cost per pupil and the statewide average foundation property tax per pupil in the same school year.
For the fiscal year commencing July 1, 2019, and each succeeding fiscal year, there is appropriated from the general fund of the state to the department of management for deposit in the fund the amount necessary to pay all education savings grants approved for that fiscal year. For each pupil approved for an education savings grant, the department of management must establish an account for that pupil in the education savings grant fund. The amount of the pupil’s education savings grant is deposited into the pupil’s account on July 1 and such amount is available for use by parents and guardians for the payment of qualified educational expenses, as defined in the bill, incurred by the parent or guardian for the pupil during that fiscal year or in a future fiscal year as provided in the bill.
The bill authorizes the department of education to contract with a private financial management firm to manage the education savings grant fund, in collaboration with the treasurer of state, including providing for the disbursement of education savings grants in the form of an electronic debit card or checks that are payable directly from the pupil’s account within the fund.
The bill provides that moneys remaining in a pupil’s account upon the conclusion of the fiscal year shall remain in the pupil’s account in the education savings grant fund for the payment of qualified educational expenses in future fiscal years during which the pupil participates in the program or for higher education costs as authorized in the bill. Under the bill, for each pupil with a positive balance in the pupil’s account in the education savings grant fund upon graduation from high school or completion of an equivalent level of competent private instruction under Code chapter 299A, the department of management is required to maintain the account in the fund until the pupil reaches an ages specified in the bill. Until the pupil reaches the age limitation, moneys in the pupil’s account may be used by the pupil for higher education costs, as defined in Code section 12D.1. The bill provides that an education savings grant received by a taxpayer is not taxable income for purposes of state individual income taxation. This provision of the bill applies to tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2019. The sections of the bill amending Code section 256.7 and enacting Code section 257.11B apply to school budget years and fiscal years beginning on or after July 1, 2019.
Jan. 23: Update ~Mike Weinard
Statehouse: things seem to be moving pretty slowly in Senate considering it’s the 3rd week of Session. All standing committee meetings for yesterday were cancelled and four more for this afternoon have been cancelled.
Jan. 18: Suggestions for lobbying legislators ~Mike Weinard
I have some suggestions for “lobbying legislators” at the Statehouse in Des Moines. Some info may be helpful for first-time visitors or for those who’ll only be at the Capitol one time this session. Other info may be more helpful for those who will be going there for repeat visits this session.
In general, the earlier in the day you arrive, the better. There’s nothing more frustrating than coming from a distance and then running out of time to make connections with a legislator.
Right outside of the House foyer & Senate foyer will be a small table with a supply of the visitor slip you need to fill out to request to see a legislator. House slip is yellow, Senate pink (see photos). I’ve found it helpful to grab a few slips & take them to a quiet spot to fill out (or take some home & fill out before you go to the capitol the next time). You won’t be welcome to grab 20 slips at a time, but if you take 3 or 4 and maybe get more later you can have a nice little supply on hand (I do–at home). Please PRINT when filling out a slip, it’s more legible! You need to list the legislator’s seat number. There are seating chart maps & photos of legislators in the foyer outside of the chamber. You can also find that info in the “Official Directory of the Legislature” (see photo) available at the info office on the ground floor. Either at the Capitol down on the ground floor or at home before traveling, I try to fill out slips ahead of time. To prep at home ahead of time, Chris & I have made up little photos of us individually or as a couple (see photo). We can fit a couple photos printed on Avery gummed labels. Then we affix photo to an open area on the slip. We’ve found that at each chamber the doorperson, page, legislator, or legislator’s clerk really appreciate knowing who they are looking for when they come back out to respond to you.
If to you want to maximize your chances of seeing a legislator it’s helpful to have an idea of the schedules. For MOST weeks of the session the House & Senate don’t convene in general session on Monday morning or Thursday afternoon. Also, every legislator is on some committees. Committee assignments are listed in the Official Directory and also online at www.legis.iowa.gov/committees/schedules
Daily committee meeting schedules/cancellations can be found at the above website, on a printed schedule available early a.m. by the info office on the ground floor, & sometimes on an easel outside of the chamber. If you wish, you can even get online and print out a weekly schedule for the House or Senate before you even leave home! It’s VERY helpful to know when a legislator is away from the chamber at a committee meeting–nothing worse than trying 3 times in a day to see that person and not making connections!
Final note about the “Official Directory of the Legislature” (see photo)–it is published every year and has a different color cover, is free to get a single copy, at the info office on ground floor, but maybe not available til a few weeks after the session opens. It is a gold mine of info, and last year’s does have a lot of info that carries over to this year.