Moving Forward

UTGD

Moving Forward

The second legislative funnel deadline has passed which has narrowed our list of bills that remain eligible this session.  With many policy discussions resolved, our attention will be focused on the budget as we work to complete our business on time this session.

This week the Governor released his revisions to next year’s budget (FY18) after revenue projections were lowered a few weeks ago.  As you’ll recall, we also need to address a shortfall of $131 million in the current budget because of the lower projection.  We will likely use the state’s cash reserve funds to cover this shortage and won’t adjourn without a plan to pay this money back over the next two fiscal years.

Our budget chairs have begun looking through the Governor’s changes and we expect to have budget targets soon.  After accounting for the budget reductions we made earlier this session, we’re expecting about $6 million in new available revenue next fiscal year.  Not included in that $6 million is $40 million in new funding that we’ve committed to K-12 schools and additional Medicaid needs.  We’ll continue to prioritize essential government services and key priorities, but most areas of government will likely see reductions in their budgets.

We also debated and passed a number of priority bills on the floor this week that will protect Iowans and encourage growth in emerging sectors of Iowa’s economy.

One of the reasons we serve is to protect vulnerable Iowans.  One way of doing that is to combat domestic violence and hold abusers accountable.

This week we passed House File 263 to protect victims of domestic abuse and stalking.  This bill ensures that habitual domestic abusers serve a minimum amount of time in prison.  Abusers convicted for a third time will be required to serve at least 20% of their sentence which will provide survivors of abuse more time to leave a bad situation while abusers serve their time.

We also took a strong stand for private property rights this week by passing House File 603.  This bill is the culmination of work that has been done over many years to curb potential abuses of eminent domain and protect private property rights.

This bill proposes several solutions to a number of issues that have developed over the years and caused serious concerns from property owners across the state.  This is what’s included in the bill:

  • Ensures farmers and business owners are fairly compensated when their land or property is taken during an eminent domain proceeding.
  • Protects Iowans from having their land taken by out of state corporations for private use.
  • Ensures that property owner’s land can’t be taken by eminent domain to create a recreational lake.

We also passed a bill that will remove barriers to growth in Iowa’s craft beer and spirits industries.  A study conducted in 2014 showed that craft breweries in Iowa supported 1,500 jobs and had a $100 million impact on our economy.  Encouraging more growth in this industry, as well as craft distilleries and wineries, will create more Iowa jobs and increase tourism here in the state.

As the popularity of this continues to increase, House File 607 will bring more parity between smaller breweries, distilleries and wineries.  This will let these establishments sell more of their product on-site than currently permitted, and allow Iowans to enjoy their products responsibly at home.

This bill will directly benefit small businesses like Lake Time Brewery in Clear Lake and Rustic Brew in Hampton grow and make their products more available to customers.

I’m proud of the work we’ve accomplished so far this year to make our state a better place to raise a family or grow a business.  We’ve done many positive things that will benefit the vast majority of Iowans and, as we wind down on session we’ll complete our work to move Iowa forward.

As the session continues to move along, please stay in touch.  Let me know your thoughts as different bills or issues arise.  You can reach me at linda.upmeyer@legis.iowa.gov or (515) 281-3521.

 

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