The Paulsen Perspective: Funnel Week

SpeakerKP

This week was the first legislative funnel – a self-imposed deadline in the Legislature that helps move the process along.  Bills that passed out of a House committee by the end of this week remain alive for consideration for the rest of the year.

As the House completes its work on the first funnel deadline, bills that survived are those that will focus on increasing opportunities for Iowa employers as well as protecting Iowa families and taxpayers. Here are a few examples:

Tuesday, March 3rd was Spread the Word to End the Word day at the Capitol.  This is an ongoing effort between Special Olympics Iowa and Best Buddies Iowa to raise awareness about the hurtful effects of the word ‘retard’ and encourages people to pledge to stop using the r-word and replace it with the word RESPECT.  I have met with these student athletes several years now and they are great individuals and truly an asset to our state.  I hope you'll join with me in supporting their efforts.

Tuesday, March 3rd was Spread the Word to End the Word day at the Capitol. This is an ongoing effort between Special Olympics Iowa and Best Buddies Iowa to raise awareness about the hurtful effects of the word ‘retard’ and encourages people to pledge to stop using the r-word and replace it with the word RESPECT. I have met with these student athletes several years now and they are great individuals and truly an asset to our state. I hope you’ll join with me in supporting their efforts.

Zero-Based Budgeting
House File 352 limits the growth of government spending by requiring government executive and judicial agencies to use zero as the spending baseline when determining budgets, and to justify and prioritize current and new expenditures.  Currently, agencies use estimates based on 75 percent of funding provided for the current fiscal year.  This new zero-based budgeting provides an open and transparent process, saving taxpayer money.

Government accountability
House File 509 forbids the use of confidentiality/nondisclosure clauses in personnel settlement agreements for public employees.  In addition, the bill makes any confidentiality/nondisclosure clause not enforceable.  The bill also makes the reason and rationale for certain disciplinary actions taken on a public employee a public record.

529 College Savings
This bill treats Iowa Educational Savings Plans, or 529’s, like IRA’s, allowing tax deductible contributions into plans until April 30.  House File 124 passed the House earlier this session and is awaiting action in the Senate Ways & Means Committee.

Student Data Privacy
House Study Bill 173 puts additional protections for student data collected by school districts and the state Department of Education.  There must be data collection, privacy and sharing policies for students and there must be parental access to student data along with data breach, retention and destruction plans.  Additionally the state cannot include, among other things, health, family voting or political information in student files.

Collective Bargaining/Arbitration Reform
Currently, the playing field is wildly tipped in favor of public-sector unions and against the taxpayers.  House Study Bill 204 begins to level that playing field for school boards and administrators in negotiating contracts with teachers unions.  The bill makes three small, yet very significant changes to the binding arbitration section of the Iowa Public Employment Relations Act:

  • Private Sector Comparison:  Requires an arbitrator to consider a private sector worker’s comparison of wages, hours, and conditions of employment when rendering an arbitration decision.  Under current law an arbitrator can only look at a comparison of other public sector worker’s wages and benefits.
  • Ability to Pay and Tax:  Prohibits an arbitrator to consider the ability of the public employer to levy taxes, and the ability of the public employer to finance economic adjustments.  Currently arbitrators are required to consider the fact that the public employer can raise taxes to pay for increased wages or benefits.
  • Selection of a Midpoint:  Allows an arbitrator to pick between the two parties final impasse item offers, rather than one or the other which is required by current law.

2nd Amendment Protections
Under House Study Bill 201 Iowans will still renew their carry permit every 5 years, but will only be required to retrain every 10 years.  Additionally the bill allows parents to train their children under the age of 14 how to safely operate a pistol or revolver.  The bill legalizes suppressors and creates a process for a chief law enforcement officer to approve the paperwork necessary for the purchase of a suppressor.  Finally the bill creates permit privacy for gun owners.  Permits to carry and permits to purchase would no longer be public information.  This information remains available to law enforcement.

Ultrasounds
House File 58 requires that prior to performing an abortion, a physician must certify in the woman’s medical record that the woman has undergone an ultrasound imaging of the fetus, that the woman is given the opportunity to view the ultrasound image of the fetus, and that the woman is given the option of hearing a description of the ultrasound image and hearing the heartbeat of the fetus.

Synthetic Drugs
House File 279 focuses on Iowa’s fight against synthetic drugs — reorganizing the synthetic drug list and adding additional chemicals approved by the Board of Pharmacy. Additionally, the bill gives the legislature two years (instead of 60 days) to approve synthetic drugs temporarily designated as schedule I substances by the pharmacy board. Finally HF 279 treats simulated substances and imitation substances the same for prosecution. This language is key to stopping the spread of synthetic drugs throughout the state.

A full list of funnel survivors will be posted on www.iowahouserepublicans.com.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact my office at (515) 281-3521 or by email at kraig.paulsen@legis.iowa.gov

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