Under the Golden Dome, Too – April 25

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We remained hard at work in the Capitol this week as we continue on the path toward adjournment. In fact, by the time you read this in print, our work may be complete. Much progress has been made in key areas and I am hopeful final resolution will soon be reached.

As elected officials, protecting Iowa’s children is one of our greatest responsibilities. This week, I sponsored HF 2474, a bill that would protect Iowa students from sexual exploitation from a school coach.

This bill is in response to a recent ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court which overturned the conviction of a high school basketball coach who had a sexual relationship with one of his 16-year-old players. HF 2474 add coaches to the existing state law prohibiting sexual relationships between students and teachers, administrators, and other licensed professionals. After taking swift action in the House and Senate, the bill has been sent to the Governor for his consideration.

Furthering our commitment to protecting our children, the House passed legislation aimed at addressing growing concerns centered around bullying. We know this is an important issue, but also realize that government can’t completely put a stop to this behavior. It takes involvement and leadership from other students, parents, and faculty to change the culture in our schools. However, as elected officials, we have a duty to do what we can to ensure our schools are a safe place for Iowa’s kids. Our proposal updates Iowa law to reflect social media technology and would require training to help teachers recognize and discourage bullying in the classroom. Upon consultation with the victim of bullying, the bill would also require schools to notify parents of all students involved in a bullying incident.

You may recall me telling you about a bill, HF 2462, passed with bipartisan support in the House earlier this month that would provide greater transparency in state government and answer questions recently raised involving the issuance of confidential state personnel settlement agreements. HF 2462 forbids the use of confidentiality/nondisclosure clauses in personnel settlement agreements for public employees and makes public the reason an employee is discharged, demoted, or resigns in lieu of termination. By providing additional accountability in this area, Iowans can be confident their tax dollars are being spent appropriately.

Unfortunately, instead of passing HF 2462, the Senate Majority party considered their own version of a transparency bill. However, hidden within their bill, are references to what appears to be a prevailing wage proposal in regards to state contracting services. The Senate bill also keeps secret the reasons behind the dismissal of certain employees.

In an effort to stay focused and complete our work on behalf of the taxpayers of Iowa, the House moved quickly to address the recent concerns raised, but the Senate Majority party instead held hearings based on politics and hearsay instead of approving legislation. Despite these political games, I am hopeful we will soon be able to move forward soon and wrap up our work for the year.

Thanks for providing me with so much helpful feedback over the past several weeks. I look forward to seeing many of you at our communities’ upcoming festivals and events. As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me with any comments or questions at linda.upmeyer@legis.iowa.gov or 515-281-4618.

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