From Representative Dave Heaton

Written by Theresa Rose on March 7, 2017

UPFRONT

March 6, 2017

Title:  Funnel Week

 

First I’d like to apologize to you for not having a report last week. I was putting a lot of time into legislation that would address the opioid epidemic in our state.   A lot of work, a lot of research, and a lot of discussion with both advocates and those affected have gone into this.  We also were very busy with committee work trying to pass legislation during funnel week which would remain eligible for the floor; any house file bills that are not passed out of their respective committees are dead for the remainder of the year, except for Appropriation or Ways and Means bills.  Needless to say this week, because of the magnitude of some of these bills, it has been time consuming.

The next two weeks will be spent in debating the bills on the floor of the House that made it through funnel week, as well as committees receiving the bills that passed out of the Senate. Some of these bills will be very contentious and will require long hours of debate; some lasting into the night.

Many of these debates will be similar to the Workman’s Comp bill that was passed a couple of weeks ago. We remember the size of crowds that jammed the capitol on both sides of issue, in both the House and the Senate.  Those days are behind us and the bill has passed and been signed by the Governor.

 

Many controversial bills remain for debate and these include:

  • Election integrity and modernization; Legislators have been working on changes to Iowa’s election process, including voter verification, that make it easier to vote, harder to cheat, and ensures no one is turned away. Voter verification measures are already law in 34 other states.
  • Preemption: This bill came as a result of four counties in the State of Iowa who passed their own minimum wage bills. This bill would preempt those local ordinances and could, in the end, result in a state wide minimum wage increase.  Current minimum wage in the state stands at $7.25 per hour.
  • Planned Parenthood: There are those legislators who strongly feel that because Planned Parenthood performs abortions in our state, that the ability to provide women’s health services as a vendor should be prohibited.  Other entities in the state would provide women’s health services and would be eligible for state funding.
  • Certificate of Need: This bill would eliminate Iowa’s law that requires certain medical facilities to apply to a panel for permission to expand or construct additional medical facilities. There are strong feelings that elimination of this law would put our rural hospitals at risk.  Though the bill did make it through funnel week, we think the bill could appear in another bill from the Senate.  This bill, which is so important to the hospitals in my House District 84, is still a “live round”.
  • Stand Your Ground: This bill was a very controversial bill at its first draft, but since has been greatly changed.  The ability to carry in our colleges, hospitals, and court houses has been removed.  Lifetime permits are now out of the bill.  Permits will have to be renewed every five years.  However, Stand Your Ground, the right to defend yourself if felt to be threatened, remains along with concealed carry in our capitol and on the grounds.
  • Tort Reform: This bill would put a cap on non-economic damages ($250,000) and would discourage “frivolous lawsuits.”  If the case went to court, the loser would pay the costs of the suit.
  • Workman’s Comp: Under the Worker’s Compensation Law, most employers are required to provide medical or disability payments, or both, to workers who are injured on the job.  This bill is coming at the request of employers who feel that increased costs are making it necessary to revise our Workman’s Comp Law.  Supporters feel that Iowa’s law has gone from having some of the lowest workman’s comp premiums for employers, with the richest benefit in the country for employees; and now they say premiums are increasing and we still have some of the richest benefits for employees.  Critics say that Iowa’s current compensation system is a model for the nation and this proposal would turn Iowa’s Worker’s Comp Law on its head.

Controversial bills such as the use of Education Savings Accounts to create a voucher system that would allow state funds to be moved to schools of choice, including private schools, failed to make funnel.  Estimated cost of $240 million made the issue difficult to consider at this time.  The Bottle Bill, for which I received countless number of emails, did make funnel week, but there is doubt that it will come to the floor for debate.

In another week, the Revenue Estimating Committee will meet (March 13) and we will be given our final estimate on the amount of revenue that we will have available to address our budget for 2018.  Our budget targets will be announced to the respective budget chairs and respective budgets will be constructed.  This will be the last step toward adjournment and we look forward to being finished by April 15th.

I know this is an extensive controversial list of what we will be debating over the next four weeks.  There are others that are too numerous to mention.

I am so proud of our two boys’ basketball teams that have made it to state tournament.

Yesterday New London played a hard-fought game and came up on the short end of the score against Remsen.  I know that the team felt disappointed, but in looking back they will always remember the experience they had in playing at “The Well.” I know that there will be other opportunities in the future.  New London has a great winning tradition, regardless of what sport they are playing.

Mt Pleasant’s game will be played this afternoon, and unfortunately I will not be able to be there.  We will be debating on the Right to Carry Bill, and maybe Voter Registration.   Debate could go until midnight both Tuesday and Wednesday nights.  I wish the Panthers the best and my greatest hope is to be able to go see them play on Thursday night in the semi-finals.

Visitors to the capitol were:  Robb Gardner, Mark Hempen and Sally Olsen, with Henry County Health Center;   John Sandbothe of Fairfield, Derek Mullin, Steven Yaley and Kurt Alvine of Mount Pleasant, with Henry County Farm Bureau.

If you have any issues or concerns, please contact me. Be sure to include your name and address with any communication to my office.

Dave Heaton, State Representative,

State House, Des Moines, Iowa 50319

Phone: 515-281-7327~Fax: 515-281-6958

E-mail: dave.heaton@legis.state.ia.us

Web page: http://www.daveheaton.net