Iowa House of Representatives
Address: State Capitol, Des Moines, IA 50319
Phone: (515) 281-7330
follow on Twitter @iahouserepubs
Governor to Unveil Proposed Budget, Budget Reform Bill Approved by Committee
On Thursday, January 27, Gov. Branstad was set to unveil his budget recommendations. One of the key provisions will be changing the budget process to a biennial (two-year) budget.
The Governor believes that approving a biennial budget will give Iowans more predictability in budgeting and limit the growth in state government expenditures. In order to accommodate the Governor, House Republicans have proposed House File 1, which reforms the state budgeting process.
The original bill was part of the House Republicans’ budget reform plan which was released in September 2009. It requires a zero-based budgeting concept to review all state programs and allow for the elimination or review of every single item of state spending every five years. This will allow the Governor and Legislature to prioritize limited tax revenue to the most important functions of state government.
The amendment approved by the Committee added the following budget reforms:
Requires the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) to set estimates for the current fiscal year and the next two fiscal years in order to approve a biennial budget.
Limits the Governor’s transfer authority to one-tenth of one percent of the budget (roughly $6 million in FY 2012).
Requires the REC to use an average of the past 7 years plus inflation in order to set its new estimates. Also establishes an expenditure limitation for gambling receipts.
Provides that unclaimed property and forfeited proceeds be deposited into the Cash Reserve Fund (since it is one-time money).
Creates a new provision-if revenue drops below 98 percent of the previous year, the Cash Reserve Fund can be used to fund expenditures, not to exceed 25 percent of the balance of the CRF.
States that in the event of an across the board cut, the collective bargaining agreements will be renegotiated to prevent teacher layoffs.
Requires the Legislature to set K-12 allowable growth in the odd-numbered sessions. The growth for the upcoming fiscal year would be set in the first 30 days; the growth for the second fiscal year would be set prior to the conclusion of the odd-numbered session.
HF 1 was approved by the Committee on a 15-8 vote. This bill attempts to smooth out revenue growth by eliminating the peaks and valleys of revenue growth and revenue drops. It also puts limits on the Governor’s transfer authority. Approving two years of spending makes it even more pressing to put limits on what a governor can transfer. The bill puts reforms in place to lessen the reliance on one-time funds and attempts to prevent large across the board cuts.
House Republicans support the Governor as he attempts to give the taxpayers a seat at the table and align ongoing spending with ongoing revenue.
Securing the Blessings of Liberty House Starts on Health Care Freedom Act
On Monday, the House Commerce Committee took the first step in responding to Iowans’ opposition to the federal health care reform bill by passing a bill that would prevent
citizens from being required to purchase government- approved health insurance.
The House Commerce Committee on Monday approved House File 111. The bill asserts the state’s rights under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, which limits the power of the federal government. The focus of this is the
―individual mandate‖ – a requirement that in 2014 all Americans must have government-approved health care coverage or pay a penalty.
House File 111 provides that Iowans have the right to choose private health care systems or private health care plans. The bill also states that no law can interfere with an Iowan’s right to pay for lawful medical services and that no law can impose a fee, tax, or penalty upon an Iowan for declining or failing to participate in any particular health care system or plan.
The language of House File 111 is based on state law in Virginia. That state challenged the federal law last spring. In December, a federal judge ruled that the individual mandate requirement violated the Tenth Amendment’s limitation on federal power. Central to the case was the Virginia law asserting the state’s power over health insurance law.
House File 111 passed out of the Commerce Committee on a bipartisan vote of 17-6. It will be eligible for debate on the House Floor next week.
Iowa’s Unemployment Rate Falls to 6.3 Percent
New numbers released this week from the Iowa Workforce Development show that the unemployment rate fell to 6.3% in December. November’s unemployment rate had been at 6.6%. The raw number of unemployed in December was 106,500. The current national unemployment rate is at 9.4%. Iowa is better situated than some other states, but the unemployment rate is still higher than pre-recession rates. For instance, Iowa’s rate just three years ago was at 3.7%.
The 6.3% is a statewide number, but not all counties have been affected equally. Allamakee and Lee Counties are the ones that have been hardest hit by unemployment with each county being at 9.5% and 10.1%, respectively. The far northwestern counties of Lyon and Sioux have the lowest unemployment rates in the state at 3.4% and 3.7%.
Requiring Voter IDs Protects Iowa Elections
Iowa will soon be one step closer to secure elections. House File 95 requires photo IDs for all voters—including election-day registrants and in-person absentee voters. Specifically, all voters are required to show a photo ID that was either issued by the United States Government or the state of Iowa.
Typical US Government IDs include passports, military IDs, tribal identification, and federal employee cards. Proper identification issued by the state of Iowa would include driver’s licenses, non-operator’s licenses, or state employee badges. Any of these pieces of identification require an expiration date that is not expired at that time after the most recent general election.
In order to aid voters in obtaining proper identification for voting purposes, certified copies of birth certificates will be available at no charge at all county recorder’s offices as well as at the Iowa Department of Public Health. The requester must execute an affidavit saying they are requesting the copy of their birth certificate for voting purposes. The voter will then be able to go to the Department of Transportation and get a free photo identification card for voting purposes.
The purpose of House File 95 is to protect the integrity of Iowa elections. Asking voters to provide proof of identity will ensure that only votes properly cast are counted. The bill provides for situations in which a provisional ballot would be proper. House File 95 is modeled after Indiana’s photo ID law. That law was challenged and eventually upheld by the United States Supreme Court in 2008 in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board.
Recap of Week 3
This week the Agriculture Committee heard from Bill Couse of Nevada about environmentally sound farming practices and learned about his crop and cattle feedlot operation that is a finalist for the National Environmental Stewardship Award. The Ag Committee also heard from Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Karey Claghorn, who discussed the condition of Iowa’s agriculture industry, local foods, programs related to conservation and education. I also visited with constituents from NICC and Jones County Substance Abuse.
On Thursday the house debated HF 95 which requires the presentation of a gov’t issued photo ID when voting. The House also debated HF 94 which sets up an on-line transparency database to show how tax dollars are being spent. I support and voted in favor of both bills which passed the full House. On Monday, January 31, from 6:30-8:45 p.m. the Capitol will be holding a public hearing on HJF 6 which would allow all Iowans to vote on the definition of marriage. The House will debate and vote on HJF 6 later next week.