Iowa House of Representatives
Address: State Capitol, Des Moines, IA 50319
Phone: (515) 281-7330
IOWA HOUSE REPUBLICAN NEWSLETTER
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Recap of Week 8
We finished up a long Funnel Week, which is the deadline for bills in committee. We passed many good bills in the Ag, Environmental Protection and State Gov’t committees, which I hope will make it to the floor for a vote. On March 1st the Monticello Girls b-ball team visited the Capitol while at the state tournament here in Des Moines. They took a guided tour of the building and I accompanied them to the top viewing gallery overlooking the city.
Last Friday I had the opportunity to tour the Anamosa Penitentiary. It was a very interesting and educational experience. Last weekend I also attended a forum w/ the DBQ Farm Bureau in Dyersville. On March 5th I will be holding a forum at NICC in the Peosta Industrial Technology building. The event runs from 9am – 10am and is open to the public. Please come with any comments, questions or concerns you may have regarding any issues affecting your community and the state.
As always, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (515) 281-7330. Also, if you are ever in Des Moines make sure you stop by the Capitol to visit.
Sincerely, Lee Hein
Secretary Northey Announces Grants Available to Help Promote Specialty Crops
On Wednesday, February 23, 2011, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) issued a press release in which Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey announced that IDALS will make grants available to help enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops grown in Iowa. IDALS is eligible to receive approximately $275,000 in grant funding through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program which is run by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. This is the fourth of five Specialty Crop Block Grants authorized through the Farm Bill (Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008). Secretary Northey noted– “These funds are available to support food safety, research and marketing
efforts that will encourage Iowans to choose the products that are produced right here in our state. Specialty crops are a very important part of Iowa agriculture as they allow farmers to diversify and give customers access to locally grown products.”
Iowa agencies, universities, institutions, and producer, industry, and community based organizations are all eligible to apply for funding to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. In addition, single organizations, institutions, and individuals are encouraged to participate as project partners. Grant awards will be considered up to a maximum of $24,000. Grant funds shall be used for projects that solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops that benefit the specialty crop industry as a whole and will not be awarded for projects that directly benefit a particular product or provide a profit to a single organization, institution, or individual. “Specialty Crops” that are eligible under this program are fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.
Proposals must be received by IDALS on or before 4:00 p.m. on Friday, May 13, 2011. For more information visit the IDALS Specialty Crop Block Grant program at the Department’s web site at http://www.IowaAgriculture.gov/Horticulture_and_FarmersMarkets/ specialtyCropGrant.asp IDALS is also establishing a Review Committee to help review, evaluate, and make recommendations on grant proposals submitted to the Department. Those interested in participating in the Review Committee should have knowledge of specialty crops, and/or grant writing or grant management experience, and the ability to devote the necessary time to complete the review process. Additional information about reviewer responsibilities, meeting dates and an application form can be found at http://www.IowaAgriculture.gov/Horticulture_and_FarmersMarkets/ specialtyCropGrant.asp .
Applications to participate in the Reviewer Committee are due Friday, April 1, 2011 by 4 p.m.
House Labor Committee Passes Collective Bargaining Reform in Marathon Meeting
Last Friday morning at 6:04 a.m. the House Labor committee passed HSB 117. Debate began the previous day at 5:00 p.m. after already having met for two hours earlier in the day. Democrats offered over fifty amendments, which resulted in the debate on the bill taking over fourteen hours.
HSB 117 is the collective bargaining reform bill that seeks to restore the balance in bargaining between the taxpayer and the public unions. Republicans amended the bill to strip out some portions that would have required legislative approval of agreements that had been decided by an arbitrator as well as a provision that would have allowed the Public Employment Relations Board to charge fees for its services. Democrats attempted to amend the bill in a number of ways, but none of the amendments were adopted by the committee.
HSB 117 still contains provisions that allow for free agent employees, allow an arbitrator to choose between the two final offers of opposing parties, and excludes insurance and procedures for staff reduction from the scope of negotiations that the state and unions bargain over.
As the bill moves to the House floor, a public hearing has also been scheduled for Monday evening, March 7 at 6:00 p.m. The two hour hearing will hear from both supporters and those in opposition to the bill. Those wishing to speak at the hearing may sign up through the Legislative Information Office at (515) 281-5129.
House Approves SF 209, Coupling and Supplemental Bill
On Tuesday, March 1, the House approved Senate File 290, the federal tax code coupling and FY 2011 supplemental appropriations bill.
The bill was approved by the Senate on February 22 on a 49-0 vote. As it left the Senate, the coupling with the federal tax code portion of the bill reduced general fund revenue by $256.5 million over three fiscal years (FY 2011 – FY 2013). This includes $14.7 million for increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit from 7 percent of the federal credit to 10 percent.
In addition, the bill provided the following supplemental appropriations totaling $45.7 million:
• $5.9 million for the community colleges to restore Governor Culver’s cut
• $14.2 million for the Department of Corrections (prisons, CBCs and central office) to restore Governor Culver’s cut
• $18.6 million for public defender and indigent defense to make up for the underfunding used by the Democrats to balance the budget in FY 2011
• $2.96 million for the Department of Public Safety to restore Governor Culver’s cuts with $2 million going to the Iowa State Patrol, the rest going to administration, Narcotics Enforcement, DCI and the State Fire Marshal’s Office
• $1.2 million for the Department of Public Health to restore Governor Culver’s cuts to addictive disorders, community capacity, healthy aging, healthy children & families and infectious diseases
• $2.64 million to the Department of Human Services to restore Governor Culver’s cuts to the mental health institutions
The House Ways and Means Committee approved an amendment that allows individuals to couple with the federal tax code starting in for 2010, allows corporations to couple with the federal tax code starting in 2010 and leaves the Earned Income Tax Credit at 7 percent and not the 10 percent SF 209 proposed. The amendment increases the revenue reduction to $311.2 million over three years.
The House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment that added the following items that had been previously approved in House File 45 but removed by the Senate:
• Creation of the Tax Relief Fund to capture the surplus from the ending balance
• Establishment of a minimum health insurance premium of $100 for all state employees
• Requires the Revenue Estimating Conference to set a growth rate for FY 2013 at next meeting
• Prohibits DNR from purchasing land through the end of FY 2011, cuts REAP by same amount
• Appropriates $25 million for mental health and repeals the current system as of July 1, 2012
The House approved the bill on 64-34 vote and the bill now returns to the Senate for debate.