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 10
This week we spent much time in session passing several bills. One bill of interest that we passed is a requirement for professors/teachers at public schools who are convicted of a crime to repay their salaries they received while on paid administrative leave. On Thursday we passed HF 589, which expands the protections for farmers from interference, invasion and fraud caused by uninvited persons.
Last weekend I attended the monthly meeting of the 9.12 group of Jones County in Anamosa. This weekend I will be attending the Jones County Cattlemen’s Association banquet.
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
House Passes Education Bills for Homeschool and Choice Advocates
This week the House approved a number of bills on the Floor, several of which helped increase opportunities for homeschooling families, as well as providing choice and local control into the public school system.
HF 583 – Independent Accreditation of Nonpublic Schools
Iowa is the only state in the country requiring state accreditation of nonpublic schools. This bill makes it voluntary like 18 other states, and would allow for a nonpublic school to be accredited by nonpublic accrediting bodies.
HF 584 – Driver Education by a Teaching Parent
Allows a parent teaching a student under competent private instruction to teach driver’s education to the student over which they have custody and control. The course of instruction must be approved by the department of transportation and must meet at least the standards taught in public and private schools. Applying for an intermediate license requires a signed form designed by the department showing evidence of completion of the course. Regular requirements apply as far as a driving test for intermediate license and full license are concerned.
HF 585 – Charter Schools
HF 585 amends the charter school and innovation zone school chapter of Iowa code. It separates the approval process for the two types of schools by requiring charter schools to be approved by the local school board, as opposed to the state board of education. Innovation zone school applications are still to be approved by the state board. It allows more entities to apply for a charter school, including community colleges, Regents universities, nonpublic schools, private colleges, and nonprofits. Current code only allows for a principal, teachers, or parents to apply for converting an existing school into a charter. The bill also allows for the charter to be established in a new building and not just an existing attendance center, as allowed in current code. The bill eliminates the requirement that charter and innovation zone schools have to comply with chapters 20 and 279, instead allowing them the option to comply, should they choose.
HF 588 – Independent Private Instruction
Allows for independent private instruction, which is a parent providing home school education to students that are not related. The bill limits enrollment to no more than four unrelated students. Independent Private Instruction is exempt from all school-related statutes and rules except compulsory attendance. Additionally, independent private instruction must provide private or religious based instruction as its primary purpose and must provide enrolled students with instruction in math, reading, language, science, and social studies.
No Money for Passenger Rail in Budget
House Study Bill 220 (Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Budget) passed out of appropriations on a party line vote this week. The budget bill funds building projects, technology improvements, and regent’s construction projects among other things. One thing the bill does not fund is passenger rail.
The governor did not recommend the funding in his budget. The most alarming component of the passenger rail project is the estimated $3 million annual commitment needed to subsidize the operating costs of the train.
The bill removed $6.5 million needed for federal match that was previously appropriated for the project. The state would have to commit a total of $20.6 million to draw the federal funds. If the state did appropriate money, the federal government had already awarded the project $230 million in 2015 with $86.8 million designated for the Iowa portion of the project.
Conference Committee on Senate File 209 Continues to Meet
Over the past week, the conference committee on Senate File 209 met several times to try to find a compromise. SF 209 is 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, all to backfill the cuts made by Governor Culver on his way out of office.
The House approved the bill on Tuesday, March 1 on a 64-34 vote. The House amendment 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 increased to 10 percent. The amendment increases the revenue reduction to $311.2 million over three years.
Also, the House 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 ending general fund 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 conference committee consists of Representatives Raecker (co-chair), Wagner, Helland, Jacoby and Tyler Olson and Senators Bolkcom (co-chair), Dvorsky, Jochum, Zaun and Kettering.
The committee met twice the week of March 7 and four times the week of March 14.
The highest priority for the Senate Democrats is increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the supplemental appropriations. The highest priority for House Republicans is the Tax Relief Fund, the mental health funding and bonus depreciation.
House Republicans offered a compromise that would include all of the original provisions of SF 209 including coupling and bonus depreciation as of January 1, 2011, increasing the EITC from 7 to 10 percent, $46 million in supplemental appropriations. The compromise would also include $20 million for mental health funding and the language creating the Tax Relief Fund (TRF).
Senate Democrats responded that they wanted language changes to mental health and the TRF. They offered to push the repeal of the mental health law to July 1, 2013 (allowing the current system for one additional year) and agreed to the creation of the Tax Relief Fund but wanted only 25 percent of the ending balance and wanted it all for property tax relief.
House Republicans will continue to work with Senate Democrats to try to reach resolution on this important tax and spending measure and will continue to fight for tax relief and measures contained in the bill necessary for businesses to create jobs and grow Iowa’s economy.