Lee Hein, Capitol Update 7/29/11

Iowa House of Representatives
State Representative

Lee Hein

Address: State Capitol, Des Moines, IA 50319
Phone: (515) 281-3221
E-Mail: lee.hein@legis.state.ia.us
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Iowa Agriculture Exports Top $7 Billion in 2010
Ag Product Exports Grow 8%

On Monday, July 25, 2011, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and the Iowa Department of Economic Development (IDED) Director, Debi Durham announced in a press release that international demand remains strong for Iowa’s agriculture products. Recently released numbers by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) showed that Iowa exported $7.04 billion in agricultural goods in fiscal year 2010.

The $7.04 billion in exports in 2010 is up from $6.55 billion in 2009, but did not exceed the $7.38 billion level reached in 2008. According to the USDA, in 2009, every $1 billion in US agricultural exports required 8,400 American jobs. Iowa’s leading agricultural export is soybeans and soybean products, which was $3.29 billion in 2010. The next two leading products are feed grains and products at $1.87 billion and live animals and meat, excluding poultry, at $1.4 billion. Other agriculture exports include feeds and fodders ($172.1 million), poultry and products ($66.8 million), dairy products ($59 million), hides and skins ($56.1), and fats, oils and greases ($44.4 million). Other exports include wheat and products, seeds, and other.

Durham and Northey both traveled to South Korea and China with Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds in June to promote Iowa exports with these key Iowa trading partners. A full breakdown of agricultural exports from each state over the last four years can be found on the USDA’s website at:
http://www.ers.usda.gov/data/stateexports/2011/SX5yr.xls

Iowa’s Education Summit
The Education Summit that Governor Branstad put on last week ended with the Governor receiving a standing ovation from the 1,600 in attendance. It was likely a reflection of the importance of the event and what it will mean for Iowa’s Education future going forward.

The message echoed by many of the presenters came out loud and clear. If we are going to fix Iowa’s slide to mediocrity in education, we have to recognize first that there is a problem, and then come together to find a solution. A strong educational system isn’t a partisan issue. While there may be differences between the right and left on how to achieve it, the fact remains that both Republicans and Democrats want to see our children afforded the best education possible so they can achieve their dreams without limits. How we get there, though, has yet to be uncovered.

The Summit was a first step. Going forward, the Governor is planning another series of town halls across the state to share ideas gleaned from the myriad of speakers and panels, presenters, and attendees at the summit, and to formulate a plan. He will then issue a legislative package proposal at some point probably in the fall.

The plan will likely focus on teacher preparation and evaluation, student achievement and assessments, stronger standards and a more developed curriculum, and leadership training for principals and superintendents. There will be other ideas taken from states that have led successful reform movements, like Massachusetts and Florida, and from other countries around the world who are steadily passing the United States in educational success.

If you were unable to make the Iowa Education Summit you still have a chance to see some of the action. IPTV is running a number of the speeches in July and August.
For the schedule of airings, visit:
http://www.iptv.org/series.cfm/15841/intelligent_talk_television

A transcript of Gov. Branstad’s opening remarks can be found on the Governor’s site here: http://bit.ly/n8Gd5I.

A transcript of Sec. Duncan’s speech is available on the US Department of Education’s site here: http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/iowas-wake-call.

Finally, the Iowa Department of Education handed out a report to all conference participants titled “Rising to Greatness: An Imperative for Improving Iowa’s Schools.” The report is 28 pages and full of rankings and statistics on Iowa’s standing in educational achievement. The report can be found in PDF form here: http://bit.ly/n14suB.

Governor Signs Mental Health Redesign Bill
Governor Branstad signed the mental health redesign (SF 525) on Tuesday, July 26, marking the start of what will be the busiest interim in years in the health care area.

Senate File 525 provides a blueprint for the redesign of adult mental health systems in Iowa. The bill expresses legislative intent for the state to assume responsibility for the provision and funding of those services that are part of the state Medicaid program, while non-Medicaid services would be the responsibility of counties or the still to be created regions.

The Department of Human Services is directed to set up a number of work groups and committees to address specific, specialized issues and provide recommendations to the interim. The work groups will begin their work in August, in order to provide preliminary recommendations to a legislative interim committee in October.

The bill calls on the Legislative Council to create an interim committee, which would be responsible for establishing a plan for revising disability services for adults during the 2011 interim. The plan developed by the interim committee would be presented to the 2012 legislative session for consideration, with full implementation of the changes to occur by July 1, 2013. The plan would include who is served in the new system, core services that will be provided across the state, outcome measures, and provider accreditation. There are five work groups designated in the bill. They are:
• Adult Mental Health Services
• Adult Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
• Brain Injury Services
• Children’s Services
• Regional Administration
It is possible that the Legislative Council will approve the mental health redesign at its August 16 meeting, allowing the work to begin in September.

NOTES FROM DISTRICT 31
July has been a busy month with parades and county fairs. I have enjoyed my visits as I travel throughout the district. Summer is fast coming to an end, as schools will be starting up again in just a couple of short weeks. As always, you can contact me at lee.hein@legis.state.ia.us or (515) 281-7330.

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