Capitol Update Week Seven

House Increases Penalties on Crimes against Minors

Tuesday, the House passed legislation aimed at individuals who harm children. House File 2253 increases penalties for kidnapping a child and ends the ability of criminals to earn credit to reduce the time they serve in prison for certain crimes against children.

Under current law, a person can be convicted of kidnapping in the second degree if they hold the victim for ransom or if they are armed with a dangerous weapon during the kidnapping. It is considered a class “B” felony, meaning a person convicted of this crime could serve up to 25 years in prison and at minimum must serve 70% of their prison sentence. House File 2253 would expand the charge of kidnapping in the second degree to include cases where the person kidnapped is 15 or younger. Expanding this charge will keep those who seek to harm children in prison for a substantial amount of time.

When a person is sentenced to prison, they normally do not serve the entire sentence behind bars. There are two sentence categories relating to the accrual of earned time. If prisoners exhibit good behavior and attend required programs they can reduce their sentence substantially.

House File 2253 ends the accrual of earned time for certain offenses that are directed at children. If HF 2253 becomes law, individuals convicted of the following crimes would not be eligible to accumulate earned time if the victim of the offense was 15 or younger; murder in the second degree, attempt to commit murder, sexual abuse in the first, second and third degree, lascivious acts with a child, assault with intent to commit sexual abuse, sexual exploitation by a counselor, therapist or school employee, kidnapping in the second and third degree, human trafficking, and sexual exploitation of a minor.

This bill insures that people who seek to harm children will remain in prison for their complete sentence. House File 2253 has been sent to the Senate for their consideration.

Board of Regents begin Efficiency Study

The Iowa Board of Regents entered into an agreement with Deloitte Consulting to conduct a $2.5 million efficiency review of state’s three public universities.  The goal of this effort – find savings within the three schools to reinvest into higher education.

The Regents created an Efficiency Task Force last year to press the issue of finding and implementing efficiencies at the three schools. Comments from the Regents and staff have noted that part of the focus will be on the use of technology to reduce costs.  Still, some faculty are already raising objections to the Task Force and the consultants.

Iowa is not the only state engaged in efforts to find efficiencies in higher education.  Since 2011, the University of Minnesota has been engaged in a continual push for budget efficiencies.  Under the leadership of President Eric Kaler, the university has already implemented $34 million of savings.  Last fall he committed his university to finding an additional $15 million in efficiencies each year for the next six years, for a total of $90 million in new savings.  That commitment appears to be more ambitious than the Regents’ belief that the efficiencies identified by Deloitte would be six to 10 times the size of the contract – a range of $15 to $25 million.

Week Seven Recap

Monday afternoon I filed my petition papers with the Secretary of State.  This places my name on the ballot in the June 3rd primary.  It is my intent to serve House District 96 again if it is the wish of the voters in Delaware and Jones counties.  I appreciate those of you who signed the petition and supported me in the past.

hein petitions

On Tuesday the House passed the gift card bill I sponsored, HF 2296. The bill keeps unused gift card balances in the pockets of business instead of being sent to the state Treasury like the current law requires. It passed the House unanimously.  It now moves to the Senate for their consideration.

This week I met with the Manchester Good to Great Committee along with Rep. Dunkel and Senators Breitbach and Zumbach. The group is focused on improving and upgrading Manchester’s economy and recreational property. We discussed economic policy for the Manchester area. We also brainstormed ideas to bring skilled workers as Delaware County currently has multitude of advanced positions available.

Students from the Jones County 4-H group were at the Capitol this week. I got to meet with them to answer their questions about the legislative process. I love when youth from the district come to the Capitol to get a view of the lawmaking process. If your group is planning a trip, let me know so we can meet while you’re in Des Moines.

On Wednesday, a group of Social Host supporters were at the Capitol to meet with legislators. I got to meet with supporters from around the district. The legislation provides fines for adults who knowingly allow minors to drink alcohol on their property. I’ve sponsored the bill and support their efforts. Unfortunately, we have not been able to get the legislation passed for the last few years.

I also met with board members of the Jones and Delaware County Regional Medical Centers on Wednesday. There are a few bills dealing with medical issues making their rounds through the legislature this session. I asked questions and got the members’ opinions on the bills being discussed.

Chad Adams and Darin Stadmueller, both of Monticello, were at the Capitol this week representing the Jones County Farm Bureau. We discussed farm bureau issues as well as the gas tax.

On Friday I will be at the Jones County Farm Bureau forum from noon to 2 pm. It will be at the Lawrence Center in Anamosa. The forum is open to the public. I will also be on 600 WMT Friday afternoon at 4 pm with Bob Bruce.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns about these topics or any others please feel free to contact me by e-mail at lee.hein@legis.iowa.gov or by phone at (515) 281-7330.

Sincerely,

Rep. Lee Hein

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