Capitol Update Week Nine

House Votes to Protect Iowa’s Education Standards and Student Data

The House this week passed a bill with unanimous support to address some of the controversy surrounding the Iowa Core and Common Core State Standards.  The bill provides greater transparency and opportunities for public input on the state’s education standards, prevents standards from being implemented without the legislative oversight, reiterates local control of text books and curriculum, and provides greater protection of student data.

Background

Common Core, a set of education standards developed at the national level, has garnered significant interest across the country.  The topic is often controversial, with concerns about nationalization of education, the privacy of student data, and the cost of assessments.

Iowa joined 44 other states in adopting the Common Core into the state’s set of education standards, the Iowa Core, in 2010.  But a number of states have put the brakes on implementation.

HF 2439 – Iowa Core Technical Clean-up, Public Input, and Student Data Privacy

For the standards themselves, the bill requires that the Department of Education and the State Board of Education solicit public input and suggestions to revise or amend.  There is to be at least three public meetings across the state and input will be collected through the Department’s website.  The goal will be to identify any opportunities to strengthen the standards with input from Iowans.

Additionally, any future changes to the Iowa Core standards cannot be implemented until the proposed changes are brought before the legislature while in session.  The bill also reiterates that any curriculum, lesson plans, instructional methods, and text books are chosen at the local level and not chosen by the state or federal government, nor prescribed by the Iowa Core standards.

Finally, the bill provides additional protections for student data collected by districts and the state Department of Education.  The Department is to establish data collection, privacy, and sharing policies for student; inventory and report what student data are collected and the data’s purposes; and create a detailed data security plan that includes privacy compliance standards, a data breach plan, data retention/destruction plans, and guidelines for authorizing parental access to student data.

The bill prevents the state from including biometric, health, criminal/juvenile justice records, family voting or political information, religious information in student data files. Student data is prohibited from being shared outside the state except under certain circumstances where sharing is necessary to conduct the business of the Department of Education in carrying out its duties.  The department must use only aggregate data in public reports.

The bill, in the end, largely mirrors Governor Branstad’s Executive Order 83 issued last fall.  The passage of this bill sends a strong message that the Governor and the House are committed to maintaining control of our standards and student data, not allowing the federal government to interfere with Iowa’s intentions.

Governor Branstad joins egg lawsuit against California law

On Thursday, March 6, 2014, Governor Branstad joined a lawsuit in the Eastern District of California opposing California’s egg-production law that discriminates against Iowa’s egg producers.  Governor Branstad, along with other five other states, argues that California’s egg-production law is unconstitutional and violates the commerce clause.

Iowa’s egg farmers lead the nation in egg production by producing nearly 15 billion eggs per year.  Almost one out of every five eggs produced in the United States are produced in Iowa.  The Iowa egg industry contributes about $2 billion in total sales and impacts about 8,000 jobs.

The lawsuit, which was filed by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, a Democrat, and co-signed by the AG’s of Nebraska, Oklahoma, Alabama, Kentucky and Gov. Branstad, argues that the court should rule that California’s law violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.  The commerce clause prohibits any state from enacting legislation that regulates conduct wholly outside its borders, protects its own citizens from out-of-state competition, or places undue burdens on interstate commerce.

California’s law puts unnecessary burdens on Iowa farms which could force some Iowa farmers out of business.

Facts about Iowa egg production:

  • Iowa is the number one (#1) state in egg production.  Iowa farmers produce over 14.4 billion eggs per year.
  • Approximately 9.1% of those eggs – 1.07 billion eggs per year – are sold in California.
  • Iowa farmers export more eggs to California than any other state.
  • 30% of the eggs imported to California are produced in Iowa.

Week Nine Recap

The deadline for the second funnel is this week. All bills originating from the House must pass out of committee in the Senate and all Senate bills must pass out of committee in  the House in order to remain alive for the session. Committees have until Friday the 14th to pass bills out. All bills still in committee will be dead for the session. Only the Ways & Means and Appropriations committees are funnel proof.

The gift card bill I introduced, HF 2296, passed the funnel deadline. It was passed out of the Senate Commerce committee Thursday afternoon. The bill allows businesses to keep the balance of gift cards customers haven’t yet redeemed. Currently, businesses are required to submit the unused balances to the state Treasury three years after the card is issued. It now goes before the whole Senate for their consideration. The House passed the bill unanimously in February.

We passed a Senate bill out of Environmental Protection committee that gives landfills permission to take yard waste from severe storms or devastating tree diseases such as the emerald ash bore. The emerald ash bore outbreak will have an enormous economic impact and produce tons of waste material. Some thought will have to be put in to other alternatives.

The social host bill (SF 2310) passed out of the House Public Safety committee Thursday afternoon, remaining alive for the session. The bill provides a fine for an owner or leaser that knowingly allows minors to drink alcohol on their property. The bill is now eligible for debate on the floor.

Next week, we turn our focus away from committee work and toward floor debate and the budget. The only committees that will continue to meet are funnel-proof Ways & Means and Appropriations. We will work to finalize the budget and debate bills that survived the funnel.

Next Saturday, March 21st, I’ll be at the Jones County Farm Bureau Forum at Java Jones in Monticello. The forum runs from 10 am to noon and is open to the public.

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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