End of Session Recap

End of Session Recap

At 5:55 AM on Thursday May 1st the Iowa House adjourned the 85th General Assembly.   I spend just short of 24 hours at the Capital on the last day.  We passed six of the eleven appropriation bills on the last day, remaining steadfast to our budgeting principles of spending less than we take in.

Three years ago, Iowa faced a $900 million budget shortfall.  As the session ends, Iowa is spending just 91% of what our outdated expenditure limitation law allows, our budget reserves remain full and the ending balance is projected to be $740 million.  We spent 98% of our ongoing revenues for ongoing expenses.  For the second consecutive year, House Republicans led the way on debt reduction.  Over the last two sessions, $225 million in debt has been retired.  Challenging budget times remain and the House Republicans remain steadfast in our commitment to responsible common sense budget budgeting.

The Cannabidol bill that started out at the beginning of the session as the medical marijuana bill. It was assumed dead, but transformed as the surprise of the session.  This bill as passed is not medical marijuana that could be smoked for medical purposes.  It is a very narrowly drafted bill for Iowans diagnosed by an Iowan neurologist that have intractable epilepsy.  They can seek permission to obtain Cannabidiol for treatment.

Cannabidiol is a non-psychoactive chemical found in the marijuana plants.   An Iowan who has been diagnosed with intractable epilepsy can apply to receive a card from the Department of Public Health allowing them to have up to 32 oz of Cannabidiol. A patient or a guardian who has the card issued to them and who follows the law will not be prosecuted by the state for possession of Cannabidiol. People who do not have the Cannabidiol Card are still prohibited from having Cannabidiol. The cards must be renewed every year. The University of Iowa shall submit a yearly report detailing scientific literature, studies and clinical trials regarding the use of Cannabidiol around the country. This bill has a sunset date of July 1, 2017.  At that time the data will be reviewed and the legislature will revisit the issue.

I actually thought that it was dead late in the evening on Wednesday.  But early Thursday morning a group of legislators led by Majority leader Linda Upmeyer huddled around a desk on the House floor to hammer out a compromise that would allow this issue to move forward. I supported it in the end because of the sunset provision and the data collection that allows us to review it in 2017.

As I look back on the session for me I believe it was a very successful session.  I have three issue that I worked on move to the Governor’s desk and be on.   First was an unused gift card bill that was brought to me by constituent Brad Davis of Manchester.  The issue was that unused gift card after three years where to be sent to the State Treasurer, if no one claimed them the money was put in the General fund.  The new law allows the business to keep the money if they are willing to honor the card as long as they are in business.  This is a good law for small business in Iowa.

The second was the Social Host bill.  I introduced it back in 2011.  It puts a state-wide law that fines landowners who if they are aware of under aged drinking is happening on at their property.  This is another tool in the tool box to help curb under aged drinking.

The last was the ground breaking ceremony Lake Delhi for the start of the rebuilding of the dam.  This was a huge step in bringing back the lake. It has been just short of four years since the dam was breached.  Since then a lot of people have put forth a lot of effort to make this happen.   I was proud to be a part of the ceremony and am looking for to the construction taking place this summer.

With that, we ended the 85th Iowa General Assembly.  The parade season will soon be upon us.  I look forward to being out meeting people and listening to your concerns.  If see me give a wave or a hello.  Enjoy the summer and have a safe one.

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.state.ia.us or by phone at (319) 480-1997.


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