Capitol Update: Week 5

House Budget Targets

The House has offered a realistic and responsible budget plan for the next fiscal year that makes meaningful investments and protects the hardworking taxpayers of Iowa. Nearly the entire increase is devoted to increases in Supplemental State Aid for K-12 schools.  As is the case every year, the level of the increase for school aid is tied directly to the level of on-going revenue brought in by the state.  The ending balance, the cash reserve and the economic emergency fund have no impact on school funding.

It is important to Iowans that we do not spend more than we have and live within our means. While standing by this principle for the last five legislative sessions, The House has found common ground with the Governor and the Senate.  We expect that to continue this year.  Living within our means is something the hardworking taxpayers of Iowa do every day.  Government needs to do the same.

The House budget plan spends 99.9% ($7.168 billion) of on-going revenue ($7.320 billion) ensuring that government does not spend more than it has and lives within its means. This is a 2% ($145.8 million) increase over FY 16.  In 2011 when I entered the legislature our budget was $5.9 billion dollars.  Medicaid and School Funding has been a major contributor to the increase.  The state has been able to handle this increase because of robust growth in the state’s economy.  However, even as our economy is stronger than other states our growth has slowed partially driven to the challenges in the Agriculture sector.  The legislature needs to be cognizant of this and to be fiscally responsible we need to continue to budget within our means.

Individual line-items in each budget subcommittee are being determined by each of the appropriate budget subcommittees. The Standings budget target includes Supplemental State Aid, Teacher Leadership money, and the backfill to local governments as a result of the property tax reform bill in 2013.

News from District 96

The Legislative process is speeding up this week. There have been subcommittee meetings going on all over the Capitol building.  Legislators are busy reviewing bills for next week’s funnel.

I was involved in some of these subcommittees and took the opportunity to watch a couple. There was a subcommittee meeting on HSB560 that I watched.  It is a bill to regulate dog breeders.  Monticello residents Carla and Gary Zumbach testified at the meeting about regulation in the dog breeding industry.  They did a great job and it was good to see them.

I was part of a subcommittee and voted to approve a bill on automatic wine and beer dispensers. These dispensers use CO2 to pressurize the bottle and keeps wine fresh.  This way a restaurant can pour a glass of wine and not ruin the entire bottle.  Currently to use one of these machines a restaurant needs to get a variance; this bill would make the use of the machines legal.

During an Ag Committee Meeting this week there was a presentation by a Kentucky farmer on the uses and production of Industrial Hemp. This is not Marijuana Hemp, but the kind of hemp that was used in the war effort during World War II.  He grows four acres and uses it for the production of flags, clothing, and shoes.  He also told us that there research being done on using Industrial Hemp for the making of plastics.  These plastics are supposed to be stronger than tradition plastics and could be used to make a dashboard in a car.  The 2014 Farm Bill legalized the production of Industrial Hemp, but it still needs state approval before farmers can grow it.

I also visited with Todd Hospodarsky this week. He came to the Capitol promoting social studies education as part of our public schools curriculum.

I also attended the Iowa State Legislative Reception and participated in the Iowa State Day on the Hill. I am always impressed with the university’s students and with the projects and research that Iowa State does.

As always if you have any questions or concerns please get in touch. My phone number is (319) 480-1997 and my email is lee.hein@legis.iowa.gov.   Have a good weekend!

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