Ashley’s Angle: 2018 Session, Week 10

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Trusted. Proven. Leader.

Thank you so much for entrusting me to represent Iowa House District 67. I am proud to represent people from Marion, Robins, Hiawatha, and Cedar Rapids.

Scouting Out the Capitol

This Monday, some girl scouts from Linn County had the chance to come visit the Capitol. As I had just met with them a couple of weeks ago, it was nice to hear about their progress on earning their Silver Awards. I was able to show them around the House Chamber, and we were even able to catch up with Speaker Linda Upmeyer and talk about our pride in serving as women legislators.

 

Testing Out the E-Polling

This week Secretary of State Paul Pate’s office held demonstrations of one of the Iowa-specific electronic poll books. With these systems, precinct officials are able to easily and efficiently apply election laws in a consistent and uniform manner for all voters. This is a great example of how technology can help our poll workers sort through election day procedures and help ensure Iowans’ voices are heard at the polls. I was able to walk through the entire process, which clearly prompts poll workers through each step, practically taking the human error element out of the process.

 

Supporting Victims’ Rights 

On Thursday, I was honored to attend Governor Kim Reynolds’ signing of a proclamation that designates the week of April 8th -14th as Crime Victims’ Rights Week in Iowa. As I have been working diligently for Marsy’s Law, which would create a constitutional amendment in Iowa protecting victims’ rights, it was great to see the Governor to continue to follow through on her support of this initiative.

Legislative Business

Future Ready Iowa

This week the Iowa House unanimously passed the Future Ready Iowa Act. Right now, Iowa has a killed workforce shortage, and this bill takes a number of steps to increase and improve the skills of Iowa’s workforce beyond a high school degree. The goal of the Future Ready Act is to ensure Iowans are trained for the jobs of today and tomorrow, with at least 70 percent of Iowa workers equipped with education or training beyond high school by 2025.

The Future Ready Act creates opportunities for Iowans of all ages and experiences through a number of programs and opportunities, including:

  • Creating a program for small and medium sized apprenticeship sponsors to help smaller businesses participate in registered apprenticeship
  • An education last dollar scholarship program that incentivizes and assists Iowans to learn the skills needed to secure a successful career in a high-demand field. This program would play a significant role in helping businesses develop their talent pipeline and hire the skilled workforce they need.
  • An education grant program to encourage Iowans to continue education beyond a two year degree. In order to reach the goal of 70% of Iowa’s workforce having education or training beyond high school, it will take more than just new high school graduates. This program is designed to target and incentivize Iowans who have completed at least half of the journey to-wards a degree in a high-demand field and assist them to finish the journey to secure a successful career.

School Safety

The issue of school safety has been in the news lately, and Iowans have expressed concerns. We have been working to advance common sense school safety measures that ensure students are secure while in a learning environment. The House passed one measure in SF 2113 this week which requires licensed school staff to go through annual suicide prevention and adverse childhood experience training. This will help teachers and school administrators identify potential problems or signs that may lead to a student hurting themselves or others.

Additionally, the House Education Committee advanced SF 2364, which will require every Iowa school district to coordinate with local law enforcement to develop an active shooter plan. While most schools already have a strategy in place, some schools lack this critical plan. In addition, teachers will be required to go through active shooter training once a year. This bill will help protect Iowa students and school staff by ensuring that if an active shooter situation arises, schools are prepared.

Lastly, we have been continuing to advance an extension of the SAVE fund. As you know, I have worked hard on SAVE this session in order to extend the fund to continue into the future.  The SAVE fund has served as an important tool for schools to make much-needed improvements that ensure modern facilities, safe classrooms, and state of the art technology that enhance students’ educational experience.

Another important aspect of SAVE is that schools can use these funds to make security upgrades to their facilities to improve school safety. We are committed to ensuring safe schools for both student and school employees, and we will continue to look for opportunities to build on these efforts.

Bill of the Week

The bill of the week is… SF 220.

SF 220 is a bill that regulates the use of automated traffic enforcement systems, including traffic cameras. As the floor sponsor for this bill, I believe that, although there is a lot of controversy surrounding traffic cameras in Iowa, these systems still help to bring safety to some of our busiest and most dangerous roadways in the state.

Let’s face it… Iowans speed. In fact, more Iowans than ever are speeding. A report by Insurify has found that Iowa has the highest ranking in the country for speeding tickets, and the lowest number of law enforcement officers per capita in the states that rank in the top ten in terms of speeding.

There have been a couple of criticisms regarding the current application and use of traffic cameras in the state. One such criticism is that traffic cameras are unconstitutional because they do not allow for due process or don’t allow citizens their right to face their accusers. SF 220, however, addresses these concerns by creating regulations that require all relevant information to be captured by the camera, as well as requiring a local police officer to decide whether to actually issue a citation or not.

The bill also addresses several other criticisms related to traffic cameras. My bill requires that there is a demonstrated safety need through a public justification report and hearing before a camera can be implemented. This means that cameras cannot simply be installed wherever, but must be placed in a location that has been justified as needing a camera. Furthermore, this bill requires further approval from the state, regular calibration of installed cameras, and clear signage for both mobile and fixed systems.

The bill also creates an appeal process with an impartial body that allows citizens that receive a citation to appeal to small claims court. Additionally, if citizens truly do not want these traffic cameras in their communities, my bill creates an appeal and petition process that would allow citizens to demand the cameras be taken down. A petition for the removal of traffic cameras would be deemed valid if it were signed by 10 percent of the number of people voting in the last regular city election.

For example, if citizens in Cedar Rapids did not want traffic cameras in their city, they would need a little over 1,700 signatures, which would be 10 percent of the 17,661 citizens that voted in the city election for Cedar Rapids Mayor. If a petition receives enough signature, it is then up to the city council or county board of supervisors to vote on whether to repeal the ordinance allowing the operation of the traffic cameras.

Lastly, traffic cameras do help create safer roadways for the citizens of Iowa. There has only been one fatal crash in the 7 years since the traffic camera program was implemented, compared to 5 fatal crashes in the 6 years prior to the start. Furthermore the rate of collisions per month has decreased from 5.13 crashes per month prior to the implementation to 3.29 crashes per month after implementation. These statistics prove that the cameras do help create safer roads.

The bill was brought to the House Floor this week, and there was active debates brought forth by both sides on the bill. Some Representatives wanted a full ban of the cameras, while others, such as myself, wanted more regulations on the cameras. After debates, the bill was voted on with SF 220 passing 77-21, with 2 Representatives absent. Although there were still some Representatives that did not agree with the bill, it still passed with significant bipartisan support.

If you have any questions about this or any other bill, please feel free to contact me. You can find the full text of the bill here: SF 220.

 

Family Field Trip to the Capitol

It was great to have several of my constituents visit this week, including the Pumphrey family. As the Pumphreys are home-schooled, they decided to take a field trip and visit the Iowa State Capitol to learn more about the state political process. I explained to them some of the things we do here at the Capitol, and the kids were even able to take some pictures sitting in the Speaker’s chair!

 

REC Day on the Hill

It was nice to meet up with the great people working at the Linn County Rural Electric Cooperative. As it was REC Day on the Hill, I was able to speak with them about the work they have been doing in Linn County for their members.

Get Involved!

I am continuing to develop my Constituent Advisory Committee.
The group is comprised of people I could email or call to ask questions about specific policy questions. If you would like to join, please email my legislature email (ashley.hinson@legis.iowa.gov) and let me know what your area of expertise is and how I could get in touch with you.
From Education, Judicial issues, Medical, Energy, and Tax policy, I want your input in the process.