Ashley’s Angle: Week Eight 3/03/17

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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.

Sue Vogel (left), Cindy Garlock (seated), Ann Nickolson (back), and Deanne Robinson (right), members of Delta Kappa Gamma and educators from the CR area visited Representative Rizer and myself on Wednesday. We spoke about education in Iowa and how we can continue to improve Iowa’s great tradition of academic excellence.

Funnel Week

House Business
This week was “funnel week”. The legislative funnel is a rule that requires bills to receive approval from at least one committee to remain eligible for consideration. If a bill does not receive that approval, it is dead for the session. Since this was my first funnel week, it was quite an experience. There was flurry of activity as important pieces of legislation were assigned subcommittees who met and, if passed, were then discussed in the full committees. Much of my time this week was spent attending those meetings and working to get important bills through the funnel.

Unfortunately, some bills fell victim to funnel week. This can happen for many reasons, but I will work to perfect my legislation that didn’t make it and bring those bills back next year. One of those bills was to provide more transparency to Homeowner Associations, while holding developers accountable to their projects, and another bill was to allow our local entities to move forward with a plan to draw down Federal dollars to help offset the cost of providing ground emergency medical transport services. I do plan on working a lot in between sessions to be prepared for next year and the issues that I hope to address.

The Revenue Estimating Conference will be meeting March 14th. Appropriations Chair, Rep. Grassley, and I have been working hard to set our budget targets for Fiscal Year 2018. We hope to have a budget made shortly after the REC meets. We’ll compare the new estimates with the December REC numbers.  We will then develop a responsible budget based on the lower of those numbers. We are hoping that the revenue numbers don’t come in lower than they were projected for the current fiscal year, but are being realistic that it could be a possibility.  It is also important to note we are not alone in this challenge. In fact, 25 other states saw revenue collections below forecasts. You can read the National Association of Budget Officers Fiscal Survey here to learn more about this situation facing many states. I know we have had to make some tough decisions in regards to spending and our budget– but I am committed to funding our priorities at levels we can afford, and continuing to find efficiencies that will help our government run in a way that respects your tax dollars.

I’m excited to report as well that we have begun to look at all of the different tax credits out there. We will be looking at their purpose, effectiveness, and cost. This is something I campaigned on– and feel if we can partner this with simplifying our tax code, we will really be able to help businesses grow and expand, creating good paying jobs for Iowans.

Other Business
In the Transportation Committee we passed HSB 139, aka the “Hands Free Bill”. This bill prohibits the use of hand held electronic devices to write, send, or read electronic messages while driving. The bill does not include the use of a GPS/navigation system, hand-held/HAM radios, or the use of an electronic device in a “hands free” mode. The bill also includes a provision that exempts public safety employees in their official duties, health care professionals in the course of an emergency, or individuals sending or receiving safety related information from violating the law. I want to note that I was and am typically against giving law enforcement another reason to pull us over, but have heard from many of you and learned about increasing numbers of texting and driving accidents. It is a growing problem. I think the deciding factor for me in supporting this bill was the recent crash that killed 2 young ladies.

In Judiciary, there are two pieces of legislation that I would like to quickly discuss. First, is HSB 105 (now HF 487), the Medical-Malpractice bill. I spent a lot of time crafting amendments to this bill after the subcommittee meeting and I believe I did a decent job at making the bill more palatable for most stake holders. Although I faced some tough questions from other, legally trained representatives, I felt I held my own during the committee discussion. The bill passed the full committee and is now eligible for debate on the House floor. I pledged to continue to work on this bill as we head toward that floor debate.

The second bill is HSB 133. HSB 133 is a bill that focuses on the expansion of Iowan’s right to bear arms, while also cracking down on straw purchases. There was one amendment made to the original bill, which made several large changes to the language. Most notably, the permit to acquire pistols or revolvers is valid for five years. When an individual applies for a permit to acquire, the local departments will conduct a criminal background check, and those departments may subsequently conduct a background check on an annual basis. The permit will need to be renewed every five years. Also, the pre-exemption prohibiting the Board of Reagents from restricting handguns on college campus has been stricken. The law would revert back to it’s current language, but would allow an individual to file suit against a political sub-division if they feel they have been adversely affected by ordinances, regulations, or policies that affect their second amendment rights.

I am looking to create a Constituent Advisory Committee that 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.
Bill of the Week
The bill of the week is…House File 161

HF 161 was introduced by Representative Heartsill (R) from Marion County. HF 161 asks the director of the Department of Education to develop age appropriate child sexual abuse and sexual assault material for use in school districts across Iowa. They are also directed to seek funds available through the Federal Government to achieve this end. Similar legislation, often known as Erin’s Law, is in place in nearly 33 other states. HF 161 would provide age and developmentally appropriate material to parents for them to teach their children to recognize unwanted verbal or physical advances, be aware of the dangers of sexual exploitation via the internet, and how to escape abusive and violent relationships.

The overall goal of this legislation is to provide age appropriate techniques to recognize child sexual abuse, assist in awareness and prevention, and provide resources and information to support sexually abused children and their families.

Capitol Visitors
I was happy to meet and speak with a group from the Linn County RefugeeRISE Program. They informed me about their program, its impact in Linn County, and the challenges specifically facing refugees in Iowa. Pictured (not in order): Stephanie Domingo, Clark Cunningham-White, Shana Kargbo, Leya Neema, Paul Land, and Meghan Smith.
Tuesday was Community College Day on the Hill and I made sure to stop by the Kirkwood Community College booth. I learned about the Advanced Manufacturing and Robotics Technologies Program from instructors and a member of their business partnership.