Ashley’s Angle: Week Three 1/22/18
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.
Jordan Scholars Come To Visit
I was honored to speak with Representative Ruth Ann Gaines’ guests, the Jordan Scholars. These special students are a group of high school juniors who were selected by their school administrators to study Iowa History. Since the Iowa Legislature is a part of history, we were asked to help them learn more about how we operate. It was great to have the chance to talk to a few wonderful young ladies about my experiences as a female legislator.
Governor Kim Reynolds announced a new cyber training partnership between the SANS (SysAdmin, Audit, Network and Security) Institute and the State of Iowa to inspire the next generation of female cybersecurity professionals.
GirlsGoCyberStart is a free online game of discovery that offers young women in grades 9-12 the opportunity to learn basic cybersecurity skills and test their cyber aptitude. Iowa’s students will be competing against students from 16 other states. Registration will begin on Jan. 29 and run through Feb. 16. The first 10,000 young women in high school to register may play the game online from February 20-25, 2018.
Prizes will also be awarded. They include computers and a trip to the 2018 Women in CyberSecurity Conference in Chicago. Additionally, the three schools in Iowa with the most participants will win awards of $2,500, $1,500 and $1,000.
We continue to look at our budget numbers for the current fiscal year, and the upcoming fiscal year. Our budget subcommittees are meeting and hearing from different departments about their specific needs and budgetary requests. From there, each will make its own recommendations and we will come up with a House budget.
Continuing to Improve Iowa’s Water Quality
After three years of working on water quality legislation, the Iowa House passed a bipartisan bill that establishes a dedicated, long-term source of funding for water quality projects across the state. The bill provides $282 million in new funding over the next 12 years to make improvements in water treatment infrastructure. It focuses efforts on both urban and rural improvements. Last year, more than $400 million was invested.
This bill makes improvements that will ensure Iowans have access to clean drinking water and that natural resources are preserved for future generations.This is not the end of the discussion however. House Republicans are committed to continue working on water quality issues and will look for opportunities to keep Iowa’s lakes, rivers, and streams clean.
The Debate on Traffic Cameras
You may have heard a lot recently about two different pieces of legislation that approach traffic cameras very differently. One bill is an all-out ban on the devices, while another focuses instead on regulating them with more local control as to the entire process. I am in favor of going the route of regulating before completely banning, because I do recognize the safety implications involved. You can read some of the comments I made to the media here.
Bill of the Week
The bill of the week is… HSB 536.
In 2014, the legislature passed a bill that authorized Iowa-based motor carriers that operate their own Commercial Drivers License (CDL) training program to also conduct their own driving skills test that a driver must pass to get their CDL. With that legislation, a sunset provision was included that repealed the legislation on May 14, 2019.
This legislation has been working well, and not only helps carriers safely and effectively bring new drivers to commercial driving, but also adds to the DOT’s own testing and service capacity by keeping these drivers out of their service centers so we can serve other customers with less delay. Statistics further illustrate the effectiveness of this policy. For example, over 3,000 skills tests had been completed by Iowa carriers in FY2017. Furthermore, over 5,000 DOT examiner hours were saved (that’s basically $165,789 we didn’t have to spend your tax dollars on!)
With the already present benefits associated with this policy, it would be further beneficial to pass HSB 536, which would repeal the sunset language of the legislation currently in place. It just makes sense to allow Iowa-based motor carriers to continue to administer their own CDL skills tests in their training programs, rather than expanding state government to do it.
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: HSB 536.
The Latest on Transportation
This week the Transportation committee had the opportunity to speak with Iowa Department of Transportation Director Mark Lowe. Director Lowe gave us a presentation on the current status of the department, upcoming road and bridge projects, and a general overview of traffic management priorities and systems.
Community College Visit Day
This week, students from numerous community colleges from across the state visited the Capitol. I got the chance to talk with Kayla Artel who is originally from Joliet, Illinois. She currently attends Kirkwood Community College with a focus in Physiology. She plans to transfer to the University of Iowa in the fall to continue her studies. I wish Kayla the best of luck as she continues to advance her studies!
Meeting with the Women of Mitchellville
As a member of the Justice Systems Appropriations Subcommittee, I had the amazing opportunity to tour the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville, the only women’s prison in Iowa. Warden Sheryl Dahm explained to me about how they are rehabilitating offenders. They even have a dog training program through a partnership with the Animal Rescue League. It was awesome to see how great of a facility they have in Mitchellville and how effectively Iowans’ tax dollars are being spent there. We talked about other ideas for justice reform as a part of our other conversations.
Speaking at IACCT
This week I was invited to speak at the Iowa Association of Community College Trustees’ 30th Annual Student Legislative Seminar. I spoke alongside Senator Rita Hart with community college students from across the State of Iowa. We shared how we became involved in serving the State of Iowa and our experiences since becoming legislators. I enjoyed being able to share my experiences with young people who are involved in campus student government or are interested in politics. Many of them also visited the capitol to learn more about State Government.
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 (email@example.com) 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.