Newsletter for Thursday, April 13, 2017
On Wednesday, April 12th, the Tama County Pork Producers generously provided a free lunch to all the folks at the capitol as a way of showcasing our county's agricultural economy. They grilled and served hundreds and hundreds of delicious, tenderized pork loin sandwiches from the first floor rotunda. This is the first year that the Tama County Pork Producers have done this event on their own, I hope it becomes an annual tradition.
The budget process is in full swing as we work through the various department budgets for Fiscal year 2018. Wednesday evening the Appropriations committee met and passed the Education budget which deals primarily with the higher education needs such as the Regents schools, Community Colleges, private colleges and other education needs, but not the K-12 funding. This budget cut roughly $20 million out of the education budget compared to 2017. The Fiscal Year 2018 budget will thus be $908 million after the reductions. Most of these reductions are coming from the Regents colleges, with ISU and U of I being reduced by 6.25%, and UNI being reduced by 3.2%. The Tuition Grant program that provides grants for low income students to Iowa's private colleges was also reduced by 6.25%. Funding for our community colleges was increased by $1.6 million over the final 2017 funding. There was also an effort to combine several programs in this budget to reduce the number of line items in the budget and provide flexibility to the programs. We also completely eliminated several line items. One item that was initially marked for elimination was the $1.5 million funding for the Iowa Flood Center, a program started in 2008 in response to the devastating floods in Iowa. Wednesday evening the House restored that funding at $1.2 million, recognizing the value in this program.
House File 410, the bill to add Palmer Amaranth to the noxious weed and seed list, came back from the Senate with an amendment that Rep. Sexton had proposed after we had passed the bill in the House. This amendment required the county weed commissioner to work with the Farm Services Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Services when developing a plan to combat Palmer Amaranth found in CRP acres in order to prevent conflicting directives between the county and federal government. I floor managed that amendment in the House, sending the bill to the governor.
Thursday morning the governor held a signing ceremony for House File 517, the Omnibus Firearms bill. This bill includes the Stand Your Ground language, improves the permitting process for carrying a handgun, allows parents to teach their children handgun safety and skills, and many other provisions.
Many of our grade school classes have visited the Capitol over the last few weeks of the session. I've missed meeting with many of them due to the hectic schedule, but this week I did get a chance to speak briefly with a class from West Marshall and with a class of sixth graders from North Tama. It's always fun to speak with these students and answer their questions!
As always, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com or 641-750-3594.