Newsletters 2017-11-17T14:08:04+00:00

Newsletters

November 15, 2017

Greetings to you all,

Iowa continues to be in the middle of a mental health crisis. With over 600,000 Iowans suffering from some mental health issue combined with a lack of funding, services are unavailable or being denied to Iowans who need it the most.  Last year, Iowa had just 64 state beds for mental health patients, which translates to 2 beds for every 100,000 Iowans. That means too many Iowans have to wait for days, weeks or even months to get the mental health services they desperately need.  The non-profit Treatment Advocacy Center recommends at least 50 mental health beds per 100,000 people.

In 2016, the Reynolds-Branstad Administration gave no warning and unilaterally closed down 15 psychiatric beds for children at the mental health institute in Independence.  While officials said no patients were being treated in Independence, it’s actually because the Administration directed staff to stop taking patients.  Two years ago, the Reynolds-Branstad Administration shut down two mental health facilities in Mount Pleasant and Clarinda that cut services and reduced the number of beds available for Iowans with mental health issues.  That means the state now has just two mental health facilities open.

The current system is broken and it keeps getting worse. We have an obligation to help Iowans to get access to the mental health services they need.  We need to provide adequate dollars up front to increase the number of beds available to keep mental health patients from ending up in Iowa’s correctional facilities or in emergency rooms for days, which is extremely expensive. Currently the largest provider of mental health services in Iowa is our correction system. That is wrong and we need to make sure mental health programs are available to Iowans struggling with mental illness.

I have been working with the Cedar Valley United Way (CVUW) to identify critical mental health services needed in the Cedar Valley. Two areas that have been identified by the CVUW are critical care access for people with significant mental health needs and early intervention programs in our K-12 classrooms and other areas. We also need to recruit more mental health professionals to help solve the problem. We need to increase training for the mental health workforce and increase the number of individuals who can provide those services. We also need to equalize funding across the state so we have more services across rural Iowa, while increasing the number of beds available to all Iowans.

After it was announced earlier this month that AmeriHealth Caritas will be exiting Iowa’s privatized Medicaid program, they are now saying over 400 employees will be laid off starting December 31st. It was also announced Wednesday that UnityPoint Health Group notified approximately 54,000 patients of its intent to potentially end participation in the Amerigroup Medicaid Health Plan. Amerigroup is one of two remaining managed care organizations participating in the state’s Medicaid program, Iowa Health Link. What we are seeing is how much of a failure the Medicaid privatization has been for individuals who receive much needed care and how the providers of the services are being short changed.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session.

Please don’t forget to check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, like Facebook or Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

14-19 Sartori Festival of Trees GBPAC*, 268-3161, wheatoniowa.org/festival-of-trees
16-18 Holiday Shop Hop & Downtown Ingredients Downtown Cedar Falls, 10am, 277-0213
16-17 Iowa High School Football Playoffs – Finals UNI-Dome, iahsaa.org
17, 18 Black Hawks Hockey Young Arena, 7pm, 291-7680
17-19 Minnesota Ballet Presents the Nutcracker GBPAC*, Fri 7pm, Sat & Sun 3pm, 273-4849
18, 19 Twisted Cross Tondro Pray Bicycle Park, 8:30am, www.usacycling.org/events
18 UNI Men’s Basketball vs. Chicago State McLeod Center, 11am, 273-4849
18 UNI Football vs. Indiana State (Senior Day) UNI-Dome, 4pm, 273-4849
23 1st Annual Family Turkey Trot Prairie Lakes Church, 8am, trekmanracing.com/turky-trot
24 Holiday Hoopla Kick-Off Downtown Cedar Falls, 6pm, 277-0213
25 Small Business Saturday Downtown Cedar Falls, 10am, 277-0213
25 Winter Wonder’Loo & Small Biz Saturday Downtown Waterloo, 3pm, 291-2038
27 Cedar Valley Christmas GBPAC*, 6:30pm, 234-2839
29 UNI Men’s Basketball vs UNLV McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
29-3 Mother Courage and Her Children UNI Strayer-Wood Theatre, Nov 29,30, Dec 1, 2 7:30pm; Dec 3 2pm, 273-2149
30 Final Thursday Reading Series – Brooke Wonders Hearst Center, 7:15pm, 273-8641
1-2 UNI Varsity Men’s Glee Club Christmas Variety Show GBPAC*. Dec 1 7:30pm; Dec 2 2:30 & 7:30pm, 273-4849
1-3 Winter Wonderettes Oster Regent Theatre, 7:30pm, Sun 2pm, 277-5283

State Budget Out of Balance Again

For the fourth time in a year, the state budget is out of balance.

The state’s nonpartisan Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) created new revenue estimates for the current fiscal year (FY18) and next year (FY19).  According to their estimates, revenues for FY18 will be $7.237 billion. That is $127 million lower than their last estimate and represents 0% growth compared to last year.

This new estimate is approximately $30 million less than the Legislature’s FY 2018 appropriation, and that figures grows to $35 million after taking into account reversions and the Governor’s $13 million transfer from the Economic Emergency Fund to balance the FY 2017 budget.

The lower estimate means the FY18 budget approved by Gov. Reynolds and Republican lawmakers spends more than the state is taking in and is no longer balanced. At this point in time, the Legislature doesn’t need to come back for a special session, but it’s possible that budget adjustments or cuts will need to be made when the Legislature convenes in January.

FY 19 Revenues Show Growth

The REC’s estimate for FY 2019 was more positive as they estimated FY 2019 total revenue to grow by 4.1%, which equals $7.536 billion. The Governor and Legislature will be using the REC’s estimate from their upcoming December 11 meeting to create their respective FY 2019 budget proposals.

More Problems with Medicaid Privatization

Problems with Iowa’s Medicaid privatization system continue to grow as over 200,000 Iowans are being forced to switch companies that manage their health care in less than 30 days.

The huge change comes after AmeriHealth Caritas, one of the three for-profit companies managing Medicaid privatization, announced it was withdrawing from Iowa on December 1 after losing hundreds of millions in Iowa during the last year and a half.  Currently, AmeriHealth manages the health care of nearly 215,000 Iowans.

Many Iowans and health care providers are concerned that the change is occurring in a very short time period because AmeriHealth manages the most individuals who require long-term health care support and services, including some of Iowa’s most vulnerable citizens.

In addition, many members and providers are concerned about the timeline because not all providers have contracts with United Health Care or Amerigroup, the only two private companies that remain in Iowa.  This could result in additional delays or denial of services for patients and providers.  Even before this change, many providers expressed issues with timely payments and complete payments for provided services.

As a result of the change, Iowans have only 30 days to be transferred over to United Health Care.  They have agreed to take on all of the AmeriHealth members.  Members assigned to United Health Care can change to Amerigroup by March 1, 2018, for any reason.

The announcement came just days before the Legislative Health Policy Oversight Committee met. The Reynolds Administration told lawmakers AmeriHealth decided to leave Iowa at the end of September, but kept it secret until October 31, 2017.  Despite all the struggles Iowans are facing with privatization, lawmakers also learned the Reynolds Administration has agreed to increase rates for the remaining two out-of-state, for-profit managed care companies (MCO).

The Reynolds Administration plans to issue a request for proposal to contact with a new MCO beginning July 1, 2019.

For questions or more information on the change, members can call 1-800-338-8366, and providers can call 1-800-338-7909.  Updated information can also be found here: http://dhs.iowa.gov/ime/about.

Continue Reading the Statehouse News

Group Releases Computer Science Education Recommendations
Tree Stand Safety Tips for Hunters
Executive Branch Appointees under Investigation
Drought Conditions Improve Across the State

To read the rest of my Statehouse News go to:http://iowahouse.org/StatehouseNews/11-15-17

November 2, 2017

Greetings to you all,

This coming Tuesday November 7th will be Election Day for our local city elections. Polls are open 7:00 am to 8:00 pm.

Find your polling place via one of the following:                                 http://www2.co.black-hawk.ia.us/website/bhmap/pollingplaces.htm.

You can also use the Secretary of State website to determine your voting locations:                                                                 https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/voterreg/pollingplace/search.aspx.

I know that we all get very busy but please take time to vote in the November 7th elections.

On Tuesday, one of the out of state companies managing Medicaid, AmeriHealth Caritas, said they are pulling out of Iowa in 30 days. That means confusion and turmoil for the 215,000 Iowans who use AmeriHealth Caritas today as they scramble to get health care again.

The situation is especially dire for thousands of kids and adults with disabilities that require 24 hour care or services.  One provider in Dubuque said 99% of Iowans who live full-time in their care facility use AmeriHealth Caritas and will now be forced to pick a different company to manage their care. On top of that, the physicians group in Dubuque only works with AmeriHealth Caritas which leaves those Iowans with no doctor to see in their own community.

News also broke this week that federal government has approved a plan that will leave 40,000 Iowans without health insurance after they’ve already been hospitalized or received services. In an effort to start finding solutions that make health care more affordable and accessible, two lawmakers outlined a plan this week to end Iowa’s Medicaid privatization mess and offer a new option for Iowans to get health insurance on the individual market.

A successful mental health clinic in Southwest Iowa that helped local citizens get support instead of ending up in jail or the hospital is closing this week after the Reynolds Administration refused to take action and left the clinic without funding.  I believe health care should be affordable and accessible for every Iowan.  It’s time to work together to find solutions.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session.

Please don’t forget to check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, like Facebook or Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

2 Red Herring Theatre Collective Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
2 Spotlight Series: Concert Chorale & UNI Singers *GBPAC, 7:30pm, 273-4849
3 Vertigo Performance Art Waterloo Center for the Arts, 7pm, 291-4490
4 Dirty Dancing *GBPAC, 2 & 7:30pm, 273-4849
4 UNI Football vs. South Dakota UNI-Dome, 1pm, 273-4849
5 UNI Men’s Basketball vs. North Carolina Pembroke McLeod Center, 1pm, 273-4849
7 Cedar Valley STEM Festival Five Sullivan Convention Center, 4pm, neiowastem.com
8 PMB Live! GBPAC*, 7:30pm, 273-4849
9-11 Iowa High School Football Playoffs – Semi Finals UNI-Dome, iahsaa.org
10 UNI Women’s Basketball vs. IUPUI McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
10-12 The Trip to Bountiful Hope Martin Theatre, Waterloo, 7pm, Sun 2pm, 291-4494
11-12 Holiday Arts Festival Waterloo Center for the Arts, 10am, 291-4490
11 wcfsymphony Serenades Brown Derby Ballroom, Waterloo, 5&8:30pm, 273-3373
13 UNI Men’s Basketball vs. Alcorn State McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
14-19 Sartori Festival of Trees GBPAC*, 268-3161, wheatoniowa.org/festival-of-trees
14 UNI Women’s Basketball vs. Iowa State McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
15 UNI Men’s Basketball vs. Wartburg McLeod Center, 2pm, 273-4849
16-18 Holiday Shop Hop & Downtown Ingredients Downtown Cedar Falls, 10am, 277-0213
16-17 Iowa High School Football Playoffs – Finals UNI-Dome, iahsaa.org

Veterans Day–A Time to Remember Our Veterans

Veterans Day is Saturday, November, 11 and there are many ceremonies being held across the state to honor those who have served our country.  First recognized in 1919, the date commemorates the end of fighting in World War I when an armistice took effect between the Allied nations and Germany at 11 am on November 11, 1918.

As part of the numerous events honoring veterans across Iowa, the annual Veterans Day Program in Des Moines will be held on November 11, 2017 at the Iowa Events Center at 11:00 a.m. This event is open to the public and will include representatives from all Veterans Service Organizations.

Last session, the Legislature passed various bills to help Iowa’s veterans and those still serving.  One important bill ensured that equal military leave, nondiscrimination and reemployment rights are given to a National Guard member of another state if they work in Iowa, and helped to streamline and simplify the process of serving for Guard members.

A full list of Veterans Day events statewide is available at: https://va.iowa.gov/.

Iowans Overwhelmingly Vote to Keep Union Representation

Teachers, nurses, law enforcement officials, and snowplow drivers were among the 93% of Iowa public employee unions who voted to recertify their local union in October.

After Republicans passed legislation last session to take away the voice of Iowans in their own workplace and severely restrict public employee unions, it was the first time bargaining units were forced to vote on re-certification under new stringent regulations.

Despite the new barriers, working Iowans voted overwhelmingly to keep their union representation. In the elections, 28,447 people voted to keep their organization and just 624 voted to de-certify. 4,043 did not participate, which is considered a “no” vote under the new law.

Under the new regulations, the public employee union must hold a recertification election every year or two before bargaining a new contract.  Additionally, Republicans changed the rules from the vote of the majority participating in the election to the majority of bargaining unit.  Non-participation in the election effectively becomes a “no” vote.

Marketplace Open Enrollment Begins

The federal open enrollment period for plans available on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace has begun.  Iowans looking for individual health insurance for 2018 have from November 1st until December 15th to find and select a plan.  Unfortunately, due to Wellmark and Aetna no longer offering plans, there is only one provider available, Medica.

In 2017, around 72,000 Iowans found health insurance coverage through the marketplace.  Iowans below 400% of the federal poverty level, which is $48,240 for a single adult, is available for subsidies to reduce monthly premiums. The majority of Iowans that selected plans on the marketplace were eligible for subsidies.

Iowans that currently have coverage through the exchange but do not choose a plan for 2018 by the end of open enrollment; they will be re-enrolled in a similar plan offered by Medica.  To review plan options and select an insurance plan, go to www.healthcare.gov.

Continue Reading the Statehouse News

Secretary of State Public Hearing, Leaves Public Out
Future Ready Iowa Recommendations
Medical Cannabidiol Board Continues Discussion on Form and Quantity
Department of Agriculture Seeks Significant Budget Increase
Military Records Now Have Greater Access

To read the rest of my Statehouse News go to:http://iowahouse.org/StatehouseNews/11-1-17

October 19, 2017

Greetings to you all,

After 10 months of no action on health care from Congress and the President, Iowans are left with skyrocketing health care costs and less accessible services.  The 72,000 Iowans who get health care on Iowa’s individual marketplace may not be able to afford health care coverage next year because premiums are expected to rise by 57%.  Earlier this year, Iowa GOP lawmakers also closed four health clinics and left over 14,600 Iowans without health care in their own community for services like birth control, cancer screenings, and other women’s health services.

Several sad stories are taking place right here in Iowa. After living at home as a quadriplegic for 20 years with 24 hour in-home care, a Northwest Iowa man was forced into an out of state facility when his home health care was cut off and he died just six weeks later.  One nursing home is kicking out disabled Iowans who need a ventilator because they aren’t being paid for the services they are providing.  Another provider in central Iowa that specializes in post-mastectomy care is no longer accepting Medicaid patients. These tragic cases and deaths are all the result of the Medicaid privatization that put critical health care needs of Iowans in the hands of out-of-state, for-profit insurance companies.

The majority party has also refused to take action to fix Iowa’s broken mental health system. After closing two mental health centers a few years ago, no action has been taken to improve the situation.  Too many Iowans are being forced to seek expensive treatment outside of Iowa or go without treatment at all.  News even broke this week that an innovative mental health community center in southern Iowa will be shut down because it doesn’t qualify for state funding for some services it provides.

I believe that health care should be affordable and accessible for every Iowan.  Unfortunately, what we have today has not only made health care more expensive, but also less accessible for hundreds of thousands of Iowans.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session.

Please don’t forget to check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, like Facebook or Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

19 The Kramers Riverview Conference Center, 7pm, 268-0787
19-29 The Aliens UNI Strayer Wood Theatre, 7:30pm, Sun 2pm, 273-2149
20 The Simon & Garfunkle Story *GBPAC, 7pm, 273-4849
21 Grant Wheeler Scholarship Faith 5K Orchard Hill Church, 9am, 277-6894
21 Saturday Fun Day Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 11am, 987-2537
21 Mark Lowry in Concert Riverview Conference Center, 7pm, 268-0787
21 11th Annual Sullivan Brothers 5 & 10K Races Sullivan Brothers Museum, 9am, 234-6357
21 Down on the Farm Breakfast Hansen’s Dairy Tour Center, Hudson, 8am, 988-9834
21 Fall Family Fun Day Downtown Cedar Falls, 10am, 277-0213
21 UNI Football vs Youngstown State Family Weekend!! UNI-Dome, 1pm, 273-4849
22 Film Cheers for Miss Bishop Oster Regent, 4:30pm, 277-5283
25 Trick, Treat and TROLL! Phelps Youth Pavilion, Waterloo, 5pm, 291-4490
26 Final Thursday Reading Series – Crystal Gibbons Hearst Center, 7:15pm, 273-8641
27 Vertigo Performance Art Waterloo Center for the Arts, 7pm, 291-4490
27 Black Hawks Hockey vs Fargo Young Arena, Waterloo, 7pm, 291-7680
28 Strolling with the Spirits Grout Museum, Waterloo, 3:30 & 7pm, 234-6357
28 Annual Craft Show & Sale Western Home Communities, 9am, carolyn.martin@whc.org
28-29 USA Wrestling Preseason Nationals UNI-Dome, 9am, preseasonnationals.com

Trump Adds Uncertainty to Health Care; More Iowans to Lose Access

The Trump Administration announced this week that it would discontinue $29 million in federal funds used to help thousands of Iowa families purchase health insurance.  The move means 72,000 Iowans who get health care on the individual marketplace will see premiums rise by 57% next year.

According to news reports, President Trump personally asked federal health care officials to reject an alternative stop-gap plan offered by Governor Kim Reynolds, a plan that would also significantly increase premiums on the individual market.  If the stop-gap plan is approved, some seniors could see premium increases up to 300% next year while initial out-of-pocket costs for Iowans would also increase.

The plan was crafted by the Governor in hopes of encouraging two insurance companies to return to the marketplace after withdrawing last spring.   A final decision is expected from the federal government sometime in late October.

Despite the uncertainty, open enrollment on Iowa’s Marketplace begins on November 1 and ends December 15.

Birth Control Coverage Mandate Reversed by Trump

In other health care news, President Trump reversed a federal mandate that required most employers to provide birth control without co-payments.  The coverage was part of preventative care services all insurers were required to provide and eliminated the out-of-pocket costs for contraception that impacted 55 million women nationwide.

As a result, employers can deny birth control coverage for their employees on the basis of their religious beliefs or moral convictions.  If an employer decides to no longer cover birth control, a 60 day notice must be given to their employees.

Local Recertification Votes

Reminder to teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other local government employees. Union recertification voting ends on Tuesday, October 24 at 1pm.

Find out if your unit is up for recertification here: https://iowaperb.iowa.gov/sites/default/files/Final-OctoberElectionsList.9.22.17.pdf

Vote here today: www.iowaperb.everyonecounts.com

Iowa Continues to be a Leader in STEM Education

The latest results of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) report is out, and it shows that the growth in STEM jobs across Iowa is outpacing other occupations and there are more than 12,000 vacancies.  In addition, substantial growth has occurred with 300 professionals working in the STEM network in 2001 compared to over 700 in 2017.

Nearly 1,700 educators took part in one of eleven STEM programs around Iowa in 2016–2017, with over 74,000 preK-12 students participating.  The results showed that students who participated in the STEM Scale-Up scored an average of three points higher in National Percentile Rank on the Iowa Assessments in mathematics and reading, and four points higher in science compared to all students statewide.

For minority students, the difference is even greater.  Scale-Up participants scored an average of six points higher in National Percentile Rank in math, seven points higher in science and six points higher in reading compared to minority students who did not participate.

On average in 2016, individuals in STEM occupations earned $7 more per hour and $15,500 more in annual salaries compared to all other occupational groups.  The report also showed the results of a 2016 Iowa poll, where 93% of participants said STEM education should be a priority in their local school district, but only 50% said STEM education is actually a priority and another 20% said they did not know.

To view the entire report, visit:  https://iowastem.gov/sites/default/files/evaluation/2016-2017-Iowa-STEM-Evaluation-Report.pdf

Continue Reading the Statehouse News

Identity Theft Consumer Tips
Tuition Increases at State Universities on Hold
State Recreational Trails Receive Grants
Time for Students and Parents to Apply for Student Financial Aid
Fall Urban Trout Stocking Schedule

To read the rest of my Statehouse News go to:http://iowahouse.org/StatehouseNews/10-18-17

SEPTEMBER 29, 2017

Greetings to you all,

The Iowa Board of Regents approved their fiscal year (FY) 2019 state appropriation requests to the governor and the 2018 Iowa Legislature. The Board is asking for an additional $12 million for financial aid for Iowa students attending one of Iowa’s three state universities.  $2 million of this financial aid request would go to Iowa students attending UNI. With the trend of less state appropriations toward public higher education and higher tuitions to pay for college, additional financial aid is needed for Iowa’s students.

UNI educates Iowans for Iowa. Nearly 90% of the UNI students are from Iowa and 92% of those Iowa students stay in Iowa, after they graduate to work or continue their education. In addition, 50% of the non-residents who graduate from UNI, stay in Iowa and contribute to our skilled workforce. We need to make sure that a college education is affordable for Iowa students.

Last week, Governor Kim Reynolds declared that the Iowa Legislature will not need to come into a special session to deal with Iowa’s budget shortfalls. The budget mess that we are facing has borrowed millions more from the state’s savings accounts to close the books on the 2017 fiscal year.  It was the third time this year that the majority party had to make budget cuts or borrow money, to balance the state budget.

I’m not sure how the Governor was able to turn a $104 million shortfall back on June 30 into a $14.6 million shortfall last week. That’s why a request has been made for a special audit from Iowa’s state auditor to open up the books and make sure the budget is being managed responsibly. I think Iowa taxpayers deserve to know whether budget gimmicks were used, like transfers or delaying tax refunds, to close the fiscal year and avoid a special session.

The budget troubles are coming with low unemployment numbers and Iowa businesses generally are doing well.  Some of the budget problems are occurring as a result of corporate tax breaks that have increased exponentially the last few years and now cost taxpayers more than $500 million annually. To pay for those tax breaks, Governor Reynolds and the GOP lawmakers have borrowed money on the state’s reserves and left Iowa families with the bill. Students are now paying higher tuition. Fewer at-risk kids will attend preschool this year. Nursing home inspections and elder abuse claims are going without investigation. Homeowners are paying higher property taxes.

Unfortunately, the state budget crisis this year is far from over because the $144 million borrowed by the Majority Party this year has to be paid back next year.  Iowa would not be faced with a budget deficit today, if the majority party had spent more time managing the state budget for the benefit of Iowa taxpayers. I think it’s time to work together to restore fiscal discipline to the state’s budget-making process and ensure Iowans have a budget that works for them. Iowa taxpayers simply can’t afford it anymore.

The Iowa Department of Public Health is reminding Iowans to get their flu shot this fall. They recommend every Iowans over 6 months get the vaccine.

Iowa’s Attorney General said he has opened an investigation into the Equifax Security Breach, that impacted 1.1 million Iowans.

September is Veteran Suicide Prevention Month and the US Dept. of Veterans Affairs has expanded the Veterans Crisis Line to support veterans across the county. If you know a veteran who is struggling, call 800-273-8255 and press 1.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session.

Please don’t forget to check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, like Facebook or Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Upcoming Community Events

29 UNI Spotlight Series: Wind Symphony & Symphonic Band GBPAC*, 7:30pm, 273-4849
29-15 Lampost Presents Superheroes Lampost Theatre, Fri & Sat @7pm; Sun @ 2pm, 277-8034
29 Friday Fun Night Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 6pm, 987-2537
29-1 Mopar Max Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 987-2537
3-6 Waverly Horse Sale Waverly Sales, 8am, 352-2804
4-6 Halloween Hikes River Hills School, 6pm, 277-2187
4 Local Author Showcase – Garth Stein Cedar Falls Public Library, 7pm, 273-8643
5 Iowa’s Funniest Magician – Ben Ulin Lincoln School, 6:15pm, 239-3816
5 Tour de’ Loo Downtown Waterloo, 5:30pm, 291-2038
5 Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble *GBPAC, 7pm, 273-4849
6 Lily Tomlin *GBPAC, 7pm, 273-4849
6 Girl’s Night Out Downtown Cedar Falls, 5pm, 277-0213
6 UNI Jazz Band One and Jazz Panthers UNI Russell Hall, 7:30pm, 273-4849
6-8 Twentieth Century Oster Regent Theatre, 7:30p; Sun 2pm, 277-5283
6 Opening Reception for Gary Kelley’s Original Book Illustrations Hearst Center, 5:30pm, 273-8641
6-7 A Wrinkle in Time Hope Martin Theatre, Waterloo, Fri 7pm; Sun 2pm, 291-4494
7 UNI Football vs Western Illinois “Homecoming” UNI-Dome, 4pm, 273-4849
7 Pink Ribbon Run Downtown Cedar Falls, 8am, 277-0213

Governor Borrows Money Again to Balance State Budget

Governor Kim Reynolds was forced to borrow millions from the state’s savings account last week to keep the state budget balanced. It’s the third time this year that Republican lawmakers and the Governor have had to make adjustments to keep the state budget in the black.

When fiscal year ended on June 30, 2017, it was anticipated that $104 million was needed to balance the budget. Between June 30 and the end of September, the state continues to reconcile the books with late revenues (such as late income tax filings and sales taxes) and late payments out for services or materials when the bill didn’t come in until after June 30.

According to the executive branch, the projected $104 million shortfall was reduced to just $14.6 million at the end of September. Since the shift is significant, Democratic lawmakers are working to hold Reynolds accountable and make sure the budget is being managed responsibly. Earlier this year, the administration held up the tax returns for thousands of Iowans because the state didn’t have enough money to pay them.

The first adjustment to the FY 17 budget was done back in January when Republican lawmakers cut $88 million from state agencies’ budgets and transferred $25 million from other funds. In April at the close of the 2017 legislative session, Republican lawmakers and the Governor agreed to transfer $131 million from the Cash Reserve Fund. As a result of these reductions, homeowners are paying higher property taxes; students are paying higher tuition for college; and nursing home inspections and elder abuse claims are not being investigated.

Awaiting REC’s October Meeting

The state’s non-partisan budget experts, the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC), will meet on October 19 and legislators will be waiting to hear if this non-partisan panel changes their revenue estimates for FY 18. The Legislature has already approved a budget for FY 18, which includes an ending balance of $107 million. If REC’s estimates result in a decrease of revenue by more than $107 million at both their October and December meetings, the Legislature will need to revisit the FY 18 budget so that it can be balanced.

Now is the Time to Get Your Flu Vaccine

Despite the influenza season not officially starting until late fall, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) is recommending Iowans get their flu shot. Already, cases of the flu have been reported across Iowa to IDPH.

The vaccination can take up to two weeks to become effective. IDPH recommends that every Iowan over 6 months of age receive the flu vaccine. It is especially important for some people to be vaccinated against influenza because they are at higher risk of developing serious complications, like pneumonia, if they get sick with the flu. These groups include:

  • Pregnant women (by getting vaccinated when pregnant, the woman not only protects herself during this vulnerable time, but she will pass on protection to her newborn who is too young to receive a vaccine).
  • Children, especially those younger than 2 years of age.
  • Older adults, especially those aged 65 years and over.
  • People who have certain medical conditions like asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease.

Influenza is a respiratory illness caused by viruses. Illness typically lasts two to seven days. The flu comes on suddenly and may cause severe illness or even death, even in healthy individuals. Obtaining a vaccination is the best defense against the flu. In addition, by being vaccinated, you will prevent spreading the flu to those around you. For more information about Iowa influenza tracking and monitoring, visit https://www.idph.iowa.gov/influenza.

Continue Reading the Statehouse News

Medical Cannabidiol Board Takes Next Step
New Medicare Cards Coming
September is Veteran Suicide Prevention Month
Iowans Have Opportunity to Give Input on Natural Resource Programs
Attorney General: Iowans Should Act Now Following Massive Equifax Security Breach
Transportation Commission Invests in Public Transit Vehicles
Iowa’s Every Student Succeeds Act Plan Moves Forward

To read the rest of my Statehouse News go to:http://iowahouse.org/StatehouseNews/9-27-17

SEPTEMBER 15, 2017

Greetings to you all,

Iowa’s health care crisis has continued to deepen this year. In the latest sign of the Medicaid privatization disaster, the Reynolds Administration said it may backtrack and put thousands of Iowans with disabilities back under state management, instead of the for-profit companies managing the system today.  The idea comes as the state faces a federal lawsuit from Iowans with disabilities who want to stay in their own home, instead of being forced into more expensive health care facilities.

A mental health center in Appanoose County that’s being used as a national model to improve health care access in rural areas may be forced to close, because it has yet to be paid under the state’s privatized Medicaid system. It’s just the latest bad news about Medicaid privatization, which was launched over a year ago. Hand-picked by Reynolds and Branstad to provide care for hundreds of thousands of Iowans, the three for-profit companies are losing millions of dollars and taking away health care services from Iowans to try and turn a profit.

Federal officials have yet to approve a GOP health care plan that will force Iowans to pay hundreds more each month, to get health insurance on the individual market.  For the 72,000 Iowans affected, the average premium increase under the GOP plan is 43%, but some seniors could see premium increases top 300% next year.

Local leaders in Southeast Iowa are scrambling to set up a new health care clinic, after one of the local providers that served over 6,000 local citizens was closed. In Western Iowa, local officials learned a federal grant to prevent teen pregnancies will be cut off next year by the Trump Administration. I believe it’s time to work together to make health care both affordable and accessible to all Iowans.

Governor Kim Reynolds is still undecided whether it’s necessary to hold a special session next month, to deal with the state’s budget shortfall.  As of last week, the state was about $75 million short of what is needed to close the state’s books. With the state budget in the red, we will have to see what the Governor wants to do.

September is National Voter Registration Month and Iowans can now register to vote on-line at www.sos.iowa.gov/registertovote 

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session.

Please don’t forget to check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, like Facebook or Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

14-16 Midwest International Carillon Festival UNI Campanile, uni.edu/music/carillonfestival 
14-17 National Cattle Congress Fair Cattle Congress Grounds, Waterloo, 234-7515
15 Black Hawks Hockey vs Des Moines Young Arena, Waterloo, 7pm, 291-7680
15  National POW/MIA Remembrance Sullivan Brothers Museum, Waterloo, 1pm, 234-6357
16  Friends of Western Home Breakfast Windridge, 7am, 222-2048
16 Pear Fair College Hill, 11am, 266-6077
16 Oktoberfest College Hill, 5pm, 273-6228
16 Romance Rendezvous 3 – Author Signing Hilton Garden, 11am, 283-0488
17 Fire Rescue Then and Now Carriage House Museum, 266-5149
17 The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance Hope Martin Theatre, Waterloo, 7pm, Sun 2pm, 291-4494
17 Cedar Valley Farm Ride Electric Park, Waterloo, 8am, ridecvc.org
20 All Lit Up Ride Bike Ride leaves Mulligan’s Brick Oven, 6:15pm, cvast.org
21 A Hot Time in the Old Town Downtown Cedar Falls, 5:30pm, 266-5149
21  Newly Discovered Poems of James Hearst Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
22  Black Hawks Hockey vs Cedar Rapids Young Arena, Waterloo, 7pm, 291-7680
22 Friday Fun Night Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 6pm, 987-2537
22 UNI School of Music Scholarship Benefit Concert GBPAC*, 7:30pm, 273-4849
22-23 Waverly Oktoberfest behind Cobblestone Inn, waverlyoktoberfest.com 
23 The Whisnants Riverview Conference Center, 7pm, 268-0787
23-24 Terry Stumpf Memorial Race Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, racecfmp.com

Iowa National Deployed to Texas and Florida

Members of the Iowa National Guard have been deployed to Texas and Florida to support response operations for Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, Category 4 hurricanes that severely damaged both states. In total, 11 soldiers and two helicopters have been deployed to Texas, and 19 soldiers and four helicopters are on their way to Florida. Both deployments will assist in moving supplies, equipment and people who were impacted by the hurricanes.

Under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), all 50 states, two territories and the District of Columbia can request support from the other states in times of crisis. EMAC allows for mutual aid and assistance from other states during federally-declared or Governor-declared emergencies.

For more information regarding the Iowa National Guard and this deployment, please visit http://www.iowanationalguard.com.

16,000 Iowans Lose Wages in Overtime Pay Changes

An estimated 16,000 Iowans will lose wages this year after Republican lawmakers and Governor Reynolds made significant changes to overtime pay last session.

Nurses, social workers, and public defenders are among the 3,000 Iowans who will no longer be paid overtime while an additional 13,000 state employees will see their overtime pay reduced this year.

Nurses at state institutions have been particularly hard hit by the overtime changes. Nurses are often scheduled for mandatory overtime to ensure that necessary staffing levels are met and patients receive the best care possible. If nurses leave their shifts prior to their replacement, they lose their licenses.

More than 21 percent of the positions no longer receiving overtime are at the Department of Human Services (DHS), raising questions about how the agency will keep Iowa’s vulnerable populations like seniors and children safe. Overall, DHS has lost 700 positions over the last several years.

Critics of the overtime changes say it’s unfair for Iowans to work overtime without compensation and will also make it harder to recruit and retain qualified individuals to work in critical positions with lower wages. In light of recent starvation deaths of two foster children, others expressed concerns about huge caseload sizes for social workers who will now be forced to work overtime without pay.

In comments to the press this week, Governor Kim Reynolds minimized the overtime pay changes and said it would have a “relatively small impact.”

Continue Reading the Statehouse News

Iowa ACT Scores #1 in the Nation
Medical Cannabidiol Advisory Board Meets
Crackdown on Texting and Driving and School Bus Safety Violations
Corrections Needs More Money for Pharmaceuticals
Report Shows Increasing Amount of Students in STEM Education

To read the rest of my Statehouse News go to:http://iowahouse.org/StatehouseNews/9-13-17

SEPTEMBER 2, 2017

Greetings to you all,

A new Apple data center will be built in the Des Moines area next year, but many Iowans are raising red flags about the $213 million in state/local government incentives the company is receiving, to build the facility in Iowa.  The project is estimated to create 50 permanent jobs, which comes out to $4.26 million in state incentives per job. Since the Apple deal was made, it’s come under scrutiny because of the huge amount of government incentives and the state’s dire budget situation.  Apple is the most profitable company in the world and is sitting on $256 billion in cash right now, which is 36 times bigger than our $7 billion state budget this year.

The deal is also renewing calls from last session for a comprehensive review of all of the state’s tax breaks and credits, to make sure that our tax dollars are being spent wisely.  A report, released earlier this year, found Iowa has 373 different tax exemptions, credits, and exclusions that total $12 billion annually.  I believe it’s time to restore fiscal discipline and that starts with a comprehensive review of the corporate tax credits, to determine how Iowa and its citizens are benefiting from these.

The news broke, the same time Gov. Kim Reynolds is considering a call for a special session, because of the budget mess that turned a record $930 million state surplus into a $350 million state budget shortfall.  The budget shortfall has led to school closings, canceled nursing home inspections, raised tuition payments for students attending our state universities and community colleges, and caused higher property tax payments for homeowners.

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced eight appointments Wednesday, to the nine member Medical Cannabidiol board. The following appointments are effective Friday, Sept. 1, 2017. These are unpaid and are not subject to Senate confirmation:

Medical Cannabidiol Board
Pediatrician: Dr. Ken Cheyne, Clive
Psychiatrist: Dr. Jill Liesveld, Coralville
Law Enforcement: Mike McKelvey, Mason City
Family Medicine: Dr. Lonny Miller, Creston
Pharmacist: Dr. Stephen Richards, Spirit Lake
Oncologist: Dr. Robert Shreck, Des Moines
Pain Management: Dr. Jacqueline Stoken, Waukee
Neurologist: Dr. Wendy Zadeh, Ankeny

House File 524 (Medical Cannabidiol Act) requires the board to consist of eight medical practitioners, representing specific specialty fields, and one law enforcement representative. The governor’s office boards and commissions are still seeking one practitioner, representing gastroenterology. The practitioner must be licensed in Iowa, nationally board-certified in gastroenterology and knowledgeable about the use of Medical Cannabidiol. To apply for the vacancy, please click here.

The Iowa Senate, The Iowa House of Representatives, and Legislative Services Agency invite Iowa high school juniors and seniors to apply for Page positions, for the 2018 session of the Iowa General Assembly.  Serving as a legislative page is a great opportunity for students to experience the legislative process. Included is the link to gain access to the online application. https://www.legis.iowa.gov/careers/apply?pid=57.  The application forms can be completed by students and downloaded for signing. The deadline for receipt of applications is October 6, 2017.  Please note that living arrangements for Pages are not supervised or provided.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session.

Please don’t forget to check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, like Facebook or Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

9/1 Friday’Loo – Stackhouse Lincoln Park, Waterloo, 5:30pm. 291-2038
9/2 Saturday Fun Day & Midnight Mania Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 2pm, 987-2537
9/4 Cedar Falls Municipal Band Labor Day Encore Concert Overman Park, 7pm
9/6 Local Author Showcase Cedar Falls Public Library, 7pm, 273-8643
6 All Lit Up Ride Ride leaves Mulligan’s Brick Oven, 6:15pm, cvast.org
9/7 James Hearst and the “North American Review” Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
9/7 Paul’s Journey Concert Riverview Conference Center, 7pm, 268-0787
9/7 PROJECT Trio & wcfsymphony GBPAC, 7:30pm, 273-4849
8-10 The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance Hope Martin Theatre, Waterloo, 7pm, Sun 2pm, 291-4494
8 Friday Fun Night Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 6pm, 987-2537
9 ARTapalooza Downtown Main St., 9am, 277-0213
9 Park to Park Half Marathon George Wyth State Park, 7:30am, trekmanracing.com
9 UNI Football vs Cal Poly UNI-Dome, 4pm, 273-4849
9-10 NHRA Summit Points Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 987-2537
9-10 Fall Harvest Festival Cedar Valley Arboretum, 11am, 226-4966
14 James Hearst’s Poems as Songs Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
14-16 Midwest International Carillon Festival UNI Campanile, uni.edu/music/carillonfestival
14 REO Speedwagon GBPAC*, 7pm, 273-4849
14-17 National Cattle Congress Fair Cattle Congress Grounds, Waterloo, 234-7515

Apple Awarded $213 Million

Apple Inc, the most profitable company in the world, was awarded $213 million from Governor Kim Reynolds and local officials to build a new data center in Waukee that will create 50 jobs.

Under the deal, Apple will receive $19.6 million in tax credits from the Economic Development Authority to create the 50 jobs while local incentives total $194 million.

Many Iowans have expressed concerns over the deal because the incentives mean Apple will get about $4 million for every permanent job created, while the corporation has a record $256.8 billion in cash on hand.

The deal comes the same week lawmakers learned the state’s watchdog that protects Iowans in nursing home facilities would end on-site inspections.  Some Iowans also expressed concerns that last year’s K-12 education budget in Iowa was the 3rd lowest in 40 years. Lawmakers are also considering a special session this fall to fix the state’s budget shortfall.

High School Students Encouraged to Apply to be Legislative Pages

The Iowa Legislature is looking for high school students to learn more about the legislative process by applying to serve as a Legislative Page in the Iowa House of Representatives for the 2018 Legislative Session.

Legislative Pages provide invaluable assistance to representatives and staff by running errands, delivering messages, and distributing bills and amendments.  Pages also “staff” committee meetings and help the chairperson by handing out materials during the meetings.  Pages will work with staff and representatives in the Iowa State Capitol building.

The Iowa House Chief Clerk’s office will be accepting applications until Friday, October 6, 2017. Guidelines to the program:

•    Must be 16 years of age
•    Applications are accepted for the Senate, House, or Legislative Services Agency
•    Uniforms are provided
•    Living arrangements are unsupervised and must be found on your own
•    Students are responsible for transportation to and from the State Capitol
•    This is a paid position.  Some excused absences may be permitted
•    Student is expected to be able to handle any school responsibilities
•    Parental permission is required to participate in this program

For more details and how to apply go to www.legis.iowa.gov/careers.

Continue Reading the Statehouse News

Labor Day Celebration in Iowa
No More On-Site Checks by Long-Term Care Ombudsmen
Report Gives a Snapshot of Iowa’s Skill Shortage
Retirement System Sees Solid Return
Derelict Building Grants Available for Rehabbing Commercial Buildings
Dove Season Begins September 1
Grant will Help with Adult Education and Literacy
Public Invited to Attend Supreme Court Arguments
2017 Dialogue on Aging Series

To read the rest of my Statehouse News go to:http://iowahouse.org/StatehouseNews/8-30-17

AUGUST 18, 2017

Greetings to you all,

With the recent actions that took place in Charlottesville we have the responsibility to stand up against hate and violence, wherever it occurs. Hopefully, as we move forward as a country, we can have discussions that respect each other’s opinion and we can work together, to prevent future violent actions from occurring. We need to remember the Declaration of Independence and the statement that says “We are all created equal and endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

As Iowa kids head back to school, I want to thank all of the teachers and staff in our schools, who are preparing our kids for the future.  Education has always been source of pride for us in Iowa and we’ve been a leader in public education for decades. We have high graduation rates and record numbers of kids preparing for college. Our teachers and school leaders are doing an amazing job, but have been forced to do more with less for far too long.

Thousands of students are also heading back to school, at Iowa’s public universities and community colleges this fall. Unfortunately, they’re facing record increases in tuition, because budgets have been slashed over $30 million in state funding during the last legislative session. The steep increases are pricing too many Iowa kids out of college or leaving them with mountains of debt after graduation. I believe it’s time for the Legislature to renew our commitment to education and make it the top priority again.  It’s absolutely essential, for the future of our economy and workforce.

The University of Iowa and Iowa State both unveiled plans for a 7% annual tuition increase for the next five years. UNI plans to increase tuition at lower levels ranging from 3.1% to 6.7% each year. When looking at UNI’s general fund budget history, it shows that the university has held the cost of education below the rate of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) over the past 10 years.  UNI’s budget projections show slow growth at nearly the projected rate of inflation.  Because tuition is dependent on state appropriations, if the state appropriation increases at 1.75% per year, UNI will be able to hold tuition increases fairly low, with an annualized increase of 2.5% through fiscal year 2022.  If the state support does not keep pace with inflation, then the tuition increases will be significantly higher.
(see chart).

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session.

Please don’t forget to check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, like Facebook or Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

18 Live to 9 – Bob Dorr and the Blue Band Sturgis Park, 5:30pm, liveto9.com
18-20 Old Time Power Show Antique Acres, antiqueacres.org
18 Movies Under the Moon – Karate Kid (1984) Overman Park, CV Acoustic Guitar at 6:30pm, movie at dusk, 277-0213
18 Friday’Loo – Express Pass Lincoln Park, Waterloo, 5:30pm, 291-2038
19, 26 FREE Brewery Tours SingleSpeed Brewing Co., Waterloo, 2 & 3pm, singlespeedbrewing.com
19 Gran Fondo/Fondo Fest Downtown Cedar Falls. granfondocedarvalley.com
19 Panther Prowl Downtown Cedar Falls, 10am, 277-0213
19 Saturday Fun Day & Midnight Mania Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 2pm, 987-2537
19 Winking Owls & Wine Cedar Valley Arboretum, 6pm, 226-4966
20 Waterhawks Ski Show Eagle Lake, Evansdale, 6pm, waterhawks.org
22 August Ensembles Concert Overman Park, 7pm, cedarnet.org/cfband
25 RiverLoops Rhythms – Galactic Cowboy Orchestra RiverLoop Amphitheatre, Waterloo, 291-4490
25 UNI Varsity Men’s Glee Club Lang Hall Auditorium, 6pm, 273-2028
25 Friday Fun Night Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 6pm, 987-2537
26 Harleys & Hot Rods – A Day at the Drags Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 987-2537
26 The Marksman & The Punches Riverview Conference Center, 7pm, 268-0787
26 Summer Jam Gateway Park, 3pm, 277-1918
26 Tour of Classic Homes Grout Museum, Waterloo, 234-6357
26 Cedar Valley Pridefest 300 Block W4th Street, Waterloo, noon, cedarvalleypride.com

Iowa Students Head Back to School

Most of Iowa’s preK-12 students will head back to school beginning August 23rd.  Unfortunately, many of the students will be feeling the impact from seven years of the lowest school funding levels in Iowa history.  Many local school districts have been forced to increase class size, cut teachers, reduce course offerings, and raise property taxes.  The low state funding has also contributed to a net loss of 61 public schools in Iowa from 2011 to 2016, according to the Iowa Department of Education (DE).

The number of districts, particularly in rural areas, that have authorized agreements with other districts to share administrative staff has also increased.  There were 196 school districts that shared services in the 2015-16 school year, and for the 2017-18 school year there are 228, or 69% of Iowa’s 333 school districts.

Also according to the latest DE numbers, Iowa schools are educating an increasing number of students.  Certified enrollment in PreK-12 public schools was up slightly in the 2015-16 school year to 483,451.  The projected number of students for the 2017-18 upcoming school year is 484,510.
Meningitis Shot Required for 7th and 12th Graders
There is a new vaccination requirement for students going back to school to help stop the spread of meningitis.  Under a new state law, a meningitis shot is required for students entering 7th and 12th grades.

The vaccine has been recommended for pre-teenagers for over a decade, and Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) does not anticipate any shortages.  Based on survey information, IDPH estimates that 75% of Iowa adolescents 13-to-17 have already received the meningitis vaccination.

Iowans to Choose New License Plate

Iowans are being asked to vote for their favorite new license plate designs at the Iowa DOT state fair booth or online at https://iowadot.gov/StateFair/PickAPlate.aspx.  Voting is open from August 10th through the 20th.

The three designs, which were unveiled on the first day of the Iowa State Fair, are intended to represent the best of Iowa and focus on the state flag, Iowa’s natural resources, and the contributions of both rural and urban areas of the state.  The plates were designed by graphic artists in the Iowa DOT with advice from the governor’s office and other state departments.

Once the design is chosen, the new plates will be available in 2018, for those who change or get a new vehicle.  Drivers will also be given a new plate once the 10 year cycle of their current plate expires.  Those wishing a new plate sooner than the expiration of their current plate can purchase one for $5.  Specialty plates and college plates will not be impacted by the new license plate design.

Iowa’s current license plate has been in circulation since 1998, and accounts for the 4.2 million of the 4.4 million plates that is currently in circulation.  Iowa spends about $2.3 million per year to produce license plates, from the Road Use Tax Fund.  Money from the state’s general fund is not used to produce license plates.

Continue Reading the Statehouse News

Task Force Discusses Tuition at State Universities
Low Interest Loans Available from Small Business Administration
ILEA Class Schedule Available Online
Veterans Mental Health Community Summit
Summer Weather Having Environmental Impacts Across State

To read the rest of my Statehouse News go to:http://iowahouse.org/StatehouseNews/8-16-17

AUGUST 4, 2017

Statehouse News

Greetings to you all,

I just completed my 30th Ragbrai this year and I’m very happy to be home. It’s really a great time to see Iowa and the beauty that it has to offer. I also enjoy visiting with the people who live across the state. Western Iowa is struggling with drought conditions and the crops are not looking good. The eastern part of the state looks pretty good. I’m looking forward to riding next year.

Community college leaders said they are increasing tuition this fall, to make up for another state budget cut approved last session. New tuition revenue at UNI is expected to reach $2.6 million, and that won’t be enough to cover its $3.3 million loss in state support — decreasing its overall budget from $180 million to $179.5 million. UNI has more in-state students who pay lower tuition rates and it relies more heavily on state appropriations. And yet, its dependence on tuition has grown — with 46 percent of its general revenue coming from students and families, compared with 45 percent last year. I did not support the cuts and I’m hopeful that the legislature in the upcoming session will work to make education funding a priority again.

If you’re preparing to purchase school supplies for your children this weekend, now is the time to do it. The sales tax holiday runs from August 4-5th and does not include Sunday.  Sales tax, including any local taxes, is not collected on clothing and footwear that sells for less than $100.  No sales tax will be charged on any number of items, as long as the price of each item is less than $100. The sales tax holiday does not apply to watches, jewelry, sporting equipment, handbags or wallets.

Several counties in Iowa are dealing with severe weather events. Flooding caused some damage in north central Iowa while drought conditions in Southern Iowa are making things more difficult for farmers. Also according to a new report, Iowa has 4,968 structurally deficient bridges, which is the highest in the nation.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session.

Please don’t forget to check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, like Facebook or Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Statehouse News

4,7 Waterloo Bucks Riverfront Stadium, Waterloo, 6:30pm, 232-0500
4 Movies Under the Moon – Firehouse Dog Overman Park, 6:30pm, 277-0213
4 Waterhawks Ski Show Eagles Lake, Evansdale, 7pm, waterhawks.org
4-6 Irish Fest Lincoln Park, Waterloo, iowairishfest.com
4,11 Friday Fun Night Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 6pm, 987-2537
5,12 FREE Brewery Tours SingleSpeed Brewing Co., Waterloo, 2 & 3pm, singlespeedbrewing.com
5 NHRA “Run for the Wally” Cedar Falls Motorsports Park
5 Birthday Celebration and Readathon Cedar Falls Public Library, 10am, 273-8643
6 Sunday Bracket Bash Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 987-2537
8,15 August Ensembles Concert Overman Park, 7pm, cedarnet.org/cfband
10-13 Just Ann Oster Regent Theatre, Thus-Sat 7:30pm; Sun 2pm, 277-5283
11-13 50’s Car Show National Cattle Congress Grounds, Waterloo, 234-7515
11 RiverLoop Rhythms – Dave Zollo RiverLoop Amphitheatre, Waterloo, 5:30pm, 291-4490
12,13 NHRA Summit Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 987-2537
12 Stem & Stein RiverLoop Expo Plaza, Waterloo, 4pm, 291-4490
12-13 Suiting Everyone Cedar Falls Historical Society, 2pm, 266-5149
13 Summer Music Series Part 3 Cedar Valley Arboretum, Waterloo, 6:30pm, 226-4966
18 Live to 9 – Bob Dorr and the Blue Band Sturgis Park, 5:30pm, liveto9.com
18-20 Old Time Power Show Antique Acres, antiqueacres.org
18 Movies Under the Moon – Karate Kid (1984) Overman Park, CV Acoustic Guitar at 6:30pm, movie at dusk, 277-0213
18 Friday’Loo – Express Pass Lincoln Park

Annual Sales Tax Holiday Weekend August 4-5

Iowa’s annual sales tax holiday is the first weekend in August, which is Friday, August 4th, and Saturday, April 5th, this year.  The holiday does not include Sunday.  Sales tax, including any local taxes, is not collected on clothing and footwear that sells for less than $100.  No sales tax will be charged on any number of items, as long as the price of each item is less than $100.

Every business that is open on Friday and Saturday will be participating in the Sales Tax Holiday. There is a Sales Tax Holiday line included on the sales tax return, and any qualifying sales made during the Sales Tax Holiday are deducted as exemptions on the quarterly sales tax form.

The sales tax holiday does not apply to watches, jewelry, sporting equipment, handbags or wallets.  Store coupons and discounts can reduce the sales price below $100 to qualify for the Sales Tax Holiday, but manufacturer coupons cannot.  If items are usually sold as a unit, those items cannot be split up so that each piece qualifies for the $100 requirement.  Items that are sold under a promotion such as “Buy one, get one free” cannot be averaged to get below the limit.

Additional information on the annual sales tax holiday can be found at https://tax.iowa.gov/iowas-annual-sales-tax-holiday.

Iowans Depend on Well Run Retirement System

In Iowa when a promise is made it is expected to be kept, especially when it comes to the retirement security of hundreds of thousands of Iowans. The legislature has made a promise to many Iowans, including police officers, nurses, teachers, firefighters, correctional officers, and countless other professions, that they will be able to retire with dignity and respect after their service to the state.

That’s why many Iowans were alarmed to see that the largest retirement system in Iowa is under scrutiny from a Libertarian-based special interest group and some Iowa GOP lawmakers.  While little notice was given to the general public, a meeting was held to hear from representatives of the Reason Foundation that are offering a free review of Iowa’s pension system, known as IPERS.

However, many lawmakers and state officials are concerned the special interest group wants to dismantle the state’s retirement system, which they’ve recommended in other states.

Despite the criticism from the special interest group, representatives from Iowa’s retirement system said the state’s retirement system is well run and on track to keep the promises that they have made to working Iowans.

Iowans depend on a well-managed retirement plan that guarantees retirement security and freedom as well as protection for the taxpayer.  House Democrats have consistently been proactive in addressing any potential problems and making sure the state protects the retirement security of Iowans.

When working families sit down around the kitchen table and plan for the future, the ability to retire with dignity and respect is a worry for too many.  Families, regardless of profession, deserve retirement security now and in the future.

Continue Reading the Statehouse News

Counties Affected by July Storms Eligible for Financial Assistance
Iowa has Opted-In to FirstNET
Iowa Departments Encourage Guidance After Head Injury Report
Iowa Ranks Near the Bottom in Students Taking a Foreign Language
Schools Partner up to Develop a Cyber Security Degree Path

To read the rest of my Statehouse News go to:http://iowahouse.org/StatehouseNews/8-2-17

June 21, 2017

Greeting to you all,

The Sturgis Falls Celebration, “Let The Bands Play On”, is taking place this weekend, June 23 – 25.  The Sturgis Falls Festival has returned to cash transactions for food vendors. Gateway beer tickets can be purchased with cash or credit/debit card. Details and a mobile app can be viewed at sturgisfalls.org.

The uncertainty surrounding health care at the national level has also created a crisis here in Iowa. After several insurance companies announced they would pull out of Iowa’s individual insurance market, 72,000 Iowans could be left without access to affordable health care next year. Iowa’s insurance commissioner has proposed a short-term fix to the crisis that, if approved by federal officials, will ensure there is at least one option for Iowans to obtain insurance.  The plan structure gives premium assistance to enrollees and subsidies to insurers, to help cover individuals with high claims.

However, the proposal significantly increases premiums for individual plans by an average of 43% and some Iowans would see their premium increase by 300% to get the same coverage.  Many have expressed concern that the new proposal does more to subsidize insurance companies than keep premiums affordable for Iowans. If the proposal is not approved by the federal government, one small insurance company announced this week it’s taking the first step to staying in the individual insurance market in Iowa but said it would require a 43% increase in premiums.

An investigation from the Des Moines Register found the administration of Gov. Kim Reynolds had to delay tax refunds earlier this year, because the state didn’t have enough money to pay them.  In mid-April, the investigation found the state had just $72 million in cash and was nearly $300 million behind in paying out refunds, compared to previous years. That comes after the Reynolds administration claimed for months refunds were delayed because of new procedures to prevent identity theft.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live; when we are in session. All of the debates are then stored in a video archive that allows you to watch them at any time, at your convenience.

Please don’t forget to check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website BobKressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021.  You can also like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter, to stay even more connected.  I appreciate hearing from you.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

22 Dan Wardell Cedar Falls Community Center, 9:30 & 10:30am, 859-3282
22 Friday Fun Night Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 6pm, 987-2537
23 Waterhawks Ski Show Eagle Lake, Evansdale, 7pm, waterhawks.org
23 Friday’Loo – Redline Lincoln Park, Waterloo, 5:30pm, 291-2038
23-25 Sturgis Falls Celebration Overman & Gateway Parks, 268-4266
23-25 Cedar Basin Jazz Festival Sturgis Park and New Aldaya, 268-4266
23 Friday Fun Night CF Motorsports Park, 6pm, 987-2537
24, 25 NHRA Summit Points #5&6 CF Motorsports Park, 987-2537
27 Waterloo Bucks Riverfront Stadium, Waterloo, 6:30pm, 232-0500
27 Cedar Falls Municipal Band “Marching Along” Overman Park, 7:30pm
27 Heartland Marimba Collective Brown Derby Ballroom, Waterloo, 7:30pm, heartlandmarimbafestival.com
28 David Fisher, Rope Warrior Cedar Falls Public Library, 10:30&11:30am, 859-3282
30 Waterloo Bucks Riverfront Stadium, Waterloo, 232-0500
30 RiverLoop Rhythms – Bob Dorr RiverLoop Amphitheatre, 5:30pm, 291-4490
30 Bubble Wonders, Geoff Akins Cedar Falls Public Library, 10&11am, 859-3282
7/1-2 Cedar Valley Pedal Fest Gateway Park, 268-4266
7/1 Steve Hess & Southern Salvation Riverview Conference Center, 7pm, 268-0787
7/6-7 BLAST Iowa Summer Sizzler The Falls, blackhawkswim.com

New Laws Hit the Books July 1

With the beginning of the state’s fiscal year, a host of new laws will take effect on July 1 relating to public health, workforce, and public safety.

Lawmakers took action this session to stop texting while driving.  Beginning July 1, law enforcement officers will now be able to pull over drivers and ticket them for texting while driving.  Under the old law, officers could not pull over drivers just for texting.

Starting the first of the month, there will be a new initiative to help first-time homebuyers save up for their first home.  Another bill going into effect July 1st will expand business opportunities for small breweries, wineries, and distilleries that are now flourishing across Iowa.

Several changes to Iowa law starting in July were made this year to protect Iowans. Some of the new laws include new protections for victims of stalking and abuse; protecting children from drugs; and a new program to reduce drunk driving fatalities.

For more information and a full list of bills, log on to http://www.iowahouse.org.

New Individual Insurance Coverage Proposal

This past spring, Aetna and Wellmark announced that they would no longer participate in the health care marketplace or sell individual health insurance plans.  With only one possible remaining smaller provider, Iowa is in a crisis due to the lack of individual insurance coverage options in 2018 which impacts about 72,000 Iowans.

As a result, the Iowa Insurance Division (IID) has requested a waiver from the federal government to create a new insurance plan structure outside of the current marketplace that will entice more insurance companies to offer individual insurance plans to Iowans.  The plan structure will maintain all of the essential benefit requirements of the federal Affordable Care Act as well as Iowa’s insurance coverage mandates.

The new plan will have three key features that insurers have stated are necessary for offering an individual insurance plan in Iowa.  These features are:

•    Increasing subsidies for younger, healthier enrollees;
•    Requiring continuous coverage; and
•    Subsidizing individuals with a high amount of claims.

The plan would use the anticipated $352 million of tax credits and other assistance Iowans already receive to create a new system that would make individual insurance plans available to Iowans in a different way.   A portion of this funding will be used to reimburse insurers for high claim individuals due to chronic or rare conditions.

The IID is hopeful to have the proposal approved by the federal government within the next couple months.  More information about the plan can be found here: https://iid.iowa.gov/documents/the-state-of-iowa%E2%80%99s-proposed-stopgap-measure-for-the-individual-health-insurance-market.

Continue Reading the Statehouse News

State Budget Shortfall a Possibility
Call for Additional Action in Death of Foster Children
Regents Finalize 5% Increase in Student Tuition
Tips to Reduce Summer Energy Bills
Emerald Ash Borer Continuing to Spread Across Iowa
Iowa Schools Use of Seclusion Rooms under Scrutiny
Transportation Improvement Plan Approved
Department of Education Releases Next Every Student Succeeds Act Plan

To read the rest of my Statehouse News go to:http://iowahouse.org/StatehouseNews/6-21-17

June 7, 2017

Greetings to you all.

On Monday, the Legislature’s Oversight Committee met to start finding answers to the starvation deaths of two girls. Natalie Finn was 16 years old when she died last October and Sabrina Ray from Perry was also 16 years old before she died last month. In the case of both girls, they were fostered, adopted and then homeschooled.

There are still many questions that need to be answered about the deaths of these two girls who fell through the cracks. We know warning signs were missed. We know caseworkers have enormous workloads.

We know that the parents of both girls were receiving monthly assistance for adopting the girls and then starving them. We know both girls were homeschooled and their parents did that to keep them in the shadows and away from other people. Our job as lawmakers is to do all we can to make sure this never happens again. I’ll be working to make sure the Oversight Committee continues to gather information and then makes recommendations for us to consider in January.

Last week, we learned that the state budget is likely to go in the red for the third time this year.  Revenue projects are falling short again and it’s estimated the state will be $100 million short when the fiscal year closes on June 30.  The deficit and shortfall this year is largely driven by $500 million in corporate tax benefits, that overwhelmingly go to out of state corporations.

Thousands of veterans can receive free dental care on Saturday, June 24th, when doctors and their teams from nearly 450 Aspen Dental-branded practices in 36 states open their doors for Aspen Dental’s National Day of Service – an event that is expected to be the largest single-day oral health initiative for veterans in 2017. Like millions of other Americans, veterans can struggle to find dental care when they need it. That’s why Aspen Dental’s Healthy Mouth Movement, a community-giving initiative launched in 2014, focuses on helping veterans get that care.

Participating Practices in Iowa include Coralville, IA, Waterloo, IA, Dubuque, IA, Cedar Rapids, IA, West Burlington, IA, Davenport, IA, Muscatine, IA, Fort Dodge, IA, Ankeny, IA, Des Moines, IA (SE 14th St), West Des Moines, IA, Marshalltown, IA, Ottumwa, IA, Mason City, IA and Sioux City, IA. Bolded practices currently have appointments open. Space is limited and appointments are filling fast!

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live; when we are in session. All of the debates are then stored in a video archive that allows you to watch them at any time, at your convenience.

Please don’t forget to check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website BobKressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021.  You can also like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter, to stay even more connected.  I appreciate hearing from you.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

7-11 My Waterloo Days Various Waterloo locations, mywaterloodays.org
7-11 Iowa State High School Trapshoot Cedar Falls Gun Club, iowadnr.gov
8-11 Monty Python’s Spamalot Hope Martin Theatre, Waterloo, 7pm; Sun 2pm, 291-4494
9 Live to 9-The Snozzberries Sturgis Park, 5:30pm. liveto9.com
9-11 Guys and Dolls Oster Theatre, Thurs-Sat 7:30pm; Sun 2pm, 277-5283
9 Mesner Puppets: The Stinky Cheese Man For Kids, Cedar Falls Community Center, 10am, 273-8643
10 John Deere Farm Fun Day John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum, 9am, 292-6126
10 Tour De Tush Bike Ride Gateway Park, 8am david@coloncanceriowa.org
10 Saturday Fun Day & Midnight Mania Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 2pm, 987-2537
10 Reception for Marjorie Nuhn: Selected Works Exhibit Hearst Center, 6pm, 273-8641
10 CV Court Kings Basketball Cedar Valley Sportsplex, , Waterloo, 7:30pm, 404-5941
11 Waterhawks Ski Show Eagle Lake, 7pm, waterhawks.org
12 Hanson Family Jugglers Cedar Falls Public Library, 10:30&11:30am, 859-3282
13 Cedar Falls Municipal Band “Marching Along” Overman Park, 7:30pm, cedarnet.org/cfband
13 Waterloo Bucks Riverfront Stadium, 6:30pm, 232-0500
16 Movies Under the Moon “Rio” Overman Park, CV Acoustic Guitar 6:30pm, movie at dusk

Fireworks Legalized in Iowa

Just in time for the July 4th holiday, fireworks are now legal in Iowa. Fireworks can be sold from June 1st to July 8th and from December 10th to January 3rd annually.   Fireworks can be used between 9 am and 10 pm but extended periods are allowed around the July 4th holiday and New Year’s.

While no local government can limit the sale of fireworks, the bill does allow a city council or board of supervisors to limit or prohibit the use of fireworks.  Local officials can prohibit the use of fireworks entirely in their jurisdiction or may place specific limits, such as limiting when fireworks can be used.  Fireworks are prohibited in state parks and preserves unless authorized by a permit from the state.  Fireworks also cannot be sold to anyone under the age of 18.

Retailers and community groups that want to sell fireworks must be licensed by the state fire marshal.  In addition, any retailer must sell fireworks in accordance with the national fire protection standards on the manufacture, transportation, storage, and retail sales of fireworks.  Retailers must also have at least $1 million of per occurrence insurance and $2 million of aggregate coverage.

First Time Homebuyers Savings Accounts Created

Iowans saving for their first home have a new opportunity.  The Legislature created Iowa First-Time Homebuyer Savings Accounts that give tax advantages for saving towards a first home.  Homebuyers can save up to $2,000 individually or $4,000 for a married couple that can then be subtracted from the taxpayers net individual income for tax purposes.  These amounts are increased annually based on inflation.

Accounts can be opened with any financial institution.  Funds must be used within 10 years for a qualifying home purchase.  An account may be opened in the name of the first-time homebuyer, similar to a college savings account.  Accounts must be open at least 90 days before being used for a qualified home purchase.

A qualifying first-time homebuyer is any resident of Iowa that does not own a single-family or multifamily residence and has not owned such a residence for three years prior.   Account holders must submit an annual report to the Department of Revenue with the account holder’s Iowan income tax return.  The forms will be produced by the Department of Revenue.

Continue Reading the Statehouse News

Honor Flight for Central Iowa Veterans in September
Community Colleges are Preparing Tomorrow’s Workforce
Computer Science Workgroup Meets
Protect Yourself from Ticks

To read the rest of my Statehouse News go to:http://iowahouse.org/StatehouseNews/6-7-17

May 24, 2017

Greetings to you all,

Although Memorial Day is officially a time to remember those who died for our country, it is also a good time to remember those who served our nation and thank those still serving today. Throughout our nation’s history, Iowans have always answered the call of duty for our great country. During the Civil War, Iowa sent 76,534 soldiers to battle, which was more than any other state. Over 500,000 Iowans registered for the draft in World War I and about 115,000 actually served.  During WWII, over 276,000 Iowans went into military service and 8,398 of those died.

About 70,000 Iowans served in the Korean War and during the Vietnam War years (1964-1973), 115,000 Iowans served in all branches of the military. Thank you to all our veterans for your service to our country.

On Wednesday, Governor Terry Branstad resigned as Governor and was sworn in to be the new US Ambassador to China for President Trump.  Shortly after, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds took over as Governor of Iowa. Hopefully we can work together to provide the resources necessary to educate our children, create good jobs and raise family incomes and that Iowans have access to quality healthcare. I look forward to working with Governor Reynolds to make sure these important issues happen.

The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State may remain open next year, but it will have to do so without any funding. It will also be barred from undertaking any new activities. State officials have warned state parks may be closed next year as they face another round of steep budget cuts from Republican lawmakers.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live; when we are in session. All of the debates are then stored in a video archive that allows you to watch them at any time, at your convenience.

Please don’t forget to check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website BobKressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021.  You can also like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter, to stay even more connected.  I appreciate hearing from you.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

26 RiverLoop Rhythms – Spicy Pickles RiverLoop Amphitheatre, 5:30pm, 291-4490
26-27 Grudge Inc Invades Cedar Falls Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 987-2537
27-29 Iowa Soccer State Cup Cedar Valley Soccer Complex, 830-4292
27 4th Street Cruise Downtown Waterloo, noon, 234-2200
27, 28 Cedar Valley CourtKings Cedar Valley Sportsplex, Waterloo, 7:30pm, 269-5924
29 Memorial Day Sullivan Brothers Museum, 11am, 234-6357
30 Hearst Film Series – A Thing of Beauty Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
30, 31 6/1, 2 Waterloo Bucks Riverfront Stadium, 6:30pm, 232-0500
6/2-4 Cedar Valley Cup Cedar Valley Soccer Complex, 830-4292
6/2-4 Monty python’s Spamalot Hope Martin Theatre, Waterloo, 7pm; Sun 2pm, 291-4494
6/2 Friday Fun Night Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 6pm, 987-2537
6/2 Movies Under the Moon – Big Hero Six Overman Park, CV Acoustic Guitar 6:30pm, movie at dusk, 277-0213
6/2 Friday’Loo – Pie in the Sky Lincoln Park, Waterloo, 5:30pm, 291-2038
6/2 Live to 9 – Stackhouse Sturgis Park, 5:30pm, liveto9.com
6/2 Waterhawks Ski Show Eagle Lake, Evansdale, 7pm, waterhawks.org
6/3 Michael Reed Concert Riverview Conference Center, 7pm, 268-0787
6/3, 4 NHRA Summit Points #3 & 4 Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 987-2537
6/4 Scheels Paddle Demo South Prairie Lake, 11am, 277-3033
6/5, 6, 7, 8 Waterloo Bucks Riverfront Stadium, 6:30pm, 232-0500
6/6 SummerFest Cedar Falls Public Library, 6pm, 268-5543

Memorial Day- A Time to Remember our Veterans

As Memorial Day approaches, it is a good time to remember the sacrifices our veterans have made, and to thank them for their service.  This year, the Iowa Legislature approved several bills to thank and support Iowa veterans.

One important bill that was passed this session ensured that equal military leave, nondiscrimination and reemployment rights are given to a National Guard members of another state if they work in Iowa, helping to streamline and simplify the process for Guard members. Also, the Legislature continued to fund the Veterans Home, Veteran county grants, and the Veterans Home Ownership Program which provides $5,000 to veterans to be used for house down payments and closing costs.

To celebrate our veterans during Memorial Day weekend, there are several events being held across the state.  There is a free military breakfast taking place at the Iowa Gold Star Museum on May 29 from 6-9 a.m., an open house at the Iowa Gold Star Museum on May 29 from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m., as well as several other events across the state. To find Memorial Day events near you, please visit https://va.iowa.gov/events.

Thousands to Lose Health Care Access

Four health care clinics in Iowa will close their doors next month and leave 14,000 Iowa patients without access to critical health care services like health exams, cancer screenings and birth control.

The clinics will be closed after Republican lawmakers approved a plan last session to eliminate Iowa’s Medicaid Family Planning Waiver and shut the door on $3 million in federal funding to provide critical access to health care serves.

The closures are four Planned Parenthood of the Heartland clinics in Sioux City, Burlington, Keokuk, and Bettendorf.

According the Republican lawmakers, Iowa’s current waiver program will be replaced with a state-only plan, but the impact of the new law is already reducing access to health care services.  Even though state and federal dollars are already prohibited from being used for abortions, the new plan restricts any abortion provider from participating in the new state-only waiver system.

Continue Reading the Statehouse News

Leopold Center Continues; But Without Funding
Medical Cannabidiol Law Gets Updated
Iowa State Parks in Trouble
Iowa Dental Wellness Plan Updated
County Mental Health Levy Structure Changed
New Social Studies Standards Adopted
Program that Helps English Language Students Eliminated
Five-Year Iowa Road Plan Released
Coaches CPR Requirements Now in Effect

To read the rest of my Statehouse News go to:http://iowahouse.org/StatehouseNews/5-24-17

May 10, 2017

Greeting to you all,

Governor Terry Branstad is likely to resign in the next few weeks to become President Trump’s Ambassador to China. Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds will then take over for Branstad. Last week, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller issued a formal legal opinion stating that Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds would not have the authority to appoint her own Lt. Governor.  While it is a departure from an informal press statement Miller made back in December, the AG’s opinion concluded that the framers of Iowa’s Constitution intended for the “gubernatorial line of succession be elected.”

In response, the Lt. Governor Reynolds said she would move forward and appoint a Lt. Governor after she becomes Governor anyway.  If she proceeds, it’s likely that a lawsuit will be filed and the issue will be decided by the Iowa Supreme Court, which has the final say on whether laws passed by the Legislature are constitutional.

A new bill was signed in to law this week to protect victims of domestic violence and sexual assault and also a new law to allow for the sale and use of fireworks in Iowa was signed in to law. A new law approved by Republicans that requires women wait 72 hours before they can get an abortion has been put on hold by the Iowa Supreme Court until a district court takes action on a lawsuit filed to challenge the bill.

Formal complaints against three for-profit companies managing the state’s Medicaid program have risen 270% this year as Iowans are still struggling to get the health care and services they need in their own communities.  Branstad privatized Medicaid over a year ago.

Thousands of veterans will receive free dental care on Saturday, June 24th, when doctors and their teams from nearly 450 Aspen Dental-branded practices in 35 states open their doors for Aspen Dental’s National Day of Service – an event that is expected to be the largest single-day oral health initiative for veterans in 2017. Interested veterans should call 1-844-AspenHMM (1-844-277-3646) to find a participating practice in their community and schedule an appointment in advance – space is limited and appointments are filling up fast!

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live; when we are in session. All of the debates are then stored in a video archive that allows you to watch them at any time, at your convenience.

Please don’t forget to check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website BobKressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021.  You can also like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter, to stay even more connected.  I appreciate hearing from you.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

9, 16 Hearst Film Series – A Thing of Beauty Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
12 Friday Fun Night Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 6pm, 987-2537
12 Lunchtime Concert: NAMTA Hearst Center, noon, 273-8641
12 Friday’Loo – The Getaway City Band Lincoln Park, Waterloo, 5:30pm, 291-2038
13 Farfalle (Butterflies) GBPAC, 10am, 1 & 4pm, 273-4849
13 Annual Belgium Waffle Breakfast Cedar Falls Woman’s Club, 8am, 266-1431
13 Kansas & Winger McElroy Auditorium, Waterloo, 7:30pm, 234-7515
13, 14 NHRA Points #1&2 Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 987-2537
13 Bark for Life Gateway Park, 9am, relayforlife.org/barkblackhawkia
14 CV CourtKings Basketball Milwaukee CV Sportsplex, 7:30pm, 269-5924
18-21 The Wall That Heals AMVETS Post 49, 277-6655
18 Hearst Art-House Concert: Society of Broken Souls Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
19 Friday’Loo – Milk & Honey Lincoln Park, Waterloo, 5:30pm, 291-2038
20 Cedar Valley Cycle for Vets Amvets Post 49, 10am, 291-2512
20 Saturday Fun Day & Midnight Mania Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 2pm, 987-2537
21 Furry 5K Big Woods Lake, 7:30am, cedarbendhumanesociety.org
26-27 Grudge Inc Invades Cedar Falls Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 987-2537
27-29 Iowa Soccer State Cup Cedar Valley Soccer Complex, 830-4292
27 4th Street Cruise Downtown Waterloo, noon, 234-2200

Health Insurance for 72,000 Iowans in Jeopardy

Nearly 72,000 Iowans who purchased insurance through the federal Marketplace could lose the insurance coverage they currently have next year.

Citing federal uncertainty and high costs, two insurance carriers in Iowa, Aetna and Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield, announced they would no longer offer individual plans as part of the Marketplace in Iowa.  In addition, the remaining provider, Medica announced they are more than likely to cease operations in Iowa but a final decision will be made next month.

It is unclear at this point what other options would be available for Iowans if no insurance is available through the Marketplace.

New Changes for Voting Iowans Becomes Law

Voters in Iowa will have more hurdles and less time to vote after Governor Branstad signed into law changes to Iowa’s election law.  The new law will shorten the voting window and require a photo ID to vote.  The legislation was pushed through despite opposition from both local election officials and voting rights advocates due to the new regulations and challenges voters will face.

The effects of the proposal could make it harder for over 200,000 Iowans who don’t currently have the required documents to vote. The impact of the legislation will especially hurt the elderly, students, disabled, minorities, and low-income Iowans who disproportionately lack the needed requirements. The elimination of 11 early voting days will make it harder for Iowans to vote and gives communities less time to have satellite voting locations throughout their area. Approximately 34,000 Iowans voted in the first 11 days of early voting last year.

During debate, House Democrats worked to improve the bill and make it easier for Iowans to vote by expanding the number of IDs accepted and keeping the early voting timeline in place.

The negative effects will certainly lead to the challenging of the new regulations in court to determine if the new law is constitutional.

Continue Reading the Statehouse News

Students to Pay Higher Tuition Next Fall
Troubled For-Profit Kaplan University to be Acquired
New Head of Iowa Veterans Home Announced
Small Game and Upland Hunting Seasons 2017-2018

To read the rest of my Statehouse News go to:http://iowahouse.org/StatehouseNews/5-10-17

April 26, 2017

Greetings to you all,

We wrapped up the 2017 legislative session early Saturday morning April 22nd after a marathon 24 hour session. While there were some areas of bi-partisan work this session, I’m disappointed Republican leaders at the State Capitol ignored many of the key issues facing Iowans this year, especially raising incomes for Iowans.

When the session began, I outlined a plan to strengthen Iowa’s working families, build a vibrant economy, and adequately fund our public schools. Unfortunately, the majority party shortchanged Iowa public schools again this year, lowered wages for 65,000 Iowans, turned a budget surplus into a $130 million deficit, and stacked the deck against everyday Iowans who are working hard but still not getting ahead.

Over the interim, I’ll keep listening to you and begin work on ideas for the 2018 session. I’m committed to working together and building an economy that works for all Iowa families. If you have any ideas or suggestions, I hope you will contact me. I look forward to hearing from you.

May 12 Celebrating Northeast Area Music Teacher’s Association (NAMTA)  41st year of Bringing Music Excellence to the Cedar Valley through private piano instruction. The public is invited to two performances on May 12. 10:15 is the annual Scholarship Audition for graduating senior, and 12 noon part of the Lunchtime Series will be NAMTA teachers and students musicale “My Favorite Music”. Both will be at the Hearst Center for the Arts on Seerley in Cedar Falls

James Schmitz, James McCoy, and Mark Williams were at the Capitol last week. They were here talking with Representative Kressig about the Iowa Capitol Project.

Ajla Dizdarevic, winner of the Iowa Scholarship for the Arts, along with her family Sulejman, Sevada and Leila were at the Statehouse to visit with Waterloo/Cedar Falls Representatives Bob Kressig, Timi Brown-Powers, Ras Smith and Walt Rogers.

Congratulations to Cedar Falls Community Main Street as they were recognized for the Historic Post Office, Best Interior Rehabilitation during the recent Main Street Iowa Awards. Ty Kimble was also honored for his leadership in historic commercial revitalization in the community, which has been a part of Main Street Iowa for 30 years.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live; when we are in session. All of the debates are then stored in a video archive that allows you to watch them at any time, at your convenience.

Please don’t forget to check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website BobKressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021.  You can also like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter, to stay even more connected.  I appreciate hearing from you.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

25 Opening Reception for BFA Group Exhibition UNI Gallery of Art, 7pm, 273-6134
25 Hearst Film Series – Earth Month Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
26 UNI Spotlight Series: Symphonic Band & UNI Singers GBPAC*, 7:30pm, 273-4849
27 Final Thursday Reading Series Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
28 Friday Fun Night Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 6pm, 987-2537
28,29 Amazing Grace Hope Martin Theatre, 5/5,6 Waterloo, Fri 7pm, Sat 2pm, 291-4494
29 wcfsymphony – Appassionato GBPAC*, 7:30pm, 273-4849
29,30 Spring Bling 10K & 5K Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 987-2537
29 Showcase Concert Riverview Conference Center, 7pm, 268-0787
29 An Evening at the Museum Sullivan Brothers Museum, Waterloo, 6pm, gmdistrict.org 
30 Belly Dance Show Community Center, 6pm, harton@uni.edu 
5/2,9 Hearst Film Series – A Thing of Beauty Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
5/4 Girl’s Night Out Downtown Cedar Falls, 5pm, 277-0213
5/4 Eight Songs by Robert Waller – Cedar Falls Authors Festival Series Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
5/5 The Hillbenders GBPAC, 7pm, 273-4849
5/5 Lorie Line in Concert Oster Regent Theatre, 7:30pm, 277-5283
5/5,6 Master’s Promise & Red Roots Riverview Conference Center, 7pm, 268-0787
5/5 Bridges of Madison County & Panel Discussion CF Authors Festival Series Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
5/6 UNI Commencement McLeod Center, 9am, 2pm, 6pm, 273-2241

 

Law Enforcement, Teachers, Nurses Lose Voice in the Workplace

Despite objections from thousands of Iowans, Republicans at the State Capitol unraveled 40 years of teachers, firefighters, law enforcement, and other working Iowans having a voice in their own workplace this year.

Written behind closed doors without input from Iowa workers, House File 291 gutted public sector collective bargaining rights and returns working Iowans to a system where the political party in power has the right to decide the fate of all public employees. After it was approved by Republican lawmakers, Governor Branstad signed the bill the next morning in a private ceremony closed to the public, but open to corporate-backed special interest lobbyists.

Under the new law, teachers, nurses, and other working Iowans are prohibited from discussing workplace conditions and how their job is done. Every year or two, the public employee union must organize entire bargaining units to vote in a mandated election not requested by any public employees in the union.

As the bill was fast tracked by Republicans, many bargaining units across the state quickly negotiated and approved new agreements before the new law took effect. After the bill was signed, any contracts that were being negotiated and not completed had to start over under the new provisions of the bill, costing taxpayer’s additional money.

GOP Turns Budget Surplus to Deficit

Lawmakers closed the 2017 legislative session putting the finishing touches on the fiscal year 2018 budget as well as addressing a $131 million state budget deficit in fiscal year 2017. While the state had a $900 million surplus just a few years ago, the deficit was the result of years of mismanagement of the state budget by Republican lawmakers that included $500 million in corporate tax giveaways that overwhelmingly go to out-of-state corporations.

Now, Iowans are being forced to pay for the GOP’s budget mess. Students will be paying higher tuition. Fewer at-risk kids will be able to attend preschool. Victims of domestic violence may not get the support they need and Iowans will be paying higher property taxes.

To cover the state budget deficit this year (FY 2017), Republican lawmakers were forced to make $113 million in budget adjustments at the beginning of session which led to tuition hikes and job losses. To close out the 2017 session, the Legislature still had to borrow $131 million from the state’s savings account to cover the deficit.

For next year (FY 2018), the GOP Legislature approved a $7.27 billion state budget, which is an increase of 0.12% compared to fiscal year 2017. In addition to shortchanging public schools another year, the budget cut millions from state universities and community colleges that means higher tuition for Iowa students. It also has includes reductions for preschool scholarships, services for foster children, and drop-out prevention. Many Iowans are also concerned about Republican plans to close the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University and a 25% reduction in grants to support victims of domestic violence.

Continue Reading the Statehouse News

K-12 School Investment 3rd Lowest in Iowa History
GOP Lawmakers Limit Health Decisions for Women
Bill Lowers Wages for 65,000 Iowans
Medical Cannabidiol Takes a Step Forward
New Changes for Voting Iowans
Major Gun Changes Signed by Governor
Iowa Cracks Down on Distracted Driving
Homeowners Affected Under New CAFO Law
Iowa’s Workers’ Compensation Laws Changed
Criminal Justice Reforms Sent to Governor
Legislature Passes Sobriety 24/7 Program to Target Drunk Drivers
Cost Saving Construction Measures Now Banned
Insurance Autism Coverage Approved
Major Tort Reforms Passed by Legislature
Veterans Programs Take Hit in GOP Budget
Domestic Abuse Mandatory Minimum Sentences Created
Updated Mammogram Reporting Bill Takes Effect
New Changes to Iowa’s Natural Resources
Bills Allow Iowa Schools Flexibility in Funding
Changes to Alcohol Policy Could Spur Economic Development
New Student Assessment Approval Process

To read the rest of my Statehouse News go to:http://iowahouse.org/StatehouseNews/4-26-17

April 14, 2017

Greetings to you all,

I want to wish everyone a Happy Easter this weekend! I hope you enjoy time with loved ones and safe travels for those who are going anywhere! Tuesday, April 18th is the 100th day of the session. This is the scheduled last day for session, although until both parties decide on budget and adjournment, we could be here until next Friday. Tuesday will be my clerk, Amanda Walters, last day as well. I want to thank her for her hard work over the legislative session and for being a team player. I wish her the best in her future and I am sure she will do great things!

Medical Cannabis bill, SSB1190, was filed in the Senate. This bill allows for patients with 19 debilitating medical conditions to qualify for access to medical cannabidiol with the recommendation of their health care provider certifying their approved condition. It allows a self-funding, in-state, secure, safe, tested, indoor production of medical cannabis to be grown in Iowa by 4 manufactures and sold at 12 dispensaries. It also reclassifies marijuana, including tetrahydrocannabinols, from a schedule 1 controlled substance to a schedule 2 controlled substance. The bill has passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee and is now onto its way to the Ways and Means Committee. Hopefully it will pass Ways and Means and will be on the Senate floor for debate and moved to the House for debate before the session ends.

This week SF234 was passed 90-6 in the house and is now signed into law. This bill makes it a primary offense to write, send, or view electronic message while driving. Before this passed the House I tried to add an amendment, H-1315, to it. This amendment would have required cars to pass bicyclist in a full-lane over. However this amendment failed. HF513 which has to do with passing cyclist has been placed on the unfinished business calendar. Hopefully we can get something done next session to make it safer for cyclists in Iowa.

I’ve already heard from Iowans who are concerned about GOP plans to close the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, which is dedicated to improving farming practices while conserving natural resources. I’m also troubled by cut backs in public safety that will leave our already overcrowded prisons with fewer staff next year.  Ironically, Republican budget plans include a new $700,000 appropriation to pay for a new bill that makes it more difficult for Iowans to vote.  Time and time again this year, the GOP has said one thing while doing another. They said they support education and a skilled workforce, but raise tuition. They claim they support cleaning up Iowa’s waterways, but close an ag center dedicated to conserving our natural resources

In other news, Iowa’s graduation rate inched higher again this year and topped the nation at 91.3 percent.  Lawmakers have approved a bill to protect victims of stalking and domestic abuse.

David Klavitter’s daughter, Lucy, was so excited to be sitting in the Speakers’ chair when they visited a couple weeks ago!

Have you checked out Facebook’s newest feature ‘Town Hall’? Be sure to do so, if you haven’t already! Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is focusing on building a more civically engaged community. Town Hall allows you to find, connect, and contact your local, state, and federal government representatives.

Last week, Representative Timi Brown-Powers and Representative Bob Kressig welcomed Iowan Credit Unions into the House Chambers

Here is a great example of the decline in funding for the Regent Universities. Overall Regents are now funded at 31 percent of general fund expenditures! UI is at 29 percent; ISU is 27 percent and UNI is 52 percent. It is no wonder why tuition increases are on the rise.


The Cedar Valley Sports Commission, Community Main Street, and the Cedar Falls Tourism & Visitors Bureau are hosting the third annual Gran Fondo Cedar Valley on Saturday, August 19th, 2017. Riders will have the option to bike a 100 mile or 50 mile course, which provides an opportunity for riders of any skill level to participate. Routes will begin and end in downtown Cedar Falls and include a great stop in downtown Waterloo and in area communities along the way. Every 100-mile and 50-mile participant receives a race jersey or ¼ zip pullover, swag bag, race entry, drink ticket and a Downtown Cedar Falls gift certificate to use at the post ride party. Finishers of the 100-mile ride will also receive a commemorative race medal. Ride registration is currently open at www.granfondocedarvalley.com.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live; when we are in session. All of the debates are then stored in a video archive that allows you to watch them at any time, at your convenience.

Please don’t forget to check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website BobKressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021.  You can also like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter, to stay even more connected.  I appreciate hearing from you.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

18 Hearst Film Series – Earth Month Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
18 Community Gospel Singers Cedar Falls Community Center, 7pm, 277-0213
20 Reader’s Theatre: Rapture, Blister, Burn by Gina Gionfiddo Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
21-23 Blue Suede Memories Electric Park Ballroom, Waterloo, 232-2062
21-23 Into the Woods GBPAC*, Fri 7pm; Sat & Sun 2pm, 273-4849
21 Florida Georgia Line UNI-Dome, 7pm, uni.edu/unitix 
23 Color It Blue 5K Amazing Challenge Washington Park, 561-451-5051
23 Hick’s Place Open House Hick’s Place, 1pm, hicksplace.biz
24 UNI Spotlight Series: Wind Symphony & Varsity Men’s Glee Club GBPAC*. 7:30pm, 273-4849
24 UNI Spotlight Series: Death by Aria GBPAC*, 6pm, 273-4849
25 Opening Reception for BFA Group Exhibition UNI Gallery of Art, 7pm, 273-6134
26 UNI Spotlight Series: Symphonic Band & UNI Singers GBPAC*, 7:30pm, 273-4849
27 Final Thursday Reading Series Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
28 Friday Fun Night Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 6pm, 987-2537
28,29 Amazing Grace Hope Martin Theatre, 5/5,6 Waterloo, Fri 7pm, Sat 2pm, 291-4494
29 wcfsymphony Presents Appassionato GBPAC*, 7:30pm, 273-4849
29,30 Spring Bling 10K & 5K Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 987-2537
29 Showcase Concert Riverview Conference Center, 7pm, 268-0787
29 An Evening at the Museum Sullivan Brothers Museum, Waterloo, 6pm, gmdistrict.org 
5/2,9 Hearst Film Series – A Thing of Beauty Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641

New Road Blocks for Iowans to Vote

Voters in Iowa will have more hurdles and less time to vote next year after Republican lawmakers approved new changes to Iowa’s elections. These changes include shortening the voting window and requiring a photo ID to vote.  The legislation has been pushed by Republican lawmakers despite opposition from both local election officials and voting rights advocates due to the new regulations and challenges voters will face.

The effects of the proposal could make it harder for over the 200,000 Iowans who don’t currently have the required documents to vote. The impact of the legislation will especially hurt the elderly, disabled, minorities, and low-income Iowans who disproportionately lack the needed requirements.

The elimination of 11 early voting days could make it harder for Iowans to vote and gives communities less time to have satellite voting locations throughout their area. Approximately 34,000 Iowans voted in the first 11 days of early voting last year.

Once again, House Democrats offered multiple amendments that would have made voting easier for Iowans by expanding the number of IDs accepted and keeping the early voting timeline in place.

GOP Plans Higher Tuition, Early Childhood Cuts in Budget

Budget documents released this week show Republican lawmakers plan to increase tuition and make significant cuts in early childhood education to pay for hundreds of millions in corporate tax breaks that put the state budget in deficit this year.

The education budget, which was approved by the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, cuts an additional $10 million from Iowa’s three state universities next year.  Earlier this year, Republican lawmakers cut $18 million from the universities to cover part of the state budget deficit.  The budget also eliminates the Flood Center at the University of Iowa (which jeopardizes federal funding) and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State.

Republican lawmakers are planning an additional $1.7 million in cuts to early childhood education programs for at-risk children like Head Start and Shared Visions preschool.

The bills will likely be debated on the House floor next week.

Continue Reading the Statehouse News

Iowa’s Graduation Rate Increases
Mammogram Reporting Law Signed
“Policing for Profit” Bill Advances Through House
Palmer Amaranth as a Primary Noxious Weed
Iowa Health Information Network
Regional Interoperability Committee Outreach Meetings

To read the rest of my Statehouse News go to:http://iowahouse.org/StatehouseNews/4-14-17

April 7, 2017

Greetings to you all,

Big things were happening at the University of Northern Iowa this past week. UNI just launched their digital media program which will consist of three majors: digital journalism, digital media leadership, and digital media production. The new launch of the programs reflects UNI’s commitment to being at the top of the media industry when it comes to education. Students in these majors will be required to complete an internship with a media company. UNI also upgraded the digital media studio with industry standard cameras, pedestals, Teleprompters, full range of new monitors, speakers and control panels.

The University of Northern Iowa hosted the Schindler Education Center Rededication on March, 31, 2017. UNI has been preparing students to become educators for the last 140 years, with Schindler Education Center being a part of that for 44 years. However, times have changed since Schindler was first built and in order to meet todays’ standards changes at UNI and Schindler had to change as well. The remodel of Schindler took 18 months but was well worth the wait. The new and improved building has replaced the old school Chalkboards and lecture auditoriums with more flexible learning spaces with interactive television monitors and active learning technologies. Gaëtane Jean-Marie, dean of the College of Education, believes the renovations will allow UNI to continue to be a leader in teacher education.

On Tuesday, April 4, 2017, SF 250 passed the House 96-2 and passed the Senate 49-0. SF 250 requires facilities that offer mammography services to include breast density in mammogram reports sent to all patients, pursuant to regulations implementing the federal Mammography Quality Standards Act of 1992. Women with dense breast tissue are at greater risk of breast cancer or tumors. This bill has been trying to pass the House for five years and I’m glad it finally did, for I have been a strong advocate of this legislation. The bill is now on its way to the Governor to sign into law.

Tuesday was equal pay day for women.  That marks the 103 extra days it takes for women to make the same amount of money men were paid in 2016. Here in Iowa, women make 77.4 cents for every dollar a man makes. We rank 35th in the U.S. when it comes to the gender wage gap, but the statistics are even worse for women who are African American, Latina, Asian American, and Native American. Paying people fairly for the work they do should not depend on their gender. I think it’s time for the Legislature to take action on equal pay.

The shortfall in the state budget is largely the result of new corporate tax giveaways that have increased exponentially and now top $500 million annually. Those GOP giveaways have turned a $927 million state surplus into a $130 million deficit this year. As more details on the budget come to light in the weeks ahead, I believe we should work together to restore fiscal discipline and ensure Iowans no longer have to pay for the tax giveaways the state can’t afford.

House Republicans approved a bill with new restrictions on women’s personal medical decisions. If approved by the Senate, the bill bans abortion after 20 weeks with no exception for rape, incest, or fetal anomaly and creates a new 72 hour waiting period before an abortion can be performed.

Volunteers who work as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) stopped in at the Capitol to talk with Representative Timi Brown-Powers, Representative Ras Smith, and Representative Bob Kressig. They were here advocating for the protection of Iowa’s children and improvement in the child welfare system.

People First of Cedar Falls and Waterloo were here at the Capitol for Iowans with Disabilities in Action Day of Change. They were here advocating for Medicaid and funding for services such as transportation.

Did you know that 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 10 boys will be sexually abused before they are 18 years-old? As many of you know, I am on the board of Allen’s Child Protection Center and April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. According to the Child Abuse Council the cost of investigations, foster care, medical and mental health treatment from child abuse and neglect costs [the quad cities] $259,502 every day! 

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live; when we are in session. All of the debates are then stored in a video archive that allows you to watch them at any time, at your convenience.

Please don’t forget to check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website BobKressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021.  You can also like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter, to stay even more connected.  I appreciate hearing from you.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

6 Culturefest 2017 Waterloo Center for the Arts, 5pm, 291-4490
6 Hops on Main Downtown Cedar Falls, 5:30pm, 277-0213
7 Music City Nights Hilton Garden Inn, 6pm, cvhospice.org 
7,8 Black Hawks Hockey vs Fargo Young Arena, 7pm, 291-7680
7 UNI Jazz Band One & Concert Chorale GBPAC*, 7:30pm, 273-4849
8 Dr, Seuss Tea Party Snowden House, Waterloo, 10am, 234-6357
8 Family Fishing Day N. Prairie Lake, 10am, cedarvalleywalleyeclub.org
8 WW I Spirit Walk Grout Museum, Waterloo, 3:30 & 7pm, 234-6357
8 Cedar Valley Children’s Book Festival Cedar Falls Public Library, 10am, 859-3282
8 Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo Live GBPAC*, 1pm, 273-4849
8 2017 Polar Plunge George Wyth State Park, 10:45am, 515-986-5520
8 Line Dancing Lampost Theatre, 7pm, 277-8034
8 Cedar Valley Honor Flight Variety Show Electric Park Ballroom, Waterloo, 6:30pm, 830-8807
9 Country Good Times Music CF Community Center, 1pm, 277-0213
9 Firefighting: Tools of the Trade, Past to Present Carriage House Museum, 2pm, 266-5149
9 Cedar Valley Court Kings Basketball vs Minnesota Cedar Valley Sportsplex, 7:30pm, 269-5924
11 Town Hall Meeting – Meet With the Sheriff CF Public Library, bhcso.org

House Majority Limits Medical Decisions for Women

Iowa women will likely face new restrictions on difficult medical decisions next year, despite opposition from several lawmakers who believe those decisions are best left to a woman and her doctor.

Republicans, who control the majority in the Iowa House, approved Senate File 471 this week to restrict a woman’s right to choose.  In addition, the bill requires a pregnant woman to continue her pregnancy to full term, even if a physician determines that the fetus has a congenital defect and will not survive after being born.  The bill does include very narrow exceptions for the health and life of the mother, but does not allow for any exceptions in the cases of rape or incest.

Under the legislation, a current or former health care provider, a county attorney, or the Iowa Attorney General has the ability to prevent a woman from having an abortion or stopping a physician from continuing to perform abortions.  If a lawsuit is filed, the woman who had an abortion, or had an attempted abortion performed, must justify to the Court why her identity should be kept secret.

The last main aspect of the bill requires a woman to wait at least seventy-two hours to obtain an abortion service in Iowa.  The physician must also provide her with specific information that may not be applicable to her health or situation.

The bill, which was approved on a party line vote, now goes back to the Iowa Senate for consideration.

Capitol Dome to Undergo Repairs

Visitors to the Iowa Capitol could notice some exterior changes to the iconic golden dome. The dome will soon be covered in scaffolding as major renovations have begun this past week.

The project, which has a $10 million budget, will include the repainting of windows, replacement of bricks, stone resurfacing, and sheet metal for structural integrity of the dome.  Renovations will also address the moisture that accumulates in the dome which has caused some structural damage over the years.

The project, which should be finished next summer, received funding last year and was paid for with gambling revenue.

Continue Reading the Statehouse News

Autism Coverage Signed into Law
Ban on Project Labor Agreements Advances to Governor
Good Samaritan Bill for Calling 911 Advances to House Floor
House Passes New Student Assessment Approval Process
Iowa Natural Resources Update
Teacher of the Year Nominations Open
Electronic Application for Search Warrants

To read the rest of my Statehouse News go to:http://iowahouse.org/StatehouseNews/4-7-17

March 31, 2017

Greetings to you all,

The legislature is finishing up with the second funnel this week. Bills must have cleared one chamber and a committee in the other chamber in order to continue to be eligible for consideration. The funnel process was first approved in 1979 and has been an important part of the legislative process ever since. The use of the funnel deadlines helps keep the legislative process moving forward and stops bills that haven’t received the support of the legislature.

On Wednesday I attended a meeting regarding the issue of legalizing medical cannabis and learned from experts in the field of manufacturing, extraction and distribution and the Pharmacokinetics.  Speakers provided insight and education on the industry, how it works and how it can help Iowa’s sickest patients.  The speakers of this presentation were Dr. Frank J. Caligiuri, Pharm.D., BCPS at Drake University-College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences , Tom Swegle, Partner, MedPharm Holdings, and a representative from Kemin Industries. One of the comments that I thought was accurate was “If cannabis were discovered in the Amazon rain forest today, people would be clambering to make as much use as they could of all the potential benefits of the plant. Unfortunately, it carries with it a long history of being a persecuted plant.”

There were many things I took away from this presentation, such as, medical cannabis can help over 35 different diseases including cancer, PTSD, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and many more.  Another issue I learned is that when legalizing we must make it a comprehensive bill, meaning the whole plant must be legalized. This is because they can then properly measure, standardize, and formulate the dosage for that specific disease or even for that specific person.  Hopefully this year we will be to get a bill passed to legalize medical cannabis in order to help Iowa patients.

Wednesday, March 29, the Sing Me To Heaven Foundation stopped in the Capitol to talk with Representative Timi Brown-Powers and Representative Bob Kressig. They were here advocating for HF152, which Rep. Brown-Powers and I co-authored, this bill would help grieving families with state assistance for those who have lost a child and for child burial costs.

Iowa made national headlines this week, just minutes before a scheduled vote, Republican lawmakers introduced a new 6 week abortion ban bill that was drafted in secret and would have been the most restrictive law in the country. The good news is the GOP plan, which could have also banned some common types of birth control, was met with fierce resistance from Iowans and it was withdrawn in less than 24 hours. The bad news is Republicans passed a different version of the bill to take away the right of a woman to make her own medical decisions. The latest version offered by Republicans is a 20 week abortion ban that does not have exceptions for rape, incest or fetal anomaly and only narrow exceptions for life or health of the mother. I don’t think legislators in Des Moines should try to make medical decisions for a woman when it’s best made between the woman, her family and her doctor.

The Branstad/Reynolds Administration revised their budget this week and now plans to borrow $131 million from the state’s savings account to cover the state budget deficit this year. The deficit was largely caused by the GOP’s massive corporate tax giveaways approved the last few years that now top $500 million annually.

In other news, a bill was approved by the House Transportation Committee this week that will toughen Iowa laws to stop texting and driving. Also, the bill to lower wages for 65,000 Iowans will be signed into law by the Governor on Thursday.

Representative Bob Kressig welcomed employees of John Deere into the House Chambers along with Senator Jeff Danielson and Representative Timi Brown-Powers. John Deere employs 11,000 Iowan’s who work in both factories and business units across the state.

Senator Jeff Danielson and Representative Bob Kressig met with Kaye Englin, CEO of Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa. Kaye was in the Capitol advocating keeping Iowa’s money in Iowa!

Pat Higby was at the Capitol Monday, March 27 for Iowa Wind Energy Association and Cedar Prairie Sierra Club. Pat was advocating for wind energy throughout the State of Iowa.

On Monday, March 27 Representative Timi Brown-Powers and Represenative Bob Kressig welcomed Royce Rios from the Regional Council of Carpenters to the Capitol.

The Hearst Center for the Arts will host “Developing Expressions: Student Art from Cedar Falls Schools,” an exhibit of mixed media, Apr. 2–May 7. There will be an artist reception from 1 – 4 p.m. Sun., Apr. 2, with juice and refreshments. The reception is sponsored by Friends of the Hearst and is free and open to the public. This exhibition features works by students from the elementary and secondary schools in Cedar Falls. The emerging talent of young artists provides an impressive and diverse exhibition with works in all media including ceramics, photography, printmaking, and painting. The James & Meryl Hearst Center for the Arts is located at 304 West Seerley Boulevard in Cedar Falls. More information on the Hearst Center and its programs is available at www.TheHearst.org, by calling the Hearst Center at (319) 273-8641.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live; when we are in session. All of the debates are then stored in a video archive that allows you to watch them at any time, at your convenience.

Please don’t forget to check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website BobKressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021.  You can also like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter, to stay even more connected.  I appreciate hearing from you.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

31-4/2 USA Kids & Cadets National Folkstyle Wrestling UNI-Dome, usawevents.sportngin.com/folkstylenationals
31 More Than You See Hilton Garden Inn, 6pm, 232-6671
4/1 Bunny Brunch Waterloo Center for the Arts, 10am, 291-4490
4/1 Fools 5K George Wyth State Park, 9am, trekmanracing.com
4/1 RodCon 17 UNI Rod Library, 10am, 273-2462
4/1 Orchesis Dance Company Oster Regent Theatre, 2pm, 277-5283
4/1 Spring Open House Barn Happy, 9am, 266-0888
4/2 Opening Reception Developing Expressions Hearst Center, 1pm, 273-8641
4/2 Vintage Music Festival Cedar Falls Amvets, 1pm, 277-6655
4/4 Strictly Business Expo Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, Waterloo, 4pm, 232-1156
4/4 Black Hawks Hockey vs Chicago Young Arena, Waterloo, 7pm, 291-7680
4/4,11 Hearst Film Series – Earth Month Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
4/4 UNI Symphonic Band GBPAC, 7:30pm, 273-4849
4/5 Harlem Globetrotters World Tour McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
4/6 Culturefest 2017 Waterloo Center for the Arts, 5pm, 291-4490
4/6 Hops on Main Downtown Cedar Falls, 5:30pm, 277-0213
4/7 Music City Nights Hilton Garden Inn, 6pm, cvhospice.org
4/4 Black Hawks Hockey vs Fargo Young Arena, 7pm, 291-7680

Deficit Forces Governor to Update Budget Recommendations

According to new budget documents released this week, Governor Branstad is recommending the state borrow from their savings accounts to cover for a $131 million state budget deficit this year.

When the state’s non-partisan budget experts met in mid-March, lawmakers learned the Republican Majority and the Branstad-Reynolds administration have turned a $927 million state surplus (FY 13) into a $130 million deficit this year (FY 17).

While Republican lawmakers were quick to blame others instead of taking responsibility, the state budget is in a deficit this year because Republican leaders in Des Moines failed to adequately manage the state budget.  Earlier this year, the state faced another $110 million deficit and Republican leaders forced Iowa students and working families to pay for the shortfall to keep the budget in balance.

The state budget deficit is largely the result of new corporate tax giveaways that have increased exponentially and now top $500 million annually.  According to state experts, those giveaways have not produced the economic growth Republicans promised and instead, have slowed the state’s economy.  For the last three years, Republican lawmakers have also spent more than the state collected and used one-time money to fund on-going needs.

The lack of fiscal discipline by Republican lawmakers and the Branstad-Reynolds administration over the last several years creates significant challenges for the 2018 state budget.  The budget documents provided by the Governor also include recommendations for further cuts next year to Iowa’s most vulnerable citizens – seniors, the disabled, and children.

House Democrats plan to work to restore fiscal discipline to the state’s budget-making process, and ensure Iowans no longer have to pay for the GOP’s excessive giveaways. Fiscal discipline is both what the state can afford and where those dollars are invested. The state budget needs to be re-balanced to prioritize people before corporate welfare, and a skilled workforce over top-down economics.

Bill Lowering Wages for 65,000 Iowans Heads to the Governor

Instead of increasing the minimum wage, Senate Republican lawmakers have approved a bill that lowers wages for 65,000 Iowans.  The bill passed the House earlier, and now heads to the Governor for his signature.

The bill would preempt local ordinances on wages and products sold.  After waiting for Iowa lawmakers to act for nearly a decade, four counties have recently increased the minimum wage in their own communities to finally give a boost to the lowest wage earners.  The bill, House File 295, takes away the minimum wage increases already approved in some Iowa communities.

Now set at $7.25 per hour, Iowa’s minimum wage was last increased in 2008 and every state surrounding Iowa (except Wisconsin) has increased their minimum wage above $7.25.  To meet basic living expenses, a single person in Iowa resident should make at least $13.16 an hour and that rises to $21.52 an hour for a single parent with one child.  One of the counties that took action to increase the minimum wage is Wapello County, which has the 3rd highest poverty rate in Iowa and 2nd lowest per-capita income.

The Governor had indicated that he would be willing to increase the state minimum wage, but Republican legislators have refused to budge on any increase to Iowa’s minimum wage.  Democrats in the House offered to do so, but it was rejected.

Continue Reading the Statehouse News

Stricter Laws for Texting & Driving
Rural Iowans Lose Under CAFO Legislation
Bill Making Asbestos Suits More Difficult Signed by Governor
Domestic Abuse Changes Advance to Senate
Maintaining Your Current Medication
Local Boards Eliminated that Help Counties Decide Compensation
Legislature Continues to Combat Opioid and Heroin Overdoses
Crime of Harassment to Include Revenge Porn
Christian Education Exemption for Child

To read the rest of my Statehouse News go to:http://iowahouse.org/StatehouseNews/3-31-17

March 24, 2017

Greetings to you all,

This week changes to Iowa’s “statute of repose,” SF 413, was approved. This bill changes the statue of repose from 15 years to 10 years for residential property and 15 years to 8 years for commercial property. This means Iowa homeowners would now have less time to file lawsuits over hidden defects caused by contractors. This bill is now headed to Governor Terry Branstad for final approval.

A new plan by Republican lawmakers released this week puts out-of-state corporations at the front of the line for state tax credits before hundreds of thousands of Iowans. The plan was advertised as an attempt to reign in massive corporate tax giveaways that have put the state budget in the red twice this year and stalled the state’s economy.  However, when the bill was released, it doesn’t actually do anything to get the state budget back in balance.

In fact, the bill will likely take away a tax credit for hard-working families.  In creating a new distribution for tax credits, the bill creates a first come, first serve system that means corporations will be able to use up most of the credits before Iowans even file their own income tax returns. The net effect would increase taxes by about $300 on 220,000 working families. The GOP bill addresses only a fraction of the $12 billion in carve outs spent every year on 373 different tax exemptions, credits, and exclusions.

In other news this week, a bi-partisan justice reform bill approved by the House should lower Iowa’s high minority incarceration rates. The Senate passed two big bills that would legalize fireworks in Iowa and another that would limit damages Iowans can receive as a result of a medical malpractice. These two bills will now come over to the House to be debated.

Senator Jeff Danielson and Representative Bob Kressig met with the Youth Volunteer Action Network on Wednesday and discussed mental health issues in the State of Iowa.

Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson stopped in the Capitol this week. Sheriff Thompson visited with Representative Timi Brown-Powers, Representative Ras Smith, and Representative Bob Kressig about the driving while texting proposal and stand your ground legislation.

Anesa Kajtazovic, a former Iowa House of Representative, brought her nephew Adrian to the Capitol on Wednesday, March 22. They toured the Statehouse and Anesa visited with her former colleagues. It was great to see her again!

Thursday, March 23, Representative Bob Kressig, Representative Timi Brown-Powers, and Representative Ras Smith welcomed a group of exchange students into the House Chamber. The students are with the American Councils for International Education and were from North Tama, South Tama, Fort Dodge, Union and Cedar Falls.

On Friday, March 24 a Legislative Public Forum will be held at AEA 267, 3712 Cedar Heights Dr., Cedar Falls, IA. The forum will start at 4:30 p.m. and will last until 6:30 p.m.  The topic will be budgets and taxes. I look forward to seeing you all there.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live; when we are in session. All of the debates are then stored in a video archive that allows you to watch them at any time, at your convenience.

Please don’t forget to check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website BobKressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021.  You can also like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter, to stay even more connected.  I appreciate hearing from you.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

24-25 FIRST Regional Robotics Competition UNI-Dome/McLeod Center, firstinspires.org
24-4/2 Neil Simon’s Rumors Hope Martin Theatre, 7pm; Sun 2pm, 291-4494
25 Cedar Valley Baconfest McElroy Auditorium, Waterloo, 3 & 6pm, cedarvalleybaconfest.com
25 Black Hawks Hockey vs Dubuque Young Arena, Waterloo, 7pm, 291-7680
25-26 Funky Junk-a-loo Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, 9am, Waterloo, 291-2038
28 Hearst Film Series-Films by Martin Scorsese Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
28-31 Waverly Horse Sale Waverly Sales Barn, 8am, waverlysales.com
30 Final Thursday Reading Series – Julianne Couch Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
31-4/2 USA Kids & Cadets National Folkstyle Wrestling UNI-Dome, usawevents.sportngin.com/folkstylena­tionals
31 More Than You See Hilton Garden Inn, 6pm, 232-6671
4/1 Bunny Brunch Waterloo Center for the Arts, 10am, 291-4490
4/1 Fools 5K George Wyth State Park, 9am, trekmanracing.com
4/1 RodCon 17 UNI Rod Library, 10am, 273-2462
4/2 Opening Reception Developing Expressions Hearst Center, 1pm, 273-8641
4/4 Strictly Business Expo Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, Waterloo, 4pm, 232-1156
4/4 Black Hawks Hockey vs Chicago Young Arena, Waterloo, 7pm, 291-7680
4/6 Culturefest 2017 Waterloo Center for the Arts, 5pm, 291-4490
4/6 Hops on Main Downtown Cedar Falls, 5:30pm, 277-0213

Iowa’s Workers’ Compensation Legislation Moves to Senate

Iowa workers injured on the job would receive less medical care and benefits under a plan approved by Republican lawmakers in the Iowa House.

For around 100 years the Iowa’s workers’ compensation law has acted to balance the rights of employers with those of employees.  As part of the balance, if an employee is injured, they cannot sue the employer, and the employer will pay compensation benefits based on the type of injury the employee suffered while on the job.

The Republican bill, which is now being considered in the Iowa Senate, makes numerous changes to Iowa’s workers’ compensation.  In addition to limiting how long an injured worker can receive benefits, the bill reclassifies how a shoulder injury is compensated by moving the injury from a whole body injury to a scheduled injury.  This eliminates an additional benefit an injured employee may have qualified for had the injury been classified as whole body.

Employers would also be required to take into account pre-existing conditions and past injuries in determining benefits for a new injury.  Lastly, the bill no longer incentivizes employers to pay compensation benefits to injured employees on time.  As a result, injured workers may have to wait years after they were injured on the job to receive compensation benefits.

These changes would take effect on July 1, 2017, and apply to injuries and claims filed after that date.

Headaches Continue for Medicaid Privatization

A new dispute between one of the three for-profit companies managing the state’s Medicaid program and one of the state’s largest health care providers could soon leave 22,000 Iowans scrambling to find another health care provider.

After reporting millions in losses earlier this year, AmeriHealth Caritas has notified patients of the Mercy Health Network that they are having difficulty getting Mercy to agree to lower reimbursement rates for the services they provide to Iowans on Medicaid.

AmeriHealth has also informed providers that they will cut their pay for the services they provide to keep people in their home longer.  As a result, many consumers will lose the services they need to stay at home, where they want to be.  Studies have shown keeping a person in their home longer is more cost effective than a person living in a twenty-four hour care facility.

Since it began a year ago, Iowa’s Medicaid privatization has been plagued with trouble for patients and providers. Several health care providers have been forced to close their doors after lower reimbursement rates and delayed payments from the three for-profit companies now managing the state’s Medicaid program. Last summer, the Governor even agreed to pay the private companies an additional $33 million due to them not making enough money.

250,000 Iowans Lose Health Care under Federal GOP Plan

According to the Iowa Hospital Association, up to 250,000 Iowans could lose their health care coverage under a new proposal offered by President Trump and Congressional Republicans to replace the federal Affordable Care Act. The United States House of Representatives is expected to vote on the bill later this week.

Continue Reading the Statehouse News

House Approves Bill to Lower Minority Incarceration
Apprenticeship Awards Given to Iowa High Schools
Recreational Trails and Clean Air Attainment Programs Receive Funding
Stroke Data Collection

To read the rest of my Statehouse News go to:http://iowahouse.org/StatehouseNews/3-24-17

March 17, 2017

Greetings to you all,

It was another very busy week at the Capitol. This week House File 577was passed in the house 92-0. This bill helps people with Lyme disease or other tick-borne diseases find treatment by a licensed to practice health-related profession.  This is a big success for the people of Iowa with Lyme disease who had to travel out of state to seek treatments.

Another success for the people of Iowa was the passing of House File 215. This bill requires certain health insurance policies, contracts, or plans to provide coverage of applied behavior analysis for treatment of autism spectrum disorder. I’ve been advocating for Autism for some time now and I am excited that this bill finally passed the House 96-0. I’d like to thank my colleague Dave Heaton who was able to help convenience the majority party leadership to pass this bill.

Earlier this session filed a bill, House File 35, which establishes a veteran’s treatment court in each judicial district to serve veterans and integrate court sanctions and incentives with substance abuse treatment, mental health treatment, and transitional services.  Several veterans groups have been advocating for the Veterans treatment court. Not sure what will happen this year with the bill but I’m always hopeful.

The House approved a bill Monday; House File 476 that Republicans say will ensure a streamlined process for victims of cancers caused by workplace-related asbestos. Democrats fear this bill will create barriers for families in pain, are burdensome, and do little to actually help those affected. The bill sets some new filing requirements for plaintiffs and includes provisions relating to legal discovery and use of materials, identification of asbestos trust claims by the plaintiff, valuation of claims, and failure to comply with disclosure requirements. The bill passed on a vote of 56 to 39. It previously was approved by the Iowa Senate and now is headed to the governor’s desk for final approval.

On Thursday, March 16th, Representative Bob Kressig spoke to the members of the Epilepsy Foundation group.  Representative Kressig was advocating for Iowan’s to have access to medical cannabis.

At the beginning of session, Republicans were forced to trim over $100 million from the state budget to pay for their unsustainable tax giveaways to out-of-state corporations. That led to higher tuition at community colleges, job losses, and another year of anemic investment in our k-12 schools. Earlier this week the state’s non-partisan budget experts ordered Republican lawmakers and the Branstad/Reynolds Administration to fix the $131 million shortfall in the state budget. It’s the 2nd time this has happened this year.

The second cut to this years’ budget comes right after the House approved a bill to actually lower wages for 65,000 Iowans, by reducing wage for 4 counties back to $7.25, and rejecting an alternative to raise the minimum wage for the first time in a decade for over 300,000 Iowans.

Worker’s compensation bill was up for debate this Thursday.  House File 518 would punish Iowa workers’ who get injured on the job.  According to the Insurance Journal, they rank Iowa’s workers’ compensation 3rd in the nation, and overall ‘A’ grade. With this bill it increases financial hardships for those injured workers by delaying benefits, rigs the systems and favors bad employees, and burdens the taxpayers with picking up the tab for benefits owed to disabled workers by letting employers escape their responsibility.

Local Credit Unions visited with Waterloo Representatives Timi Brown-Powers, Bob Kressig and Ras Smith at the Statehouse on Wednesday, March 15.

On Wednesday, March 15th, 2017, Representative Lisa Heddens and Representative Bob Kressig met with members of the Iowa Credit Union League. Pictured above from left to right are Representative Heddens, Scott Zahnle, Representative Kressig, Andy Ask, Donald Borcherding, Kathy Burns and Shana Davison.

On Wednesday, March 15th, 2017, Representative Bob Kressig welcomed members of the Iowa Credit Union League into the House Chamber.

Wednesday, March 15, was Physicians Day on the Hill here in Des Moines. Susan Wing Lipinski, MD and Shannon Leveridge met with Representative Timi Brown-Powers and Representative Bob Kressig to advocate for women’s health issues and the tort reform.

Earlier this year the Department of Revenue had this release about their cyber security efforts and that may delay tax refunds: https://tax.iowa.gov/press-release/iowa-taxpayers-will-see-additional-protections-against-tax-related-identity-theft To give you some idea how far behind they are in paying refunds, see the daily receipts table, that shows Iowa Income Tax Refunds are down 35% year to date from this time last year.  That amounts to $124 million in refunds not being paid out compared to this same time last year: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/publications/fiscal/dailyReceipts   Here is the link to the Department of Revenue site, where people can track refunds: https://tax.iowa.gov/contact-us

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live; when we are in session. All of the debates are then stored in a video archive that allows you to watch them at any time, at your convenience.

Please don’t forget to check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website BobKressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021.  You can also like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter, to stay even more connected.  I appreciate hearing from you.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

17 Family Fun Spring Break Adventures Various Cedar Falls Locations, 268-4266
17 World’s Greatest Spring Break for Kids Various downtown Waterloo sites, worldsgreatestspringbreak.com
17 Annual Mulligan Stew Cedar Falls Woman’s Club, 5pm, 266-1431
17-19 UNI-Dome Antique and Vintage Market UNI-Dome, antiquespectacular.com
18 Black Hawks Hockey vs Chicago Young Arena, 7pm, 291-7680
20 Awards Ceremony & Opening Reception for Juried Student Art UNI Gallery of Art, 7pm, 273-6134
21 Hearst Film Series-Films by Martin 28 Scorsese Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
23-25 FIRST Regional Robotics Competition UNI-Dome/McLeod Center, firstinspires.org
24-4/2 Neil Simon’s Rumors Hope Martin Theatre, 7pm; Sun 2pm, 291-4494
25 Cedar Valley Baconfest McElroy Auditorium, Waterloo, 3 & 6pm, cedarvalleybaconfest.com 
25 Black Hawks Hockey vs Dubuque Young Arena, Waterloo, 7pm, 291-7680
25-26 Funky Junk-a-loo Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, 9am, Waterloo, 291-2038
28-31 Waverly Horse Sale Waverly Sales Barn, 8am, waverlysales.com
30 Final Thursday Reading Series – Julianne Couch Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
31-4/2 USA Kids & Cadets National Folkstyle Wrestling UNI-Dome, usawevents.sportngin.com/folkstylena¬tionals
31 More Than You See Hilton Garden Inn, 6pm, 232-6671
4/1 Bunny Brunch Waterloo Center for the Arts, 10am, 291-4490
4/1 Fools 5K George Wyth State Park, 9am, trekmanracing.com 
4/1 RodCon 17 UNI Rod Library, 10am, 273-2462
*GBPAC = Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center

State Budget Goes in Red for 2nd Time This Year

The state’s non-partisan budget experts said the state budget is in deficit again and lawmakers will have to find another $131 million to keep the state budget balanced this year.

The non-partisan Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) met on Tuesday and reduced their projected revenue for fiscal year 2017 (FY17), which ends on June 30, 2017, to $7.1 billion. The Governor and Republicans are signaling that they plan on taking the $131 million shortfall from the state’s reserve funds, which are full at $738 million.

The members of the REC noted that the growth in Iowa’s economy is slow, but we still have unprecedentedly low unemployment rates, commodity prices seem to be stabilizing, and home sales remain strong.  Two revenue items that didn’t meet their expected levels are sales taxes and income taxes.

Earlier this year, Republican lawmakers had to make an additional $114 million in budget adjustments and those have already been signed into law.

FY 2018 & 2019

For the fiscal year 2018 state budget, which the Legislature must approve before adjourning this year, budget experts told lawmakers there will be $192 million less in revenue than previously predicted with revenues totaling $7.36 billion.  After applying Iowa’s 99% expenditure limitation, the Legislature can appropriate just under $7.3 billion for FY 2018.  Fiscal year 2018 begins on July 1, 2017, and runs through June 30, 2018.

This was the first time that the REC made a prediction for FY 2019, and they predicted 3.6% growth, showing revenue at $7.6 billion.

Lower Wages for 65,000 Iowans Passes House

Instead of increasing the minimum wage, Republican lawmakers approved a bill last week that lowers wages for 65,000 Iowans.

Passed on a party line vote, the bill would preempt local ordinances on wages and products sold.  After waiting for Iowa lawmakers to act for nearly a decade, four counties have recently increased the minimum wage in their own community to finally give a boost to the lowest wage earners.  The bill, House File 295, takes away the minimum wage increases already approved in some Iowa communities.

Now set at $7.25 per hour, Iowa’s minimum wage was last increased in 2008 and every state surrounding Iowa (except Wisconsin) has increased their minimum wage above $7.25.  To meet basic living expenses, a single person in Iowa resident should make at least $13.16 an hour and that rises to $21.52 an hour for a single parent with one child.  One of the counties that took action to increase the minimum wage is Wapello County, which has the 3rd highest poverty rate in Iowa and 2nd lowest per-capita income.

The bill will now go to the Iowa Senate for further consideration.

Continue Reading the Statehouse News

State Income Tax Refund Delays
Bills Allow Schools Flexibility in Funding
Medicaid MCO Re-Enrollment Period
House Considers Bicycle Safety Bill
Hirschman to be New State Ombudsman
Emerald Ash Borer Now in 43 Iowa Counties

To read the rest of my Statehouse News go to:http://iowahouse.org/StatehouseNews/3-17-17

March 1, 2017

Greetings to you all,

This week at the Capitol two major bills were passed.  On Tuesday House File 517 was passed 58-39 which advances Iowans’ “individual, fundamental, constitutional rights” by expanding when and how guns can be used. Within this bill is the stand-your-ground measure which means a person may use reasonable force, including deadly force, if they have a reasonable belief that force is necessary to avoid injury or death of others or themselves. Also this bill allows children under 14 to handle and shoot a handgun under the supervision of a parent/guardian. Another provision within the bill is that it allows citizens to bring handguns into public buildings, including the Capitol, but it also “challenges the right of that City Council to ban weapons from the City Council chambers.” The bill now goes to the Senate where it is expected to be passed and sent to the Governor for his signature.

After debating until midnight on Wednesday, time certain was called Thursday morning which ended debate for House File 516 at 11 a.m. The bill passed 59-40. This bill makes several changes to Iowa’s elections systems and makes Iowans’ show new approved identification to vote. The reason behind this bill is to get rid of voter fraud even though Iowa is second in the nation with voter integrity. This is an expensive and long task for our auditors, pole workers, and taxpayers. Auditors have said we should be focused on updating or replacing a statewide voter registration and also stated that a photo ID is the least effective way of identify someone at the polls. This bill makes it harder for minorities, elderly, and disabled to vote, essentially suppressing the voters. Although the bill states that people without a state driver’s license are expected to receive a “free” state-issued card in the mail, those free issued card will cost the taxpayers. Those of us with a license will have to pay, essentially a poll tax.

A common theme has come up time and time again during this session: where did these bills come from and why are they coming up now? What I’ve learned in the first half of session is that the special interests are setting the agenda for Republicans at the State Capitol, not Iowans. Evidence first came to light last month when corporate special interest groups linked to the Koch Brothers ran commercials on the collective bargaining bill before it was released to lawmakers or the public. It was fast tracked through the Legislature then signed by the Governor in a private ceremony with the corporate special interest groups who helped write the bill.

Earlier this week, a group of DC corporate lobbyists, called ALEC, joined the other corporate special interest groups hosted a free breakfast for Republicans lawmakers in Des Moines.  The next day, Senate Republicans approved a bill that was word-for-word the “model” legislation given to Republicans by ALEC, which also has ties to the Koch Brothers. ALEC also gave Republicans other bills and suggestions for bills offered on voter identification, lowering wages, and even punishing hard-working Iowans injured on the job.  While it’s not surprising the corporate special interests control Washington DC., Iowans should be shocked and disappointed that they now control Republican leaders here in Iowa.

Yesterday Nathan Hoffman, a sophomore at Cedar Falls High School, participated in a job shadow day with Senator Jeff Danielson at the Capitol. I had the chance to talk with Nathan about different issues going on in session. A key bill that he is paying attention to is the legalization of fireworks. Nathan has a very bright future!

Mary Janssen from Iowa Child Care Resource and Referral was here at the Statehouse on Thursday morning. Mary was here advocating for quality child care. In the Cedar Valley, out of 31 surveyed child centers, it was found that an average waiting list was 48 children. Also in Black Hawk County alone, there is 16,306 children (birth-age 12) and only 7,722 total child care spaces.

Michaela Vandersee and Stacy Weinke from Cedar Valley Hospice met with me earlier this week. We discussed the Hospice and Palliative Care Associations of Iowa legislative agenda which included a multitude of issues. Some of those issues are physician assisted death, Medicaid managed care, and nurse compact.

UNI grad students with Iowa Speech-Language Hearing Association (ISHA) were at the Capitol this week. They were here advocating and representing speech-language pathologists and audiologists in the state of Iowa. ISHA is working to ensure all Iowans are safe, healthy, and have the ability to communicate.

On Wednesday, March 8th, 2017 Representative Bob Kressig, Representative Timi Brown-Powers and Representative Ras Smith welcomed the Blackhawk County Supervisor, Chris Schwartz to the Statehouse for the County Day at the Capitol.

On Wednesday, March 29, 2017, Maucker Student Union will host the State of Iowa PTSD Conference. From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. many faces of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder will come together while covering triggers, support, de-escalation methods, and warning signs. To learn more about this event contact Chris Kennedy at kennecad@uni.edu or call 319-273-3040

UNI students from Professor Christopher Larimer’s Iowa Politics Class were down at the Capitol. We discussed an array of issues going on here at the Statehouse including the gun bills and voter id. I enjoyed talking with these UNI students!

On Saturday, March 11, a Legislative Public Forum will be held at AEA 267, 3712 Cedar Heights Dr., Cedar Falls, IA. The forum will start at 10 a.m. and last until noon.  The topic will be water quality. I look forward to seeing you all there.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live; when we are in session. All of the debates are then stored in a video archive that allows you to watch them at any time, at your convenience.

Please don’t forget to check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website BobKressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021.  You can also like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter, to stay even more connected.  I appreciate hearing from you.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

10-12 Eastern Iowa Sport Show UNI-Dome, 232-0218
10 Trio 826 Residency Lunchtime Concert Hearst Center, noon, 273-8671
10 Library Murder Mystery: Here’s Killing You Kid CF Community Center, 5:30pm, 268-5543
11 Black Hawks Hockey vs Sioux City Young Arena, 7pm, 291-7680
11-12 Visiting Mr. Green Oster Regent Theatre, 7:30pm, 277-5283
14 Hearst Film Series-Films by Martin 21 Scorsese Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
13-17 World’s Greatest Spring Break for Kids Various downtown Waterloo sites, worldsgreatestspringbreak.com 
17 Annual Mulligan Stew Cedar Falls Woman’s Club, 5pm, 266-1431
17-19 UNI-Dome Antique and Vintage Market UNI-Dome, antiquespectacular.com
18 Black Hawks Hockey vs Chicago Young Arena, 7pm, 291-7680
20 Awards Ceremony & Opening Reception for Juried Student Art UNI Gallery of Art, 7pm, 273-6134
23-25 FIRST Regional Robotics Competition UNI-Dome/McLeod Center, firstinspires.org
24-4/2 Neil Simon’s Rumors Hope Martin Theatre, Waterloo, 7pm; Sun 2pm, 291-4494
25 Cedar Valley Baconfest McElroy Auditorium, Waterloo, 3 & 6pm, cedarvalleybaconfest.com
25 Black Hawks Hockey vs Dubuque Young Arena, Waterloo, 7pm, 291-7680
25-26 Funky Junk-a-loo Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, 9am, Waterloo, 291-2038
26 Lily Tomlin Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, 7pm, 273-4849

Republican Voter Suppression Bill Advances

A controversial bill that will make it harder for over 200,000 Iowans to vote is expected to pass the Iowa House this week. The legislation has been pushed by Republican lawmakers despite opposition from local election officials and voting rights advocates due to the new regulations and hurdles for voters.

Earlier this week, a public hearing was held at the State Capitol and over 215 Iowans signed up to speak against the bill, which impacts the elderly, disabled, and minorities the most. Iowa currently has some of the best election laws in the country, and does not have a voter fraud problem. Iowa constantly ranks near the top of every ranking for election integrity.

Under the plan offered by Republican lawmakers, Iowans would need a photo ID to vote with strict new requirements on the type of photo ID that can be used for identification.  It also makes it more difficult to get an absentee ballot and will force many Iowans to go to their county auditor’s office to ensure their vote is counted.

House Democrats offered amendments that expanded voting rights and provided options to make it easier for all Iowans to vote. Once the bill passes the House, it will go to the Senate where they are debating a similar proposal.

Mid-Year Budget Cuts Cause Waiting List at UI

In response to a $9.2 million mid-year budget cut, the University of Iowa (UI) has capped enrollment and started a waiting list for the 2017 freshman class. The budget cut at UI was approved by Republican lawmakers earlier this session as part of a larger $21 million cut to Iowa’s three state universities.

However, now the UI has started to put students on an admission wait list.  This is an effort to limit the incoming class to around 5,400 students.  Students that apply late could still be considered, depending on the number of students that are finally accepted.  Not being admitted to the university is another consequence of short-sighted Legislative budget cuts, along with higher tuition costs that students and their families will have to face.

Initially, UI announced that they would eliminate scholarships to deal with the mid-year budget cut.  That included the Iowa Heritage Award, the 2 Plus 2 Transfer Scholarship, the Community College Transfer Academic Scholarship and Tuition Scholarships for Business, Engineering and Nursing.  However, that decision was reversed by UI President Bruce Harreld.

Continue Reading the Statehouse News

Gun Legislation Moves to Senate
Changes Likely for Worker’s Injured on the Job
Results Show 4,000+ Rape Kits Untested
Urban Trout Stocking Schedule
Derelict Building Grant Applications Due Next Month

To read the rest of my Statehouse News go to:http://iowahouse.org/StatehouseNews/3-10-17

March 3, 2017

Greetings to you all,

We’ve reached another important deadline in the Legislature this week, designed to help us narrow down the bills eligible for debate, as we approach adjournment in April. The biggest news this session has been about the thousands of Iowans who have turned out at forums across the state, attended rallies, and visited the State Capitol.  They want to talk with lawmakers and have their voice heard on a number of issues brought up by Republicans this year.

We are busy working on bills that have to come out of committees to be eligible for debate. Here are some of the bills that are being discussed:

HSB 133 Stand Your Ground
HSB 169, Worker’s Compensation
SF 2 Defunding Planned Parenthood
HSB 163 Eliminating the Bottle Bill
HSB 92 Eliminating Local Control

Three public hearings are scheduled for Monday, March 6th, at the State Capitol :

Des Moines Water Works (HF 316)
10 – 11 AM in Supreme Court Chamber
Sign up here: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/committees/publicHearings?meetingID=25070&action=viewOnlineSignup

Removing local control of Local Governments (HF 295)
5 – 6:30 pm in Supreme Court Chamber
Sign Up here: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/committees/publicHearings?meetingID=25097&action=viewOnlineSignup

Photo ID required for voting (HSB 93)
7-8:30 pm in Supreme Court Chamber
Sign Up Here: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/committees/publicHearings?meetingID=25098&action=viewOnlineSignup

This Wednesday, I had the opportunity to visit with UNI students that are involved with the Iowa Politics program. I was so impressed with the discussions we had, regarding state and federal issues.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live; when we are in session. All of the debates are then stored in a video archive that allows you to watch them at any time, at your convenience.

Please don’t forget to check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website BobKressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021.  You can also like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter, to stay even more connected.  I appreciate hearing from you.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

3/3-5 The Fox on the Fairway Oster Regent, 7:30pm, Sun 2pm, 277-5283
3/4-5 Maple Syrup Festival Cedar Heights School, 7am, 277-2187
3/4 Membership Tea Cedar Falls Woman’s Club, 2pm, 266-1431
3/4-5 MAC Wrestling Championships McLeod Center, 273-4849
3/4 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Missouri State 8pm, 273-4849
3/4 Beauty and the Beast Tea Party Snowden House, Waterloo, 10am, 234-6357
3/7,14 Hearst Film Series-Films by Martin Scorsese Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
3/8 Trio 826 Residency Concert Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
3/10-12 Eastern Iowa Sportshow UNI-Dome, 232-0218
3/10 Trio 826 Residency Lunchtime Concert Hearst Center, noon, 273-8671
3/11 Black Hawks Hockey vs Sioux City Young Arena, 7pm, 291-7680
3/11-12 Visiting Mr. Green Oster Regent Theatre, 7:30pm, 277-5283
3/13-17 World’s Greatest Spring Break for Kids Various downtown Waterloo sites, worldsgreatestspringbreak.com
3/17 Annual Mulligan Stew Cedar Falls Woman’s Club, 5pm, 266-1431
3/17-19 UNI-Dome Antique and Vintage Market UNI-Dome, antiquespectacular.com 
3/18 Black Hawks Hockey vs Chicago Young Arena, 7pm, 291-7680

Lower Wages on the Way for 65,000 Iowans

Lower wages are likely on the way for 65,000 Iowans as Republican leaders in the House are pushing a host of bills that strip local governments in Iowa from making their own decisions.

Already approved by the House Local Government Committee, the most controversial bill would preempt local ordinances on civil rights, wages and products sold.  The bill, House File 295, would lower wages for 65,000 Iowans by taking away the minimum wage increases already approved in some Iowa communities.

Now set at $7.25 per hour, Iowa’s minimum wage was last increased in 2008 and every state surrounding Iowa (except Wisconsin) has increased their minimum wage above $7.25.  To meet basic living expenses, a single person in Iowa resident should make at least $13.16 an hour and that rises to $21.52 an hour for a single parent with one child.

Another part of the bill rolls back local civil rights protections that are different from the state.  Proponents say the bill is necessary because a few cities have now passed an ordinance that bans landlords and property managers from discriminating against Iowans who use low-income assistance housing vouchers.  However, the bill also goes beyond just this case and would roll back other ordinances in communities to prevent discrimination in housing, education, and employment.

It’s unclear when the bill will be debated by the full House as lawmakers are waiting for Republican leaders to schedule a public hearing on the bill.

Republican Voter Suppression Bill Moves to House Floor

Despite opposition from local election officials and voting rights activists across the state, Republican lawmakers passed legislation late Tuesday that could potentially disenfranchise over 200,000 Iowans. The legislation would implement new regulations and hurdles for Iowa voters who want to participate in our democracy.

The new regulations proposed by Republican lawmakers will make it especially difficult for minority, elderly, students, and Iowans with disabilities to participate and guarantee their voice is heard in electing their officials.  While the House Republican Majority claims this will not have a disproportionate impact on certain voters, they refused to accept a provision that would study the impact of the new regulations on potential disenfranchised voters.

Before the bill will be debated on the House floor, there will be a public hearing where Iowans can voice their concerns over the new hurdles voters will face. Iowa has a long history of being a voter-friendly state and the system currently in place is a model for the country.

According to the independent Election Integrity Project, Iowa has the second highest score in the country for election integrity.

Continue Reading the Statehouse News

Great Iowa Treasure Hunt
Bill Targeting Des Moines Waterworks Advances
Small Step for Medical Cannabidiol
Electronic Application for Search Warrants

To read the rest of my Statehouse News go to:http://iowahouse.org/StatehouseNews/3-3-17

February 24, 2017

Greetings to you all,

As many of you know I am an avid cyclist, riding 30 RAGBRAI’s and in 2015, I rode from Iowa City to Washington DC. The House Transportation  Committee has been working on a bill, HSB 130, that would make it safer for bicyclists to ride. The bill would require cyclists have a light on their bike, require vehicles when passing a bicycle to move to the left using the opposite travel lane and tighter laws, if a cyclist was to be hit by a car. Hopefully, the bill will come out of committee for a vote on the floor.

Roger White, Mary McInnis Meyer and Scott Bradfield came to the Capitol to talk about bicycle safety. The proposal they are advocating for would require vehicles when passing a bicycle to move to the left, using the opposite travel lane.

Also this week in Public Safety committee, I am on another bill, HSB 132, which would make access to medical cannabis legal in Iowa. Making medical cannabis legal would help people affected by epileptic seizures, multiple sclerosis, cancer, PTSD and many other diseases. This bill would not legalize recreational marijuana but only allows cannabis oil for medical treatment. In 2014, Iowa approved a marijuana oil program for the treatment of epilepsy, however, that expires this summer. I’m hoping that my colleagues and Iowan’s see the importance and need of this bill.

Eric Eastman, University of Northern Iowa social work grad student, was down here with the National Association of Social Workers this week.  Eric is a Veteran and served in Iraq in 2005 and after returning, received his service dog, Trump. She was named Trump, after the ace of spades because Trump trumps his PTSD disability. Eric and I talked about an array of things, from more and better Veteran support, to his work in social work. It was great talking with him and thank you for your service, Eric!

Tuesday morning AARP was at the Capitol! Representative Bob Kressig met with Jim Stonewall, Gordon Waldon, and Ro Foege. They were here advocating for the Iowa’s CARE Act, which supports family caregivers as they safely help Iowa seniors stay at home.

Tuesday was also the Iowa Coalition against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Day at the Capitol. Both the Cedar Valley Friends of the Family and the Riverview Center were here advocating to keep their state funding for victim services, as well as civil protection order to sexual assault victims. (Top picture CVFF and bottom Riverview Center)

The Allen Child Protection Center in Waterloo first opened their doors in 2010 and today I currently serve on their Advisory Board.  The Child Protection Center  model saves over $1,000 per investigated case due to the coordinated efforts of law enforcement, the Department of Human Services, prosecutors and other multi-disciplinary team members. In 2016, the Allen Child Protection Center alone saw 474 patients, saving Iowa taxpayers nearly half a million dollars. All of the Iowa Child Protection/Advocacy Centers combined save millions of dollars through this coordinated effort each year, based off this statistic (Shadoin, 2006).

Friday, February 24, 2017, there will be a Legislative Public Forum held at the AEA 267 located at 3712 Cedar Heights Dr. in Cedar Falls. The forum topic will be Medicaid throughout the state. During the forum, the public will have the opportunity for questions to be asked of legislators. The forum starts at 4:30 p.m. and will last until 6:30 pm.  I hope to see you there.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live; when we are in session. All of the debates are then stored in a video archive that allows you to watch it at any time, at your convenience.

Please don’t forget to check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website BobKressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums; you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. Like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter to stay even more connected.  I appreciate hearing from you.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

On Thursday, February 16th, students from the Cedar Valley Catholic Schools hosted an event at the Statehouse. Representative Bob Kressig and Representative Timi Brown-Powers attended the event where students spoke against puppy mills and the need to enforce regulations on breeding animals in a humane way.

Upcoming Community Events

24 Black Hawks Hockey vs Bloomington Young Arena, Waterloo, 7pm, 291-7680
24 Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild GBPAC, 7pm, 273-4849
24,25 Bridge to Terabithia McElroy Theatre, Waterloo, Fri 7pm, Sat 2pm, 291-4494
24-26 The Fox on the Fairway Oster Regent, 7:30pm, Sun 2pm, 277-5283
25 UNI Men’s Basketball vs Illinois State McLeod Center, 1pm, 273-4849
25 Black Hawks Hockey vs Omaha Young Arena, 7pm, 291-7680
25 Robots of Innovations in Textiles and Apparel UNI Latham Hall, 10am, cedarvalleyrobotweek.com 
25-26 MVC Indoor Track & Field Championship UNI-Dome, 273-7050
25 Parmalee Cattle Congress Grounds, Waterloo, 7pm, 234-7575
25 Construction Simulation Semi John Deere Museum south parking lot, 10am, cedarvalleyrobotweek.com 
25 Meet Baxter, The Collaborative Robot John Deere Museum, 10am, cedarvalleyrobotweek.com 
25 Wcfsymphony Four Seasons II Brown Derby, Waterloo, 5 & 8:30pm, 273-3373
28 Hearst Film Series-Unconventional Love Stories Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
28-3/2 Hawkeye Farm Show UNI-Dome, 9am, farmshowsusa.com 
28 Mama Mia! GBPAC, 7pm, 273-4849
3/2-4 Spring Kick-Off Weekend Downtown Cedar Falls, 10am, 277-0213
3/2 Taste Of’ Loo Downtown Waterloo, 5:30pm, 291-2038

Voucher Plan Will Divert Money from Public Schools

After already changing Iowa’s law that puts public schools first, Republican lawmakers are now considering a bill that would shift hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars from public schools to homeschools and private schools instead.

Senate File 29 would create new Education Savings Accounts, or vouchers, funded by state tax dollars that could be used for students to go to homeschools or private schools.  If fully implemented, the total cost of the Republican bill would be over $200 million annually.  The bill is being supported by private and home school advocates who have already started running television ads.

In Iowa, 92 percent of students attend public schools and current state funding for public schools is well below the national average.  The state also already provides $52 million for students who attend non-public schools.

For the facts on the Republican voucher plan, log on to www.parentsforgreatiowaschools.com.

Bill Eliminating Iowa Worker’s Rights Signed into Law

In just over a week, Republicans at the State Capitol unraveled 40 years of teachers, firefighters, law enforcement, and other working Iowans having a voice in their own workplace.

After the bill was signed in to law on Friday, a lawsuit was filed by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) challenging the constitutionality of the legislation because it does not treat all public workers the same.

Written behind closed doors without input from Iowa workers, House File 291 guts public sector collective bargaining rights and returns working Iowans to a system where the political party in power has the right to decide the fate of all public employees.  Under the new law, teachers, nurses, and other working Iowans are prohibited from discussing workplace conditions and how their job is done.

Last week, Republicans ignored the thousands of Iowans who showed up to the Capitol to make their concerns heard and refused to listen to the people who contacted them through email, phone, and in person at packed legislative forums.  After it passed on Thursday, Governor Branstad signed the bill the next morning in a private ceremony closed to the public, but open to corporate-backed special interest lobbyists.

As the bill was fast tracked by Republicans, many bargaining units across the state quickly negotiated and approved new agreements before the new law took effect. Now that the bill has been signed, any contracts that were being negotiated and not completed must start over under the new provisions of the bill.

Continue Reading the Statehouse News

Republican Budget Cuts Lead to Higher Tuition at Community Colleges
Chief Justice Cady Warns of Dire Financial Circumstances
Veterans Trust Fund Addressing Homelessness
Steps Taken to Clarify Role of Motor Vehicle Enforcement Officers
Civics Quiz Could Be Graduation Requirement
Small Community Water Quality Help Available

To read the rest of my Statehouse News go to:http://iowahouse.org/StatehouseNews/2-24-17

February 17, 2017

Greetings to you all,

Since the Iowa House and Senate Republicans released their bill to strip away rights from teachers, firefighters, nurses, law enforcement and many other public workers last week, thousands of Iowans have turned out at rallies and forums across the state to voice their opposition to the bill. On Sunday, there were over 1,000 Iowans at the March for Teachers.

On Monday, there was a public hearing for the bill, 4,500 packed the State Capitol to speak out against the bill while only three corporate-sponsored lobbyists and just one other person spoke in favor of the bill.

And that’s in addition to record crowds at forums and events in Cedar Falls, Mason City, Bettendorf, Postville, Independence, and Ankeny.
We also learned this week that the bill was written behind closed doors with support from dark money specials interest groups, including the Koch Brothers & other out of state corporations. After they successfully convinced Republicans to turn over another $500 million in corporate tax giveaways this year, their goal now is to blame teachers, law enforcement, and other Iowans for the state’s budget troubles.

As the debate on the bill wraps up today, more opposition keeps building as Iowans learn more details and find out about the unintended consequences. Schools leaders believe the bill goes way too far and are even sending out emails to teachers and employees to calm fears. Correctional officers who deal with dangerous criminals are shocked to learn Republicans don’t actually consider them public safety workers any longer. Iowans are also surprised they heard nothing from Republicans during the campaign on about these drastic changes.

When Iowa’s collective bargaining law was originally passed, it took two years of bi-partisan work and public negotiations. This year, Republicans took no input from Iowans and want to re-write the law to take away that collaborative approach in a week. Similar to Wisconsin, it’s a big change for working families and 185,000 Iowans at least deserve to have their questions answered. Republicans have clearly decided that their corporate agenda is more important than listening to Iowans and working together this year.

HF291 passed with a vote 53-47. It was an emotional day at the Capitol. I want to say thank you for everyone that has called, emailed, or written into me and all the other legislators. I will continue to fight for the people of Iowa.

Monday, February 13, was UNI Day on the Hill. The University of Northern Iowa filled the Rotunda with different student organizations as well as professors advocating for programs and areas throughout the University.

Representative Bob Kressig speaking with UNI faculty with the Center for Educational Tranformation during UNI Day on the Hill.

Representative Bob Kressig was pleased to have students and faculty to the Statehouse for UNI Day on the Hill.

On Monday, February 13th, 2017, the University of Northern Iowa Day on the Hill was held. Representative Bob Kressig spoke with UNI students, Amanda Lanser, and Amelia Miller. They spoke about continuing the support of higher education.

On Monday, February 13th, 2017, the University of Northern Iowa Day on the Hill was held. Representative Bob Kressig introduced UNI President, Mark Nook to the House Chamber.

On Monday, February 13th, 2017, the University of Northern Iowa Day on the Hill was held. Representative Bob Kressig introduced UNI President, Mark Nook, to the House Chamber. Pictured are Representative Kressig, UNI, President, Mark Nook, and his spous Cheryl.

On Monday, February 13th, 2017, the University of Northern Iowa Day on the Hill was held. Representative Bob Kressig met with UNI students to talk about the importance of higher education.

A new poll out this week found 77 percent of Iowans back funding for health care services at Planned Parenthood, not including abortion. Both federal and state law already prohibits tax dollars from being used for abortion. The Iowa House introduced a bill this week that would outlaw several common forms of birth control and prohibit all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest.

Holmes Jr. High Afterschool Alliance stopped in for a visit today. Mr. Welter, Noah, Jacoby, Lillie, Zoe, Jacob, Lily and Mr. Bower were here advocating for after school funding and continued support of STEM.

Iowa STEM Day at the Capitol was Thursday and Cedar Falls Community School District was in attendance. Molly, Noah and Mr. Kenton Swartley represented the 525 Swartdogs. 525 Swartdogs provides hands on experiences for all students interested in the robotics program and they work closely with students to encourage and motivate them in the areas of math, science, technology, and engineering.

Did you know that there are over 15,000 dogs living in puppy mills throughout the state? On Thursday, February 16, 7th grade Service-Learning students from Blessed Maria Assunta Pallotta Catholic Middle School in Waterloo Iowa, were at the Capitol. The students gave the Pledge of Allegiance in the House Chambers as well as advocating for animal welfare in the state of Iowa. Of the top 4 dog-producing states, Iowa is the only state without state-level oversight and with 43% of the Iowa USDA licensed breeders were cited for violations of the Animal Welfare Act in 2016. For more information and how to get involved go to www.iowavca.org 

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live; when we are in session. All of the debates are then stored in a video archive that allows you to watch it at any time, at your convenience.

Please don’t forget to check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website BobKressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums; you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. Like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter to stay even more connected.  I appreciate hearing from you.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

17-18 Tallcorn Jazz Festival UNI Bengtson Auditorium, 273-2028
17,18 Bridge to Terabithia McElroy 24,25 Theatre, Waterloo, Fri 7pm, Sat 2pm, 291-4494
17 A Sweet Night Out Lampost Theatre, 7pm, 277-8034
17 Black Hawks Hockey vs Sioux Falls Young Arena, 7pm, 291-7680
17-19 Eastern Iowa Home Improvement & Landscaping Show Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, 232-0218
17-18 Coors Bull Riding Classic McElroy Auditorium, Waterloo, 234-7515
18 Blues Blowout Electric Park, Waterloo, 7pm, iowapublicradio.org 
19 Black Hawks Hockey vs Lincoln Stars Young Arena, 3pm, 291-7680
19 Drumline Live GBPAC, 2pm, 273-4849
21 Hearst Film Series-Unconventional 28 Love Stories Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
23 Opening Reception Cedar Falls Fire Rescue: 150 Years Exhibit Carriage House Museum, 4pm, 266-5149
23 Final Thursday Reading Series – Rachel Morgan Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
24 Black Hawks Hockey vs Bloomington Young Arena, Waterloo, 7pm, 291-7680
24 Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild GBPAC, 7pm, 273-4849
24-26 The Fox on the Fairway Oster Regent, 7:30pm, Sun 2pm, 277-5283
25 UNI Men’s Basketball vs Illinois State McLeod Center, 1pm, 273-4849
25 Black Hawks Hockey vs Omaha Young Arena, 7pm, 291-7680
25-26 MVC Indoor Track & Field Championship UNI-Dome, 273-7050
25 Parmalee Cattle Congress Grounds, Waterloo, 7pm, 234-7575
*GBPAC = Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts

Republicans Fast Track Bill to Take Away Bargaining Rights from Teachers, Law Enforcement & Nurses

Over 4,500 Iowans packed the State Capitol on Monday night to speak out against a Republican bill that would deny teachers, firefighters, law enforcement, nurses, and other workers a voice in their own workplace. The bill also met fierce resistance over the weekend at town halls and public forums across Iowa.

Written behind closed doors without input from Iowa workers, the bill being considered by Republicans would essentially gut Iowa’s bi-partisan collective bargaining law and take away rights from nearly 200,000 Iowans.  Current state law requires Iowans and public employers (school, city, county, state, etc.) to sit down and work together to discuss issues and reach mutually agreeable solutions in the workplace.

Many lawmakers oppose the changes proposed by Republicans and believe law enforcement officers, firefighters, teachers, nurses, and other Iowa workers deserve fairness and a voice in their own workplace.

The House and Senate are both debated the bill this week and it may end up on the Governor’s desk by the end of the week.

House Republicans Move to Reduce Health Care Access

After being approved by the Iowa Senate last month, Republicans who control the Iowa House are moving a bill that will leave thousands of Iowa women without access to critical health care services like cancer screenings, birth control, and STD tests.

A new poll out this week found 77% of Iowans support using state funding for family planning services provided by Planned Parenthood.  Under current federal and state law, no public funding can used to cover abortion services.

The bill will eliminate Iowa’s family planning Medicaid program, defund Planned Parenthood, and then take money from foster care in an attempt to cover a portion of the millions in federal funds Iowa will lose if it passes.

Specifically, the bill withdraws the state of Iowa from using the Medicaid Family Planning Waiver to cover family planning services.  The waiver works like regular fee-for-service Medicaid.  Any provider that provides approved family planning services may receive reimbursement for those services.  Over 800 provider locations in Iowa are registered with the Department of Human Services to receive funding from the Medicaid Waiver, and as of December of 2016, there were over 12,200 Iowans receiving services covered by the waiver.

The services covered by the waiver include:

•    Pap tests
•    Birth control counseling
•    Pelvic Exams
•    Pregnancy tests
•    Voluntary sterilization
•    Emergency contraception
•    Limited STD testing and treatment
•    Ultrasounds (if medically necessary and related to birth control services)
•    Yeast infection treatment
•    Multiple forms of birth control

In addition, the cost of the services covered by the waiver is split between federal and state funding.  The State of Iowa only pays 10% of the costs, while the federal government pays 90% of the costs.  As a result, with the elimination of Iowa using the Medicaid Family Planning Waiver, the State of Iowa will have to pay an additional $5 million over the next two years to maintain the program with state-only funds.

The bill now moves to the House Human Resources Committee for consideration.

Continue Reading the Statehouse News

Voter ID Bill Introduced in the Iowa House
Changes to Deer Tagging Regulations
IAble Program Launched
Courts Establish Pilot Project to Help Resolve Family Situations

To read the rest of my Statehouse News go to:http://iowahouse.org/StatehouseNews/2-17-17

February 10, 2017

Greetings to you all,

On Monday, February 6, there was a public hearing held for HSB 55 / HF 136 dealing with state funding for the K-12 supplemental state aid. I heard from teachers and administrators from across the state sharing their concerns with the 1.1% supplemental state aid proposal. There were many concerns, some being that school districts will not be able to hire staff even if enrollment increases, higher class sizes, property tax increases, wont be able to purchase textbooks and computers, supplies, etc.; all necessary items in order for students to succeed.

I was very disappointed that this meeting was held at 11 a.m. on a Monday and the fact that the meeting was held in a small room at the capitol. This made it difficult for Iowans who were unable to attend because of work commitments, to share their inputs to what the cuts would do to public education within the state.  Senate File 166 ended up passing with the house staying until 11:30 p.m. on Monday night.  It then went to Governor Branstad and he signed it into law that provides the lowest amount of school funding in six years. It also means low state investment in public schools will continue for another year, as six of the last seven years under Republican control have produced historic low funding levels for public schools.

Hundreds of Iowan’s came and rallied at the capitol to oppose HSB 84. The bill as proposed would eliminate collective bargaining for public sector employees. Police officers and state troopers putting their lives on the line every day to protect us, nurses taking care of your spouse, parents or children. Teachers and coaches in your school district, correctional officers working at one of the state prisons, snow plow drivers working all night during a blizzard to keep our streets and highways safer,  and veterans who have served in combat but have returned home and now serve their local community.

After it was unveiled on Tuesday, Branstad and Republicans are now trying to fast track the bill through the Legislature. The hundreds of Iowans that came to the Capitol this week to have their voice heard were shut out by Republicans who don’t want to hear from Iowans or even consider the unintended consequences.  I believe that law enforcement officers, firefighters, teachers, nurses, and other Iowa workers deserve fairness and a voice in their own workplace.

This past week the Speaker of the House and her Republican colleagues just brought the hammer down, making the Iowa House of Representatives the only legislative body in the nation to infringe on the First Amendment rights of its own members. New rule passed on a party-line vote bans the use of visual aids in debate, except those approved by the Speaker herself. I don’t even think Congress does that.  I guess that means I can’t use pictures, graphs or anything to illustrate something that is good or bad with a bill.

After the Branstad/Reynolds Administration privatized Medicaid last year, thousands of Iowans with disabilities found out this week they will likely receive fewer services as one of the private companies informed providers they plan to cut their reimbursement rates.

Black Hawk County Attorney, Brian J. Williams, stopped in for a visit with Iowa State Representative Ras Smith, Representative Timi Brown-Powers, and Representative Bob Kressig. They talked about the judicial courts, how budget cuts will have an impact on drug courts, and the court systems providing services for Iowan’s.

Senator Jeff Danielson and Representative Bob Kressig met today with NAIFA members from Black Hawk County. Dave Beaty, Blake Bishop, Dick Dobson and Greg Nicoll were at the State Capitol advocating for 403(b) contributions and senior financial protection.

Professional Developers of Iowa (PDI) Grow Iowa Day at the Capitol was Wednesday, February 9th. Representative Kressig stopped at the UNI booth to talk about their legislative agenda. A few things on their agenda include small business and entrepreneurship support and enhancing Iowa.

Did you know 5 out of 7 homes in Iowa have an unacceptable level of radon, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health? Radon is an odorless, colorless radioactive soil gas that is the second-leading cause of lung cancer and the leading cause of lung cancer among those who quit smoking decades ago and those who have never smoked. Radon levels are not constant.  That’s why they need to be checked at least every two years even when you have a mitigation system. You can purchase a test kit at a hardware store, or you call your county health department as many have inexpensive test kits to give away or sell at a low cost. The Iowa Radon Hotline is another great resource. You can call them at 800-383-5992 to order a test kit for $15. They will also answer any questions you might have. Watch this video from the University of Iowa to learn more about radon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fuzl3Nb_ah0

On Tuesday, February 7, 2017 Representative Bob Kressig attended the Iowa Association of Councils of Government Legislative Breakfast. The Representatives met with the Executive Director of the Iowa Northland Regional Council of Governments, Kevin Blanshan. They discussed the importance of regional economic funding to support rural Iowa communities and governments.

On Tuesday, February 7, 2017 Representative Ras Smith, Senator Bill Dotzler, Representative Bob Kressig, Senator Jeff Danielson, and Representative Timi Brown-Powers attended the YMCA Legislative Breakfast. The Representatives and Senators met with the CEO of the Black Hawk County YMCA, Angie Widner.

Saturday, February 11, 2017, there will be a Legislative Public Forum held at the AEA 267 located at 3712 Cedar Heights Dr. in Cedar Falls. The forum topic will be education throughout the state. During the forum, the public will have the opportunity for questions to be asked of legislators. The forum starts at 10 a.m. and will last until noon.  I hope to see you there.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live; when we are in session. All of the debates are then stored in a video archive that allows you to watch it at any time, at your convenience.

Please don’t forget to check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website BobKressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums; you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. Like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter to stay even more connected.  I appreciate hearing from you.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

9-11 Northern Festival of Bands GBPAC, 273-2028
10 UNI Women’s Basketball vs. Bradley McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
11 Valentine’s Tea Snowden House, Waterloo, 10am, 234-6357
11 Black Hawks Hockey vs. Cedar Rapids Young Arena, 7pm, 291-7680
11-12 Palette of Possibility Strayer-Wood Theatre, Feb 11 10:30am & 2pm; Feb 12 1 & 4pm. 273-6386
11 Cedar Valley Chamber Music Valentine’s Serenade Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
12 UNI Women’s Basketball vs. Illinois State McLeod Center, 2pm, 273-4849
12 Dan + Shay GBPAC, 7pm, 273-4849
14 Hearst Film Series-Unconventional Love Stories Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
15 UNI Men’s Basketball vs. Bradley McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
17-18 Tallcorn Jazz Festival UNI Bengtson Auditorium, 273-2028
17,18 Bridge to Terabithia McElroy 24,25 Theatre, Waterloo, Fri 7pm, Sat 2pm, 291-4494
17 Black Hawks Hockey vs. Sioux Falls Young Arena, 7pm, 291-7680
17-19 Eastern Iowa Home Improvement & Landscaping Show Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, 232-0218
17-18 Coors Bull Riding Classic McElroy Auditorium, Waterloo, 234-7515
18 Blues Blowout Electric Park, Waterloo, 7pm, iowapublicradio.org 
19 Black Hawks Hockey vs. Lincoln Stars Young Arena, 3pm, 291-7680
19 Drumline Live GBPAC, 2pm, 273-4849
23 Opening Reception Cedar Falls Fire Rescue: 150 Years Exhibit Carriage House Museum, 4pm, 266-5149

Teachers, Law Enforcement & Nurses Targeted by Republicans

Hundreds of teachers, law enforcement, nurses, and other working families packed the State Capitol this week in an effort to stop a Republican bill that would deny workers a voice in their own workplace. The bill is expected to move quickly next week with debate and a public hearing.

Originally passed to stop strikes, Iowa’s bi-partisan collective bargaining law gives workers a say in their own workplace and has served Iowans well for more than 40 years. It simply requires Iowans and their public employer (school, city, county, etc.) to sit down and work together to discuss issues and reach mutually agreeable solutions in the workplace.

The divisive issue is just the latest in a series of bills offered by Republicans, who believe teachers, firefighters, and law enforcement officials are overpaid and underworked.

Many lawmakers oppose the changes proposed by Republicans and believe law enforcement officers, firefighters, teachers, nurses, and other Iowa workers deserve fairness and a voice in their own workplace.

Iowans can participate in the public hearing at the State Capitol on Monday night at 6 pm by signing up at: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/committees/publicHearings?action=viewOnlineSignup&meetingID=24398.

House Follows Through on Record Low State Aid for Schools

Students in K-12 schools will likely find higher class sizes and fewer opportunities next year. That’s after Republican lawmakers approved their plan for another historic low increase in basic funding for public schools on Monday.  The level of funding approved is the lowest amount in six years.

Before the bill was approved late on Monday night, more than 200 Iowa superintendents, teachers and parents packed the State Capitol to speak out against the Republican bill.   Iowans told lawmakers there will be severe consequences of inadequate public school funding again next year.

A survey of Iowa superintendents found low state investment in education again this year would force them to raise class sizes, cut teachers, and reduce opportunities for students.  They also said underfunding schools again next year would force them to delay purchases for books or classroom materials, delay new technology, and cut back on literacy programs.

When offered an opportunity to provide adequate funding that would avoid these consequences, the plan was rejected on a party line vote.  Republican lawmakers also rejected the Governor’s school funding plan.

Despite the Republican bill being half the amount of basic aid the Governor recommended, it was signed into law on Wednesday.

Continue Reading the Statehouse News

Early Childhood Report Shows Positive Effects for Families
Maintaining Your Current Medication
Protecting Victims from Stalkers
Chronic Wasting Disease: A Threat to Iowa’s Deer Population
Livestock Master Matrix Adopted by Counties Across the State

To read the rest of my Statehouse News go to:http://iowahouse.org/StatehouseNews/2-10-17

February 3, 2017

Greetings to you all,

While already a year late, Republican lawmakers released their school funding plan this week and it is bad news for kids in Iowa’s public schools. The increase of 1.1% next year is the lowest amount in six years. The legislature commitment to public schools has been the worst in Iowa history for seven of the last eight years.

After years of underfunding, we know schools have reached the tipping point and more schools will close, if the plan is approved.  Iowa superintendents said a few weeks ago in a survey that any funding increase at 2% or less would force schools to: raise class size (71%); layoff teachers (61%); delay textbook purchases (65%); and reduce class offerings for kids (58%). It’s no coincidence the Republicans are now spending over $500 million in new corporate tax giveaways starting this year while their funding plan for half a million public school kids is less than 1/10th of that for next year.

A report out this week from the Des Moines Register found there are $12.1 billion in tax credits and exemptions in Iowa, which is larger than the entire state budget. According to a report from 2014, Iowa has 373 different exemptions and credits on the books today.

On Tuesday, January 31, 2017, Major General Timothy Orr gave his Condition of the Iowa National Guard speech in a joint session at the Capitol. Orr praised Camp Dodge in Johnston, which is currently the third busiest National Guard training base in the United States. Within the past year, Camp Dodge generated more than $100 million in economic impact to central Iowa and has brought in more than $353 million in federal funding to Iowa, which is 97 percent of his department’s budget. Orr also stated that later this year there will be several remodeling projects  around the state and will be building new structures in Sioux City and Davenport. To read the entire speech click here.

Wednesday, Autism Speaks rallied at the Capitol. The Autism Society of Iowa visited and came to advocate for funding for therapy treatments and an Autism insurance reform.

Iowa Realtors Bus-In Day was Wednesday, February 1, 2017. Realtors from all over the state arrived and lobbied for the Home Savings Accounts. Representative Kressig had the opportunity to sit with some of the Northeast Iowa Regions Board of Realtors. They have over 650 Realtor members and serve 13 counties in the northeast corner of the state.

This week, Representative Walt Rogers, Representative Timi Brown-Powers and Representative Kressig met with Hawkeye Community College President, Dr. Linda Allen, and Vice President of Institutional Advancement, Kathy Flynn. They were here advocating for state funding for community colleges in Iowa.

On Wednesday, February 1st, Representative Timi Brown-Powers and Representative Kressig met with Occupational Therapy students from Allen College. These students were advocating for an array of things, such as the Rural HealthCare Loan Repayment Plan and occupational therapy as a mental health provider.

The Hearst Center for the Arts will host “Kirk Hovenga: New Landscapes,” from Feb. 4, 2017 through Mar. 19, 2017. There will be an artist reception from 1:30 to 3p.m. Sat., Feb. 4, with wine and refreshments served. The reception is free and open to the public. Dumont artist, Kirk Hovenga was drawn by fond memories to return to his grandfather’s hometown. His paintings portray the enduring beauty of rural Iowa landscape touched by agriculture. The James & Meryl Hearst Center for the Arts is located at 304 West Seerley Boulevard in Cedar Falls. More information on the Hearst Center and its programs is available at www.TheHearst.org, by calling the Hearst Center at (319) 273-8641, or follow the Hearst on Facebook.
As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live; when we are in session. All of the debates are then stored in a video archive that allows you to watch it at any time, at your convenience.

Please don’t forget to check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website BobKressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums; you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. Like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter to stay even more connected.  I appreciate hearing from you.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

2/3-5 UNI Overseas Recruitment Fair Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, Waterloo, 7am, 273-2083
2/3, 4 Pippin GBPAC, Friday 7pm, Saturday 2 & 7pm, 273-4849
2/3, 4 Black Hawks Hockey vs Tri-City Young Arena, 7pm, 291-7680
2/4-5 Iowa Soccer Association Boy’s Indoor Soccer Championships UNI-Dome, iowasoccer.org 
2/4 UNI Men’s Basketball vs Indiana State McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
2/4 Candlelight Ski, Waverly Rail Trail, Kwik Star, 400 E. Bremmer, 5-7pm, 352-9129
2/7, 14 Hearst Film Series-Unconventional 21, 28 Love Stories Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
2/8 UNI Men’s Basketball vs Southern Illinois McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
2/9 Downtown Delights Downtown Cedar Falls, 5pm, 277-0213
2/9-11 Northern Festival of Bands GBPAC, 273-2028
2/10 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Bradley McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
2/11 Black Hawks Hockey vs Cedar Rapids Young Arena, 7pm, 291-7680
2/11-12 Palette of Possibility Strayer-Wood Theatre, Feb 11 10:30am & 2pm; Feb 12 1 & 4pm. 273-6386
2/11 Cedar Valley Chamber Music Valentine’s Serenade Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
2/12 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Illinois State McLeod Center, 2pm, 273-4849
2/12 Dan + Shay GBPAC, 7pm, 273-4849
2/15 UNI Men’s Basketball vs Bradley McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
2/17-18 Tallcorn Jazz Festival UNI Bengtson Auditorium, 273-2028

Republican School Plan Lowest in Six Years; Public Hearing Set

Republican leaders in the House and Senate are fast tracking their plan for another historic low increase in basic funding for public schools next year.  The level of funding proposed at 1.1% next year is the lowest amount in six years.  In fact, seven of the last eight years have been the lowest funding levels in the history of the school aid formula.

Last week, Iowa superintendents said there are severe consequences of inadequate public school funding again next year. The school leaders said they will be forced to raise class sizes, cut teachers, and reduce opportunities for students.  They also said underfunding schools again next year would force them to delay purchases for books or classroom materials (65%); delay new technology (24%); and cut back on literacy programs (27%).

Public Hearing Scheduled

To get additional feedback for this crucial decision before the Iowa House votes, Democratic lawmakers called for a special public hearing at the State Capitol.  While Republican leaders set the public hearing at a time when many Iowans can’t participate, it will still be held at 11 am on Monday, February 6th in the Supreme Court Chamber.   Iowans can sign up to speak by calling 515-281-5129 or online at https://www.legis.iowa.gov/committees/publicHearings?action=viewOnlineSignup&meetingID=24223.

Since many Iowans will be unable to participate, a petition has been launched so Iowans can show their support for kids in public schools.  Sign the petition at http://www.iowahouse.org/petition.

The bill, House File 136, is likely to be debated by the Iowa Senate later this week and the Iowa House next week.

Iowa Condition of the Guard Address

As part of his annual Condition of the Guard, the Adjutant General, Major General Orr spoke of the continued work of the Iowa National Guard.  Approximately 18,000 soldiers and airmen from the Iowa National Guard have been mobilized around the globe since the start of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.

Today, more than 40% of the Iowa National Guard soldiers and airmen are combat veterans.  This is the highest percentage in the organization’s modern history.  Currently, there are 425 members of the Iowa National Guard deployed around the world.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of World War I, and the development of Camp Dodge as a base to help train and prepare soldiers for combat.  Throughout this long history, the Iowa National Guard has been guided by four key principles:

•    Fighting America’s wars by providing combat-ready soldiers and airmen for the global war fight.
•    Securing the homeland with robust homeland security and domestic response capabilities.
•    Building enduring partnerships with our active military, governmental agencies, and private organizations.
•    Making our communities better places to live.

The Guard used these principles to assist Cedar Rapids and Palo during the flood of September, 2016.  Over 500 Guard members were sent to these areas for flood mitigation and security efforts.  The rest of the year was devoted to training, where personnel from various cities across the United States trained at Camp Dodge for a combined 400,000 days.

The Iowa National Guard also worked to strengthen the partnership with the Republic of Kosovo though the National Guard’s State Partnership Program.  Over the past six years, there have been more than 100 engagements between the Iowa government, private entities, and departments within Kosovo.  In fact, the government of Kosovo has established their first-ever consulate and trade office within the city of Des Moines.  This partnership will continue to grow and be a great benefit for both the people of Iowa and the citizens of Kosovo.

Major General Orr concluded his condition with reiterating that the Iowa National Guard continues to be Mission Focused and Warrior Ready.

Continue Reading the Statehouse News

Republican Lawmakers Pass Education & Cultural Grants Cuts
Teacher Loan Program Influences Teachers to Live in Iowa
Arts Education Promoted at the Capitol
Iowa Utility Board Provides Update

To read the rest of my Statehouse News go to:http://iowahouse.org/StatehouseNews/2-3-17

January 27, 2017

Greetings to you all,

Republican lawmakers announced this week that they will slash over $117 million from the state budget in the current fiscal year.  The mid-year budget cuts include an $18 million cut to Iowa’s three state universities, a $3 million reduction to community colleges, $38 million cut to Medicaid and human services, and another $5.5 million cut to public safety.  Many of the proposed cuts will have significant impact to programs that Iowans rely on for their needs.

Chris Latta was at the Capitol on Monday advocating for mental health. Chris and I are on a committee back home together, Cedar Valley United Way. This committee aims to get access for mental health patients.

Saturday the 21st, over 26,000 Iowans came to the State Capitol to participate in the Women’s March. Other marches were held across Iowa in Dubuque, Iowa City, and Elkader. Earlier this week, hundreds of Iowans came to the Capitol to stand up for women and stop a bill that would leave thousands of Iowa women without access to critical health care services, like cancer screenings, birth control, and STD tests

A new survey of Iowa Superintendents released last week found that about 2/3 of them will be forced to raise class size, cut teachers, and reduce opportunities for students if Republicans approve a 2% or lower increase in basic school funding as they’ve said they plan to do.

In spite of the potential budget cuts, Iowa Association of School Boards Day on the Hill was this week. Doug Shaw and Jenny Leeper serve on the Cedar Falls School Board and were here advocating for state support for public education and the Secure an Advanced Vision of Education (SAVE) account. SAVE is the statewide school infrastructure sales and services tax and also known as the local option sales and services tax for school infrastructure. The SAVE program is scheduled to sunset in 2029.

Retired Cedar Falls teachers, David and Sheryl Bewyer, also came to visit the Capitol. They both taught in the Cedar Falls Community School District for many of years. Sheryl taught gifted education and David taught 6th grade. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to our schools over the years.

On Wednesday, January 25, I got the opportunity to tour the World Food Prize in Des Moines. I met with the President, Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn. Quinn has so much wealth and knowledge about world agriculture, food, and culture it is beyond belief.

While touring the World Food Prize, this mural stood out. Gary Kelley of Cedar Falls painted this mural. Taking up the entire far wall, this mural depicts Iowa’s greatest agricultural heroes. The figures shown are Norman Borlaug, Jessie Field Shambaugh, Herbert Hoover, George Washington Carver, and Henry A. Wallace. They are all gathered on the front porch of Norman Borlaug’s home, in Cresco, Iowa.

Accounting students at the University of Northern Iowa are providing free income tax assistance again this year through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Assistance in the preparation of tax returns will be available on Monday and Wednesday nights from Feb. 6 through April 12, excluding March 13 and 15 of Spring Break week. Returns are being prepared from 7 to 9 p.m. with registration taking place in Room 223 of the Curris Business Building on the UNI campus. No appointment is necessary. Room 223 will open at 6:30 p.m. You are encouraged to arrive early to allow students sufficient time to complete your return. Only a limited number of returns will be completed each night. For information, call the UNI Department of Accounting at (319) 273-2394.

Congratulations are in order to Representative Ras Smith, Black Hawk County District 62, as he and his wife welcome their second daughter on January 25, 2017 at 10:45 p.m.

Friday, January 27, 2017, there will be a Legislative Forum held at the Allen Women’s Health Clinic located at 233 Vold Dr. Waterloo, Iowa. The forum will be held from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Another Legislative Public Forum will be held on the same day, at the AEA 267 located at 3712 Cedar Heights Dr. in Cedar Falls. The forum topic will be regarding the legislative outlook for 2017. During the forum, the public will have the opportunity for questions to be asked of legislators. The forum starts at 4:30 to 6:30 pm.  I hope to see you there.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live; when we are in session. All of the debates are then stored in a video archive that allows you to watch it at any time, at your convenience.

Please don’t forget to check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website BobKressig.com. In addition to listening, posts and forums; you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. Like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter to stay even more connected.  I appreciate hearing from you.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

26 Final Thursday Reading Series Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
26 Postmodern Jukebox GBPAC, 7pm, 273-4849
26-29 Rocky Horror Show Hope Martin Theatre, Waterloo, 7pm; Sundays 2pm; Jan 21 11pm, 291-4494
27 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Drake McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
27 Black Hawks Hockey vs Omaha Young Arena, 7pm, 291-7680
28 2017 Iowa Games’ Snowshoe Race Ingawanis Woodland, Janesville, 9am, 277-2187 (Call ahead)
28 Black Hawks Hockey vs Cedar Rapids Young Arena, 7pm, 291-7680
29 Cedar Valley Winterfest S. Prairie Lake, noon, impactoutdoors.org 
29 Beers to You & Gourmet Too Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, Waterloo, 3pm, 273-4849
31 Hearst Film Series-Winter’s Tales Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
2/1 Nordic Choir Midwest Tour St. Patrick’s Church, 7pm, 800-458-8437
2/2 Calmus GBPAC, 7pm, 273-4849
2/2 Reader’s Theatre Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
2/3-5 UNI Overseas Recruitment Fair Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, Waterloo, 7am, 273-2083
2/3,4 Pippin GBPAC, Friday 7pm, Saturday 2 & 7pm, 273-4849
2/3,4 Black Hawks Hockey vs Tri-City Young Arena, 7pm, 291-7680
2/4-5 Iowa Soccer Association Boy’s Indoor Soccer Championships UNI-Dome, iowasoccer.org 
2/4 UNI Men’s Basketball vs Indiana State McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
2/7,14 Hearst Film Series-Unconventional 21,28 Love Stories Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
2/8 UNI Men’s Basketball vs Southern Illinois McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849

Iowa School Leaders Send Warning to Legislature

A new survey released last week found 75% of Iowa’s local school leaders will be forced to raise class sizes, cut teachers, and reduce opportunities for students if Republican lawmakers follow through with plans for a 2% or lower increase in basic school funding for next year.

The survey was completed by Iowa’s superintendents to gather information about the consequences of short changing public schools as well as to determine the impact of historically low school funding in recent years.

In addition to raising class size, school leaders said underfunding schools next year would force them to delay purchases for books or classroom materials (65%); delay new technology (24%); and cut back on literacy programs (27%).

The survey found 70% of the school leaders recommended the state provide at least a 4% increase in basic state funding next year, often called supplemental state aid (SSA).

Lawmakers now have 30 days from when the Governor releases his budget to set school aid for the 2018-2019 school year. After refusing to approve a bill last year, the Republican majority is still one year behind setting school aid for the 2017-2018 school year.

Republican Lawmakers Release Budget Cut Plan

After Governor Branstad recommended $150 million in budget cuts a few weeks ago, Republican lawmakers announced their own budget cutting plan on Tuesday.  The budget cuts come after the last several years when the majority party spent more than the state took in while approving new corporate tax breaks that now top $500 million annually.

The Republican proposal identifies a total of $88.2 million in reductions and $25 million in transfers from other funds.  The cuts, which will take effect immediately if approved, include an $18 million cut to Iowa’s three state universities, a $3 million reduction to community colleges, $38 million cut to Medicaid and human services, and another $5.5 million cut to public safety.  Another $11.5 million in cuts is not specified in the bill and it’s unclear what impact it would have on services to Iowans.

Many lawmakers have expressed concerns that the mid-year cuts to higher education make it more difficult to achieve Iowa’s goal of having 70% of the workforce receive some training after high school.

The plan outlined by Republican lawmakers is different than the Governor’s proposal and does not change or scale back any of the corporate tax breaks approved in previous sessions.

Both the House and the Senate Appropriations Committees approved the bills on a party-line vote and debate is expected in the Senate on Thursday.

Continue Reading the Statehouse News

Free Tax Preparation Available
High-Demand Jobs Information Site Now Up
Upcoming Hunter Education Classes
Iowa’s Unemployment Rate at 3.6%
Condition of Education Report
DNR Releases Strategy for Water Quality Monitoring

To read the rest of my Statehouse News go to:http://iowahouse.org/StatehouseNews/1-27-17

January 20, 2017

Greetings to you all,

This week started out with Martin Luther King Jr. Day and a big ice storm that crossed the entire state. I was lucky enough to make it down on Tuesday morning, as many of my colleagues could not. Due to weather related issues, most meetings were cancelled and the day was short. I hope everyone stayed safe and enjoyed the holiday.

With the ice storm that hit, The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) has unveiled a winter cost calculator for the public to track just how much it costs to keep our roads safe during the winter. While the snowplow drivers are visible to drivers on our roads, the general public rarely has access to the amount of labor that it takes to keep roads clear. The new tracker, which can be found here: Winter Cost Calculator, allows Iowans to look at how many pounds of salt are applied, labor and materials cost, and the amount of labor expected. Users will be able to get costs of specific roadways, as well as information on the last time a snow plow passed through.  Information is only available for roads that the state DOT maintains.

Veterans Day at the State Capitol was Wednesday and many of Iowa Veterans and their families attended the ceremony in the Rotunda. Many booths were set up to showcase a variety of Veteran support groups. Veterans also met with lawmakers individually about their priorities for the 2017 session, which includes protecting current services for veterans through the Iowa Veterans Home, Veterans Trust Fund, and Military Home Ownership Program. Thank you to all the Veterans who have served our country.

Veterans Day on the Hill took place on Wednesday, January 18th, 2017. Representative Bob Kressig, Representative Timi Brown-Powers, and Representative Ras Smith met with the UAW Local 838 Veterans Committee from Waterloo, Iowa. Pictured here from left to right Rod Wessely, Representative Kressig, Ed McFarland, Representative Brown-Powers, Blanche DeVoll, Tom Greesman, Jim Lentfer, Representative Smith, and George Weich.

Representative Bob Kressig met with Ron Healey of Dubuque and member of the UAW Veterans Committee during Veterans Day on the Hill that took place on Wednesday, January 18th, 2017.

Thursday morning Olivia Habinck stopped over to the House Chambers to say Hello to Representative Timi Brown-Powers and myself. Olivia is from Cedar Falls, Iowa and is a Senate Page for the 2017 session. Best of luck this session, Olivia!

Five Iowa schools were honored Thursday January 19th by the State Board of Education for their work to raise achievement among groups of students who traditionally face challenges in the classroom. The Breaking Barriers to Teaching and Learning Award was created by the State Board of Education. Each year, the award recognizes successful efforts to eliminate achievement gaps. Helen Hansen Elementary in Cedar Falls Iowa was honored for its work with students who have special needs and are on an Individualized Education Programs (IEP). Among Hansen’s students on IEP’s, 79 percent are proficient in reading and math, compared to a statewide average of 43 percent. I want to thank Hansen Elementary for their hard work helping students achieve their potential.

Friday, January 27, 2017, there will be a Legislative Forum held at the Allen Women’s Health Clinic located at 233 Vold Dr. Waterloo, Iowa. The forum will be held from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Another Legislative Public Forum will be held on the same day, at the AEA 267 located at 3712 Cedar Heights Dr. in Cedar Falls. The forum topic will be regarding the legislative outlook for 2017. During the forum, the public will have the opportunity for questions to be asked of legislators. The forum starts at 4:30 to 6:30 pm.  I hope to see you there.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. All of the debate is then stored in a video archive that allows you to watch it at any time, at your convenience.

Please don’t forget to check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, like Facebook or Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

21-22 Uncommon Sense GBPAC, 7pm, 273-4849
22 UNI Women’s Basketball vs. Loyola McLeod Center 2pm, 273-4849
22 Cedar Valley Wedding Extravaganza Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, Waterloo,
24 Hearst Film Series-Winter’s Tales 31 Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
25 UNI Men’s Basketball vs Evansville McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
26 Final Thursday Reading Series Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
26 Postmodern Jukebox GBPAC, 7pm, 273-4849
27 UNI Women’s Basketball vs. Drake McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
27 Black Hawks Hockey vs. Omaha Young Arena, 7pm, 291-7680
28 2017 Iowa Games’ Snowshoe Race Ingawanis Woodland, Janesville, 9am, 277-2187
27 Black Hawks Hockey vs. Cedar Rapids Young Arena, 7pm, 291-7680
29 Cedar Valley Winterfest S. Prairie Lake, noon, impactoutdoors.org
29 Beers to You & Gourmet Too Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, Waterloo, 3pm, 273-4849

2017 Legislative Survey Results: Education and Working Families Top Priorities

A survey released this week by legislators found that education and working Iowa families are the top priorities of Iowans.

Of the Iowans who participated in the survey, an overwhelming 80% say public schools should be the top priority of lawmakers during the 2017 legislative session.  The survey also indicated there is overwhelming support to help Iowa’s working families. This includes having the legislature work to keep college affordable at Iowa’s community colleges and state universities, target state incentives toward small businesses, and take steps to help families with the high cost of child care.

Other results from the survey include:

  • 83% support raising the minimum wage.
  • 90% say the legislature should provide stronger oversight over the Governor’s privatized Medicaid plan.
  • 91% support continuing to invest in renewable energy, and legislators should encourage more production of wind, solar and biofuels to create jobs.
  • 88% said that lawmakers should not pass additional tax breaks for corporations in the 2017 session.
  • 94% say the legislature should expand and improve access to mental health services.

The survey was conducted to gather feedback from Iowans on their priorities for the 2017 legislative session.

Legislature Honors Veterans at Statehouse

On Wednesday, veterans and their families traveled to Des Moines for Veterans Day at the Capitol.  Throughout the day, veterans met with legislators to discuss the priorities of the Veterans Coalition.

The Veterans Coalition is a group of representatives from various veterans’ organizations across Iowa who work collectively to develop and advance policy ideas to assist veterans and their families.

For the 2017 Legislative session, the Veterans Coalition will work to protect programs and agencies such as the Iowa Veterans Home, the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund, and the Military Home Ownership Program.  The Coalition is also interested in allowing veterans with a 50% or greater service-connected disability to receive a veteran license plate with all fees and registration waived for one year.

Finally, the Coalition will work towards increasing the Military Property Tax Exemption from $1,852 to $3,700.  Throughout this year’s Legislative session, the Veterans Committees in the House and Senate will review the proposals that the Coalition brings forward.

The Iowa Legislature will continue to work towards helping our veterans and making sure they get the care they deserve.

Continue Reading the Statehouse News

2017 Legislative Survey Results: Education and Working Families Top Priorities
Legislature Honors Veterans at Statehouse
College Savings Iowa-529 Plan
Health Care Enrollment Deadline Nears
DOT Winter Cost Calculator
71% of High School Graduates Enroll in College within One Year
Manure Applicator Training Available

To read the rest of my Statehouse News go to:http://iowahouse.org/StatehouseNews/1-20-17

January 13, 2017

Greetings to you all,

The 2017 Legislative Session opened this week and it was great to see my colleagues from all over Iowa and meet new lawmakers who are serving for the first time. On Monday, friends and family members joined in the Capitol to watch their loved ones be sworn in and legislative leaders then offered their agendas for the 87th General Assembly session. The Senate and the House of Representatives joined together on Tuesday and Wednesday to listen to speeches from both the Governor and the Chief Justice.

During the first day of the 2017 session of the Iowa Legislature which opened on Monday, January 9, 2017 at the State Capitol in Des Moines.

Governor Branstad gave his Condition of the State address, which is expected to be his last as he prepares for the role of U.S. Ambassador to China. Governor Branstad thanked the Iowa people for the last 22 years he has been Governor and went on to commend the people on their hard work in making this state great. He also stated, “We just set an all-time record for ethanol production, set a new record for biodiesel production by an additional 55 million gallons and lead the nation in percentage of electricity generated by wind. We now generate over 35 percent of our electricity from wind and expect this number to exceed 40 percent by 2020.”

Governor Branstad then outlined his priorities for the session, along with his budget recommendations. These recommendations included improving water quality, budget cuts to higher education, both community colleges and universities, and defunding Planned Parenthood. As part of his budget cutting plan, Branstad also said Iowa’s court system will be cut by over $7 million in the current fiscal year. In his Condition of the Judiciary address on Wednesday, Iowa’s Chief Justice Mark Cady said the Republican budget cuts would likely lead to delays, part-time hours at courthouses across Iowa, and ending some specialty drug and family courts.

Instead of a divisive, partisan agenda, my hope is that the Legislature stays focused on policies that will impact the lives of working families.  The deck has been stacked for far too long against Iowa families who are working hard but still not getting ahead.

This year I will be serving on a multitude of committees including: Public Safety, Commerce, Local Government and Environmental Protection. I will also be on a Budget Subcommittee, Economic Development Appropriations, which includes both House and Senate Members.

On Friday, January 27th from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. there will be a Public Forum held at AEA 267, 3712 Cedar Heights Dr., Cedar Falls, Iowa. I encourage you all to attend this forum to speak out and discuss policies going on in our state.

UNI, Iowa State, and Iowa student Senates attended the Iowa Board of Regents Legislative Breakfast Tuesday morning at the State Capitol.

It was great to listen to the students concerns and share my support for Regents funding.

On Tuesday, January 10th, 2017, Representative Bob Kressig attended the Board of Regents Legislative Breakfast where he discussed higher education with incoming University of Northern Iowa President, Mark Nook.

On Wednesday, January 11, Senator Bill Dotzler and Representative Kressig met with Jessica Bruening, Cassidy Monaco, and Diana Duitsman, These women work and advocate for FaDDS. FaDDS works with families in Black Hawk, Grundy and Buchanan County to help families in need and to get them back on their feet.

Monday also marked my first day with my new legislative clerk, Amanda Walters. Amanda is originally from Emmetsburg, Iowa, but recently graduated from the University of Northern Iowa in this past December. Amanda is my 12th graduate of UNI that I have hired as a clerk. I look forward to working with her this session.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. All of the debates are then stored in a video archive that allows you to watch it at any time, at your convenience.

Please don’t forget to check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website BobKressig.com. In addition to listening, posts and forums; you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. Like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter to stay even more connected.  I appreciate hearing from you.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

15 UNI Men’s Basketball vs Drake McLeod Center, 3pm, 273-4849
15 Black Hawks Hockey vs Des Moines Young Arena, 3pm, 291-7680
17 Hearst Film Series-Winter’s Tales 24,31 Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
18 UNI Men’s Basketball vs Loyola McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
18 Opening Reception Antarctica: Beyond Ice Exhibit UNI Gallery of Art, 6pm, 273-6134
20-22 Iowa Boat, RV and Vacation Show UNI-Dome, 232-0218
20,21 Black Hawks Hockey vs Sioux Falls Young Arena, 7pm, 291-7680
20-22 Rocky Horror Show Hope Martin 26-29 Theatre, Waterloo, 7pm; Sundays 2pm; Jan 21 11pm, 291-4494
20 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Indiana State McLeod Center 7pm, 273-4849
21 2017 Iowa Games’ Fat Tire Race George Wyth State Park, 1pm, 266-5979
21-22 Uncommon Sense GBPAC, 7pm, 273-4849
22 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Loyola McLeod Center 2pm, 273-4849
22 Cedar Valley Wedding Extravaganza Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, Waterloo,
25 UNI Men’s Basketball vs Evansville McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
26 Final Thursday Reading Series Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
26 Postmodern Jukebox GBPAC, 7pm, 273-4849
27 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Drake McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
27 Black Hawks Hockey vs Omaha Young Arena, 7pm, 291-7680
28 2017 Iowa Games’ Snowshoe Race Ingawanis Woodland, Janesville, 9am, 277-2187
27 Black Hawks Hockey vs Cedar Rapids Young Arena, 7pm, 291-7680

2017 Session Begins; Education, Jobs & Working Families Top Priority

The 2017 Legislative Session opened this week and lawmakers pledged to work together and focus on policies that will help working families and grow the economy, while keeping the state budget balanced.

Many issues are likely to come up this year, but priorities outlined by lawmakers include making K-12 schools the top priority in Iowa again; revitalizing rural Iowa; expanding job training opportunities; raising the minimum wage; improving water quality; expanding early childhood education; and encouraging more production and use of renewable energy.

Many lawmakers said the key to growing Iowa’s economy is building a skilled workforce, which Iowa businesses say is the biggest hurdle they face.  That starts with access to quality preschool and continues with a guarantee of affordable job training or college after high school.

2017 Legislative Survey

In an effort to connect with more Iowans, lawmakers are still requesting Iowans participate in a brief survey about the 2017 session. Please click http://interspire.iowahdc.info/surveys.php?id=35 to complete the survey and share your views.

Branstad to Cut Millions from Community Colleges, State Universities

In his annual Condition of the State Address, Governor Terry Branstad said he will cut $35 million this month from Iowa’s 15 community colleges and three state universities.  The Governor was forced to take action this week after he previously approved bills and significant tax changes that led to a downturn in Iowa’s economy and declining state revenues.

The higher education cuts were included in his plans to trim $114 million from the state budget in the current fiscal year (FY 17).  Other budget cuts identified by the Governor include:  $20 million from the Department of Human Services, $15 million from the Department of Corrections, $14 million from Medicaid, and $7.7 million from the Judicial Branch.

In addition to the targeted cuts to state agencies, the Governor is recommending using a total of $33.2 million in ending balances from other funds such as the Taxpayers Trust Fund, to keep the state budget balanced.

FY 2018 & 2019 Budget Proposal

The Governor also outlined his budget recommendations for fiscal year 2018, which lawmakers must approve before adjourning this session.  He proposed a total appropriation of $7.457 billion from the general fund, which represents an increase of $219 million compared to his revised FY 2017 budget.  That recommendation includes a 2% increase for state school aid and a $36 million increase for Medicaid.

The Governor recommended an increase of 2% in state school aid for FY 2019 as well, which leads to an overall general fund appropriation of $7.623 million.  The Governor’s FY 2019 general fund budget proposal appropriates $166 million more than his FY 2018 proposal.

Now that lawmakers have received the Governor’s budget, they will begin crafting their priorities in the state budget.

Continue Reading the Statehouse News

Voter Suppression Bill Proposed by Secretary of State
Chief Justice Calls for Investment to Prevent Cuts
Medicaid Privatization Public Meetings Scheduled for 2017
Veterans Day on the Hill
New STEM Youth Advisory Board Seeking Members
New Law to Crack Down on Disability Placard Fraud
Coaches Given More Time to Obtain CPR Training

To read the rest of my Statehouse News go to:http://iowahouse.org/StatehouseNews/1-13-17

January 4, 2017

Greetings to you all,

I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year. The 87th Iowa General Assembly will start on Monday, January 9th and I’m honored to serve you in the Iowa House. We will be facing several issues this session and we need to focus on what we value as Iowans. These include quality education, great jobs, safe and secure communities, and providing quality care for mental health patients. My top priority is to listen to you and bring your ideas with me, to the Iowa Capitol. I hope you will take a few minutes and complete this brief survey.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session.

Please don’t forget to check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, like Facebook or Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

6 UNI Women’s Basketball vs. Southern Illinois McLeod Center 7pm, 273-4849
7-8 Iowa Soccer Association Girl’s Indoor Championships UNI-Dome, iowasoccer.org
8 UNI Wrestling vs Northern Illinois University UNI West Gym, 1pm, 273-4849
8 UNI Women’s Basketball vs. Evansville McLeod Center 11:30am, 273-4849
8 UNI Men’s Basketball vs. Wichita State McLeod Center, 3pm, 273-4849
15 UNI Men’s Basketball vs. Drake McLeod Center, 3pm, 273-4849
15 Black Hawks Hockey vs. Des Moines Young Arena, 3pm, 291-7680
18 UNI Men’s Basketball vs. Loyola McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
18 Opening Reception Antarctica: Beyond Ice Exhibit UNI Gallery of Art, 6pm, 273-6134
20-22 Iowa Boat, RV and Vacation Show UNI-Dome, 232-0218
20, 21 Black Hawks Hockey vs. Sioux Falls Young Arena, 7pm, 291-7680
20-22 Rocky Horror Show Hope Martin 26-29 Theatre, Waterloo, 7pm; Sundays 2pm; Jan 21 11pm, 291-4494
20 UNI Women’s Basketball vs. Indiana State McLeod Center 7pm, 273-4849
21 2017 Iowa Games’ Fat Tire Race George Wyth State Park, 1pm, 266-5979
21-22 Uncommon Sense GBPAC, 7pm, 273-4849
22 UNI Women’s Basketball vs. Loyola McLeod Center 2pm, 273-4849
22 Cedar Valley Wedding Extravaganza Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, Waterloo
25 UNI Men’s Basketball vs. Evansville McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849

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