Bob Kressig Newsletter February 17, 2022

Bob Kressig Newsletter
Greetings to you all,

On Monday, I was part of the subcommittee for HF 2191, a bill which would make changes to the sentence commutation process for Class A felons. We had very passionate comments made during the subcommittee from people with loved ones who have served a substantial amount of time in prison and are ready to be released. I was hoping that this bill would move forward in the legislature, but the majority party has now stopped it from continuing.

On Monday I also met with Tom Powers of VGM & Associates Healthcare to discuss what the legislature can do for healthcare entities in Black Hawk County.

I also attended a meeting of the Commerce committee, where we reviewed the following bills:

  • HF 2236: A bill which allows cities to establish an “entertainment area” which is allowed to levy “entertainment surcharges”
  • HSB 650: A bill which requires health carriers to reimburse a health care provider at the contracted reimbursement rate for a service provided to a covered person per a prior authorization
  • HSB 668: A bill which requires employers to provide employees a permanent replacement prosthetic device for the purposes of workers compensation
  • HSB 687: A bill which requires online marketplaces to mandate high-volume third-party sellers to disclose certain information
  • HSB 688: A bill which requires a restaurant or food delivery service to have an agreement authorizing food delivery before food is transported on behalf of the restaurant

On Tuesday, I met with the Public Safety committee, where we reviewed the following bills:

  • HSB 652: A bill which adjusts heroin possession requirements related to felony and misdemeanor penalties
  • HF 2232: A bill which classifies the possession of multiple visual depictions of the same minor engaging in prohibited sexual acts as separate offenses
  • HF 2231: A bill which classifies the assault of a pregnant person (or a person they should reasonably know is pregnant) as a class “D” felony
  • HSB 612: A bill which amends the current 911 Communications Council to include data collection for direct cost and expenses relating to PSAPs rather than all costs and expenses

On Wednesday, I met with Iowa Conservation Alliance President Fred Long to discuss bills in the legislature related to conservation and wildlife.

I also met with Alyssa Noe and Jason Arnold of the Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPER), who came to the Hill to advocate legislators on a number of bills related to student issues. Alyssa is my former clerk, and I’m thrilled to see her shaking things up in the legislature once again!

Barb Prather, Executive Director of the Northeast Iowa Food Bank, stopped by Wednesday as well, and we spoke about the Food Bank’s work and opportunities for its advancement in the legislature.

The Iowa Credit Union League held its legislative conference on the Hill Wednesday, and I was pleased to meet with credit union representatives to discuss the ICUL’s legislative priorities.

On Wednesday, I also met with the Public Safety committee, where we reviewed the following bills:

  • HSB 701: A bill which creates a process for prosecuting agencies who maintain a list of officers with accusations against their integrity.
  • HF 2304: A bill which creates penalties for anyone who attempts to use movie prop money as legal tender
  • HSB 646: A bill which removes a previous law mandating that long guns must be removed, unloaded, and securely fastened while on a public highway.
  • HSB 707: A bill which would allow tenants who are victims of violent crimes to terminate their leases early

The House also debated and passed HF 2317, a tax bill that imposes a 4% flat income tax, on Wednesday afternoon.
On Thursday, I met with both the Transportation and Commerce committees, where we reviewed the following bills:
Transportation

  • HSB 654: A bill that provides requirements for third-party testers for driver’s license driving test skills
  • HSB 655: A bill allowing vehicles transporting certain agricultural commodities to exceed noninterstate weight limits
  • HF 210: A bill that creates rules for motor vehicles that cross certain railroad grade crossings against a gate or signal
  • HF 2135: A bill that creates special license plates for those with distinguished service medals
  • HF 2207: A bill that creates rules for oversize and overweight crane permits
  • SF 551: A bill that creates rules related to fire fighters and emergency medical service members responding to emergencies in certain vehicles

Commerce

  • HSB 689: A bill which allows the Insurance Commissioner to issue a limited lines travel insurance producer license per the Division’s guidance
  • HSB 709: A bill pertaining to Iowa’s bottle deposit system, mainly increasing handling fees

In the Statehouse Newsletter, you will find information about

  • The Democrats’ proposed tax plan
  • Decreased school investment passed by the legislature
  • Democrats’ plan for medical marijuana reform
  • The discrimination bill against transgender students
  • Problems in schools caused by the governor’s ending of Iowa’s public health proclamation

Please share your comments with me.

Going forward, I will be listening and working closely with local leaders and community members, to make sure the state is partnering with those in our community who need help and assistance. I’m available by email, phone, and social media, to answer questions and listen to your concerns. You can always reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter, and YouTube. 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! I hope everyone stays safe.

Upcoming Events

Feb 17 UNI Wrestling vs Wisconsin West Gym, 7pm, 319-373-5455

Feb 17-18 Tall Corn Jazz Festival UNI, 319-273-2311

Feb 18 Waterloo Black Hawks vs. Sioux Falls Young Arena, Fri 7pm, 319-232-3444

Feb 18-19 Bull Riding Classic National Cattle Congress, 7pm, 319-234-7515

Feb 18-20 The Hallelujah Girls Oster Regent Theatre, Fri/Sat 7:30pm; Sun 2pm, 319-277-5283

Feb 19 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Drake McLeod Center, 2pm, 319-273-5455

Feb 20 UNI Men’s Basketball vs Missouri State McLeod Center, 1pm, 319-273-5455

Feb 25 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Bradley McLeod Center, 6pm, 319-273-5455

Feb 25 Waterloo Black Hawks vs. Dubuque Young Arena, Fri 7pm, 319-232-3444


Rewarding the Hard Work of Iowans

Earlier this month, House and Senate Democrats unveiled their plan for fair taxes that benefits working families. This common-sense solution would put money in the pockets of hard-working Iowans instantly and help with the rising cost of child care. It would also make our tax system fairer and pump money into our economy.

The competing tax plans outlined by the Governor and Republican lawmakers are skewed to millionaires and the biggest corporations, not even small businesses. Under their plan, the average family in Iowa making around $75,000 or less wouldn’t even see a dime for three years.

On Wednesday, Iowa House Democrats offered the fair tax plan during debate on a Republican tax bill.

Over multiple votes, Majority Party lawmakers rejected plans to reward hard work and make Iowa’s tax system fair for all Iowans, not just millionaires. The bill now goes to the Senate.


Low School Investment Bill Sent the Governor

With another huge corporate tax cut still in the works this year, the Senate and House Majority Party recently approved another historic low investment in Iowa’s public schools next year.

After listening to local school districts and teachers, Democratic lawmakers proposed an additional investment of $300 million next school year to make sure every kid gets a quality education. The $300 million investment equates to the exact amount offered to corporations by Governor Reynolds in her recent tax cut plan. The Governor and Majority Party members’ funding only provides $174 million for schools.

Due to the massive cuts in last year’s Republican tax bill, compiled with the planned cuts to the Area Education Agencies this year, that $174 million will dwindle down to $100 million for Iowa school districts when the books are closed July 1.

The Governor is expected to sign the bill this week.


House Democrats Propose Medical Marijuana Reform

This week, Iowa House Democrats proposed legislation that would make the state’s medical marijuana program more accessible and affordable.

According to a Des Moines Register poll, 54 percent of Iowans support legalizing marijuana for recreational use and over 75 percent support use for medical purposes.

The proposed plan, HF 2363, expands the program by allowing healthcare practitioners to certify patients for any medical condition they deem medically beneficial. The bill would also allow pharmacists to certify patients to receive a medical cannabis registration card after completing a training program through the Pharmacy Board.

In addition to lower registration fees to expand access, manufacturers would be able to produce certain edible products and dispensaries may send medical CBD products to patients following an initial telehealth visit verifying valid registration into the program. Lastly, the daily THC cap would be raised from 4.5g to 17g during a 90-day period.

Currently, MedPharm and Iowa Cannabis Company are the only cannabis manufacturers licensed to operate within the state. In 2018, MedPharm began selling products at five licensed dispensaries, including tinctures, capsules, and creams to legally registered patients. These dispensaries are located in Waterloo, Council Bluffs, Windsor Heights, and Sioux City. Iowa Cannabis began selling their products at their Waterloo facility late 2018. Last fall, Iowa Cannabis opened a new store in Iowa City.

According to the Department of Public Health (DPH), currently 16,591 patients and 2,231 caregivers have been issued registration cards. Almost all states have passed some form of medical marijuana program, and 18 states have adopted both medical and adult recreational programs. Iowa is one of 11 states where the product law specifically requires cannabidiol and low THC.

HF 2363 was assigned to the House Public Safety Committee, where Iowa Republicans have declined to consider the bill.


Discrimination Bill Against Transgender Students Moves Forward

Iowans can agree that every kid deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

This week, Majority Party House Education Committee members approved a bill that discriminates against and prevents transgender girls from participating in girls’ sports in middle school and high school. Transgender kids deserve the same chances to learn those life lessons and build a sense of belonging with their peers.

HF 2309 specifies that cisgender (a person whose gender identity matches the gender they were assigned at birth) female athletes are the only ones allowed to participate in a team, sport, or athletic event designated for girls.

Local schools across the state in partnership with the high school athletic associations are already creating policies that protect transgender youth and ensure a level playing field for all students, and those guidelines are working. Banning transgender youth from participating in sports undermines those efforts.

The girls affected by this would be prevented from learning the challenges and teamwork in being involved in team sports. This could also impact Iowa’s Title 9 Federal Funds, and a similar bill in South Dakota was struck down in federal court.

The bill has passed on a party-line vote, with Democrats voting no, and has advanced to the full House of Representatives.


Governor Ending Public Health Proclamation Causes Schools to Scramble

After Governor Reynolds decided to end the Public Health Proclamation and remove all COVID-19 mitigation efforts this week, it left many in limbo. This included para educators (teacher assistants) that were allowed to substitute teach during the pandemic.

Since the proclamation was set to end on February 15, 2022, it required an emergency meeting on Monday of the Board of Educational Examiners (BOEE), followed by an Emergency meeting of the Administrative Rules Committee at the Statehouse on Tuesday.

The good news is that due to those actions, para educators in Iowa may still substitute teach in another classroom that they have not been endorsed to teach in (except drivers ed).

Many interested parties thought that the emergency rules did not go far enough, so this week a bill was introduced that would require that school districts make a good-faith effort to hire substitute teachers, so that para educators can continue their previous work in the classroom. HSB 720 would also require para educators to be paid at the substitute teacher wage, if they are substitute teaching. The bill would take effect upon enactment and only apply for the current school year.

Ending the proclamation, also shut down state websites charged with reporting vaccination statistics and COVID case count. However, many of those statistics will continue to be available on other state and federal websites.


More Iowa News

INCREASING HEMP PRODUCTION: Hemp continues to grow in popularity for Iowa farmers, because of this, the House Agriculture Committee passed legislation to increase the amount of hemp Iowans can grow. Currently Iowans can only grow 40 acres of hemp per year. The bill, HF 2380, moving through the House increases the amount to 160 acres, but limits the production of hemp for CBD oil to 40 acres. The increase is needed so producers can sell industrial hemp to be used in products from clothing to construction materials. The bill now moves to the full House for consideration.


FARM ENVIRONMENTAL LEADER AWARD NOMINATIONS OPEN: Iowans are invited to nominate individuals or families for the 2022 Farm Environmental Leader Awards. The awards are given to leaders in the agricultural community that invest in conservation practices to protect the state’s natural resources. To nominate an Iowan, go to: data.iowaagriculture.gov/ifela.

PUSH FOR MORE YOUTH HUNTING: To encourage more youth to foster a relationship with our natural resources, the House Natural Resources Committee passed a proposal that would allow a resident of Iowa who is under the age of 16 to accompany an adult (with and applicable license) while trapping, hunting, and fur harvest without being licensed. However, the minor would not be able to participate in the hunting or trapping, and cannot carry a firearm. Allowing minors to accompany an adult would be a great opportunity for them to learn how to do these activities safely. Currently for youth under the age of 16 to participate they need an applicable license. HF 2209 goes to the full House for consideration.

MAJORITY OF IOWA COUNTIES ADOPT ADDED CAFO REQUIREMENTS: Eight-eight counties in the state notified the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that they plan on using the so-called “master matrix” to evaluate potential livestock confinement construction in the county. This means they can require additional actions by new CAFO operations, such as site location and environmental mitigation efforts, by earning additional points on the “Master Matrix” developed by the DNR. The matrix includes a variety of practices and factors that allow counties to have some additional input into siting of CAFOs. Counties that opt into the “Master Matrix” are also allowed to accompany the DNR on site visits to proposed locations and have additional chances to appeal CAFO decisions to the department. The counties that will not be utilizing the Master Matrix in 2022 are: Benton, Davis, Des Moines, Guthrie, Grundy, Keokuk, Lee, Mahaska, Osceola, Plymouth, Wapello, Warren and Washington. Additional information on the “Master Matrix” can be found at: iowadnr.gov/Environmental-Protection/Animal-Feeding-Operations/AFO-Construction-Permits.