It was nice to finally have a week where the temperatures didn’t dip into negative digits – Spring is in the air! The seventh week of session was on pace with previous weeks. Next week is the first “funnel” – where bills must pass out of their assigned committees to continue to be considered, so this was a particularly busy week as bill managers and committee chairs pushed to get things done ahead of that deadline. I attended numerous subcommittee and committee meetings and even met with some constituents (a rare treat this year).
What is a funnel exactly? It’s a deadline when House bills are required to pass at least one House committee to remain eligible for discussion and vice versa for the Senate. There are thousands of bills introduced each year, and the funnels act exactly as the name implies – they narrow the scope of bills to be considered. If a bill fails to advance through a committee, it is considered “dead” for the session and is tabled. Often, a bill is not moved forward because it lacks support or needs more discussion over the interim. Many of the bills passing out of committee will continue to undergo improvements, as well.
I began the week on Monday with Education Committee, where we considered and discussed HF 400. There is a substitute teacher shortage in Iowa. This bill would continue some of the practices currently allowed because of COVID-related pressures, such as allowing an individual with an associate’s degree to substitute teach grades PK-12 for up to 10 consecutive days.
On Tuesday, during floor debate, I had the honor to manage HF 486 to create a scenic byway enhancement fund, allowing Iowans to choose to contribute to Iowa’s 14 scenic byways when renewing their vehicle registration. The Iowa DOT would use the fund to support, promote, and maintain the system. This is a great bill that will promote tourism, recreation and help keep our state beautiful (especially along the portions of the Loess Hills Scenic Byway on D-38 and D-25 in House District 6).
Wednesday consisted of many subcommittee meetings on issues ranging from recreational trails to school transportation. And Wednesday night ended with floor debate on HF 590 dealing with reforms to Iowa’s election process. Most importantly, this legislation establishes that election officials are held to a high standard of performance and establishes recourse for when an elected official defies the state’s laws or does not act in the best interest of the voter.
Thursday continued the theme as we progressed towards Funnel Week – subcommittees, committees, and more subcommittees. I served on the subcommittee for HSB 240, which would make changes to Iowa’s public school open enrollment system, allow more financial flexibility for our public school districts, and increase the teacher expense tax deduction, among other aspects. I support the legislation and look forward to helping it advance. The more controversial provisions dealing with charter school regulations and private school scholarships are not included in this bill.
It was nice to head home while it was still light for a change and be able to see my girls before they went to bed. We might even make a Musketeers game this weekend. Perhaps, I will see some of you there.
I would once again like to thank all of my constituents back home who have allowed me the privilege and honor to serve as their voice in the Iowa House. As we progress through the session, please reach out to me with any ideas and concerns you may have.