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From Rep. Sorensen’s legislative newsletter:

The second week of session was short, but busy.  I was assigned multiple bills in three of the five committees I sit on, and have also submitted multiple bills for constituents.  In our caucus, we are working on the budget as a whole but we are focusing on setting school funding as quickly as we can so school boards have time to plan their budgets for the 2020-21 school year.  There are many ideas and unique perspectives that go into these decisions but I can tell you one thing for sure, we will balance the budget and not spend more than we take in.

In Appropriations, we are continuing a strong start to Fiscal Year 2020, state revenue again rose in December.  According to the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency, the state took in $44.1 million more than what was collected in December, 2018.  This is a 6.6 percent increase over the previous year’s figure.  Through the first half of the fiscal year, state revenue has increased 6.4 percent over FY 2019.    This puts revenue collected ahead of the (REC) Revenue Estimating Conferences projection from its December meeting of 2.1 percent growth for Fiscal Year 2020.

In the Economic Development Sub Approps Committee, we heard about the Biosciences from the University of Iowa and Iowa State University. They offered up where and how their state appropriated funds are spent and the different innovations and inventions they are working on and patenting.

In Commerce Committee, one of our goals it to get government out of the way of innovation in internet connectivity or to streamline the code to encourage it. Wireless internet access is an important part of connectivity and expanding broadband in the state of Iowa. In 2015 the Legislature passed the “Iowa Cell Siting Act” implementing the FCC’s Report and Order, “Acceleration of Broadband Deployment by Improving Wireless Facilities Siting Policies.” I just ran a subcommittee for HSB 516, which extends the sunset on the Iowa Cell Sitting Act until 2025 and allows this technology to continue to develop and mature. This includes expanding access to the fifth generation of wireless (5G) which provides users with faster internet options. It also continues to encourage wireless carriers and local jurisdictions to have open lines of communication.

In State Government Committee, I was assigned four bills that I believe will shed some light on public records and meetings, benefiting our journalists and public at large at attaining the information they need [HSB 503, HSB 504, HSB 505 and HSB 506]. With 503, this is an attempt to reduce cost that many times looks like a way to simply discourage the release of the documents. This doesn’t stop someone from using an attorney to review, but that cost shouldn’t be borne by the person making the request. If the request seems too broad or egregious then the municipality has the ability to seek redress with the Iowa Public Information Board.  With 504, it expands the definition of meeting from policy-making to also include budgetary decisions. This would then include meetings that impact taxpayer dollars. 505 is a clarification of publishing notice. This has been around for a number of years and previously expanded notice from 24 to 48 hours notice. This doesn’t do that and now only requires that the 24 hour notice can’t be over a weekend or holiday and 506, clarifies advisory bodies, this one tries to better clarify the boards and committees of governmental bodies along with better reflecting how the Code outlines their policy-making authorities.

On Wednesday, it was Veterans Day at the Capitol, and they had vendors and programs from around the state, from PTSD programs to the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund, to groups like the American Legion, VFW, AmVets and DAV. Its always great to hear from our Veterans and know what concerns they have about legislation. I was assigned a bill in Veterans Affairs Committee and ran a subcommittee on it, which pertains to changing the definition of “resident” in the hunting and fishing area of code (483A), to include members of the armed forces. It didn’t get taken up by the Senate last year so we hope to get it done this year. In committee we listened to a presentation by Mike Mortensen, President, IACCVSO (County Veteran Service Officers), Polk County Veterans. He let us know the challenges of making sure each county has a properly trained and equipped VSO and what our state funds do to facilitate that.

I am honored to represent House District 20 at the Capitol.  To you folks in Adair, Guthrie, Dallas and Cass Counties, thank you for allowing me to serve you and be your voice here in Des Moines and remember… Our Liberties We Prize And Our Rights We Will Maintain!

Visit Rep. Sorensen’s website here.

Author: Ray Sorensen