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House Republicans released their spending plan for the Fiscal Year 2023 state budget. It is a responsible and conservative funding plan for the state. House Republicans are moving forward with a state budget of $8.2738 billion for the next fiscal year beginning July 1, 2022. The proposed budget is an increase of $148.9 million over the current year spending level of $8.1249 billion. This amount is an increase of 1.83 percent over Fiscal Year 2022. The largest increase goes to the state’s local school districts, who receive an additional $159 million through the 2.5 percent increase in the state foundation formula, $5 per pupil increase for student funding equity, and funding school transportation assistance at the state-wide average. We know where the Governor is at but are awaiting the Senate’s budget proposal breakdown before we can proceed.

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Do parents have a fundamental right to know what is being taught to their kids? To be clear, my thought is yes. Parents across Iowa and the U.S. have been talking about the need for more transparency in education. Parents are told to blindly trust the “experts” in academia without question. Legislators have heard from numerous parents from across the state, that being able to access and review what their kids are taught can be difficult. Stories about how a parent or guardian requested to see the instructional materials only to find that the school or teacher wasn’t forthcoming or had no obligation to disclose it. And, if the parent or guardian was allowed to see the materials, their input and concerns were unimportant. Which raises a very basic question – why? Collaboration between parents and teachers, between parents and administrators and between parents and school board members should be natural instead of adversarial. There are only a few points in law addressing what is required of districts regarding working with parents. The Department of Education does not set curriculum, the Department sets standards and local school boards set curriculum. Yet another example of why school board elections are so important. Some schools are more than happy to provide the materials, curriculum, as well as options for parents to choose alternate materials. However, that isn’t the case everywhere. House Study Bill 706 includes new transparency and state standards, and it has passed the Ed committee, but we are welcoming additional feedback as this bill moves along.

This week in the House Economic Growth Committee we unanimously passed the recommendations of the artisanal butchery task force, as issued in its final report to the general assembly on January 6, 2022. Last session, we created the Artisanal Butchery Program and Fund to support the meat industry in Iowa. House Study Bill 675 requires the department of education to collaborate with the state board of education and establish a framework for a one-year community college certificate program for artisanal butchery. The bill also requires IWD to collaborate with IEDA to develop and maintain a library of resources that serves as a single resource point at which any Iowa-based business involved in meat processing may obtain education and financial assistance information. It also requires IWD to add butchery, artisanal butchery, and meat processing to the list of high-demand jobs by July 31, 2022.

In Information Tech Committee I ran, HSB 674, and a consumer data privacy bill. In the absence of federal privacy legislation, U.S. states are weighing in. After California and Virginia passed their versions of consumer data privacy legislation, other states, including Iowa have been exploring similar legislation. HSB 674 would establish consumer’s ownership over their online data and allow them to know what information companies have on them as well as giving them the opportunity to correct or delete the data. I also ran HSB 556, which requires a feasibility study for the construction and installation of an internet exchange point (IXP) in Iowa. The primary purpose of an IXP is to allow networks to interconnect directly, via the exchange, rather than going through one or more third-party networks. The primary advantages of direct interconnection are cost, latency, and bandwidth. Companies with a presence inside the IXP can shorten the route of internet traffic with other participating networks, which reduces latency (increases speed), improves round-trip time (another speed enhancement), and has the potential to reduce costs.

Author: Ray Sorensen

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