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The Third week of session was jam packed with subcommittees and committee meetings again, and will be for the foreseeable future.  I had fun visiting with, most of House District 20’s, FFA students as the Capitol was flooded with those navy blue jackets.

In Appropriations we released our plan for increasing state funding to local schools. The House GOP plan provides an additional $107.75 million in new funding for the 2020-2021 school year. For supplemental state aid (SSA), the House plan provides a 2.5 % increase next year. This increases state funding by $94.7 million, raising the state aid appropriation to $3.386 billion in Fiscal Year 2021, with a $7.25 million to reduce transportation costs for rural schools and ensure no school spends more than the state wide average, and $5.8 million in equity funding to further reduce the cost per pupil gap by $10 per student.  With the surplus we want to make sure we keep our fiscal house in order, all while spreading the funds to the many priorities across the state. I think the Senate’s numbers will be a bit more conservative, especially on SSA, but we are committed to fighting for at least this much for an increase for our schools.

In Commerce I ran legislation extend the sunset on streamlining the process for companies with wireless infrastructure to install towers for their customers. A sunset in this law encourages the companies and local jurisdictions to have open lines of communication. Extending the sunset until 2025 allows this technology to continue to develop and mature. This includes expanding access to the fifth generation or 5G. The Committee has also begun reviewing and considering a number of other bills including broadband internet, insurance, and energy issues. Iowa is a leader in the world when it comes to insurance and the committee is working to ensure the state retains this recognition. High speed internet access is becoming a necessity in today’s world, the committee is looking at ways to facilitate access to the internet for every Iowan.

In State Government I was assigned a bill that I dubbed the “Lemonade Stand Bill”. There have been a couple of cases where police have shut down children’s lemonade stands, as in code they’re technically illegal. The bill states that a municipal corporation or regulatory authority shall not adopt or enforce an ordinance or rule that requires a license, permit, or fee to sell or otherwise distribute food at a stand operated by a minor.

In Veterans Affairs I was assigned a bill that didn’t make it last year, so I was reassigned it again.  SF 280 amends the definition of resident to also include a member of the armed forces who is stationed at and resides or is domiciled within a federal military installation located contiguous to a county in this state. It fixes code to allow hunting and fishing for those in the armed forces stationed at Rock Island. Also, some news we recently received, for the second year, the Iowa Veterans Home has received some national recognition for quality of care. US News and World Report has rated this nursing home a five on a scale of five.

My wife and I got the chance to attend the Trump rally in Des Moines on Thursday.  I’d never been to one, and thought I’d take a chance to see a sitting President speak.  We tried to catch Andrew Yang in Greenfield but just missed him and ran into his staff and saw his tour bus at the Olive Branch (my in-laws restaurant).  I’d still like to catch a Senator Gabbard speech before its whittled down, too. I listened to her and Bernie on Rogan and thinks it’s great to broaden your political exposure to truly understand where your values are.

I won’t preach too much presidential, or federal level politics here, I’d rather use this space to let you know what’s going on in the statehouse.  For what it’s worth, I like some of what the president has been able to accomplish. He has renegotiated unfair trade deals in search of better terms, he has implemented tighter work requirements for food stamps (work is a blessing, not a punishment), criminal justice reform, opioid and sex trafficking legislation, and the “Right to Try” law giving dying Americans access to experimental medications, just to name a few. But, with every leader, there are things I disagree with too. And believe me, I have social media and liberal friends, I know the knocks against him.

I’ve got a couple asks of you though, stop cheering for political parties like football teams, and to please keep your passion but for God’s sake, drop the hate. Political discourse can be civil, even though unfortunately, social media tells me otherwise. We live in a great, diverse and free country, turn off cable news, breathe, the world isn’t on fire­­­­. We’ve got problems to solve, sure, but continue to read up, listen to a variety of podcasts and interviews, attend rallies and get involved. Also, please, attend the caucuses (Feb. 3rd), that’s a great place to visit with your neighbors and learn from each other and hear from candidates and their supporters. We’ll see you out there!

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!

Author: Ray Sorensen