Week 15 under the Golden Dome has meetings between the House, Senate, and the Executive Branch taking place as momentum is building towards reaching a spending plan agreement. Budget Sub Chairs in both Chambers are meeting together on their areas of expertise to hash out those final line items to get us to the agreed-upon budget numbers.
The Child Labor bill or, SF 542, was worked on with Representatives, Senators, Iowa Workforce Development, and businesses, including grocery stores and restaurants, which hire many individuals under 18. This bill has undergone many changes throughout the process, including incorporating changes suggested by the labor unions and bar association. This bill strikes a balance to ensure parental consent and safety, while also enabling young Iowans to build work ethic and skills, earn their own money, and begin down the path to figuring out their future. It does not take much thought, after reading the bill, that it responsibly updates very old code and includes reasonable and safe updates.
Which raises the question – Why so much out there misrepresenting the bill? The answer, fundraising. Our colleagues across the aisle have claimed this bill allows children to work with dangerous equipment and chemicals etc. However, Section 4, Section 8, and Section 9 of the bill all make clear, numerous times, that individuals under 18 are not able to work in mines, meatpacking plants, around dangerous chemicals, and more. The fearmongering, and what appears to be intentionally misleading information about this bill has been a bit unhinged.
Last week, the House passed House File 654, a bill that made changes to firearms laws in Iowa. Once again, misinformation ran rampant. However, the bill passed with overwhelming support (62-37) and is in the Senate awaiting further action. HF 654 has nine divisions, some are technical changes designed to ensure the code is uniform, others are substantive to allow law abiding Iowans the freedom to carry their firearms. A short break down of the nine divisions can be found below (in my online/emailed newsletter available at VoteBubba.com).
Recently, the Iowa House passed House File 707 unanimously to increase childcare provider rates by $10.8 million and expand eligibility of the Child Care Assistance Program. This bill also importantly requires parents to work 32 hours, instead of the previous 28 hours, per week to qualify for CCA. This bill awaits a subcommittee assignment in Senate Appropriations Committee. The Iowa House has also passed House File 668 to provide the residential rollback (instead of commercial) to childcare centers and facilities for property tax purposes, which will provide $8.8 million in reduced property taxes for childcare facilities statewide. This bill awaits a subcommittee in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Lastly, House File 319 removes the barrier to childcare worker employment of requiring a physical prior to starting employment. This bill awaits Senate floor action. Over the last two years, House Republicans have prioritized expanding access and lowering the cost of childcare throughout the state.
We also passed off the House Floor HF 718, the property tax reform bill, with a near unanimous vote. The bill does four major things to provide all Iowa property taxpayers with immediate and direct property tax relief. Again, further expansive details in my online/emailed newsletter, but high level, it reduces the 5.40 levy by $1.00, and the state takes over $204 mil. It caps annual property tax increases per parcel to 3 percent for residential and agricultural and 8 percent for commercial and industrial property. It will require increased notice to taxpayers and will move all elections to bonding for the general election date. We’ll see what happens in negotiations with the Senate and Governor, but it’s clear the House has chosen the side of the property taxpayers and not the property tax collectors. Prioritizing certainty and sustainability for property taxpayers over ballooning assessments will continue to be a driving force in the House.