We have many bills going through committees in the Senate. It’s an ongoing process to make sure that they have merit and deserve consideration to become laws to benefit the people of our state.
There is a bill I am working on relating to the direct care workforce that would create a direct care worker database, inclusion of direct care workers in state skilled workforce programs, and starting a direct care worker tuition grant program and a direct care worker tuition tax credit. This would also raise their hourly wage, which through Medicaid is only $9 an hour. They assist some of our most vulnerable people and they make less than they would working in fast food restaurants. They deserve better.
This week the education budget numbers were released in the Senate. The proposal will provide $91.7 million in new funding for K-12 education for FY 2021. This is more than $300 million new dollars since FY 2017. Senate Republicans have fully funded every K-12 education funding promise we have made each year in the majority.
Another bill allows school nurses behavioral health services via telemedicine in a school setting.
One of the bills passed out of subcommittee this week and on to the full Transportation Committee was the Hands-Free Bill which would extend Iowa’s texting ban to prohibit drivers from using a smartphones or other electronic devices they would hold in their hand while operating a motor vehicle. It carries the current bill one step further. It is just common sense, people need to concentrate on their driving. This will help law enforcement uphold this law.
This week it was a privilege to have FFA members visit from many area schools including Alta-Aurelia and the Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn-Remsen-Union Chapter. It was great to meet with them and discuss my duties as their state senator and to hear their ideas for agriculture.
Other bills moving through subcommittees are Senate Study Bill 3016 which conforms to federal changes for the minimum age to purchase, possess or use tobacco to 21. Senate Study Bill 3052 would treat vaping like other forms of tobacco and prohibit vaping in most public areas.
Big Week for Agriculture
This was a good week for agriculture in Iowa with the signing of the USMCA trade agreement. It is a strong, balanced, and reciprocal trade agreement that will benefit Iowa and the entire nation. Years from now, USMCA will prove to be a major boost to Iowa’s economy, especially for families, farmers, manufacturers, and small businesses. Mexico and Canada are Iowa’s top two trading partners, serving as a key market for Iowa’s products. This agreement, along with Phase 1 deals reached with China and Japan, will help expand markets for Iowa producers.