Sen. Schneider: First funnel deadline is behind us

From Sen. Charles Schneider’s newsletter:

The Iowa General Assembly this week reached its first legislative milestone. March 7 is known around the capitol as the “first funnel deadline.” By rule, policy-related legislation must pass through a committee in either the House or the Senate in order to remain viable for the legislative session.

With the first funnel deadline behind us, I would like to highlight two bills that I believe are important. Each of these bills is still alive and eligible for consideration by the full Senate.

SJR 20: This resolution would amend Iowa’s Constitution to require that the state can only spend 99 percent of the money it takes in each year. This limit is already in law, but past legislatures routinely circumvented the limitation to enact spending the state could not afford. By adding it to the Constitution, we can ensure that future legislatures abide by this important requirement.

I strongly support this amendment. I managed this constitutional amendment on the Senator floor during the last General Assembly because I believe it is important to Iowa’s fiscal health. If adopted, the amendment ensures Iowa spends fewer tax dollars than it takes in, while maintaining the flexibility that state government needs to respond to emergencies like natural disasters, floods, animal disease outbreaks, or a farm crisis.

SF 376: This bill adds requirements that Iowa students between grades 7-12 receive age-appropriate and research-based information on mental health awareness, coping skills, and suicide prevention during their health classes.

I introduced this bill at the request of a constituent who is on the front lines of addressing mental health issues in our schools. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people in our country (both for ages 10-24 and ages 12-18). More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease, combined. While our teachers will never replace mental health professionals, schools are directly involved in the fight to address mental health issues in young people. To me, this bill is a simple change that might save lives.

The Iowa General Assembly will consider hundreds of other bills and issues before it adjourns in the spring. Please reach me by email or social media to share your thoughts on things happening here at the capitol. I look forward to hearing what you think.