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Week 2 of the Iowa Legislature sees subcommittee work on proposed legislation hitting full stride.  This first step of a bill’s life usually consists of a three-person subcommittee, two of the majority party and one of the minority party, hearing a description of the bill and then taking input from the public.  Anyone can attend a subcommittee and should be given the opportunity to speak.  Lobbyists, the general public, and other legislators can offer input at this level.  In the Senate, subcommittees are on live camera if you follow the links on the Legislature’s website.

A project I have been working on for years has moved forward.  I have made welfare reform a focus of my years in office.  Over the last several years I have aimed to find a way to ensure a recipient in Iowa is who they say they are, have no hidden assets, and aren’t enrolled in another state’s welfare program.  The hardworking Iowans who pay for welfare benefits deserve this.

The bill I have passed out of the Senate for years have died at the steps of the Iowa House.  For reasons I could not guess, there was no interest in using technology to verify the identity and status of over 600,000 Iowans who receive any form of public assistance.  The best estimate is that modern technology in the private sector could legitimize 85% of applicants, leaving only 15% for state employees to investigate with closer scrutiny.  This would increase the integrity of our programs many-fold.  At the end of the last session, I had to pleasure of receiving the governor’s support after being briefed on the bill.  The House was a tougher nut to crack.

Late last week I received the news that the House Human Services Committee released a series of bills to consider that were my bill, divided by section, into eight separate bills.  This isn’t completely unheard of.  Sometimes breaking down a bill makes it easier to consider each part, especially when it wasn’t your chamber’s idea in the first place.  I welcome this development.  I can’t imagine what part of the bill won’t pass the House’s test of what is good for Iowa.  Our local representatives support the idea.

If the House gives this a fair hearing, we should be seeing our welfare verification system becoming much more efficient by next July.  I’ve estimated savings that could rise to as much $40 million per year.


Author: Jason Schultz

State Sen. Jason Schultz served three terms in the House prior to being elected to the Iowa Senate. Schultz served seven years in the National Guard and served as volunteer fire fighter for the Schleswig Volunteer FD for 13 years, two years as the department's chief.

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