***The Iowa Standard is an independent media voice. We rely on the financial support of our readers to exist. Please consider a one-time sign of support or becoming a monthly supporter at $5, $10/month - whatever you think we're worth! If you’ve ever used the phrase “Fake News” — now YOU can actually DO something about it! You can also support us on PayPal at [email protected] or Venmo at Iowa-Standard-2018 or through the mail at: PO Box 112 Sioux Center, IA 51250

This week was the twelfth week of the legislative session. It included the next important legislative deadline of the year. In order to be considered for the rest of the year, policy bills needed to be out of their original chamber and through committee in the second chamber. In other words, we spent time this week looking at policy bills sent to us from the House.

We received more good news about Iowa and the economy. The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Iowa’s economy grew faster in the last few months of 2020 than many of our neighboring states at 6.3 percent. This, along with one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, is great news as Iowa recovers from the pandemic. It also demonstrates why pro-growth policies are important – they help grow our economy, open up jobs so people can work, and ensure we are prepared when difficult times hit. We will continue advocating for pro-growth policies at the Capitol and make this state the best for living, working and raising a family.

This week the Senate passed Senate File 333. It makes a number of changes to laws regarding emergency vehicles and reducing obstacles that would get in the way of emergency personnel doing their jobs and give them more protections while they work. This policy includes requiring the use of sirens or lights unless an officer believes at that time using them may cause evidence to be destroyed by a suspect and allows someone to drive an emergency vehicle without using sirens or lights transporting a patient to receive emergency medical care. The bill also says emergency personnel, like a certified firefighter, emergency medical care provider, peace officer, or reserve peace officer, will not be liable for any consequence of injury or loss arising from the operation of an authorized emergency vehicle in an emergency situation. A person is still liable if the vehicle is operated with reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property.

The Senate also passed Senate File 496. This bill eliminates noncompete agreements with employees making, on a monthly average, $14.50 an hour or less. It prohibits noncompete agreements for low-wage employees restricting employment by a different employer for a certain period of time, in a geographical area, or a similar role. Noncompete agreements are a barrier to the workforce, and inhibit mobility and upward advancement for people working hard to support themselves and their loved ones.

Another bill we passed this week was House File 260, allowing a person providing child care to care for five or fewer children or six or fewer children if one of the children is school-aged. Current law requires a child care home to register as a child development home if the child care home provides child care to more than five children at any one time. Access to affordable child care has been an issue for a while, especially while many were working from home during the pandemic. This bill is one way we can address the need for child care, especially in rural areas, without creating a new government program or further complicating Iowa’s tax code.

Author: Amy Sinclair