SEN. ZAUN: Proud of work legislature did this year

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Our last few days of the legislative session focused mostly on budget issues, but also included some resolutions on other policies considered this legislative session. This year, the legislature passed a budget of roughly $8.2 billion. This amount includes increased dollars for K-12 education, public safety, and health care. The budget passed this year reflects the priorities of Iowans and implements sustainable increases in spending in those areas.

I have continued to hold fast to the principles of spending conservatively and ensuring the state budget is responsible and sustainable for years to come. In the state Capitol, many forget the budget consists solely of taxpayer dollars. Every budget increase must be made carefully and in coordination with the broader goal of easing the tax burden on Iowans. This budget achieves those goals by controlling the growth of government and government spending, but also returning money to those Iowans who earned it.

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This week the legislature also continued to empower parents by eliminating the open enrollment deadline for Iowa students to enroll in a different public school. Previously, parents had to decide to open-enroll their students by March 1 before the upcoming school year. This change allows parents to open-enroll any time during the school year. Changing school districts in the middle of a school year is a significant change for a family. In certain situations, families must have an option to change schools and this change gives them that option regardless of the time of year.

After years of discussions, the legislature came to an agreement on how to move forward with adjustments to ‘the bottle bill.’ The bill will ensure redemption centers receive more money for the cans they redeem and will help provide Iowans with more options for redeeming bottles and cans. In addition to improving the economic model for redemption centers, this bill also addresses the priority of getting dirty, unsanitary cans out of grocery stores and establishments where food is prepared. It encourages grocers to have safe and clean methods for redemption. This legislation is a big step towards saving the bottle bill by increasing the income for redemption centers and grocers, making redemption sustainable and providing Iowans with more innovative and convenient ways to redeem bottles and cans.

We passed a number of other bills to finish out the session, including a bill to eliminate the PRAXIS exam, reducing hurdles to the workforce for teachers. Other bills passed this week included an update

Iowa’s alcohol laws allowed children under 16 to accompany an adult who is hunting or trapping, and expanded operational sharing functions for school districts. Throughout the legislative session, we passed a lot of bills based on the feedback we hear from constituents and talking to Iowans throughout the state. I am proud of the work we have done this year, and I appreciate all those who reached out with questions or comments throughout the session.

At the start of each year, we are consistently looking at how we can make Iowa the best state in the country to live, work and raise a family. The steps we have taken over these last two years have taken the state in the right direction. I look forward to talking with constituents in the coming months about these victories and how we can build on them in the future. I appreciate all your comments throughout the legislative session and your feedback on the issues important to you. Thank you for your help and input, and I look forward to seeing and talking with you all in the future.

Author: Brad Zaun

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