News from Week 14
I would like to introduce Amy Walsh who is my clerk this year. She is also my daughter. It is wonderful to have someone who I have ultimate trust is there every day to help. An organized and efficient clerk is a very important asset to a legislator. Amy does a fantastic job and I am lucky to have her at the Capitol helping me.
Here are a few words from her.
My job as a clerk to Representative Brian Best has been an amazing and interesting experience. When Brian asked if I would help him out at the capitol this year, I took it as a challenge and an opportunity to learn how our Government works in the state of Iowa. I loved having this experience with someone that I know well, as he was able to share with me all the idiosyncrasies of how the House and Senate work together to pass laws.
My job consisted of helping Brian stay organized and help keep him going in the direction of his next scheduled event, which is many. With Brian being the Chair of the Economic Development Committee, I was able to take part in those meetings and see how a bill can be passed out of the committee onto the House floor for debate. Brian also created a couple of bills this year, which allowed me to see how this process works. This experience has shown me that one person really, truly can make a difference in this world if they see a need for change.
I had the opportunity to help him go through the events and discussions from the week to create a weekly newsletter and help organize his multiple emails from constituents from day to day. Research was inevitable to help him answer these emails to the best of our knowledge and ability. I learned that being a legislator is a never ending learning process. There are so many bills being sent through every session and each one requires a great deal of knowledge about the subject. This is why emails and calls from constituents is an important way to get information about a subject and how people feel about a bill that may eventually be turned into law.
I will never forget this experience and will take this knowledge with me forever. I now know how easy it is to talk with your own legislator about items that are most important to you and that it never hurts to reach out and state your own opinion. Politics is a road that I will probably never pursue at a higher level, but appreciate those who work hard for us at the state level to keep us safe and free. Iowa is truly a great place to live and this job has made me appreciate our great state that much more.
We are hoping to wrap up the 2017 legislative session this week. Our next legislative forum will be held on Saturday, April 22 in Carroll at the Carroll High School at 10 a.m. There is a possibility that we will still be meeting on Saturday of this week, in which case the forum would be cancelled. I will have one more newsletter coming out towards the very end of the session as a wrap up.
News from Week 13
Budget for 2018
The 100th day of the legislative session is soon approaching and we are hopeful that we can still complete our work on time. With many policy discussions concluding, our attention will be focused on the budget. With a budget of 7.245 billion for the 2018 FY, this plan fully funds the additional $40 million promised to K-12 schools earlier this session. When most areas will see budget reductions, education will receive the largest funding increase in all areas of government. This budget includes an initial payment to repay the Cash Reserve Account in FY18. The target for this budget was to spend $14 million less than in the 2017 FY budget, representing a real reduction in government spending, not a smaller increase.
5 Month/20 Week Ban on Abortion
We approved a bill last week that prohibits abortions after 5 months or 20 weeks post fertilization. The bill DOES NOT ban or limit the use of contraceptives and does not include criminal penalties for doctors or mothers. The bill DOES allow for exceptions for the life and the health of the mother based on the doctor’s professional judgement in any instance.
First-Time Home-buyers Savings Account Act
House File 622 says that starting January 1, 2018, this act provides for an income tax deduction for contributions made by an account holder into their first-time home-buyer saving account for up to $2000 ($4000 for married filers) and exempts any interest earned on this account from income tax. Under the bill, the total benefit of these two incentives cannot exceed an aggregate lifetime benefit of 10 times the maximum deduction determined for the applicable year. The tax incentives end 10 tax years after the account is opened or when there is a non qualified withdrawal. The bill now moves to the House floor for further discussion.
Legislative Health Insurance
We sent a bill to the Governor’s desk that will require legislators and staff to contribute more towards our health insurance premiums. We voted to increase the contributions to 20% of the premium per month, which is more in line with everyday Iowans. The House has been trying to pass this legislation since 2009, however, it has never passed the Senate until this year.
Templeton Rye Ground Breaking
I had the chance to attend the ground breaking ceremony for the Templeton Rye Distillery in Templeton. The facility will be tentatively completed in 18 months. It will consist of a 34,500- square foot distillery and an aging warehouse. They will be able to produce 500,000 proof gallons of rye whiskey annually, while the aging warehouse will be able to house 40,000 barrels. This will be bringing 27 new jobs and hopefully lots of tourism to visit and tour the facility. This is a fantastic economic development for the town of Templeton and for the state of Iowa.
Iowa House of Representatives
Address: State Capitol, Des Moines, IA 50319