Rep. Brian Best (Iowa House District 12)

Representative Brian Best

Monday, April 22 , 2019

Week 14 News

Last week was a very busy week for me. As there are seven budget chairs in the House and Senate, our job was to reach agreement between the House and Senate budget chairs on funding particular line items within our budgets. Compromises must be made. The priorities within the Iowa House are sometimes different than the priorities of the Iowa Senate so agreements had to be worked out. As the chair of the Economic Development Budget Committee, I worked with my counterpart from the Senate and we reached agreements on Thursday evening. The other six subcommittee chairs also negotiated final budget numbers. The seven budget subcommittees are Economic Development, Education, Health & Human Services, Agriculture, Justice Systems, Transportation/Infrastructure, and Administration & Regulations.

Iowa Hemp Act
Iowa farmers may soon have the option to grow industrial hemp. A new federal farm bill has legalized hemp again in the United States. A bill approved by the Senate designates two state agencies to oversee the crop and would allow Iowa farmers to grow up to 40 acres starting in 2020. The hemp plant is a cousin of marijuana but smoking it does not make you high. The plant’s seeds and stocks can be used to make fabric and paper as well as oil and building materials. At this point, hemp production will be a niche market and initially there will likely be problems fighting buyers to produce the product. In the long term, it does have potential to become a third major crop in Iowa. Farmers will have to obtain a state license to grow hemp. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Iowa Department of Public Safety will oversee its production to ensure it’s not being grown as cover for marijuana.

Stun Gun Bill
A bill to allow most students to carry stun guns on university and community college campuses passed the House last week with bipartisan support. I support the bill and believe that it is reasonable to allow men and women on campus to defend themselves. Stun guns are not lethal and are meant to incapacitate somebody for a short time allowing the victim to go find the help they need.

Wrap Up
With state budgets being finalized, it is possible that the Legislature may adjourn by this weekend. There also is a possibility of budget disagreements slowing adjournment but it appears that the House and Senate are on the same page at this time. The final forum of the year is scheduled for 10:00 A.M. at the DMACC Campus in Carroll on Saturday April 27th, 2019. Check with your local media in regards to the forum on Saturday as the Legislature may still be in session at that time.

Monday, April 15 , 2019

Week 13 News

Expansion of Childcare Tax Credit

Representative Jacob Bossman from Sioux City is proposing more generous tax credits to make childcare more affordable and to get more Iowans into the workforce. Many constituents want to return to work after having a child but are finding that the cost of childcare is prohibitive. Representative Bossman’s amendment would double the credit from $45,000 or less to $90,000 or less. There are many childcare issues in our district and I believe this is a small step in the right direction. Another concern would be the lack of childcare availability. Affordable childcare service is an important issue to economic development in rural Iowa. It will provide incentive for both spouses to work and we all know that we need all the workers we can get as unemployment is at a historical low.

Iowa DOT Seeks $8.7 Million to Restock Salt Supplies

For the first time in five years, the Iowa DOT is seeking a special appropriation for salt. It has been a very brutal winter and the extra $8.7 million is proof of that. January and February were plagued by snow, ice, and rain which forced state and local entities to ramp up sand and salt applications. Iowa DOT’s winter severity index found Iowa’s 2018-2019 winter to be the harshest in the past decade.

Broadband in Rural Iowa Legislature

CenturyLink has announced the completion of new broadband to about 21,000 rural Iowa homes and businesses. Fast and dependable internet services are important to the overall economic development picture in rural Iowa.   Access to this is becoming more and more important as it will allow for local citizens to work out of their homes and stay in their communities. I fully support all efforts to bring these services to everyone in our district.

Push for Rural Economic Development

I was happy to co-sign and be involved with the writing of HSB252.  This bill is managed by House Appropriations Chair Pat Grassley. It is an attempt to step up economic development efforts in rural Iowa. It directs the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) to award at least 50% of tax incentives to projects in small cities.  Small city is defined as a city of less than 30,000 in a county of less than 50,000.   Many legislators understand the importance of our small rural towns.   They are an important part of our culture and we must do what we can to give them whatever tools are possible to allow them to maintain and hopefully grow their population.

Monday, April 5 , 2019

Week 12 News

State Budget Plan Begins to Move
The budget process is in full swing at the Statehouse with budget bills beginning to move this week. Last week, the House passed the Education budget which funds community colleges, Regent universities, job training programs, and other priorities that:

  • Keep higher education affordable for Iowa students
  • Address the skilled worker shortage and train Iowans for 21st century careers
  • Educate teachers to recognize the signs of mental health issues in students
  • Train new health care providers to practice in rural Iowa

Some specific highlights of the House Education budget include:

  • $14.8 million in new funding for Future Ready Iowa and Last Dollar Scholarships to train 7,500 workers for the careers of tomorrow
  • $16 million funding increase for Iowa, Iowa State, and UNI to keep tuition affordable for Iowa students
  • $7 million funding increase for community colleges and job training programs that support workers and employers
  • $3 million in new funding for mental health awareness training to help K-12 teachers identify students with mental health problems
  • $3 million for All Iowa Opportunity Scholarships to help 635 low-income Iowans attend college
  • $1.4 million for a rural primary care loan program to help put new doctors in rural areas that need health care providers

The Legislature already provided K-12 schools with a $90 million funding increase at the beginning of session. This funding package increased general support while also targeting dollars to rural schools with high transportation costs and reduced the long-standing per pupil inequity in the funding formula.
Additional budgets dealing with health care, public safety, courts, and other state departments have also begun to move or will move shortly.

Moving Forward with Managed Care

Last week, Governor Reynolds announced that negotiations between the state and UnitedHealthcare had broken down and the MCO would be leaving the Medicaid program. Governor Reynolds made the right decision in refusing to be held hostage by UnitedHealthcare.

The Governor’s office and the Department of Human Services (DHS) are actively working on a transition plan with Amerigroup and Iowa Total Care to minimize disruption of services for members. UnitedHealthcare members should be watching their mail for notice and more information on the transition. DHS also plans to reach out directly to members over the phone to ensure no one falls through the cracks.

In order to ensure that MCOs meet the needs of vulnerable Iowans and providers, the Legislature passed some of the strongest oversight measures for MCOs in the entire country last session. These changes were intended to hold MCOs accountable to both Medicaid members and providers, ensuring that patients get the care they need and providers are paid in a timely manner.
House Republicans will continue to monitor the Medicaid program to ensure that it remains successful and meets the needs of the people it serves.

 Monday, March 25 , 2019

2019 Week Ten Legislative Newsletter 

House File 546 (the SAVE extension bill) passed the House with a 96-3 margin. Currently the sunset date will take effect in 2029. This bill will add twenty more years to 2049. It is important to pass now because bonds often times mature in twenty years. At this time, the SAVE money is only guaranteed through ten more years. Obviously that makes it harder to receive bond money and sometimes even if that money becomes available, a higher interest rate will be paid. Without the SAVE penny, the only alternative is to use general obligation bonds that fall on the backs of local property tax payers.  Other provisions in the bill include the prioritization of school safety. The bill prioritizes security efforts in all attendance centers by using the funds to provide secure entrances, cameras, and other safety enhancements. The bill will also provide new and better science labs, computer labs, and technical labs for skilled trades. This will encourage Career Technical Education which will help students get hands-on experience with career options in technical fields. The state of Iowa has a huge shortage of skilled workers.

Bipartisan Children’s Mental Health Legislation Passes House

In the past several years, we have tried to improve adult mental health and have made strides. Now the focus is on children’s mental health. Acting on recommendations from mental health providers, advocates, and parents, the House passed legislation this week that develops the framework for a community-based mental health system specifically designed for the children of Iowa. The bill focuses on building the infrastructure necessary by bringing together mental health professionals, parents, and advocates (as well as educators and other representatives) from Iowa’s K-12 system.

The bill will also ensure that parents can easily seek help when their child needs mental health support. Each mental health region will have a local care coordinator dedicated to assisting parents to connect with providers near their community to find treatment for a child with a mental health issue. A state-wide 24 hour crisis line will also now be available to assist with finding mental health treatment options for both children and adults.

Flooding in Iowa

Much of Northern and Western Iowa is experiencing significant flooding in what was a perfect storm of intense rain and snow followed by warm temperatures that caused snow melt runoff over still frozen ground. This has particularly devastated many communities along the Missouri River where several levees have been compromised. Governor Reynolds issued a disaster declaration for 57 out of 99 Iowa counties. Carroll, Audubon and Crawford counties are included. She met with Vice President Mike Pence and Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts last week to participate in a flyover of flood damage on both sides of the Missouri River. She asked for a federal disaster declaration and over the weekend President Trump approved of $1.6 billion for the flooding aid. The Governor also released information to help Iowans impacted by the recent flood. Applying for assistance can be done via phone at 1-800-621-3362 or go online to

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he “absolutely” will call for an inquiry into the Army Corp Engineers’ actions like ordering the town of Hamburg to remove reinforcements from a levee which protected the town in the 2011 floods. “When a town was trying to help themselves and then have to take protection down and then get flooded like they have now, where it’s probably worse than it was in 2011,” Grassley says. “We have to have a complete review of the manual that governs all that”.

Our next forum will be on Saturday March 30th at 10 a.m. This will take place at the Legion Hall in Westside.

 Monday, March 18 , 2019

2019 Week Nine Legislative Newsletter 

Ag Production Facility Trespass Bill
Both Chambers of the Iowa Legislature approved Senate File 519 by bi-partisan votes. SF 519 creates new agriculture production facility trespass provisions that specifies certain offenses relating to agricultural production operations that cause economic damage or other injury are illegal. Those offenses include sabotage, adulterations, and destruction of property such as agricultural crops or animals. This legislation is of great interest to Iowa’s livestock and food processing industry as fraudulent trespass could result in the introduction of catastrophic animal diseases such as foot and mouth, or African Swine Fever. Either disease could cause billions of dollars of economic damage to Iowa farms, businesses and employees.

Iowa’s Nation-Leading Graduation Rate
Iowa continues to lead the nation at #1 in the graduation rate and has become the first state in the nation to surpass the 90% mark as of a few years ago. Iowa reached an all-time high last year with a 91.4% graduation rate. Since 2011, Iowa’s four-year graduation rate has climbed 3.1%. Conversely, as the graduation rate has climbed, the dropout rate has decreased. This is something to be proud of as Iowans!

Court Control Regarding Life and Death Decisions
Last week, the House debated HF 594. This bill ensures a court cannot order the withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures from a minor child over the objection of the child’s parent or guardian unless there is conclusive medical evidence that the child has died. A law change like this helps ensure Iowans don’t have to worry about the government intervening into private and personal decisions. The bill does not change how disputes are solved between parents, but simply says the court does not make the final life and death determination.

Many will remember the case of Alfie Evans, from the United Kingdom, whose life-sustaining treatment was removed by the courts. This action was done over the objection of his parents when some medical providers determined he should no longer receive additional medical options, even when hospitals around the world were willing to treat him. HF 594 was passed with bi-partisan support.

Section 179 Expensing
The House passed Senate File 220 – providing section 179 expensing with a maximum deduction of $70,000 for corporations, financial institutions, partnerships, and limited liability companies taxed as corporations. Currently, for tax year 2018, the maximum expensing allowance deduction and investment limitations on section 179 property for such entities was limited to $25,000 and $200,000. Last year’s tax reform bill set the limit to $70,000 for individuals. With the passing of SF 220, these entities will be allowed the same deductions and subject to the same limits as individuals. The investment limitation in the bill is set at $280,000. The fiscal impact of SF 220 will be a general fund reduction of $620,000 in fiscal year 2019 and a reduction of $430,000 in fiscal year 2020.

Under the Radar Bipartisan Work
While the press likes to focus on divisive issues and controversial topics, the truth is that the vast majority of the Legislature’s work is either unanimous or bipartisan. Through the first funnel, 91% of the bills passed out of the House committees had bipartisan support (217 out of 238).

This figure is not out of the norm either. During the two-year 87th General Assembly, nearly 89% of the bills passed by the Iowa House were done so with votes from both parties.
Iowa is not Washington D.C. We understand that after an election is over, it is time to put political games aside and govern. Republicans and Democrats in the Iowa House are known for working together and frequently collaborating on shared priorities like education, health care, and public safety.


The next forum is Saturday March 23rd at the Glidden Public Library beginning at 10:00 AM.



Monday, March 11 , 2019

2019 Week Eight Legislative Newsletter 

The House budget for the upcoming year has been released. Our budget comes in $9.5 million higher than the Governor’s. It fills all reserve accounts to statutory requirements and leaves a healthy ending balance of $98.6 million. It is a fiscally responsible budget and puts more money back into public safety, skilled nursing facilities, critical access hospitals, and community colleges.

Children’s Mental Health – House Study Bill 206
Last session, Republicans and Democrats came together to pass landmark mental health legislation that fills many of the gaps in Iowa’s adult mental health system. This session, the House is working to advance legislation that establishes the framework for a children’s mental health system to ensure Iowa kids can access the services and support that they need. This bill has no cost at this time and is a framework-only bill to set a coordinated effort in the future. I am also in favor of the Governor’s recommendation for $3 million to be used to train K-12 teachers in identifying students that may be struggling with mental health issues. In the past, we have not focused enough attention on children’s mental health issues. This bill (along with the $3 million in funding for K-12 mental health), are both good legislation. Mental health is becoming a huge issue in this state. We must do what we can to help those who are suffering.

Expanded Access to Birth Control – House Study Bill 214
Governor Reynolds proposed legislation that will make it easier for women to access common forms of birth control without a prescription. Under HSB 214, it would allow a woman (18 years or older) to go directly to the pharmacy to access birth control. She would be required to fill out health information that a pharmacist would review. The pharmacist could then fill the prescription. I voted in favor of this bill in Committee and I am optimistic that it will pass on the floor. This is a way to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions in Iowa.

Thank you for allowing me to represent District 12.

In service,

Brian Best
Iowa House of Representatives
State Representative
Address: State Capitol, Des Moines, IA 50319
Phone: 515–281-3221; Home: 712-830-1844


Committees: Appropriations, Commerce, Human Resources, Transportation
Appropriations Subcommittee: Economic Development, Chair 


Monday, March 4 , 2019

2019 Week Seven Legislative Newsletter 

Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE)
In 2008, the legislature created the Save Fund to help schools make investments in crumbling school infrastructure. It has been an important tool for schools to make improvements. SAVE is set to expire in 2029 which makes it more difficult to secure financing because bonds often times are secured for ten years or more. Last session, the House passed an extension of SAVE but it did not move forward in the Senate. House File 546 would extend SAVE through 2050. It has passed the committee overwhelmingly and has bipartisan support in the House. One cent of Iowa’s sales tax goes to SAVE.

How is SAVE Used?
SAVE dollars can be used to ensure that the schools have a high quality emergency response plan and help pay for security upgrades. Schools can use SAVE dollars to fund technology improvements in their district. Some schools have used funding to ensure that every student has a laptop or tablet. There is also a provision that will direct $1 million dollars from SAVE each year to help school districts establish career academies. This will help implement Future Ready Iowa to give students the ability to explore career options that are in high demand in their local area. The academies will also help provide students with first-hand job experience that can be translated into a career after graduation. It will also help businesses identify and train their workers.

Pharmacy Benefits Managers (PBM)
I am floor managing a bill that will require more transparency from PBMs. PBMs are the middle man between drug manufacturers and insurance companies. They coordinate the delivery of drugs to Iowans and work with major insurance companies in the state. The PBM system has many flaws. Here is an example: In spring of 2018, the Iowa House Oversight Committee held a hearing regarding a PBM business transaction in Ottumwa, Iowa. A local pharmacy was asked to fill a prescription for the county jail. The PBM involved was CVS/CareMark. They are owned by CVS Pharmacy. They paid a local pharmacy a total of $1,500 for a month’s supply of four different medications. In turn, they billed the county $5,000 dollars. This is just one example of a dishonest business practice that happens quite often, I’m sure. Additionally, PBMs require huge rebates from the manufacturers in order to be on their list of medications offered to insurance companies. Sometimes medications sold from the manufacturer are rebated up to as high as fifty percent. Some of this money is kept by the PBM and some of it is sent back to the insurance carrier. The consumer never sees the savings. They pay one hundred percent of retail while the rebate is passed on to other entities.

What Our Bill Would Do
The bill will require PBMs to share at least 51% of that rebate with the consumer instead of it all going back to insurance. The relationship between PBMs and insurance and how rebates are calculated and paid back to insurance companies are hidden behind a black curtain because of laws regarding business contracts, no one knows how much the insurance company is actually paying for medication. Pharmaceutical companies are in some ways held hostage and have to charge ridiculously high amounts knowing that they will lose the PBM contract if they don’t rebate a large percentage back to the PBM. The bill also requires PBMs and insurance companies to show more transparency and report information back to the Iowa Insurance Commissioner.
The way that current PBM practices are monopolistic and threatening local pharmacies, they have the ability to use their own pharmacy when they feel like it and pass the medication delivery off to a local pharmacist when they don’t feel like it. In either case, they always make sure to pad their own pockets at the expense of the consumer and local business. As you can imagine, the PBMs are lining up and opposing the bill we are working on. Representative John Forbes is a pharmacist from Urbandale. We are working on this bill together. It passed Subcommittee unanimously and also the full committee and commerce with a vote of 23-0. I look forward to managing this bill on the House floor.

Our next forum will be on Friday March 8, 2019 at the Harold Bierl Building beginning at 4 p.m.


Tuesday, February 18 , 2019

2019 Week Five Legislative Newsletter

Rural Nursing Home Issues
Rural nursing homes in Iowa are facing financial challenges. The reason is that they are taking on more Medicaid recipients as a percentage of the total number of residents. Secondly, as assisted living services come to smaller towns, fewer people are going into the traditional skilled nursing facilities (SNF). We see fewer overall residents filling the rural beds and by taking on a higher percentage of Medicaid patients, it is problematic because Medicaid payment is low. I am meeting with DHS this week to tell them our nursing homes are in desperate need of higher reimbursement rates. Some of the issues, such as the competition from assisted living, is driven by the market place and will continue. However, I believe the state has the responsibility of reimbursing at a rate that is equal to the cost of care.

Tanning Beds
I’ll be serving on the subcommittee next week considering a bill that would require that a person be at least 16 years of age to use a tanning bed. Excess tanning bed use is linked to Melanoma which is a very deadly and fast spreading cancer. As of now, there currently is not an age limit for a person to use a tanning bed. This law would prevent anyone 15 years of age and younger from using a tanning bed. There is general agreement amongst the industry that this is a reasonable bill. This does not affect spray tanning.

Governor’s Budget
When it comes to budgeting, there are always three parts of government that have ideas. The Governor’s budget called for $7.653 million dollars in spending. The House’s version spends a few million dollars more in total. We are trying to be thoughtful to increase a few budgets that were either flat lined or decreased over the last couple of years due to stagnant revenue. I am thankful that our revenue projections for the 2020 fiscal year are coming in higher than expected. I am hopeful that we can put much needed revenue increases into public safety, community college funding, judicial services, and skilled nursing home rebasing.

In service,

Brian Best
Iowa House of Representatives
State Representative
Address: State Capitol, Des Moines, IA 50319
Phone: 515–281-3221; Home: 712-830-1844


Committees: Appropriations, Commerce, Human Resources, Transportation
Appropriations Subcommittee: Economic Development, Chair 

Tuesday, February 5 , 2019

News from Week 3 – 2019 Legislative Session

Soybeans/European Union (EU)
The European Union has agreed to purchase American soybeans through at least July 1, 2021. With Iowa being the second largest agriculture exporting state in the country, this is great news as there are high hopes to expand the sales for the biodiesel market. Agreements like this will add jobs and economic growth to our state.

Good News for Iowans
Last year, Iowa won the #1 State Award by U.S. News and World Report. The report was based on data such as infrastructure, education, healthcare, cost of living, etc. This past week, we received another honor: job search site, Zippia, ranked Iowa as the best state for jobs based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The following criterion was considered:

1) Improvement in unemployment over the past year
2) The state’s current unemployment rate
3) How home prices compared with median income
4) How resident’s income improved year over year

This just goes to prove that Iowa is a great place to live and work! Now we have to do our job at the state level to fill the skills gap that we have and retain some of our kids to consider staying in their community. We also need to promote our state through tourism and advertising in order to attract hardworking Americans to come to Iowa.

Creighton University Survey
A monthly report on the economy in Iowa (and eight other Midwestern states) shows the leading economic indicator rose to its highest level since September. Creighton professor, Ernie Goss, expects to see solid growth for the region over the next six months. His survey found that in the past twelve months non-durable goods manufacturers have expanded jobs by 2.8 percent while durable goods manufacturers have added 3.9 percent to their workforce. Iowa has the lowest unemployment rate of any state. That is good news! The bad news is that we have many jobs that are unfulfilled because we don’t have the workforce.

There are no forums scheduled for this week. Thank you for the honor of representing you in the Iowa House of Representatives.

In service,

Brian Best
Iowa House of Representatives
State Representative
Address: State Capitol, Des Moines, IA 50319
Phone: 515–281-3221; Home: 712-830-1844


Committees: Appropriations, Commerce, Human Resources, Transportation
Appropriations Subcommittee: Economic Development, Chair 

Tuesday, January 29 , 2019

News from Week 2 – 2019 Legislative Session

I will be sponsoring a bill this week that addresses radon in our schools. This bill will require radon testing and mitigation. Radon is known to be a silent killer causing lung cancer. I am concerned with the harmful effects for students if they are sitting in classrooms with high radon levels. I introduced this bill last year and hope that it picks up more interest this year.

Access to CDL (Commercial Driver’s License)
There is a need across the state of Iowa to make CDL testing more convenient for our businesses and potential employees who are seeking CDL licenses. I know that the unavailability in our area causes long waits and long drives for a potential employee to be tested. This is not business friendly and it creates delays in the hiring process. I will be talking with the DOT this week to see if there is anything we can do to create easier access for these services in rural Iowa.

Medicaid MCO’s (Managed Care Organizations)
Since the inception of the MCO’s in 2017, there have been problems in getting services that should be covered for their subscribers. In addition, payers have been forced to accept low allowables, and often times, long delays or no payment for legitimate charges. We need more transparency than what we currently have from the MCOs. The philosophy behind MCOs should be to make efficient decisions regarding healthcare. It is not good policy to deny legitimate coverages to subscribers in need or to force providers to provide vital services at a loss.

It is an honor to serve District Twelve. The forum on Saturday February 2nd will be held at the Memorial Hall in Audubon at 10 a.m.

In service,

Brian Best
Iowa House of Representatives
State Representative
Address: State Capitol, Des Moines, IA 50319
Phone: 515–281-3221; Home: 712-830-1844


Committees: Appropriations, Commerce, Human Resources, Transportation
Appropriations Subcommittee: Economic Development, Chair 

Tuesday, January 22 , 2019

News from Week 1
Here are some of the highlights from the first week of the 2019 legislative session. On Tuesday, January 15th, Governor Reynolds gave her Condition of the State address. I am pleased and encouraged with the attention that Governor Reynolds gave in regards to the issues in rural Iowa.

Governor Reynolds mentioned supporting funding for Future Iowa Ready. The biggest worker shortages that we have are in high paying positions. Funding for this program will provide financial aid for future workers to become skilled in areas of need.

Broadband needs to be brought to rural Iowa. Individuals who own small businesses or that work from home need to have access to fast services. Having broadband will allow individuals to stay in business.

Governor Reynolds addressed the importance of bringing attention to mental health in the state of Iowa. The issues of mental health have gotten away from us in years past. The needs of Iowans have outweighed the services provided. Children’s mental health specifically has been ignored for years. The governor’s act to put emphasis on these mental health needs will help us get to a point to find appropriate placement for those with mental health needs.

Lastly, it was discussed how using prison industries can be used to build low cost, modular homes. There are two benefits to this. One being that it would bring affordable housing to rural Iowa towns. Secondly, this would provide skills to prison inmates as well as give them the ability to have dignity in the workplace and it would cut back on recidivism.

The next forum will be held on Saturday, January 26th at 10 a.m. This will be held at New Hope Village in Carroll.

I am honored, once again, to serve the great people of district 12 this year in the 88th General Assembly of the House of Representatives.

In service,

Brian Best
Iowa House of Representatives
State Representative
Address: State Capitol, Des Moines, IA 50319
Phone: 515–281-3221; Home: 712-830-1844


Committees: Appropriations, Commerce, Human Resources, Transportation
Appropriations Subcommittee: Economic Development, Chair 

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