The Segebart Report
Friday, March 20, 2020
The Segebart Report
Friday, March 13, 2020
This week a very hot topic has been the CoronaVirus. This is what the Governor recommends:
Testing at Iowa’s State Hygienic Laboratory has indicated one additional positive case of 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Iowa residents, a total of 14 positive cases. An additional 21 tests were negative.
According to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), the new case is in an older adult (61 to 80 years) from Johnson County and was on the same Egyptian cruise as other positive cases.
The cases previously identified as presumptive positive are now considered positive. The first five positive cases in Iowa were confirmed by CDC, per their policy any further cases are considered positive.
A status report of monitoring and testing of COVID19 in Iowa provided by IDPH can be found here. In addition, a public hotline has been established for Iowans with questions about COVID-19. The line is available 24/7 by calling 2-1-1.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Those most at risk of the virus are older adults, and individuals with underlying health conditions.
Iowans can help prevent the spread of illness by following simple daily precautions including washing hands frequently, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when ill. It is currently flu and respiratory disease season, and IDPH recommends getting the flu vaccine. Influenza activity is widespread in Iowa and as long as flu viruses are circulating, it’s not too late to receive the vaccine.
COVID-19 was first linked to an outbreak in Wuhan, China, but cases have subsequently been identified in several countries, including the U.S. These are the first cases identified in Iowa.
I’m not sure how many of my 5 County Conventions I will make it to this weekend. I will send them all a letter to read from me. I will include the letter in my last newsletter at the end of this session.
In the Legislature
In the ninth week of the legislative session, we continued our work debating bills and sending them to the House of Representatives. We passed a number of bills based on ideas from constituents and issues that came up over the summer and fall.
On September 11, 2019 a few county courthouses were broken into in central Iowa. It was soon discovered these break-ins were part of a security operation ordered by the Iowa Judicial Branch to test security procedures in these counties. After a Senate Government Oversight meeting, the Judicial Branch explained they had contracted with an out-of-state, third-party vendor to organize these break-ins without notifying anyone in those courthouses or law enforcement. The contract lacked specifics on how those break-ins would be handled and what they would entail. Those involved are fortunate nothing serious happened when law enforcement arrived.
Senate File 2394 clarifies the Iowa Judicial Branch does not have the authority to contract an invasion into county courthouses and ensures those buildings remain the responsibility of the counties and taxpayers who fund these courthouses. It makes the county auditor, subject to the direction of the county board of supervisors, the person with custody and control of a courthouse and state courthouses are under the exclusive control of the county or city.
The Senate also unanimously passed Senate File 2301 regarding pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome (PANS) and pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder associated with streptococcal infections (PANDAS). These autoimmune disorders usually present themselves as an eating disorder or strep throat and can be difficult to diagnose with symptoms worsening in just days. The bill requires an insurance carrier offer coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of PANS and PANDAS. The cost of treatment can reach $25,000 for a single dose. In Iowa Wellmark and Medicaid already recognize this disease and it is covered.
Additionally, the Senate passed several bipartisan bills to help a workforce shortage in a few different areas in Iowa. The first, House File 2454, provides another option for an instructor to qualify to teach career and technical education courses at a community college. It allows someone to teach a class if they have an associate degree in the field they are teaching and they have at least 3,000 hours of recent and relevant work experience in that area. Also, someone can qualify if they have a baccalaureate degree in a similar field but completed at least 18 hours in the field they wish to teach. Another bill is Senate File 2298. It exempts certain peace officers authorized to teach the driving portion of driver’s education from having to be certified by the Department of Transportation. It also removes taking the driving instruction preparation requirement course. Last year we passed a bill allowing certain peace officers to teach that portion to help address an instructor shortage in this area, and this bill rolls back those requirements and takes down another hurdle they would have to jump before they could teach driver’s education. Peace officers have extensive training and experience in driving and the rules of the road, and these requirements were unnecessary.
The Senate also passed two different bills relating to driver’s licenses in the state – one regarding a ‘school permit’ and another for driving farm equipment. Both of these bills are common-sense changes to make the everyday lives of rural Iowans easier. Senate File 2009 allows someone with a special minor’s driver’s license, often called a school permit, to operate a car to a site, facility or school within 50 miles for extracurricular activities. A bill like this is especially important for rural areas where schools often have sharing agreements for extracurricular activities. Senate File 2061 says a person is not required to have a driver’s license when operating a farm tractor or other type of husbandry equipment between a home farm building and farmland for the purpose of conducting farm operations.
Lastly, the Senate passed Senate File 537, a bill allowing a person to use an infrared light source to hunt coyotes. Coyotes can be troublesome for livestock owners or even pet owners, and this gives individuals, especially in rural Iowa, access to technology that provides for better target identification for safer, more effective hunting.
Improving Infrastructure for Economic Growth
Since 2017 the agenda in the Iowa Senate has been focused on growth and opportunity. Increasingly, career opportunities in rural Iowa are tied to the availability and reliability of broadband internet service. Governor Kim Reynolds has identified this policy as part of her Empower Rural Iowa initiative. It is a shared priority with the Senate and agriculture, business, and rural development organizations in Iowa. Last year the Senate approved $5 million for rural broadband expansion to expand and improve coverage to rural parts of the state.
This year the governor requested $15 million for rural broadband and a number of policy changes to create more flexibility in the Empower Rural Iowa program. While funding for this project will be debated with the rest of the state budget later in session, this week the Senate passed SF 2400 to implement those policy changes requested by the governor.
The main policy change in this bill was to increase the percentage of the broadband project funded by these grants from 15 percent to 35 percent for certain projects. This change is designed to encourage more private investment in rural broadband expansion.
This bill furthers the Senate’s goal of implementing positive, pro-growth policies to encourage economic development in all parts of the state. SF 2400 passed the Senate unanimously.
The Segebart Report
Friday, February 28, 2020
What a difference a week makes. There was floor debate every day this week. The bills we are passing now are the bills that survived last week’s first funnel.
We are getting House bills every day now. They will need to go through the same process that was required for Senate bills before the first funnel. If the House bills go through the same process without amendment, they are then ready to go to the governor for her signature. Tax bills and appropriation bills will come later and then we are done for the year.
In the Legislature
The halfway point of the legislative session is rapidly approaching. While many bills passed the whole Senate this week, a significant amount of work remains for the rest of this session.
This week Governor Kim Reynolds signed Senate File 2164, the transportation equity bill. The bill unanimously passed the Senate, completing a promise we made several years ago to level the playing field for all Iowa students and buy down the transportation cost of every school district to the statewide average. We have long held that a student’s zip code should not determine the funding available for their education. When rural schools have to spend more on transportation costs for students, less money is available to be spent in the classroom. I am proud of the work that has been done on this bill and I am happy to be see it be signed into law.
One of the bills the Senate passed out this week is Senate File 2272, establishing a real-time verification system for public assistance programs. This bill is crucial in working to eliminate fraud and waste in our welfare system. Just last year, Iowa was fined $1.8 million for overpaying SNAP benefits by $40 million dollars – almost double the national average. Once implemented, this system would save Iowa taxpayers an estimated $12.3 million per year.
Throughout the last several months, we heard from parents and teachers about violent student behavior in the classroom. We heard from parents who were concerned about the safety and well-being of their children, and teachers who had sustained injuries and were afraid to go to work. We have even heard about teachers who simply quit their jobs because they no longer felt safe going to work, having few options to help protect themselves or their students.
To fix this issue, the Senate passed Senate File 2360, an important bill in giving Iowa teachers the tools they need to ensure their classrooms are safe and productive environments for all students and teachers. This bill provides more training for teachers on violent student behaviors, creates therapeutic classrooms and access to alternative placements for children who may become violent, and provides protections for teachers who are dealing with violent student behaviors. It also creates methods for reporting such behavior.
These bills are only a few of the issues we debate over the coming weeks. Please contact me with any questions or comments you have on the issues important to you.
Improving Health Care in Iowa
One of the most discussed issues in government policy at both the state and federal level is health care. This week the Senate ran a number of bills designed to improve the access, control the cost, and increase the availability of health care, especially in rural Iowa.
The first major piece of legislation the Iowa Senate debated this week on health care was a bill to limit the non-economic damages awarded in medical malpractice lawsuits. Recently, awards for non-economic damages in Iowa have been higher than ever before. Huge awards for non-economic damages threaten the viability of rural health care in parts of Iowa, because a big award is much easier to manage for a large hospital in Des Moines than for a community hospital in Iowa’s smaller cities. It is important to note people affected by medical injuries are eligible for all economic loss and any punitive damages for recklessness in the provision of health care. Senate File 2338 works to achieve a balance between the need to compensate people who have medical injuries and the need to keep doctors and health care professionals in rural Iowa.
Senate File 2118 also addressed this issue by allowing physicians in the Rural Physician Loan Repayment Program and similar programs to continue to participate in that program if they refinance or consolidate their student loans. Physicians often have extremely high rates of student debt, and refinancing and consolidating can help ease that burden for young doctors. Iowa has some of the fewest OB/GYN doctors per capita in the nation and these policies can help address that shortage. Additionally, SF 2251, adds OB/GYN to the eligible specialties allowed to receive funding from the Rural Iowa Primary Care Loan Repayment Program. This program helps address critical doctor shortage areas by providing loan repayment incentives for up to five years if an individual agrees to practice in certain rural areas in the state.
Finally, SF 2261 authorizes schools to be acceptable locations for telehealth services. It implements a number of safeguards to ensure quality and confidentiality of the services provided.
Senate Republicans are committed to improving the availability of quality health care all across Iowa and helping control the costs. These bills are a prime example of policies to improve health care without the creation of a new tax or the elimination of choices in health care.
I have no forums this weekend.
Next Forum March 7 at Westside Legion Hall at 10 am.
Audubon Forum March 21 at 8 am
Carroll Forum March 21 at 10 am at Templeton Center
Buena Vista Forum April 11 at 10 am at King’s Pointe Storm Lake
It is an honor to be your Senator.
Sen. Mark Segebart
The Segebart Report
Friday, February 14, 2020
This week we spent most of the time moving bills through sub-committees so they can be considered by the standing committee they were assigned. Once they have been approved at that level they are eligible for floor debate. That deadline to be passed out of committee is next Friday. My tree stand bill went through the National Resource committee this afternoon. I still have subcommittee meetings for 2 other bills and one more is still being drafted.
Next week is always a challenge, but very exciting. The Protect life Amendment to the Iowa Constitution was debated Thursday afternoon for two hours. It passed 32 to 18. It will now need to pass in the same form in the next General Assembly before it goes to “We the People” for a vote in the next general election for final approval. I was very honored to vote for the resolution.
In the Legislature
One of the first things we did during our fifth week in the Senate was pass our education funding bills, Senate File 2164 and Senate File 2142. These bills together mean approximately $90 million in increased funding for Iowa schools. We are confident this amount is sustainable and responsible, allowing us to prioritize K-12 education and ensure money remains to fund other priorities, like public safety and easing the tax burden on Iowans.
Senate File 2164 was our transportation and per-pupil equity bill. The passage of this bill continues to close the gap in equalizing the amount of funding the state sends per student to different districts. It also completes our promise to Iowa schools to level the playing field when it comes to costs associated with transporting students to school. This policy has been a priority several years, and I’m proud we were able to deliver fully on that promise. This bill is now on its way to Governor Reynolds for her signature.
The Senate also moved forward a bill regarding the restoration of voting rights for felons. This bill, Senate File 2129, is separate from the constitutional amendment that has been proposed and would only apply if the constitutional amendment is adopted. The bill clarifies the felons eligible to automatically have their voting rights restored upon the discharge of a sentence. Under this bill, most people would still have their voting rights restored and it only requires a person to complete any parole, probation, special sentence, and pay all victim restitution. This does not include court costs, fines or fees. It creates exemptions for automatic restoration of voting rights for those who have committed crimes like murder and rape. These people would still need to contact the governor’s office to have their voting rights restored.
Lastly, the Senate also debated a constitutional amendment, SJR 2001, for the protection of life. This will allow the people of Iowa, not unelected judges, to decide how Iowa regulates abortion.
Next week is our first legislative deadline of the year, meaning priority legislation, with the exception of bills in Appropriations, Government Oversight, and Ways and Means must be moved out of committee by next Friday.
Expanding the Workforce, Encouraging Work
Unemployment in Iowa has been below 3 percent for more than two years. This news is great for Iowans looking for work and it is a validation of the economic policies implemented during that time. However, the low unemployment rate is one of the primary concerns noted by employers looking to fill positions in their businesses.
In an effort to address the need for a larger workforce in Iowa, Senate Republicans have offered two new bills designed to increase the number of Iowans in the workforce, ensure welfare programs exist for those truly in need, and protect the taxpayers who fund those programs.
Senate Study Bill (SSB) 3068 directs the Department of Human Services (DHS) to contract with a third-party vendor to provide real time verification of eligibility for all welfare programs. In 2019, DHS was fined $1.8 million for an eligibility error rate of 10 percent, well above the 6.8 percent national average. SSB 3068 aims to solve this problem by using private sector technology to immediately identify and verify eligibility of individuals requesting welfare. By utilizing real-time data sources, it will improve the error rate and productivity in the department.
Another bill, SSB 3158, implements work requirements for able-bodied recipients of taxpayer-funded health care. It also updates state law to conform to the change in work requirements for food assistance required by the US Department of Agriculture.
Work requirements for food assistance have a track record of success. According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2015 Wisconsin saw 25,000 people enter the job market after the implementation of work requirements for their food assistance program. While Iowa has maintained work requirements for many years, adhering to the federal policy expanding those requirements should produce growth in the workforce.
The general goals of these reforms are to increase the workforce and continue to expand Iowa’s economy. The specific goal is to improve lives, one family at a time, by encouraging them to experience the inherent dignity and rewards of hard work.
My next forum is this Saturday Feb. 15 at King’s Point in Storm Lake at 10 am.
It is an honor to be your Senator.
Sen. Mark Segebart
The Segebart Report
Friday, February 7, 2020
Congratulations to all the Kansas City Chiefs fans in the district. They say football is a game of inches measured in yards. The legislature is a game of parties measured in votes. I hope you showed up for your local caucus last week and cast your vote for the candidate of your choice. It is a tradition that I hope Iowa will be able to continue for along time.
I had a subcommittee this week on a bill, SF2084, that would help parents with medication for children who have contracted and illness called PANDAS.
Stanford Children’s Health describes the disease like this:
Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS) is a clinical diagnosis given to children who have a dramatic – sometimes overnight – onset of neuropsychiatric symptoms including obsessions/compulsions or food restriction. They are often diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or an eating disorder, but the sudden onset of symptoms separates PANS from these other disorders. In addition, they may have symptoms of depression, irritability, anxiety, and have difficulty with schoolwork. The cause of PANS is unknown in most cases but is thought to be triggered by infections, metabolic disturbances, and other inflammatory reactions.
Like PANS, children with Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal Infections (PANDAS) have an acute onset – within 2 to 3 days – of neuropsychiatric symptoms, specifically OCD or tics (involuntary, purposeless movements). However, PANDAS patients test positive for a recent streptococcal infection, such as strep throat, peri-anal strep or scarlet fever. Like PANS patients, they also may suffer from uncontrollable emotions, irritability, anxiety and loss of academic ability and handwriting skills. Although PANDAS was identified as a medical syndrome more than a decade before PANS, it has been classified as a subset of PANS. To date, PANDAS is the only known subset of PANS.
Medications for this disease can run as high $10,000 per treatment. If it can be treated early when symptoms of strep throat are evident. Parents should ask their doctors to get a strep test done. Early treatment with antibiotics often will stop the onset of this disease.
The issue here is when insurance denies coverage when the expensive treatments are administered and families are left with the bill. I signed the report to move the bill forward. It is recommended that the strep test be done on all children 18 or younger who show symptoms of strep throat. Keep in mind you may need to request the test be done by your doctor.
In the Legislature
Week four was another short week for us because of the Iowa caucuses on Monday. While the week was shorter, it also included the first, floor debate of the year.
Since we have been working on subcommittees for a few weeks now, committee work has also started to pick up as we get bills ready for floor debate. In my committees this week, we worked on allowing non-contiguous counties to share a county engineer or other professionals they may require to hire in local government. We had Kayla Lyons speak to us in Natural Resources, her appointment as director of the Iowa DNR is up for confirmation by the Senate this session. She was appointed by the governor last year, replacing Chuck Gibb after his retirement.
This week work also continued on finding solutions to one of the biggest issues in education, violent student behavior. SSB 3080 was approved at the subcommittee level and a number of changes were made during the Senate Education Committee to aid implementation, clarify intent and provide more specific allocation of resources for therapeutic classrooms. The goal of this legislation remains the same, giving schools districts options for placements of students with violent behavior, keeping teachers safe, and ensuring all students receive the education they deserve.
SSB 3080 is part of an education funding package we announced last week. Together with SSB 3097 and SSB 3096, these bills provide an additional $7.7 million for transportation equity, $5.8 million for per pupil funding, and $75.7 million for K-12 education. These bills would bring total new funding K-12 schools for the next school year to $91.7 million in addition to last year’s levels of funding.
Finally, Senate File 2144 provided funding in the current fiscal year for flood relief and funding to address issues at the State Resource Center in Glenwood passed the Iowa Senate. This supplemental appropriation directs $333,000 to the institution to improve operations and the facility, which has been the subject of a federal investigation. The bill calls for $137,000 to contract with experts for the direct consultation, evaluation, and planning for improvement in operations. It also calls for $102,000 to complete a comprehensive facility assessment as well as an OSHA consultation. Lastly, $94,000 is directed to contract with the UIHC for a peer review of patient care.
More Resources for Flood Recovery
One of the first bill passed out of the Iowa Senate this legislative session appropriates $20 million in state funding for flood disaster relief in Iowa.
Iowa counties were ravaged by flood damage last spring when levees were breached due to ice build-up, winter melt, and spring rains. Many Iowans were forced out of their homes and had no choice but to suspend farming or business operations due to the unprecedented flooding.
The Senate voted to allocate $15 million toward flood relief before adjourning in 2019. The first bill debated of the 2020 session, Senate File 2144, was a supplemental appropriation to again go toward flood relief. This bill appropriates $20 million to the State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to be allocated to local communities to begin repairing levees to protect against potential flooding this spring.
The levels of state funding necessary to address the immediate need have been determined by the Iowa Department of Homeland Security in coordination with the governor and her staff. The Department of Homeland Security will continue to work with federal agencies to determine the amount of future federal funds anticipated to be received. Once the department has a clearer picture of the federal funds to be received, which they should know before the legislature adjourns, additional state funding may be required to help Iowans rebuild and get back on their feet. The legislature will look at appropriating additional funds at that time.
Funding for these emergencies has not created a budget crisis because Senate Republicans have carefully managed the state budget and provided a cushion to absorb this need for flood relief.
Since the natural disaster occurred last spring the state department of Homeland Security has been working with federal agencies to acquire available resources to assist displaced Iowans, rebuild roads and highways, work with fellow Iowans and communities in the southwest portion of our state.
I have no forums this weekend. Next Saturday’s forum is in Storm Lake at Kings Pointe 10 am.
It is an honor to be your senator.
Sen. Mark Segebart
The Segebart Report
Friday, January 31, 2020
The Iowa Legislature is a lot like a baseball game; hours of boredom, punctuated by seconds of great excitement. We had great excitement this week on Wednesday when hundreds of FFA members visited the capitol.
This group is from IKM-Manning. There were also groups from CAM, East Sac, and Alta /Aurelia Schools. They were a great bunch. I enjoyed showing them around and talking politics. The Audubon school superintendent also came to talk about school funding for next year.
He brought along other staff and a school board member. The legislature needs to set SSA by February 13.
In the Legislature
Week three has finished in the Iowa Senate and we remain busy as ever running from subcommittee to subcommittee and visiting with constituents between meetings.
One of the highest-profile news items this week was the release of our education funding proposal for the next fiscal year. As we worked to put together this budget, it was important to keep the promises to help equalize transportation costs, per-pupil spending, and also ensure other priority areas in our budget would be properly funded.
We released three bills (SSB 3097, SSB 3096, and SSB 3080) to offer additional money for transportation and per student equity, setting the increase in education funding, and allocating money to address behavior problems in the classroom.
These bills bring the total for new education funding this year to $91.7 million, in addition to last year’s total funding levels. Taking up nearly 43 percent of our budget, K-12 education funding is a priority and this proposal not only demonstrates it, but also provides a sustainable and responsible budget for education funding. When federal and local dollars are included, the average money spent per student in Iowa is more than $15,000.
Every dollar we have ever promised to K-12 schools over the last three years has been fulfilled, and this proposal would be no exception. Under this proposal, the total increase in K-12 education funding since FY 17 is over $300 million, including $26.6 million specifically for transportation equity.
Several years ago, we promised to find a solution for the high transportation costs rural schools experience. This year, we will have fully kept our promise and leveled the playing field between rural and urban schools by buying all school districts down to the statewide average.
Education funding is typically the biggest policy issue tackled in the first weeks of session, and we are looking forward to working with the House of Representatives on finalizing a responsible and sustainable education budget.
Addressing Violence in the Classroom
Media across the state have reported on many incidents of violence against teachers, classroom disruptions inhibiting an environment of learning, and a climate of uncertainty in many Iowa schools. These stories demonstrate that the status quo must be fixed, and Iowa schools need help to properly deal with this problem. SSB 3080 creates policy and funding solutions to give schools a chance to help students with serious violent behavior problems and also ensure the education for other students is not shortchanged.
This bill limits the use of “classroom clears” as a regular method of student behavioral management. A classroom clear happens when all the students except a student with behavioral challenges leave the room during a student’s outburst. This technique disrupts the learning of too many Iowa students.
SSB 3080 would prohibit classroom clears from being written into an individual education plan (IEP). If a classroom clear occurs, the parents of students who are displaced from a classroom must be notified by the school district within 24 hours and the parents of a student responsible for a classroom clear must meet with school administration prior to that student returning to the classroom.
Further, SSB 3080 creates an incentive for schools to establish alternative placement options for students with serious behavioral problems. Some students need alternative settings to succeed academically. This bill also creates comprehensive professional development on the meaning of “least restrictive environment,” giving administration and teachers clarity on classroom placement options.
This new policy also provides teachers training and legal protection from professional and legal liability for using reasonable physical contact in crisis situations. It also creates comprehensive, statewide training and professional development for teachers on violent student behavior. Additionally, SSB 3080 clarifies legal protection for teachers and adds professional protections from retaliation for reporting incidents. It also requires teachers to report violent behavior to their principal and encourages them to report incidents to the Department of Public Safety.
Improving Integrity in Public Assistance Programs
A bill aimed at expanding the verification databases, in order to make the State of Iowa public assistance programs stronger and more efficient, advanced this week in the Iowa Senate.
Senate Study Bill 3068 now goes to the full Labor and Business Relations committee for consideration. The purpose of the bill is simple – eliminate millions upon millions of dollars in inefficiencies and encourage able-bodied people to enter the workforce.
Under the legislation being considered, Iowa Department of Human Services would be directed to implement Federal requirements for dual-enrollment verification. The bill goes further to require the department to utilize existing public databases to verify qualification in those applying for and receiving Medicaid and other public assistance from the State of Iowa. Using these additional databases, DHS would be able to verify financial information, identity, and other assets within minutes of applying for assistance. The state can utilize existing technologies available from private vendors to access these real-time databases. The information received would be reliable, accurate, and timely.
Presently, 600,000 Iowans receiving state public assistance benefits are checked manually by just under 500 states employees. This requires workers to monitor and close 10 to 12 cases each day in order to meet federal and state verification requirements.
The goal of this legislation is to protect public assistance programs and ensure they serve those who truly need them.
It is an honor to be your Senator.
The Segebart Report
Friday, January 24, 2020
This week was the deadline week for filing bill requests for drafting. I have a total of four bills requested at this time.
1. A bill that requires deer stands on public lands be registered and have identification from the DNR. Hopefully, this will prevent other uninvited hunters from using your stand. There are penalties and fees included. This was requested by a constituent in Sac County who repeatedly had confrontations with other hunters using his deer stand.
2. A bill to aid the public when unwanted charges are put on your credit card bill. This often occurs with the elderly when ordering free trials over the internet that often require your card number when accepting the free trial.
3. A bill that requires the DHS to make a policy for due process for families who have had parental rights terminated or children removed and placed with other family members i.e. grandparents or aunts or uncles. Due process would mean the ability to request a hearing with a judge.
4. A bill that would remove Children’s Protective Services from the umbrella of the Dept. of Human Services and make it a completely separate department. This bill came from a group called Families United Action Network. It is a companion to a House bill named the Iowa Child Safety and Family Preservation Act.
I had three subcommittees this week, (this is the first step in making a new law). The first bill would add vaping to the Iowa Smoke-Free Air Act. The second was a pharmacy bill that added various derivatives of opioids to the scheduled drugs listed under the Board of Pharmacy. The final sub was on Thursday was about a policy to restore terminated parental rights when requested by the child.
In the Legislature
The second week of the legislative session was a short one due to Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday. However, that day off did not mean the week was any less busy. Subcommittees have already started on a number of topics and we’re starting to hear from groups and departments on proposed budgets for the next year.
There are several bills moving through subcommittees as a result of issues raised by our constituents during the last several months. There were two different bills this week that dealt with smoking and vaping. One bill, SSB 3016 conforms to federal changes of the minimum age to purchase and possess or use tobacco to 21, while SSB 3052 treats vaping the same way as other types of tobacco, like cigarettes. This law would prohibit vaping in a majority of public areas.
Other bill topics included creating a special license for people ages 14-18, allowing minors who live or work on a farm in Iowa to operate a motor vehicle to help with farm work. Another bill would allow a permit to carry weapons for specially trained EMTs who may be working in a dangerous situation with an active threat.
Discussions continue on education funding and ensuring a bill is passed in a timely manner to give school boards and school administrators the time they need to plan their budgets for the next school year. Each year when the legislature debates the education budget you may hear we are cutting funding. The reality is we are deciding how much to increase the budget each year, in addition to the increase from the previous year. We are dedicated to passing reliable and sustainable school funding for schools and directing more of that funding for use in the classroom. Inequities in transportation costs and per-pupil funding continues to also be a priority for us, so we can ensure that the resources available to school districts are equitable across the state.
Working to Protect Life
A joint resolution that would make the subject of abortion neutral in the Iowa Constitution is one of the first bills moving through the legislative process. This change to Iowa’s Constitution does not prevent abortions. And, the U.S. Supreme Court precedent still prohibits states from banning all abortions under the U.S. Constitution. What this amendment does do, is add new language to the Iowa Constitution stating it does not secure or protect a right to an abortion or require public funding for an abortion.
In a ruling on a 72-hour waiting period, the Iowa Supreme Court created a constitutional right to an abortion. If the constitution is going to be amended, it should happen through the process established by Iowa’s founders and not by judicial fiat.
The process to amend the Iowa constitution is for the legislature to pass the exact same proposed constitutional language in two consecutive General Assemblies. Following those votes, the citizens of Iowa would then decide to support or oppose the amendment.
Governor Reynolds urged us to take action on this amendment during her Condition of the State address. Senate Republicans have passed some of the most significant pro-life legislation in our three years in the majority. Since 2017, we have passed the ‘Heartbeat Bill,’ recognizing life at the sound of a heartbeat, and also bills on a 20-week abortion ban, a 72-hour waiting period, and removing state money from any clinic in Iowa that provides abortions. Protecting life will always be a priority for us in the Senate.
My forum this week is at New Hope Village in Carroll. It begins at 10 a.m.
It is an honor to be your Senator.
The Segebart Report
Monday, January 20, 2020
Back to Des Moines
I moved back into Clive Suites last Sunday. I have stayed there for all 8 years. Many other legislators stay there as well. It is across from Living History Farm and is close to the interstate, so it is convenient for me to get to the Capitol and to get home. I had a nice visit with folks from my local power coop on Wednesday evening. My neighbor, Janet Iversen, surprised me. She is a newly elected member of the Crawford REC Board. It is always nice to have people from home come to visit their legislators. There were also friends from Glidden REC and BV REC Boards.
I am still working on my bottle bill from last year. The Ways and Means Committee are still open to the bill. I received a recognition award from AARP for helping to pass the Care Giver Act last year.
In the Legislature
This was the first week of the 2020 legislative session. It is exciting to be back at the Capitol, and we are ready to get started on many of the issues we have heard about over the past several months.
Each year we listen to speeches from the Majority Leader, the Senate President and the Minority Leader on the first day. Then throughout the week, we hear the governor’s Condition of the State address, the Condition of the Judiciary, and the Condition of the Iowa National Guard.
On Tuesday we heard from Governor Reynolds about her plan and vision for Iowa, specifically regarding tax reform and parts of her budget, like the Invest in Iowa Act. Her speech had a lot of major topics in it, like child care, expanding the workforce, and ensuring Iowa children are receiving the best education they can. We are looking forward to working with both Governor Reynolds and the House of Representatives on these important issues and working on a sustainable budget.
A big priority for us in the Senate is continuing to reduce the tax burden on working Iowans. We will also work on continuing education and expanding the workforce to help fill the thousands of open jobs in our state.
As the legislative session continues and we start to take up these important issues, I urge you to contact me with comments, questions, and the issues important to you.
Continuing Tax Relief for Iowans
Senate Republicans set course in 2017 to reduce the tax burden on hard-working Iowans. The reasoning was obvious, according to the Tax Foundation, Iowa’s tax climate ranked 42nd in the nation. Senate Republicans understand those states experiencing the most significant economic growth have the lowest income tax rates in the nation.
Guided by our pro-growth agenda, we passed a tax bill that provided an average income tax reduction of 10 percent immediately and by 2023 the top tax rate will be reduced to 6.5 percent. Going into the 2020 legislative session, we are committed to keep lowering the tax burden on Iowans. We are hopeful Iowans will receive additional income tax reductions as a result of our work over the next 100 days.
Governor Reynolds announced her plan for tax relief this year. Iowa currently has nine tax brackets, with a top rate of 8.53 percent in tax year 2021. Under Governor Reynolds’ plan, she is proposing to raise the sales tax one percent, work off our earlier tax reduction success to further reduce taxes, and bring our top tax rate down to 5.5 percent by tax year 2023. The change would cut income tax by an additional 10 percent for many Iowans, with the lower-income Iowans receiving up to a 25 percent cut, according to the governor.
Senate Republicans will be working in the weeks and months ahead to ensure a significant net tax reduction for Iowans.
Fully Funding Education
One of the first topics discussed at the beginning of every legislative session is the amount of funding for Iowa K-12 schools. Much of that discussion revolves around the undefined phrase “fully funding education.” However, no dollar amount defines that phrase.
The common-sense way to define this term is this: The state keeps the promises it made during the budgeting process in January for that fiscal year. Students, teachers, administrators, and property taxpayers all depend on the state fully funding the promises it makes.
Since taking over the majority in 2017, Senate Republicans have fully funded every dollar we have promised to K-12 education. Over the last three budgets, $263.75 million was promised to K-12 schools. Those schools received every last dollar, every promise was kept, and not a single cut has been made over the last three years. Additionally, millions of dollars have been allocated for concurrent enrollment and to address inequities in both per pupil and transportation funding.
In fact, the last time K-12 education was cut was when Chet Culver was governor and Democrats controlled both branches of the Iowa Legislature. Schools were promised $393.9 million over four years, only to have those promises underfunded by a total of $459 million. Not only were the promises of increased funding not kept, but education spending was actually cut by $65 million.
In the coming weeks expect to hear a lot of noise about cutting and fully funding education. However, one certainty will remain, Senate Republicans will continue to make reliable and sustainable promises to Iowa schools and those promises will be kept.