Rep. Brian Best (Iowa House District 12)

Rep. Brian Best

Monday, April 6

Iowa vs. “Shelter-in-Place” States

Governor Reynolds tweeted on Monday afternoon that she and Governor Rickets (of Nebraska) spoke with Dr. Anthony Fauci over the phone to discuss “shelter-in-place”. The Governor said the phone call was productive and Dr. Fauci was “100% supportive, saying that Iowa and Nebraska are ‘on the same page’ with guidance he’s providing other states.”

Governor Reynolds has faced pressure from Democrats and the media to issue a “shelter-in-place” order. She has resisted such efforts so far, stating that Iowa is already doing the same things, sometimes more, than what other states with formal orders are doing. Below are a few examples of where this is happening:

Minnesota
Governor Tim Walz formally issued a “shelter-in-place” order on March 25. Shortly before issuing his executive order, Gov. Walz required non-essential businesses to close. About 78% of Minnesota’s workforce is exempted from this order due to working in essential industries.

According to Governor Reynolds, 80-81% of Iowa’s workforce is considered essential.

Illinois
Governor J.B. Pritzker formally issued a “shelter-in-place” order on March 20. The Illinois Department of Public Health has recommended, but not required, that elective surgeries be canceled.

Governor Reynolds required all non-essential medical and dental procedures to be canceled on March 26.

Arizona
Governor Doug Ducey formally issued a “shelter-in-place” order on March 30. On April 3, Gov. Ducey required all barbershops, beauty and nail salons, spas, tattoo parlors, and public pools to close effective April 4.

Governor Reynolds required these establishments to close on March 22.

Take Care,
Your State Representative Brian Best

Thursday, April 2

News from the Governor

This afternoon, Governor Reynolds issued a new emergency order that extends the closure of schools and many businesses through April 30 to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Additionally, Iowa House and Senate leaders have made the decision to extend the suspension of our legislative session. I am still available to serve you here on Facebook as well as through email. Please stay in touch and let me know if you have any questions.

This is a tough time, but as Iowans, I know we will be able to get through this together!

https://governor.iowa.gov/press-release/gov-reynolds-signs-new-proclamation-continuing-state-public-health-emergency-2

Take Care,
Your State Representative Brian Best

Saturday, March 28

 

Yesterday, I was on a conference call with Governor Reynolds. She shared with us some of the reasons why she hasn’t issued a “shelter-in-place” order for Iowans. Below is some interesting information that she shared with us. This is a longer post than normal, but very valuable information:

Reasons against a shelter-in-place order in Iowa:
➡️ Iowa’s population density is much smaller than most states (The New York City metro area’s population density is nearly 100x larger than Iowa’s)
➡️ Iowa does not utilize mass public transit which often spreads disease
➡️ Iowa does not have large apartment buildings where thousands of people live
➡️ A shelter-in-place order would strain local law enforcement resources

Governor Reynolds has already taken significant action to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 such as non-essential business closures, suspending non-essential surgeries, and encouraging Iowans to stay at home and self-isolate. Many of the Shelter-in-Place orders that have been implemented in other states cover what is already being done in Iowa. Given the varying shelter-in-place orders from other states, Iowa’s approach is both comparable and, in many cases, stronger.

Iowa is a unique state in the fact that we provide much of the agriculture and manufacturing for the country, and we need to keep those businesses operational during this time. Iowa produces 1/11 of the nation’s food supply and is home to 31 of the largest 100 food manufacturers in the world. Iowa is the 4th highest concentration of manufacturing employees of any state in the nation, producing crucial supplies.

Moving forward, the Department of Public Health is looking at the following 4 factors in considering whether further mitigation strategies need to happen:
➡️ % of population greater than 65 years of age
➡️ % of identified cases requiring hospitalization
➡️ Rate of infection per 100,000 population in the past 14 days
➡️ Long-term care facility outbreaks
Take Care,
Your State Representative Brian Best

 

Monday, March 23

Governor Reynolds has announced disaster assistance for small businesses impacted by COVID-19. These grants are for small businesses with between 2-25 employees and will range from $5,000-$25,000.

http://www.iowabusinessrecovery.com/

The application window opens Tuesday morning at 8:00 am and can be found at IowaBusinessRecovery.com. Funds are limited so please apply ASAP

Tuesday, March 17 

Needless to say that the last week has been difficult for our nation and for the State of Iowa. Words that were unknown to most of us a few months ago are now part of our everyday vocabulary.  Words such as Covid-19 and Community Spread.
Covid-19 (an acronym for Co-Corona Vi-Virus D-Disease = Covid and 19 is the year it was discovered).
Community Spread (defined as a disease that has become so prevalent that the person who contracts it can’t determine where it came from).
Covid-19 multiplies quickly and is highly contagious.

On Sunday the Governor along with Senate and House Leadership agreed on closing the Capitol beginning Tuesday, March 16th through April 15th.  That date can be extended if deemed necessary.   While this was a very difficult decision it makes sense because thousands of Iowans come to the Capitol on a daily basis.  Legislators and staff of the House and Senate alone account for around 400 people.  Legislators would unintentionally spread the virus.  It would only take one House or Senate member to bring it to the Capitol, infecting other legislators who will then take it back to their districts and re-infecting others adding to the exponential growth across the state.

The reason for the quarantine is that growth would happen so quickly, healthcare would be overpowered by the disease, making treatment for all Iowans difficult.  The gravity and solemnity of the situation are sobering.  Following the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Iowa Department of Public Health for congregations of people should be kept to an amount of 10 or less, effectively leaving many businesses with no choice but to close their doors until the pandemic is past us.

Monday was spent in the Capitol writing and passing bills and resolutions that will allow for the extension of the state’s budget through August 31st if we are unable to reconvene before then. The bill also gives the Governor access to the Economic Emergency Fund to address Covid-19. Iowa schools will be closed for four weeks. These days will not need to be made up as the bill waives instructional time requirements. This bill also gives the Governor the ability to waive those requirements after April 12th as well.

Democrats and Republicans were at the Statehouse till Midnight on Monday, both sides worked together to try to help all Iowans in need.  It was one of the most bi-partisan days that I have seen on the hill.  In days to come, I know we will all work together to combat this virus. Closing the Capitol does not mean that we will quit working. There are many things we can do from our homes with the electronic media that is available to us. There are still some important policy bills that I am hoping we can work on when we get back to regular business. We hope that all of this passes soon and am hopeful that we can get back to our regular lives very soon.

The Center for Disease Control and the Iowa Department of Public Health will be sending out recommendations periodically.  Please take their advice. You can get more information and recommendations for Covid-19 simply by calling 211 and following their prompts. I know we can beat this disease if we all work together as Iowans. Due to the limit on gatherings, all forums will be canceled at this time. Take care and stay healthy.

Your State Representative Brian Best

Monday, March 9

News from Week 8 – 2020 Legislative Session

Broadband Service
Last week in the Iowa House we passed a series of bills to enhance broadband service.  One bill would offer financial incentives to companies that are willing to expand services to rural areas. A second bill would have the Iowa DOT publicize road projects that dig into ground where private companies could install fiber optic cables. It is being referred to as a dig once policy. I believe the legislature is on the right path in supplying fast, efficient internet service in order for rural Iowa to keep its population growing and businesses thriving.

Bottle Bill
The bottle bill is vastly popular among Iowans. Now redemption centers receive a one cent reimbursement per bottle or can.  This bill being proposed would add an additional penny for the redemption centers. The consumers will still be paying a nickel and reimbursed a nickel, as in the past.  Unfortunately, there is some push-back from both the distributors and the retailers of the products as to who will provide the extra penny. I am concerned that if this bill does not pass in some form this year, time may run out on the few redemption centers that we have left. This bill will be helpful in keeping our redemption centers open in rural Iowa

Coronavirus
Iowa Dept. of Public Health has protocols on epidemics such as the novel coronavirus. Three Iowans have been pre-emptively diagnosed with the virus, however, there is not a call to panic. The flu is still more prevalent and the Dept. of Public Heath says that prevention of the coronavirus is the same as with any other respiratory illness (like the flu). Also, be sure to look out for travel alerts if you are traveling overseas.

Fun Facts about Iowa

  • Iowa ranks second overall in the nation for unemployment rates.  Worldatlas.com published an article stating that Iowa had an unemployment rate of 2.5% in Sept. of 2019, which is 1 percentage point lower than the national unemployment rate.
  • Iowa’s high school graduation rate climbed to a record high of 91.6 percent in 2019, continuing a trend of long-term growth across nearly all groups of students, including those from diverse backgrounds, according to new data from the Iowa Department of Education.

WalletHub released its 2020 report on the most woman friendly states in the country, with Iowa ranking as third in the nation. Scores were calculated on 24 weighted metrics, including median earnings, unemployment rates, job security, access to affordable healthcare, friendliness toward working moms and more

Monday, March 2, 2020

News from Week 7 – 2020 Legislative Session

Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs)
Once again, I am managing a bill that will help small-town pharmacies. PBMs continue to be a threat to pharmacies across the state of Iowa, by continuing unfair practices. In this bill, PBMs will not be allowed to limit access to drugs through national or regional wholesalers. The bill will also prevent a PBM from reimbursing a pharmacy for a prescription less than the amount that the PBM reimburses their affiliate for providing the same drug. An example of this; CVS which owns its own pharmacies as well as being a PBM, they will not be allowed to reimburse their own CVS pharmacy at a higher rate than any other pharmacy that is contracted with them. The bill will prevent a PBM from retroactively reducing payment on a claim after they have paid the pharmacy. PBMs have a huge amount of money and power and I am convinced that they are a major reason we have high prescription drug costs. The bottom line is that Iowa is losing pharmacies, especially in rural areas and PBMs are not a friend.

HF2238 – Lemonade Stand Bill
We are always looking for ways to unleash our small businesses and reduce the amount of burdensome and costly regulations that stifle growth. One of the smallest of small businesses are lemonade stands run by neighborhood kids. Lemonade stands provide kids with great life lessons at an early age so they can learn important basic skills like real-world math, budgeting, and money management. Unfortunately, we have all seen news stories where a lemonade stand being run by the neighborhood kids has been shut down for not holding proper permits.  House File 2238 would prevent local governments from creating or enacting policies that crackdown on food stands run by minors. We should be encouraging our children’s entrepreneurial spirit, not crushing it.

Iowa’s First in the Nation Status
Many people have asked me questions regarding the problems surrounding the Democrat caucuses in Iowa. When it comes to our First in the Nation status, Democrats and Republicans stand together. Being First in the Nation gives Iowans a much more important part in the electoral process. It seems that we have had to defend our status every four years when the presidential primaries take place. There are 49 states that would love to have our status and fight against us. I believe that the complaints lodged by the major media that are critical of Iowans are unfair. The software app that failed was pushed by the Democratic National Committee. I doubt that the Iowa Democratic Committee had a choice but to use it and unfortunately, they were the first to “test” it out. That software was not used in the Nevada caucus because of lessons learned in Iowa. I know that both the Democratic and Republican leaders in Iowa will work cooperatively and will do everything they can to keep our First in the Nation status.

Monday, February 24, 2020

News from Week 6 – 2020 Legislative Session

Bills Advance Through Funnel
What is the funnel? It’s a deadline when House bills are required to pass at least one House committee to remain eligible for discussion and vice versa for the Senate. If a bill fails to advance through a committee, it is considered “dead” for the session and is tabled. Often times, a bill is not moved forward because it lacks support or needs improvement over the interim. The funnel does not apply to Appropriations or Ways & Means bills. Several priorities remain alive following the first funnel including:

Child Care Access and Affordability
(House Files 2041, 2083, 2171, 2175, 2270, 2271, and 2424)
We introduced a wide-ranging package of legislation this session to improve access to affordable child care for families. Several committees have advanced common-sense solutions to make child care more affordable for families, increase access to providers, incentivize employers to offer and expand child care to their employees, and address the “cliff effect” by easing Iowans off of government child care assistance programs. We are also continuing to work with the Senate to expand eligibility of the child care tax credit program by doubling the household income threshold.

Physician Assistant Bill
I am managing a bill through the Human Resources Committee, which gives physician assistant’s (PA) more responsibilities than what is currently afforded to them. This bill was agreed upon by both the Physician Assistant Society and the Iowa Medical Society. It allows PA’s to prescribe prescription drugs and get reimbursed by Medicaid. It puts PA’s in the same category as those in surrounding states.  This is a great bill for rural Iowa. It will encourage more PA’s to practice here, where we already have a shortage of medical professionals.

Rural Emergency Medical Services
(House Files 2224, 2280, and 2434)
Legislation passed through committees this year gives counties the ability to make long-term investments in Emergency Medical Service (EMS) programs and infrastructure while also proposing additional funding to local EMS. Additionally, with many towns relying on volunteer fire and EMS departments, we want to ensure that small communities are able to attract qualified individuals. That’s why we are working to double the volunteer EMS tax credit and show our support to individuals who put their lives on the line to protect us and keep us safe when it counts most.

Expanding High-Speed Internet to Under-served Areas
(House Files 2023, 2107, 2213, 2242, and 2459)
We have also made the expansion of high-speed broadband to under-served parts of the state a top priority this session. Reliable internet has become a necessity in today’s economy and both employers and workers are depending on a steady connection to conduct business online or work from home. To help expedite this expansion, the Commerce Committee has passed multiple bills to improve internet access and bring faster speeds to Iowa’s rural communities.

Key Issues in Classrooms
One issue that has come up again and again is safety within our schools and student’s behaviors in the classroom.  We want to protect our children, our teachers, our educators, and all education staff.  The Education Committee has been working to get the best bill possible forward. Other issue areas addressed by the committee are how poverty affects students and what can be done about it, putting assessments in place and providing resources for parents and guardians for deaf and hard-of-hearing children, and suicide prevention protocols being put place in schools

Rural Area Services
Bills that address the need for veterinarians and physicians in rural and shortage areas have moved forward. Communities will benefit greatly from these services and have the ability to thrive even more. Veterinarians and physicians will benefit by being able to use their Iowa education to stay in Iowa.

Banning Mandatory Micro-chipping
(HF 2361)
It may sound like something out of a sci-fi movie, but micro-chipping of employees is a real issue and HF 2361 was designed to protect employees from forced micro-chipping.  The bill prohibits an employer from requiring employees to be micro-chipped or offering incentives for having the procedure.  While the action may not be occurring in Iowa, companies in other states have already started offering voluntary micro-chipping.  Putting this protection in place now will give employees power to decide if they want to have a microchip in the future.

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

E-Mail: [email protected]

Committees: Appropriations, Commerce, Human Resources, Transportation

Monday, February 17, 2020

News from Week 5 – 2020 Legislative Session
It has been extremely busy at the Capitol for the last two weeks.  I very much enjoy my new job this year as House Transportation Chair.  This coming Thursday is the end of the first funnel, which means that bills not voted out of committee will no longer be eligible this year.   It will be a challenging and fast-paced week, no doubt.

House Passes Education Funding Package

Last week the House passed the K-12 funding package for the next school year.  It includes $97.4M in general aid, and an additional $7.65M for rural school transportation costs, and $5.8M to reduce per-pupil inequity.  About 43% of Iowa’s budget goes toward K-12 Education.  Iowa’s K-12 education system ranks as one of the best.  We are 1st in the nation in graduation rate and average ACT scores.  Thank you Iowa teachers for doing a great job.

Flood Recovery

Last session the legislature helped Iowans by providing $25M to areas impacted by flooding.  Last week we provided an additional $21M.  We have been working closely with the Flood Mitigation Board to identify critical projects that need investment before more flooding occurs this spring.

Keeping Health Care Professionals in Iowa

Last week the Human Resource Committee passed HF 2115, a bill requiring the University of Iowa medical and dental schools to have 75% of their admitted students be residents of Iowa.  If a med student has a connection to Iowa there is a much greater chance they will set roots, start their family, stay and practice in Iowa.

Radon Testing

Radon is a radioactive colorless, odorless, and flavorless gas.  It occurs in nature as the decay product of uranium, radium, and other elements.  it is present in the earth’s crust and is always present outdoors and in drinking water.  In the outdoors, it is always at low concentrations that are not harmful to humans or animals.  However, in enclosed areas such as homes or other dwellings, it can accumulate at higher concentrations and become dangerous to your health.  It is wise to test your home for radon.  It is estimated that living in a home with high radon levels can be the equivalent of smoking 8 cigarettes a day.  It is the second leading cause of lung cancer, second only to smoking.  Test kits are available and there are professional companies that can test your home.  For more information check with your local Department of Public Health.

The next forum will be held on Saturday, February 22nd at 10:00 A.M. This will be held at Swan Lake in Carroll. Thank you for reading my newsletter.  Have a good week!!

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

E-Mail: [email protected]

Committees: Appropriations, Commerce, Human Resources, Transportation

Monday, February 3, 2020

News from Week 3 – 2020 Legislative Session

Direct Care Worker Shortage
Nursing Homes and those facilities that work with individuals with physical or intellectual disabilities have a shortage of workers due to competition of higher-paying jobs in the communities.  These workers are on the lower end of the wage market, which leads to high turnover, as workers leave for higher-paying jobs. There is an initiative to earmark new state dollars to direct care workers.  These dollars would be dedicated to wage increases to these facilities.

K-12 Funding
In the Governor’s Condition of the State speech, she recommended a 2.5% addition to supplemental state aid.  That would add an additional 94.7 million to the 2020-2021 school year, bringing the total state investment for K-12 schools to nearly 3.5 billion per year. The plan also includes 7.25 million additional dollars to bring every school in Iowa up to the statewide average, which helps put more dollars in the classroom for schools with high transportation costs.
5.8 million will be added to equity funding that would allow $10 per student to reduce the inequity gap that has existed in school formula funding since the 1970s. When the formulas were set in the ’70s, some schools in Iowa were as high as $165 more per student than were other schools.  This funding lessons the gap between schools.
The Senate only wants a 2.1% increase. Members of the House Republican Caucus are all in favor of the 2.5% increase. In total puts us at 107.8 million total compared to the Senate 91.65 million total.  There will be negotiations between the House and Senate leadership to get to an ending number. It is important that we reach the final number within the next two to three weeks in order to give school districts budget clarity for the 2020-2021 school year.

I-will
We are hoping with the Governor’s I-will plan (collecting an extra penny of sales tax) will be made public within the next week. I will remain neutral on the bill until I see more specifics and how the new dollars will be utilized.

Transportation Committee
We passed a bill through the committee this past week that will give another option for a license plate called “flying our colors.”  It will be navy on the top, white in the middle and red on the bottom.  The proceeds for the plates will go towards flood mitigation.

The next forum will be held on Saturday, February 22nd at 10:00 A.M. This will be held at Swan Lake in Carroll.

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

E-Mail: [email protected]

Committees: Appropriations, Commerce, Human Resources, Transportation

 

Monday, January 27, 2020

News from Week 2 – 2020 Legislative Session

This week has been busy, filled with meetings as legislators and stakeholders work on their legislative priorities. In the Transportation committee alone, we have given out 15 bills for subcommittees to work on getting back to the full committee for the vote.  We are starting the session out strong, hoping to get a lot accomplished.

Free State and Federal Tax Filings Available!
Most Iowa taxpayers will be able to do both their federal and state tax returns online for free through Free File offered by the IRS. Additionally, the Iowa Department of Revenue has free filing on Iowa returns for those who qualify. For 2020, taxpayers whose prior-year adjusted gross income was $69,000 or under can use IRS Free File. All of the free file partners set eligibility standards generally based on income, age, and state residency. Visit IRS.gov/freefile for more information.

Governor proposes a School Safety Bureau
This week, Governor Reynolds announced plans to create a School Safety Bureau headed by the Department of Public Safety and Department of Education. The Bureau will provide resources and work closely with Iowa’s school districts and law enforcement to keep students, faculty, and staff safe such as:

  • Consistent training for rapid response
  • An anonymous reporting tool either text or call based to allow students to easily notify school officials of threats.
  • Law enforcement assistance with online threats made against schools using Cybercrime agents.

In 2019, the Legislature passed an extension of the SAVE penny that is used for school infrastructure and property tax relief. This ensures the school boards and administrators are able to use these resources for school safety measures and prioritizes upgrades like secure entrances, security cameras, and other safety enhancements.  Legislators will begin evaluating the Governor’s plan in the coming weeks. The Bureau is estimated to cost $2 million to start and $1.5 million per year to maintain.

Computer science education expands in Iowa
A report released last week by the Iowa Department of Education showed more Iowa school districts are offering computer science education at the elementary, middle, and senior high school levels.  But the report also highlighted the fact that not all Iowa schools are providing students opportunities to learn these important skills for the 21st-century economy.

The Department of Education surveyed superintendents in Iowa to see how prevalent computer science classes were.  Over 60 percent of the superintendents responding to the survey reported that their districts offered computer science in middle school and high school.  In addition to more schools offering this type of instruction, a large majority of these schools provided this via a dedicated computer science class.

Overall, the report shows that school districts are making progress in offering computer science to students at all levels.  But Iowa school districts have yet to meet the goal set by the Legislature in 2016 when it called for computer science to offered in every high school, middle school, and elementary school in the state.

The next forum will be held on Saturday, February 22nd at 10:00 A.M. This will be held at Swan Lake in Carroll.

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

E-Mail: [email protected]

Committees: Appropriations, Commerce, Human Resources, Transportation

 

Monday, January 20, 2020

News from Week 1 – 2020 Legislative Session

Here are some of the highlights from the first week of the 2020 legislative session. On Tuesday, January 14th, Governor Reynolds gave her Condition of the State address. I am pleased and encouraged with the attention that Governor Reynolds gave in regard to the issues in rural Iowa.

K-12 Funding
Governor Reynolds has proposed a $103 million increase for K-12 Education.  This is a 2.5% increase over last year.

I-Will
The Governor’s plan will have several moving parts, which makes this a complex discussion.   I-Will is a proposal to add one penny to the sales tax in the State of Iowa.  The revenue created by this under her plan will go to the following:

  • Funding the National Resources & Outdoor Recreation Trust, which includes water quality
  • Reducing income and property taxes
  • Creating a sustainable funding source for mental health

Broadband
Governor Reynolds is continuing her efforts to expand Broadband.  Her budget proposes $15 million in grants in Fiscal Year 2021, to expand access to high-speed internet in underserved areas of Iowa.  Rural Iowa has many broadband deserts. Expansion of access will be helpful for those businesses that hope to stay in rural communities.

Transportation Committee
I am the chair of the Transportation committee this year.  In this leadership role, I will be assigning bills to subcommittees, getting them through the full committee and then finally to the floor.  One of the larger bills that we will be looking at this year are Hands-Free Driving; this bill will make it illegal to have a phone in hand while driving.  I am in favor or this because many lives are lost due to texting and other cell phone distractions.  Another bill that has advanced in the Senate will require seat belts for passengers in the back seat as well as the front seat. Studies show that the person in the front seat is at great risk in roll-over accidents and other violent collisions when the person in the back is not wearing a seat belt.  That person in the back can become a projectile and can cause injury or death to the person in front if they are not buckled in.
Another transportation bill would require rumble strips on all county roads when approaching a stop sign, adjacent to a State highway. There have been multiple fatality accidents in the past year, where a driver has driven straight through a stop sign, most likely due to a distraction.  The addition of the rumble strips should help alert the driver to know that there is a stop sign approaching.

The next forum will be held on Saturday, January 25th at 10:00 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

E-Mail: [email protected]

Committees: Appropriations, Commerce, Human Resources, Transportation

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