The Segebart Report, Senate District 6

Iowa Senator Mark Segebart

The Segebart Report

Friday, June 19, 2020

The End of the 2020 Session

The legislature adjourned for the year on Sunday, June 14. This year’s session was definitely different than in previous years. While we didn’t get to all the legislation we wanted, we were still able to accomplish a lot in the time we did have.

Before we paused the session in March, the Senate passed legislation to lower barriers to some professions, and bring unemployed people back into our workforce and encourage them to build careers for themselves. We worked to expand the governor’s Empower Rural Iowa and Future Ready Iowa initiatives and passed bills to improve access to and availability of affordable health care in our state, especially in rural areas. We passed bills that would put victims first in Iowa, and make sure their rights were just as important and protected as those who have committed crimes against them. We funded an increase of almost $100 million in new funding for K-12 schools, including transportation equity and per-pupil equity, while also working to protect teachers and giving them additional tools to work with students who become violent in the classroom.

At the beginning of the year, many of us had high hopes of continuing our work on tax reform for Iowans. The pandemic has had a major effect on what type of tax reform was possible this year, but we were still able to make some reforms and changes to the tax code. One of the most important parts of this bill is ensuring the stimulus payments many people received a few months ago would not be taxed at the state level. It also ensures any loans that are forgiven through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and payments universities and colleges received to help students with expenses would also not be taxed. Payments received under the Governor’s Iowa Small Business Relief Program to provide financial assistance to small businesses economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic will also be exempt from tax at the state level. Additionally, the tax bill ensured companies doing business in Iowa would not be punished for stepping up to help their communities during the pandemic and eliminated the additional tax liability for companies that switched their production outputs to make masks or gowns instead of their normal products.

Lastly, one of the main things we had to do upon coming back into the session was to pass a budget for the next fiscal year. We wanted to pass a responsible budget that we knew the state could afford. We did not want to be in a situation where we would have to cut money we appropriated when the legislature reconvenes in January. Many of us felt the state should be tightening the budget just as Iowans across the state have had to tighten their budgets as a result of the pandemic. In the end, the budget we passed appropriates $7.778 billion for the next year. This budget focuses on state spending on the areas that matter most – health care, K-12 education, and public safety.

Licensing Reform

Iowa is one of the most heavily licensed states in the country. Nearly one out of every three workers in Iowa is required to maintain a license to work in their profession, while the national average is one out of every four workers.

Licensing in many areas of the economy has a proper role. It ensures consumers can depend on reliable and professional service and it protects them from scammers and grifters. However, excessive licensing is a significant burden for low-income Iowans trying to work their way out of poverty. It creates hurdles for job creators in their effort to expand their business and meet the demands of their customers.

HF 2627 starts to ease those burdens by waiving first-time licensing application fees for low-income individuals. For many licenses, it credits work performed in other states without licensure to meet Iowa’s license requirements, establishes a universal licensing path that recognizes licenses from other states, and improves the licensing process for felons who have completed their sentence. A uniform conviction standard, focused on offense directly related to professions, will help some felons earn a living and reduce their likelihood of recidivism.

Licensing reform is one of a number of pro-growth bills passed in the short conclusion of the 2020 legislative session to rebuild the Iowa economy. The economy was the best in the history of the state prior to the arrival of the coronavirus in Iowa. Policies like HF 2627 will play a key role in rebuilding our economy.

Thank you for all your calls, emails, and messages throughout the legislative session. I look forward to retiring and heading back home, for the final time, and seeing our grandsons on a more regular basis – they are in Wisconsin. These past 8 years have been a truly unforgettable experience. Thank you for your support.

I remain a senator until next January. If you need help, text me at 712 269-4519 or email [email protected].

The Segebart Report

Friday, May 29, 2020

Iowa continues to ease business restrictions over the next few weeks. Starting May 28, bars, wineries, breweries, and distilleries will be able to reopen. On June 1, casinos, bowling alleys, amusement parks, skating rinks, outdoor performance venues, and outdoor playgrounds will also be able to reopen. Just like all previous reopenings, these entities must allow for the use of social distancing, they must follow public health guidelines to protect staff and patrons, and may only operate at 50 percent capacity.

As mentioned before, all these proclamations are a step in a plan to slowly and safely reopen our state and continue protecting both the health and livelihoods of Iowans. More and more Iowans are getting tested for the virus daily and providing the information needed to make these decisions. As the weather warms up and people are itching to get outside and enjoy the summer, it is important maintain a balance between moving forward and acting safely.

Easing public health restrictions is the next step in recovering from the economic damage inflicted by the coronavirus. The economic impact of this pandemic has been significant and the recovery will take time. Iowans want to work and they want to provide for their families. One goal of the upcoming legislative session will be to give Iowans confidence to return to work and pursue their career opportunities.

My wife and I have stayed healthy during the last 3 months of Covid-19. I will be returning next week to end the 2020 session of the 88th General Assembly. It may take up most of the month of June to finish. We will be operating without our clerks in the chamber.

During our time leading the Senate, our priorities have always been growing our state, providing sustainable and reliable funding in our budgets, and passing tax reform to enable Iowans to keep more of the money they worked hard to earn. After record unemployment in our state and many families struggling to make ends meet, these priorities are more important now than ever.

When the legislature had to suspend the session, there were still a number of bills to help support these goals and get to the governor’s office for her signature. Even with a shortened timeline, I’m hoping we can pass these important priorities for Iowans and start focusing on what else we can do in the coming months to provide Iowans the help they need.

If you need to contact me please use your cell phone to call my cell (712-269-4519) and leave a text or a voice message. If it is a long message please email me at [email protected].

It has been an honor for me to serve the people of Crawford, Carroll, Audubon, Buena Vista, and Sac Counties for the last eight years. Don’t forget to vote in the June 2 primaries.

Senator Mark Segebart

The Segebart Report

Friday, May 8, 2020

Governor Reynolds opened up 77 of Iowa’s 99 counties last week. Businesses like restaurants, churches, and dentist offices that had been closed previously are able to open under controlled circumstances. These are the first steps to getting Iowa up and running again. Counties still not opened up are Allamakee, Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Dallas, Des Moines, Dubuque, Fayette, Henry, Iowa, Jasper, Johnson, Linn, Louisa, Marshall, Muscatine, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Tama, Washington, and Woodbury. 

I have been getting phone calls about campaign signs on state property.  Just a friendly reminder that this is not allowed on state or county right of ways. They will be taken down and may be picked up at state and county shops. If you haven’t requested an absentee ballot, do it now. You can call your county auditor to get the correct address.

I also am hearing from livestock producers who have fat animals ready for slaughter and no packers willing to take them. If you find yourself in that situation you can get help by calling the Iowa Resource Coordination Center at (515) 725-1005 or visit www.iowafarmerhelp.com.

Almost two months ago, the governor issued the first emergency proclamation limiting social gatherings and closing facilities such as restaurants, gyms, and casinos. Schools were closed for the remainder of the school year, and workplaces were encouraged to have their employees work from home when possible. The point of these measures was to limit the number of places people could congregate close together in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus in our state. In slowing the spread of the virus, the health care system would not be overwhelmed and it would ensure resources would be available for those people who needed care.

That goal has largely been met. Hospitals have enough beds and ventilators for those who need them, and the state continues to place restrictions in counties with a high number of cases and for those Iowans most at risk. In fact, some health care professionals have been furloughed because of the lack of use of health care facilities in Iowa.

Now, as the state expands testing and monitors the data, we can reopen our state, step-by-step, in a safe and responsible way. Individuals will continue to test positive for the coronavirus, but the capacity of our health care system is strong. As the state reopens, public and private facilities will still need to take the proper precautions and follow guidelines, like continuing to use social distancing and limiting capacity.

Last week, Governor Reynolds took the first step in reopening our state, allowing places like restaurants to open at half capacity in counties with decreasing or limited virus activity. On May 6 the governor signed a new proclamation with additional openings for some Iowa businesses and facilities and additional regulatory relief. Just like the last proclamation, these businesses will only be allowed to reopen if they can follow appropriate public health measures.

Starting May 8 and continuing until May 15, dental services in Iowa can resume if they follow the necessary guidelines and have enough necessary protective equipment. The proclamation also reopens campgrounds, drive-in movie theaters, tanning facilities, and medical spas. As mentioned before, all these establishments must follow public health guidelines, adhere to social distancing, and use increased hygiene practices. Retail establishments and malls can open at half capacity if they can follow guidelines and implement reasonable measures to keep the public and employees safe.

The governor made some adjustments to education standards as well. Iowa schools may start the next school before August 23, but only if that time exceeds 180 school days or 1,080 hours for the school year. Some of the regulatory relief in this proclamation include suspending the requirement for face-to-face contact between children and licensed practitioners giving private instruction, suspending the requirement for face-to-face contact between children and private home school assistance program teachers, and suspending scholarship rules for interscholastic athletes.

As Iowa begins to emerge from this pandemic, it remains important to make responsible decisions for ourselves and our families. Continuing to practice social distancing, limiting trips to busy places like the grocery store, and frequently washing hands are still best practices at this time.

The corn and soybeans are coming up and life is continuing on Iowa farms.  Stay safe. My wife has been making masks and my church is scheduling services for the over 60 crowd at one time and the under 60 bunch on a different day. You can call or text me at 712-269-4519 or email to [email protected].

It is an honor to serve as your state senator!

Friday, May 1, 2020

It would appear that the legislature will be reconvening around May 15. This will depend on the pandemic conditions in the state. The budget for next year will be the biggest priority. We have been waiting to see what Iowa’s share of the CARE Act will be. It is estimated to be somewhere between 1.7 and 2.0 billion dollars. Our state budget projection for next year is around 8 billion dollars. The Revenue Estimating Conference may meet again and give us their projection of future tax revenues. COVID-19 is still the biggest unknown at this time.

What I do know for sure is that my corn and soybean crops are planted and waiting for a shower of rain. Iowa is starting to turn green again, lawns are beautiful and the birds are singing. So please stay safe and cautious, six feet apart, wear face masks in public, and wash your hands often. I check my email every day and try to help those who are having trouble connecting with the government. Text me at 712-269-4519 or email me at [email protected]

This week the governor announced some restrictions would be lifted for counties in Iowa experiencing decreasing or little to no COVID-19 activity. Starting May 1, restaurants, fitness centers, malls, libraries, race tracks, and some retail establishments are allowed to reopen at half normal operating capacity, if they can still follow public health measures.

This policy applies to all counties except Allamakee, Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Dallas, Des Moines, Dubuque, Fayette, Henry, Iowa, Jasper, Johnson, Linn, Louisa, Marshall, Muscatine, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Tama, Washington, and Woodbury counties.

Statewide religious and spiritual gatherings will be allowed if they can maintain social distancing guidelines and take measures to protect public health. Additionally, farmers’ markets will be allowed to open to sell farm products or food, again, as long as they can implement reasonable social distancing and public health measures. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) issued guidance for Iowa farmers markets with additional protective measures, such as prohibiting from anyone with a fever or illness in the last three days from entering farmers markets, providing easy access to hand-washing or hand-sanitizing stations, and encouraging online ordering when possible.

All other closures, including in the above counties, will continue until May 15.

The new proclamation from the governor is not a requirement that these establishments have to open. It is simply giving them, and all Iowans, the option and freedom to do so, while still protecting their health. The state continues to expand testing and data will continue to be monitored so the best decisions can be made to protect not just the health of Iowans, but also their livelihoods. As more data is collected and more Iowans get tested for COVID-19, we will be able to know more about how we can safely and responsibly continue to reopen the state. I urge you to keep limiting your trips to grocery stores, washing your hands often, and adhering to social distancing practices as much as you are able. As long as each of us continues to be responsible about the actions we take each day, we will be able to get back to a sense of normalcy sooner rather than later.

Throughout this pandemic, the governor has been working to strike a balance between protecting Iowans and keeping as much of our state working as possible. Meat production facilities are an indispensable part of the food supply chain as Iowa works to provide affordable food to the world. Shutting down these plants has a major impact across our economy. This impact is not limited just to farmers – it affects everyone. If the plants cannot run, livestock cannot be processed and farmers may be forced into euthanizing some of their livestock. This action reduces the supply of food, increasing prices in the coming months, and makes it even more difficult for people to afford food in an uncertain economy, most significantly impacting lower-income Iowans and lower-income Americans.

Just as important as limiting the closures of those facilities is ensuring the safety of the workers and doing everything possible to prevent the spread of the virus. Public health officials have been working tirelessly to test impacted workers and ensure they have access to the care they need.

Because of the disruptions in the food supply chain leading to an excess of hogs, this week a new program called “Pass the Pork” was announced to help connect Iowa hog farmers with Iowans in need of food. The Iowa Pork Producers Association and IDALS are helping farmers donate pigs to Iowa food banks and food pantries. If you’d like to donate to help with processing, storage, and delivery costs, you can visit donorbox.org/passthepork.

A website and hotline have also been created to help connect Iowa’s livestock farmers with resources if they are facing a decision on disposing of their animals. Farmers can contact the hotline by calling 515-725-1005 from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday – Friday, or they can visit iowafarmerhelp.com.

The Iowa Department of Revenue recently updated their website with information on upcoming tax deadlines. If you have questions about some tax deadlines amid the various extensions that have been implemented, you can visit their website at https://tax.iowa.gov/important-upcoming-tax-deadlines.

The suspension of the legislative session has been extended to May 15. We are eager to get back to the capitol and continue our policy discussions and budget work. While we are waiting to see how the budget will be impacted by the pandemic, we still want to do what we can to ensure Iowa is the best place to live, work and raise a family.

The Segebart Report

Thursday, April 16, 2020

This is the end of the fifth week of self-quarantine and the fifth week of since the legislature paused session. This session was originally scheduled to adjourn on April 21. The b

ig question now is what will state revenues be for our next fiscal year. If there is a silver lining to this, the state’s rainy day funds are all full thanks to conservative budgeting by House and Senate Republicans. What will it look like if we reconvene in May or June? My prediction is the focus will be on bills sent to the Senate from the House (and vice versa) and appropriation bills, or any other bills that both chambers consider a priority. I have been in total agreement with the way Governor Reynolds has handled this crisis. I’d like to thank Governor Reynolds for her leadership during this time. Iowa is poised to get back to work as quickly as possible when the data shows we are ready. I would like to have my corn planted before we return to session. Snow was on the ground this morning, but the forecast calls for 65 degrees tomorrow. Welcome to Iowa!

As we all work to adjust during this difficult time, Iowans all across the state have been stepping up to help their neighbors and communities. Stories of people making homemade face masks for their friends, families, neighbors, or donating them to local hospitals are told daily. We have also seen local restaurants contribute food to health care providers, and Iowans purposefully supporting these local restaurants with takeout orders in an effort to keep those places in business.

You can help your community in many different ways too. The Iowa Department of Public Health has issued guidance on making homemade masks for health care providers. You can also check with your local hospital on what specifications they have. Volunteer Iowa has a number of opportunities available for those who want to volunteer during the pandemic. American Red Cross is looking for people to donate blood. The Food Bank of Iowa is currently doing a fundraiser to raise money to meet the immediate need for meals for Iowans impacted in some way by the virus.

If you and your family are struggling to get necessary meals, a number of food assistance programs are available. The Department of Human Services has information available on how to apply for food assistance. At the Department of Public Health’s website you can learn about the WIC program, and the Department on Aging is also providing home-delivered or drive-through meals for Iowans over the age of 60. Food banks all across Iowa are working hard to provide meals for families in need. Iowa Homeland Security has a map of food banks serving your area.

The state website for COVID-19 in Iowa has also been updated to include more information about the number of cases in our state and additional information on how the virus is affecting Iowa. You can find that information at coronavirus.iowa.gov. The site includes details on lab testing and assessments from each of the regional medical coordination centers (RMCC). The RMCC information lists the number of hospitalized patients, number of beds and ventilators available, and how many people are on ventilators.

I cannot express enough gratitude for the doctors, nurses, health care staff, and first responders working around the clock to help those patients afflicted with this virus, and doing what they can to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our state. For those who still have to go to work and are looking for childcare, the Department of Human Services has a map of facilities with spots available.

A number of constituents have contacted me expressing their desire to reopen the economy. I think all Iowans are looking forward to the time when we return to work, school, and social functions. I am optimistic we can proceed through this pandemic and reopen the economy in a balanced and responsible way in coordination with data-driven health care decisions.

If you have any questions, concerns, or are looking for resources to help you during this time, please feel free to contact me at [email protected] or text me at 712-269-4519.

The Segebart Report

Friday, April 3, 2020

To everyone in the 6th district,

I want to thank you all for your efforts to stem the tide that COVID-19 is demanding of all of us. You have been taking this very seriously as you should, and I know it is making a difference. By staying at home, frequently washing your hands, and keeping your social distance, we will get through this time.

I rely on prayer whenever I have a difficult task. What is prayer? It is the gift that God has given to all his people to talk directly to Him. It doesn’t require you to do any more than having faith that He will answer your prayer. Prayers normally should have three parts: thanking Him, praising His Name, and asking for His help and blessing. I ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ my Lord.

If you have anything that I may be able to help you with, please email me at [email protected]gov or text to 712-269-4519.

In what would have been our twelfth week of the legislative session, we have all been in our home districts talking with you on the phone and reading your emails and messages. Much of our time is also spent working with Governor Kim Reynolds and leaders across the state to slow the spread of COVID-19 and limit the damage to businesses and families in Iowa.

On April 2, Governor Reynolds ordered Iowa schools closed until the end of the month. Legislative leaders also decided it was best we further suspend the session until April 30, still following the guidance of the Centers of Disease Control and Iowa Department of Public Health.

As we continue to work through this pandemic, please know there are many resources available to you if you need them. The 24/7 hotline for all COVID-19 related questions can be reached at 2-1-1 or 1-800-244-7431. Additionally, a legal information hotline for COVID-19 related legal matters, like eviction, the denial of unemployment benefits, or employer-employee issues, is available at 1-800-332-0419.

Iowa Economic Development Authority and Iowa Workforce Development continue to update their website with information, especially with the recent passage of the CARES Act at the federal level. If you are looking for information or updates, I encourage you to visit their websites at www.iowabusinessrecovery.com and www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/covid-19. The Iowa Department of Education also released a number of resources for families to support learning at home during this period. Those can be found at https://educateiowa.gov/pk-12/resources-support-learning-during-covid-19.

I’d like to take a moment to thank all those who have been working during this pandemic. Not only the nurses, doctors, and health care workers who are helping those who are sick, but people who continue to work to ensure Iowans still have access to food, medicine, and other essential items, while many are working from home.

Iowans have always been strong, especially in the face of difficulty and challenge. All over our state, Iowans have been stepping up to help each other and bring each other comfort. Facing uncertainty is hard, but we are all in this together. We will get through this, and when we do, our state will be even stronger.

The Segebart Report

Friday, March 20, 2020

I was to have four committee meetings last Monday, but all were canceled on Sunday. For that reason I decided to stay home on Monday and monitor what was going on in Des Moines from home. There are people coming to the Capitol every day from all over Iowa. If you want to spread an unwanted virus around the state in a hurry, the Capitol is a good place to start! I am very glad the legislature and the governor acted as they did. The best way to stop this thing called COVID-19 is to not be in contact with an infected party and stay home as much as possible.

I can’t help but think this is a very big test for all of us on a personal and business level, and as a state and country. When we recover from this virus, and we will, we will be much stronger and better prepared than we were previously.

Here is my advice: the sky is not falling. Look out for your elderly neighbors. Use your telephone to see how they are doing. In the good old days when I was a kid, the neighbors always brought food if there was some sort of a calamity occurring. My grandmother told us that when her brother was dying from typhus in the early 1900’s, they cared for him in the upstairs bedroom away from the rest of the family. Typhus is a disease that killed millions many years ago. It was associated with body lice and fleas.

Remember the Golden Rule. “Do unto others has you would have them do unto You.”

Iowa Senate Responds to COVID-19

Monday night and early Tuesday morning, the Iowa Legislature passed a series of resolutions to pause the legislative session for 30 days while the state works to slow the spread of COVID-19.

We passed a resolution, SCR 102, to allow us to adjourn until April 15, 2020 and pause the legislative deadlines for this year. It would also allow us to come back into session before that date, if necessary, or after that date if we cannot come back in 30 days.

We also passed Senate File 2408, which included a supplemental appropriation to the State Hygienic Lab for additional COVID-19 testing, more money for Medicaid, Hawk-I, and the Glenwood Resource Center. It also increases the governor’s transfer authority, allowing her the power to move around money between budget items as necessary. The total for this supplemental appropriation is $91.8 million. Additionally, this bill gave Governor Kim Reynolds access to the Economic Emergency Fund while session is suspended for needs related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Under this legislation, Governor Reynolds can spend up to 10 percent of the fund to address the impact of the virus. The Legislative Council, a committee of both representatives and senators, may approve up to a total of $196 million without the legislature having to reconvene.

Additionally, we set a level of spending to go into effect if legislators cannot make it back to the Capitol before the end of the current budget year on June 30. It sets spending levels for July and August 2020 at the current rate of funding for FY 2020, with the exception of education funding, which was passed and signed into law earlier this year.

Over the weekend, Governor Reynolds recommended schools cancel classes for four weeks. Since then, we have been getting a lot of questions from parents and teachers about what the school year would look like after the four weeks. The Legislature included in our legislation a provision to waive the requirement for Iowa schools to reschedule days canceled in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

All of these changes are temporary and only to address the situation our state is facing. We have not had to face a situation like this before. It was important for us to consider the precedent our actions would set, as well as ensure the resources would be there when we need them.

Information on the COVID-19 outbreak is constantly changing and I urge you to stay updated as much as possible to keep you and your families safe. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) have put out guidance on appropriate actions to take and what you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones.

These include:

  • Individuals 60 years of age and older with underlying health conditions should stay at home and avoid gatherings or other situations of potential exposures, including travel to affected areas
  • Consider personal social distancing measures, like avoiding large gatherings, and limiting the number of attendees per gathering
  • Consider working remotely or online learning when possible
  • Encourage staff to telework (when possible), particularly individuals at increased risk of severe illness
  • Limit non-essential work travel and gatherings

Iowa currently has several cases of this virus and community spread appears to be occurring. Community spread occurs when a person has the virus but cannot specifically say when or where they got the infection or why they have it. As part of her efforts to control the public health situation, Governor Reynolds has implemented a number of emergency actions.

To keep up to date on what is happening or to answer any questions, I encourage you to check the CDC website on COVID-19 or the IDPH website. Additionally, a hotline has been established you can call 24/7 with questions. It can be reached by dialing either 211 or 1-800-244-7431. During this period, please feel free to contact me if you have questions or concerns.

All forums have been cancelled at this time. We will go back to work on April 15 if things improve. Call me at home if you need help at 712-269-4519 or [email protected]

Senator Mark Segebart

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, March 6, 2020 

 

In the last two weeks we have moved 67 bills out of the Iowa Senate to the House of Representatives. The House will vet them and either accept, amend, or reject the bill. The Senate will be doing the same thing with all bills sent from the House. Floor debate tends to last longer in the House than in the Senate because they have twice as many members as the Senate. This process will come to an end in two weeks, when we reach the second funnel. After that we only consider bills from Ways and Means, Oversight, and Appropriations committees, or bills bounced back from the House. This year’s session is scheduled for 100 days which means we are scheduled to be done by April 21, 2020.

I had a great visit on Wednesday with Kristi Liechti from Arcadia who is now a licensed social worker. We discussed foster care and family preservation.

Days In the Legislature

On Tuesday the House and Senate announced an agreement on a K-12 education funding package for the next school year. Investing almost $100 million in new funding for schools, this money will include $7.65 million for transportation equity and $5.8 million for per pupil equity. The bill passed out of the Senate on Wednesday and is now headed to the governor for her signature.

Floor debate was the main focus of the week as we work on sending Senate bills to the House for consideration. We discussed a wide range of topics, including bills on insurance, hunting, animal cruelty, dentistry, and optometry.

One of the bills the Senate passed is Senate File 2268, which conforms to federal law changing the minimum age to purchase, possess or use tobacco or vaping products to 21 years old. Congress passed a bill in December to change the age to 21 and required states to comply in order to continue eligibility for federal block grants. This bill passed 43-6 and now goes to the House.

We also passed Senate File 2368, which prohibits cities and counties from requiring landlords accept federal housing vouchers from tenants. The idea behind this legislation is to protect private property rights. Better ways exist to encourage landlords to accept federal housing vouchers than mandating they accept them. Other cities across the country are working with landlords and using incentives, like financial assistance with application expenses, leasing bonuses, and financial assistance with any damage that may be caused to those apartments instead of mandates. These cities have seen increased participation and those policies encourage better relationships between landlords and tenants.

A lot of issues were debated this week, and a lot of progress was made on issues the legislature had been facing for a long time. As always, if you have questions or concerns about the issues we are discussing here in the Senate, I encourage you to send me a message or call the Senate switchboard.

Putting Victims First

Over a year ago, Iowa started having the conversation about restoring voting rights to felons in our state after a national push for reform. A priority of Governor Kim Reynolds, the legislature started discussions on a constitutional amendment, HJR 14, to automatically restore the voting rights of felons once they complete their sentence.

While it passed the House last year, my colleagues and I had a few concerns we wanted to address, one of which was to avoid a mess similar to the one happening in Florida. After voters in Florida changed their constitution to give felons their voting rights back, the legislature passed a law to implement those changes. That law caused several legal battles and uncertainty continues as that state’s primary election nears. Additionally, the Senate believed a big part of the discussion was missing – the victims. Victim restitution is a pre-requisite for the Senate, and a requirement before voting rights are restored.

To address these concerns, the Senate passed Senate File 2348, putting certain restrictions on automatic restoration of voting rights for felons and requiring all victim restitution be paid. Under this legislation, which would go into effect only if the constitutional amendment is adopted by the people of Iowa, a majority of felons who have completed their sentence would have their voting rights automatically restored. It puts restrictions only on those felons who have committed terrible crimes, like murder and rape, and requires them to still contact the governor’s office to have their voting rights restored. This requirement does not include any court fees or fines. It only applies to restitution paid to the victim.

To be clear, felons are not victims. They made a decision in their life to commit a serious crime, and at the very least, the victims should be made the priority in this process. Victims are people who have a crime committed against them and they must be part of this process. Opponents of this bill argued this policy is a version of a poll tax. I strongly disagree with that assertion. One of our colleagues said if anything it is a “murder tax,” on criminals. Committing a felony is a choice and it is a serious violation of the rights of another person. The goal of requiring victim restitution be paid is to ensure victims are getting the justice they deserve, before felons gets their constitutional rights restored.

The Morality of Work Requirements 

America is the greatest country in the history of the world. The unparalleled success of this country is sourced with a handful of simple policies and ideas like freedom, private property rights, and the rule of law. Among those traits that made this country great is work. Work gives individuals dignity. It teaches life lessons to young people, develops the skills of workers with entry level jobs, and it perpetuates more opportunities for success.

Those concepts inspired the text of Senate File 2366, a bill passed on the Senate floor this week. This bill requires individuals receiving taxpayer-funded health care or food assistance to work, volunteer, obtain job training, or other schooling. This bill only applies to able-bodied adults and includes a series of exceptions for those who are not able to work, such as someone who is pregnant, medically exempt, or a caregiver.

The goal of this bill is to encourage work. It is designed to ensure taxpayer-funded social programs exist for those people truly in need. It aims to encourage those individuals on public assistance to move to self-sustaining careers for them and their families.

In addition to the moral and social benefits of work, Iowa’s economy needs more workers. The unemployment rate in this state has been below 3 percent for more than two years. Industry after industry is looking for more employees and trying to grow. Banners hang from many storefronts boasting of high starting wages and quickly escalating benefits. A period of nearly full employment is the perfect time to reform public assistance programs to encourage work and keep Iowa growing.

A few thousand years ago the writer of Ecclesiastes said, “A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil.” A quote as true then as it is now.

I have a forum this Saturday at the Westside American Legion Hall at 10 am sponsored by the Crawford County Farm Bureau.

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

712-269-4519

 

The Segebart Report

Friday, February 14, 2020 

Week Five

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

712-269-4519

 

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

712-269-4519

The Segebart Report

Friday, January 31, 2020 

Week Three:

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.

Mark Segebart
712-269-4519
[email protected]

The Segebart Report

Friday, January 24, 2020 

Week Two:

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.

Mark Segebart
712-269-4519
[email protected]

 

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.

 

Mark Segebart
712-269-4519
[email protected]

 


 

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