Legislative Update 2/25/16

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Quote of the Week

“A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent of others for essential, particularly military, supplies.”
-- George Washington

Legislative Update

Wow, what a busy week.  We have definitely gotten busy with floor debate and moving bills one step closer to being a law.  Make sure you read the new section of the newsletter, “How a Bill Becomes a Law” toward the bottom of the newsletter.  It will be a story of how a bill becomes a law over the next few weeks of the session and so if you read all the segments you will know how a bill reaches the Governor’s desk to become a law. 

To get a complete list of what bills made it through the first Funnel that I discussed last week, click here.  First a bill that I have worked very hard on over the last eight months or so in regards to water quality came out of the Agriculture Committee last week.  That bill has now been assigned to the Ways and Means Committee. 

In addition, the House did a lot of floor debate this past week.  Many bills that were fairly non-controversial were passed through the house and sent to the Senate.  Several bills were passed out of the House that deal with the Second Amendment.  Those bills include: HF 2279--bringing Iowa into line with 41 other states allowing suppressors; HF 2280--prohibiting government agencies from suspending the Second Amendment during time of emergency; HF 2281--allowing parents to teach their children how to shoot and safety handle a gun; and HF 2314--streamlines the conceal carry permit process.  Each of these bills passed with bipartisan support from both sides of the aisle.

I want to thank you for your phone calls to the Senate Majority this last week in regards to Coupling with the Federal Tax Code.  There are signs that Senators are getting calls and starting to cave to your pressure.  Rank and file Senate Democrats are back in their home districts telling Iowans that coupling is one of their priorities.  However, the Senate Majority Leader and the Senate Ways and Means Chair don't want to do anything with Coupling or they want to pass countervailing revenue measures in exchange for Coupling.  Don’t let these two people hold Iowa’s taxpayers hostage and call the Senate Leadership today and tell them you want coupling. 

Finally, Iowa has been granted the approval to move forward with Managed Health Care.  Any question of if this is going to happen is now in the past.  There have been people holding off dealing with Managed Health Care in hopes that it would not happen and as of this week, CMS has notified Iowa that on April 1st we are able to move forward.  It is now time for all to accept this and work hard to ensure it is successful for Iowans.  All have a duty to ensure this transition runs smooth and does not hurt or affect the Iowans we represent. 

I appreciate your willingness to allow me to represent you in Des Moines and am thankful every day for the ability to bring our NW Iowa values to the Concrete of Des Moines. 


Representative John H. Wills

Legislative Priorities 


House Republicans are committed to these principles to produce a balanced and sustainable state budget:

  1. We will spend less than the state collects;
  2. We will not use one-time money to fund on-going needs;
  3. We will not balance the budget by intentionally underfunding programs; and
  4. We will return unused tax dollars to Iowa’s taxpayers.
The House Republican position on government spending is reasonable, sustainable and based on simple common-sense budgeting principles.

It is important to Iowans that we do not spend more than we have and live within our means.  While standing by this principle for the last five legislative sessions, Republicans have found common ground with the Governor and Senate Democrats.  We expect that to continue this year.  Living within our means is something the hardworking taxpayers of Iowa do every day.  Government needs to do the same.
The full report from the Department of Revenue can be found here.

Numbers Don’t Lie - Senate Democrats’ Budget Still Doesn’t Work
With Tuesday’s announcement that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had finally given approval to Iowa’s Medicaid Modernization plan, the pathway for developing the FY 2017 General Fund budget gets a bit clearer for Iowans.  But it still does not fix the fact that Senate Democrats are proposing to spend more than what is allowed under the state’s expenditure limitation law.
Implementation of Medicaid Modernization will allow Senate Democrats to back away from the false argument that their FY 2017 budget targets did not account for any savings from implementing the program.  Senate Democrats had claimed that they had not included the $111 million in Medicaid savings that were part of the Governor’s budget.  But the Senate’s target amount for the HHS budget - $1,846,923,155 - was just $13 million less than Governor Branstad’s figure for that budget area. 
Still, Senate Democrats continue to tell constituents that they are committed to provide a four percent increase in supplemental state aid for schools in FY 2017.  But their budget targets tell a different story.  If the Senate actually provided the funds necessary to give schools a four percent increase, their budget target for standing appropriations would need to be $3.7148 billion.  The target they released on January 26 was $3.6560 billion - $58.8 million below what is needed to fund four percent growth in school funding.
When House Republicans pointed out these inconsistencies, Senate Democrats only response was that the numbers were made up.  But the numbers used by House Republicans  are remarkably similar to the figures Senate Democrats gave to the media when they revealed their budget targets. 
On January 26, Senate Democrats said their budget would spend $7.3983 billion.  According to their statements, this figure is $4.7 million below the 99 percent expenditure limitation law.   This would make the maximum amount they could spend under their calculations would be$7.4030 billion.  Last week, House Republicans pointed out that actions taken by the Senate so far would lead one to believe that the maximum they could spend under the expenditure limitation law was $7.4022 billion.  The difference between the two calculations is $800,000.  If the numbers to describe the Senate Democrats’ budget were “made up,” how can the actual Senate Democrat targets be described as anything but “made up”?

Providing Certainty to Iowa Taxpayers

Senate Democrats continue to hold taxpayers hostage by not acting on federal tax code coupling.
We all likely know many people that would benefit from the House bill.

Senate Democrats need to quit stalling and provide certainty to Iowa taxpayers. Who benefits from the House Republican plan?
  • Small businesses are the drivers of our economy. HF 2092 is the only proposal that helps them make investments in their businesses so they can grow and create even more jobs in our communities
  • Teachers will be able to deduct out-of-pocket expenses related to classroom supplies.
  • Seniors will be able to give tax-free contributions to qualifying charitable organizations.
  • Homeowners will be able to deduct mortgage insurance, just like they would mortgage interest, keeping more money in their pockets to spend in their communities.
  • Parents and students will be able to deduct qualifying higher education expenses, reducing the cost of college and continuing education.

Legislative Forums

February 27
8:00am    Eggs and Issues - Forster Community Center, 404 1st Avenue, Rock Rapids, IA
11:00am  Town Hall Meeting - Sibley Public Library, 406 9th Street, Sibley, IA

March 5
9:00am    Eggs and Issues - Spencer City Hall Council Chambers, 418 2nd Avenue West, Spencer, IA

11:30am  Legislative Forum - Spirit Lake City Hall, 1803 Hill Avenue, Spirit Lake, IA

March 19
8:00am    Eggs and Issues - Forster Community Center, 404 1st Avenue, Rock Rapids, IA
11:00am  Town Hall Meeting - Sibley Public Library, 406 9th Street, Sibley, IA

Need Help With Managed Health Care?

Contact Information:
Nic Pottebaum, Governor's Office:   515-725-3505
Paige Thorson, Dept. of Human Services:  515-281-4387

Additionally, consumers may contact Iowa Medicaid Member Services at 1-800-338-8366 and providers should contact Iowa Medicaid Provider Services at 1-800-338-7909.

Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Is managed care new in Iowa?
A: Managed care is not new in Iowa.  Since 1990, a portion of Iowa’s Medicaid population has been under managed care.
Q: How many other states have managed care?
A: 39 other states contract with managed care companies for some or all of their Medicaid
Q: Will my benefits change under managed care?
A: No.  Members will receive the same health care coverage.  A change in coverage would require passage of a state law and approval by the federal government. 

News from Around the District

Near Capacity Crowd Gathers For Meeting On Curly Leaf Pond Weed Problem

A near capacity crowd filled the meeting room of the Spirit Lake Public Library Tuesday evening for a meeting to gauge interest in a pilot project that would result in a partial eradication of curly leaf pond weed on the north side of East Lake Okoboji. Bill Maas is President of the East Okoboji Lakes Improvement Corporation, which organized the meeting. He tells KUOO news that organization has decided to proceed in raising the $22,000 needed for the project based on the input at Tuesday evening’s meeting.

Maas added that should fundraising efforts fall short, the money that’s been donated would be returned.    

Maas says the fundraising needs to be completed very soon if the project is to proceed this spring.

Donations and checks may be made payable to EOLI, P.O. Box 45, Spirit Lake...51360. Donations may also be made online at

Environmental Protection & Natural Resources

Iowa State Parks Featured in America's Top Family Fishing and Boating Spots

The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) is searching for the top 100 family fishing and boating spots across the nation, and four Iowa state parks are among those being considered. Iowans participating in the vote can ensure their favorite places to boat and fish are recognized nationally.

Iowa locations include Lake Macbride (Solon), Lake Pahoja (west of Larchwood), Little River Watershed Lake (west of Leon) and Green Valley Lake (northwest of Creston).  Entrants can vote daily until March 27 for the three parks they feel offer the best experience based on family amenities, location and the likeliness to catch a fish or enjoy a day on the water. The parks with the most votes will be placed on the 2016 America’s Top 100 Family Fishing and Boating Spots list.

To learn more about the sweepstakes and to vote for your favorite parks, go to and click on the link to America’s Top Family Fishing and Boating Spots.

Visit the Iowa DNR website at for more information about each Iowa location including amenities, popular fish species and fish stocking information.


Tour of Our District

Gitchie Manitou State Preserve

Gitchie Manitou State Preserve is rich in geology, history, and archaeology and is known for its distinctive, smooth, pink outcroppings of Sioux Quartzite. The bedrock in the outcropping is 1.6 billion years old, and is the oldest surface bedrock anywhere in the state. The quartzite on the preserve was mined until the 1920s, and the quarry is now filled with water and knows as "Jasper Pool." The preserve is home to archaeological sites including 17 conical mounds and numerous Woodland or Great Oasis habituation areas. Also evidence of local history is present on the preserve, with the county's first post office and land office on the north side as part of a short lived settlement called Gibraltar in the 1880s. The building's foundation can still be seen.

There are more than 300 plant species on the preserve, with more than 130 growing on the prairie, like a range of prairie grasses such as leadplant and blue grama. Springtime welcomes wildflowers such as pasqueflower and hoary puccoon before summertime brings forbs like purple prairie clovers. The last flowers of the fall include aromatic aster and dotted gayfeather. Other plant communities thrive in the preserve's woodlands, wetlands, grasslands and a narrow floodplain. Visitors to the preserve are allowed to hunt.

Originally, the area containing Gitchie Manitou State Preseve was classified as a state park, but became a geological, archaeological, historical and biological state preserve in 1969.

State of Iowa Fun Fact

Danish immigrant Christian Kent Nelson, a schoolteacher and candy store owner, claimed to have received the inspiration for the Eskimo Pie in 1920 in Onawa, Iowa, when a boy in his store was unable to decide whether to spend his money on ice cream or a chocolate bar.  After experimenting with different ways to adhere melted chocolate to bricks of ice cream, Nelson began selling his invention under the name "I-Scream Bars." In 1921, he filed for a patent and secured an agreement with local chocolate producer Russell C. Stover to mass-produce them under the new trademarked name "Eskimo Pie" and to create the Eskimo Pie Corporation.

How a Bill Becomes a Law

(This weekly series is the first of eight...)

A legislative bill is a written proposal for a law. Ideas for bills come from many sources: a legislator’s constituents, businesses, government agencies, professional associations, interest groups and other state legislatures. When a legislator recognizes or is made aware of a problem which could be pursued through legislation, that idea is put into the form of a bill. In Iowa, only legislators are able to sponsor and introduce formal bills.

Bills may be sponsored by a Senator or Representative, or by a Senate or House committee. When a bill is introduced by members of a legislative chamber, it must follow a process and, if passed, be sent to members in the other legislative chamber where this process is repeated.

All bills must be approved in identical form by both the Senate and the House before being sent to the Governor for final approval.


After the bill draft is completed by the Legislative Services Agency (LSA), it is returned to the sponsor for review and filed with the Secretary of the Senate or Chief Clerk of the House, who assigns the bill a number. The bill is reviewed by the Senate or House legal counsel’s office for accuracy of format, and most often on the following day the bill’s number, title, and sponsor’s name are read to the Senate or House. The President of the Senate or Speaker of the House assigns the bill to a standing committee for review.

Tour of The Iowa State Capitol

Liberty Bell

The U.S. Department of the Treasury presented the replica Liberty Bell to Iowa in 1950 to thank the state for its efforts in the previous 10 years for war-bond drives.

Governor William Beardsley appropriately dedicated this symbol of independence on Independence Day. The bell, cast in Annery-le-Vieux, France, weighs 2,000 pounds.

Map of the Week

The map can be found here

Visitors of the Week

This week, Reps. Dan Huseman (R-Aurelia), John Wills (R-Spirit Lake), and John Kooiker (R-Boyden) welcomed members of the Northwest Iowa Community College Board of Trustees to the Iowa House of Representatives. The  Board was visiting the Capitol to talk to legislators about education issues during Community College Day on the Hill. 


Pictured here are Reps. Dan Huseman (Aurelia), John Wills (Spirit Lake), and John Kooiker (Boyden)with members of the Northwest Iowa Community College Board of Trustees.

This week, Rep. John Wills (R-Spirit Lake), Rep. Terry Baxter (R-Garner), and Rep. Tedd Gassman (Scarville) welcomed Iowa Lakes Community College Advisors of Northwest Iowa, to the Iowa House of Representatives. Advisors from Northwest Iowa were visiting the Capitol to talk to legislators about funding. 


Pictured here are Rep. Tedd Gassman (Scarville), Rep. John Wills (Spirit Lake), Rep. Terry Baxter (Garner), and Iowa Lakes Community College advisors (Northeast Iowa).

This week, Rep. John Wills (R-Spirit Lake) welcomed Liz Bogle of Centerville, Sarah Peterson of Sharton, Tina Bauermeister of Spirit Lake, and Annemarie Nestingen of West Des Moines, to the Iowa House of Representatives. The group was visiting the Capitol to talk to legislators during Diet and Nutrition Day on the Hill. 


Pictured here are Liz Bogle (Centerville), Sarah Peterson (Sharton), Rep. John Wills (Spirit Lake), Tina Bauermeister (Spirit Lake), and Annemarie Nestingen (West Des Moines).

This week, Rep. John Wills (R-Spirit Lake) welcomed Jason Harrington of Spirit Lake, to the Iowa House of Representatives. Harrington was visiting the Capitol to talk to legislators during Iowa Hospital Association Day on the Hill. 


Pictured here is Jason Harrington (Spirit Lake) alongside Rep. John Wills .

Quick Links

State Representative, John H. Wills
Governor, Terry Branstad
Iowa Legislature
Iowa Judical Branch
Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey
Secretary of State, Paul Pate
State Auditor, Mary Mosiman
State Auditor, Mary Mosiman
State Senator, David Johnson
State Treasurer
U. S. Congressman, Steve King
Senator Chuck Grassley
Senator Joni Ernst
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Copyright © 2016 State Representative, John H. Wills, All rights reserved.

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