Legislative Update 03/30/2017

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Quote of the Week

"It's time to stop spending money we don't have and balance the budget."
~~Joni Ernst

Legislative Update


What a great week to be an Iowan.  This week was eventful in that many bills that were sent from the Senate were kept alive or “died” in the Second Funnel--the self-imposed deadline that requires bills to meet restrictions or they are no longer eligible.  Below are some of the notable bills that will continue in the Iowa Legislature and remain eligible for future consideration. 
Promoting Careers of the Future
Senate File 274 is a first step in addressing a skills gap for businesses across the state by incentivizing and encouraging school districts to provide quality computer science courses in grades K through 12. 
It creates standardization across the state for expectations, high-quality components of courses, and training for teachers.  It provides new opportunities for licensure and pathways into teaching computer science for tech professionals outside the field.  A workgroup is also established to recommend additional ways to provide opportunities to Iowa’s children to work towards jobs in a high-paying, in-demand career. 
While the bill passed out of the Senate unanimously, several Democrats voted against the bill in committee.  The extreme partisanship displayed by Democrats is even affecting normally non-controversial ideas like the support of science, technology, engineering and math education.
Protecting Unborn Life
House Republicans are a pro-life caucus and believe the lives of the unborn are worthy of our protection.  House Republicans have attempted to limit the number of abortions in the past but were consistently blocked by pro-abortion Senate Democrats.
With a new makeup in the Senate this year, Iowans can expect the Legislature to take a strong stand to protect life.
This week the Human Resources committee passed a bill limiting abortions after 20 weeks, similar to many other states.  

The bill does allow for exceptions in situations where the life or health of the mother is threatened.  This bill doesn’t ban birth control.
Twenty-three other states prohibit abortions between 20 and 24 weeks and this approach has been held up in court.  

While this isn’t the resolution everyone may have preferred, this is the most substantial piece of legislation to protect the unborn in Iowa history.
 More positive legislation passed by the House
Protecting Victims of Domestic Abuse and Stalking
House Republicans passed legislation this week that protects victims of domestic abuse.  House File 263 ensures that habitual domestic abusers serve a minimum amount of time in prison.  This will provide survivors and victims of abuse with more time to remove themselves from a bad situation while abusers serve their sentence.
Exceptions to Fail First Insurance Policies
House File 233 will give patients and medical providers more control over their healthcare.  The bill provides a number of exceptions so that patients can get the medicine they need without having to go through treatments that aren’t effective as a way for insurance companies to save money.  This will ensure that sick Iowans get the medications that their doctors recommend without having to go through a number of ineffective treatments first. 
Protecting Private Property Rights
House Republicans took a strong stand for private property rights with the passage of House File 603 this week.  For many years, House Republicans attempted to advance legislation that protect the rights of private property owners, only to see those efforts die in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
Encouraging Growth in Iowa’s Craft Breweries and Distilleries
Over the last decade, the popularity of microbreweries and distilleries, and the products they make, has grown among many Iowans.  This House File will help continue the growth of the craft beer and spirits industries, creating new jobs and bringing more tourism to Iowa.  This legislation brings much-needed parity between the different sectors of Iowa’s alcohol industry.
I want to thank you, once again, for your faith in me to bring our Northwest Iowa Values to the concrete of Des Moines.  Please let me know the issues and thoughts you might have.  I look forward to the next few weeks where we will shift primarily to budget issues and start the process to wind down this legislative season for the year. 

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.
Photo of the Week
For the next several weeks, we would like to include a "Photo(s) of the Week" and publish those photos in our newsletter to show Iowans our beautiful district.  

If you would like submit a photo, simply click this link for submission John Wills and
please include your description of the photo.
This week's photo...

Sunrise over Spirit Lake
(Norm Meinking)

News from Around the District

Spirit Lake Continues To Buck A Trend When It Comes To Population

Spirit Lake continues to buck a trend when it comes to population in rural Iowa.

2016 statistics that were recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau show Spirit Lake was among just a few cities it's same size to see it's population grow. As a matter of fact, the report says Spirit Lake saw a 0.7 percent increase in its population in the last year, a growth of 3.4 percent since 2010.

In contrast, the vast majority of other smaller communities in the state saw decreases in population. Spencer was among those posting the largest declines in 2016, losing nearly one percent of its population.

Officials site the quality of life due to the Iowa Great Lakes and its associated attractions as being the lead factor in the continued growth of population locally.

Regional economist Dave Swenson of Iowa State University says the decrease in population being experienced in most of Iowa's rural communities can be attributed to a lack of growth in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors of the economy.

Environmental Protection & Natural Resources

Iowa Farmland Values Show Slight Increase

A new survey suggests that farmland values in Iowa have inched upward in the past six months.

A report from the Iowa Realtors Land Institute Chapter No. 2 says the farmland values climbed nearly 1 percent from September to March, hitting $6,545 an acre.  The increase was the first since September 2013.

The report says, however, that farmland values are still 2.8 percent lower for the past 12 months.

The institute's surveys suggest that the average value of Iowa's farmland has dropped about 25 percent since March 2013.

Iowa farmland values peaked in 2013 but have since fallen along with commodity prices.

The institute surveys about 135 agricultural real estate brokers, appraisers and other professionals.


Tour of Our District

The Albert W. McCallum Museum

Albert W. McCallum Museum

This museum was built in 1957 to protect the H. K. Rogers House; one of the first wooden houses built in Osceola County. In 1927 the house was moved from what is presently today the golf course, to Sibley's central park.

The building is named after A.W. McCallum, from whom the principal funds were provided for the construction.

The museum is also home to pioneer tools, Civil War guns, household goods, uniforms, swords, farm equipment, china, glassware, photographs, manuscripts, a 1908 Sears Automobile, a two headed calf, and many other items.

The Dorothea Brunson Heritage Home addition was constructed in 1988 with house furnishings from Dorothea Brunson's home. Antique home furnishings collected by Dorothea, as well as her needlepoint stitchery, are located in this addition.

Admission – None / Phone – (712) 754-3882 or (712) 754-3855
Directions – at the corner of 5th Street and 8th Avenue, Sibley, IA 51249.
Hours – 1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m., Sundays and holidays (also by appointment

State of Iowa Fun Fact


The Iowa Legislature designated the Eastern Goldfinch, also known as the Wild Canary, as the official state bird in 1933. It was chosen as the state bird because it is commonly found in Iowa and often stays through the winter. Seeds from dandelions, sunflowers, ragweed, and evening primrose are the main source of food for the Eastern Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis). In late July or early August, they build their nests from plant materials and line them with thistledown. The pale blue-white eggs of the Eastern Goldfinch incubate for two weeks and the young birds leave the next when they are two to three weeks old. The top of the male’s head is topped with black. The bright yellow body has black wings and tail. The female has a dull olive-yellow body with a brown tail and wings. The male goldfinch acquires the same dull plumage in the winter months.

Tour of The Iowa State Capitol

Map of the Week

The map can be found here

Visitors of the Week

Rep. John Wills (R-Spirit Lake) met with Zachary Li, Walter Shui and Warren Tiedeman on Wednesday, They were in Des Moines for a meeting with the Governor.

Rep. John Wills (R-Spirit Lake) met with Jennifer Poncelet, ISU student, who was visiting the Capitol for Research Day in the Capitol.

Rep. John Wills (R-Spirit Lake) and Rep. Megan Jones (R-Sioux Rapids) met with students from Spirit Lake High School during their visit to the Capitol.

Rep. John Wills (R-Spirit Lake) and Rep. Megan Jones (R-Sioux Rapids) met with students from Spirit Lake High School during their visit to the Capitol.

Rep. John Wills (R-Spirit Lake) and Rep. Megan Jones (R-Sioux Rapids) met with students from Spirit Lake High School during their visit to the Capitol.

Rep. John Wills (R-Spirit Lake) and Rep. Megan Jones (R-Sioux Rapids) met with students from Spirit Lake High School during their visit to the Capitol.

Rep. John Wills (R-Spirit Lake) met with Dean Meyer of Rock Rapids who was visiting the Capitol for Iowa Corn Growers Day on the Hill.


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