Legislative Update 03/05/2015

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State Representative

"There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power."
Henry David Thoreau

Legislative Update

This week has been a very exciting week in Des Moines.  This is Funnel Week!  The rest of the session and what will be available as “viable bills” comes down to the bills that are passed out of Committee this week.  This is a self-imposed deadline which helps to keep things moving in the Iowa House.  This funnel is the first of two funnel weeks at the Capitol. The funnels are designed to streamline the legislative process and narrow down the agenda for the remainder of the session.
During the first funnel, a bill must pass a full committee in either the House or the Senate, or it is dead for the session. Every year there are hundreds of bills filed. Many of those bills pass the full committee, some pass a sub-committee but do not pass the full committee, and there are even more that never even have a sub-committee hearing.
As you can imagine, funnel week is a very busy time and extremely stressful for people looking to advance a bill this session. I had over 8 subcommittee meetings this week and we had dozens of bills that passed through the committees on which I serve.
Some bills of note that have survived the “first cut” of Funnel Week in the State House are:
  • Asset Verification – A bill that will establish an asset verification system for Medicaid recipients.
  • 2nd Amendment Rights -- A bill that protects and clarifies our right to own firearms.
  • Energy Production in Landfills – A bill that allows for the disposal of yard wastes in landfills that operate methane collection systems.
  • School Start Date – A bill that modifies the school start date.
  • Zero Based Budgeting – A bill that requires the submission of state agencies to utilize a zero based approach.
This first funnel has allowed us to narrow our focus and concentrate on the bills that are deemed important.  Please let me know your thoughts and interests as we move through this legislative process. 

With Warmest Regard,

Representative John H. Wills


Legislative Forums

March 7, 2015 



Council Chambers

420 2nd Ave. West 

Spirit Lake


Bedell Family YMCA
1900 41st Street


March 21, 2015 



Council Chambers

420 2nd Ave. West

Arnolds Park 


Maritime Museum
243 Broadway Street

March 28, 2015 
Rock Rapids
Forster Community Center
404 Main Street

Legislative Priorities

2015-16 House Republican Budget Principles
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
Democrat’s Statements on School Funding Misleading (3-1-15 Des Moines Register)
 “Democrats in the Iowa Legislature say a Republican plan to increase state aid for K-12 schools by 1.25 percent is insufficient because Iowa already underfunds schools on a per-student basis. They say the state will drop from 35th in per-pupil spending to 40th under the Republican plan.
We rate these statements MISLEADING.
The Democratic assertions are based on data from one partisan source and flimsy projections from another. Data from the U.S. Census and the nonpartisan Annie E. Casey Foundation, meanwhile, show different — and more positive — assessments of Iowa's education funding relative to other states.”
“The spending disparity and ranking cited by the lawmakers come from data compiled by the National Education Association, which is the leading teachers union and a major supporter of the Democratic Party.”

Key House GOP Bills Surviving the Funnel
529 College Savings
Treats Iowa Educational Savings Plans, or 529’s, like IRA’s allowing tax deductible contributions into plans until April 30.  HF 124 passed the House earlier this session and is awaiting action in the Senate Ways & Means Committee.  Senator Quirmbach controls the bill.
Student Data Privacy
HSB 173 puts additional protections for student data collected by school districts and the state Department of Education.  There must data collection, privacy and sharing policies for students and there must be parental access to student data along with data breach, retention and destruction plans.  Additionally the state cannot include, among other things, health, family voting or political information in student files. 
Collective Bargaining/Arbitration Reform
The playing field is wildly tipped in favor of public-sector unions and against the taxpayers.  HSB 204 begins to level that playing field for school boards and administrators in negotiating contracts with teachers unions.  The bill makes three small, yet very significant changes to the binding arbitration section of the Iowa Public Employment Relations Act:
Private Sector Comparison:  Requires an arbitrator to consider a private sector worker’s comparison of wages, hours, and conditions of employment when rendering an arbitration decision.  Under current law an arbitrator can only look at a comparison of other public sector worker’s wages and benefits.
Ability to Pay and Tax:  Prohibits an arbitrator to consider the ability of the public employer to levy taxes, and the ability of the public employer to finance economic adjustments.  Currently arbitrators are required to consider the fact that the public employer can raise taxes to pay for increased wages or benefits.
Selection of a Midpoint:  Allows an arbitrator to pick between the two parties final impasse item offers, rather than one or the other which is required by current law.
2nd Amendment Protections
Under HSB 201 Iowans will still renew their carry permit every 5 years, but will only be required to retrain every 10 years.  Additionally the bill allows parents to train their children under the age of 14 how to safety operate and pistol or revolver.  The bill legalizes suppressors and creates a process for a chief law enforcement officer to approve the paperwork necessary for the purchase of a suppressor.  Finally the bill creates permit privacy for gun owners.  Permits to carry and permits to purchase would no longer be public information.  This information remains available to law enforcement.
The House Human Resources Committee is scheduled to bring out HF 58 on Thursday afternoon.  HF 58 requires that prior to performing an abortion, a physician must certify in the woman’s medical record that the woman has undergone an ultrasound imaging of the fetus; that the woman is given the opportunity to view the ultrasound image of the fetus; and that the woman is given the option of  hearing a description of the ultrasound image and hearing the heartbeat of the fetus.
Synthetic Drugs
HF 279 was amended and passed unanimously out of the House Public Safety Committee on Tuesday. The bill focuses on Iowa’s fight against synthetic drugs. HF 279 reorganizes the synthetic drug list and makes it clear in the code as well as adding additional chemicals approved by the Board of Pharmacy. Additionally, the bill gives the legislature two years (instead of 60 days) to approve synthetic drugs temporarily designated as schedule I substances by the pharmacy board. Finally HF 279 treats simulated substances and imitation substances the same for prosecution. This language is key to stopping the spread of synthetic drugs throughout the state. 

News from Around the District

Arnolds Park Amusement Park To Be Featured In Iowa Tourism Television Ads

Mon 3-02-2015

(Arnolds Park)-- The Arnolds Park Amusement Park is among the attractions from around the state included in the Iowa Tourism Offices 2015 marketing campaign. The latest round of television commercials began airing recently and will continue to do so through July. Di Lorenzen, Marketing and Communications Manager for the Arnolds Park Amusement Park tells KUOO news they're very pleased and excited to be included in the campaign.  Lorenzen says it will help them reach audiences that otherwise may have been missed.
The commercials feature a regret-filled Napoleon Bonaparte exploring the land now known as Iowa. At Arnolds Park Amusement Park, Napleon is seen riding The Legend Roller Coaster. He is also seen in the commercial kayaking, stomping grapes, cycling and savoring local cuisine. Napoleon learns first-hand what he lost in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. As other travelers meet Napleon they exclaim "This is Iowa!" Napoleon replies with a remorseful "yep".
The Arnolds Park Amusement Park celebrates its 125th anniversary this coming season.

Environmental Protection & Natural Resources

House Environmental Panel Passes Two Bills Prior to Funnel
On Wednesday, March 4, 2015, the House Environmental Protection Committee considered, amended and passed two bills.  The committee passed House File 162  by a vote of 20-0 which recognizes and promotes the use of emerging technology to convert solid waste through plasma gasification into energy, recoverable and recyclable metallic slag and vitrified organic substances that can be used for such things as building insulation.  The bill broadened the classification as ‘Waste Conversion Technology’ to include plasma gasification, along with anaerobic digestion and pyrolysis.  The amendment defines ‘Waste Conversion Technology’ as thermal, chemical, mechanical and biological processes capable of converting waste from which recyclable materials have been substantially diverted or removed into useful products and chemicals, green fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel and clean renewable energy.  The amendment also creates a new term ‘waste conversion technology’ in the hierarchical list in descending order of preference for solid waste management policy and utilization (455B.301A.1) between ‘recycling and reuse’ [455b.301A.1b]. and ‘combustion with energy recovery’ [455B.301A.c].

The second bill passed by the committee was House Study Bill 208 on a vote of 19-2 and proposes to direct the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to develop a Hub & Spoke Recycling program to create regional recycling processing centers in large communities and encourage small communities to deliver recyclables to such centers.  The bill, as drafted, authorizes not more than $250,000 of Solid Waste Groundwater Protection fund moneys in FY-2016 to DNR to develop this program, and not more than $1.5-million per year from this source to DNR for implementation of the Hub and Spoke Recycling program for the timeframe beginning on July 1, 2016 through June 20, 2020 (FY-2017-2020).  The out-year funding for fiscal years 2017 through 2020 of $1.5-million per year from Solid Waste Groundwater Protection fund aspect of the bill was amended out by the Committee because of concerns that there wasn’t sufficient funds available to sustain this function plus ongoing existing program and grants already funded with these moneys.

Tour of Our District


In 1894, the Melan Arch Bridge marks the first experiment in using the innovative concrete-steel system developed by Austrian Josef Melan. At the urging of a Midwestern contractor, Frederick von Emperger, Melan's representative in America, [von Emperger] designed a 30 foot concrete arch reinforced with structural steel to span a seasonal stream outside of the small town of Rock Rapds in Northwest Iowa.
Although von Emperger's specifications called for 4" I-beams, bent to the elliptical shape of the arch and spaced at 3' intervals, local legend holds that the contractor reinforced the structure with railroad rails to spare expense.
Von Emperger went on to designing several more arches in the United States, all with dimensions more impressive than this first modest venture. However, the Rock Rapids bridge remains his most significant work, and the Melan system he introduced there, was adopted widely during the first part of the Twentieth Century for the highway bridges and pedestrian spans.

State of Iowa Fun Fact

Iowa was almost 75 years old before the state banner was officially adopted by the Legislature. Creation of a state banner had been suggested for years bypatriotic organizations, but no action was taken until World War I, when Iowa National Guardsmen stationed along the Mexican border suggested a state banner was needed. The guardsmen said regiments from other states had banners and they felt one was needed to designate their unit. This prompted the state’s Daughters of the American Revolution to design a banner in 1917. The Legislature officially adopted the design in 1921.
Iowans, with the memory of the Civil War still fresh in their minds, had not adopted a state banner because they felt a national banner was the only one needed. Approval of the banner was aided by patriotic organizations that launched a campaign to explain that a state banner was not meant to take the place of the national emblem.
The banner, designed by Mrs. Dixie Cornell Gebhardt of Knoxville and a member of the D. A. R. (Daughters of the American Revolution), consists of three vertical stripes of blue, white, and red. Gebhardt explained that the blue stands for loyalty, justice, and truth; the white for purity; and the red for courage. On the white center stripe is an eagle carrying in its beak blue streamers inscribed with the state motto: “Our liberties we prize, and our rights we will maintain.” The word Iowa is in red letters just below the streamers.
All schools must fly the state banner on school days. The banner may be flown on the sites of public buildings. When displayed with the United States flag, the state banner must be flown below the national emblem.

Tour of The Iowa State Capitol

Not long after achieving statehood, Iowa recognized that the Capitol should be moved farther west than Iowa City, and the 1st General Assembly, in 1846, authorized a commission to select a location. In 1854, the General Assembly decreed a location “within two miles of the Raccoon fork of the Des Moines River.” The exact spot was chosen when Wilson Alexander Scott gave the state nine and one-half acres where the Capitol now stands. Final legislative approval for the construction of a permanent statehouse was given on April 8, 1870.

Old Capitol in Des Moines

A three-story brick building served as a temporary Capitol and was in use for 30 years, until destroyed by fires. But in the meantime, the permanent Capitol was being planned and built.In 1870, the General Assembly established a Capitol commission to employ an architect, choose a plan for a building (not to cost more than $1,500,000), and proceed with the work, but only by using funds available without increasing the tax rate.
John C. Cochrane and Alfred H. Piquenard were designated as architects, and a cornerstone was laid on November 23, 1871. However, much of the original stone deteriorated through waterlogging and severe weather and had to be replaced. The cornerstone was relaid on September 29, 1873.
Although the building could not be constructed for $1,500,000 as planned, the Cochrane and Piquenard design was retained and modifications were undertaken. Cochrane resigned in 1872, but Piquenard continued until his death in 1876. He was succeeded by two of his assistants, Mifflin E. Bell and W.F. Hackney.

The building commission made its final report on June 29, 1886, with a total cost of $2,873,294.59. The audit showed that only $3.77 was unaccounted for in the 15 years of construction.

Map of the Week

The map of the week is of the Regular PPEL and Voter Approved PPEL document published location:

The map can be found here

Quick Links

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Visitors to the Capitol

Wills Hosts Spirit Lake Students

Rep. John Wills (R-Spirit Lake) met with several students from Spirit Lake High School at the Capitol this week. Trevor Jensen, Alex Pringnitz, Zach Birkland, and Trevor Smith met with legislators and Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey during their government trip to the Statehouse.

Pictured here are Trevor Jensen, Bill Northey, Alex Pringnitz, Rep. Wills, Trevor Smith, and Zach Birkland.  

Wills Hosts Spirit Lake Student 

Rep. John Wills (R-Spirit Lake) met with Spirit Lake High School seniors at the Capitol this week. The group visited the Statehouse to witness their state government in action by meeting with legislators and touring the Capitol. 

Pictured here are Spirit Lake High School students with Rep. Wills. 

Legislators Host Spirit Lake Students

Reps. John Wills (R-Spirit Lake) and Megan Jones (R-Sioux Rapids) met with several students from Spirit Lake High School at the Capitol this week. The students visited the Statehouse to witness their state government in action by meeting with legislators and touring the Capitol.

Pictured here are Spirit Lake High School students with Reps. Wills and Jones.

Wills Hosts Kuiper Family

Rep. John Wills (R-Spirit Lake) met with his cousin Denise Kuiper and her husband Thomas Kuiper from Sibley at the Capitol this week. The two visited to see what a day in the life of a representative is like and received a tour of the Capitol from Rep. Wills.

Pictured here are Rep. Wills, Denise Kuiper and Thomas Kuiper.

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