Legislative Update 3/3/16

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Quote of the Week

Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.
~John Quincy Adams

Legislative Update

Once again, it was a busy week on the House floor with a great deal of floor debate and work behind the scenes.  I would like to take some time to ask for your help one more time in calling the Senate leadership and let them know you would like them to stop playing politics with Coupling.  Taxpayers in our state need the certainty that unifying our state tax code with the federal tax code would give.  This would provide 95 million dollars in tax refunds to the taxpayers, small businesses, homeowners, college students, teachers, and others this year.  Since 2011, coupling has not been a political issue until this year but it shouldn’t be a political issue this year because it is the best thing for Iowa taxpayers. 

Last week the House passed five bipartisan bills dealing with protecting Iowan’s Second Amendment rights.  This week the Senate is moving forward on a number of those bills.  HF 2279 was moved forward in both a sub-committee and the committee and will soon be eligible for floor debate in the Senate.  After it passes the Senate for floor debate it can go to the Governor to sign as a law.  HF 2314 was passed in the Senate sub-committee that it was assigned.  Both of these bills passed with bi-partisan support in the House. 

This week in floor debate in the House we passed some very important bills.  These bills passed in a bi-partisan manner, and is a testament to how the Iowa House can work quickly and efficiently.  These bills passed the House through floor debate this week:
  • House File 2278 extends the statute of limitations for human trafficking or kidnapping crimes to 10 years after a victim turns 18.  This bill allows more time to prosecute those who abuse children.
  • House File 2401 penalizes abusers who apply for a credit card in a minor’s name.  Practices such as these have become common practice for those who traffic and abuse children for financial gain. 
  • House File 2392 establishes opportunities for collaboration between high school, community college, and industry to create career pathways for students to be successful.
  • Senate File 2288 will help those who made a mistake when they were young, by making most juvenile records confidential for non-violent crimes, unless a judge says otherwise. 
I would like to thank you for the input that you give me and for the opportunity to represent you and to bring our Northwest Iowa values to the concrete of Des Moines.  Please let me know your thoughts or ideas, and please say hi if you see me.

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

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

Zwagerman authors another book

Zwagerman authors another book

A retired Sibley-Ocheyedan School District educator has had his second book published. Jeff Zwagerman, who lives on East Lake Okoboji in rural Spirit Lake with his wife, Jan, has followed up his first novel, “Always A Kicker,” with its recently released sequel, which is called “A Full Bubble Off Plumb.” The book is a mystery/thriller because that genre is the one Zwagerman is interested in most. “‘A Full Bubble Off Plumb’ is a fictional story about walking away from the small insignificant irritations in life, before they take you beyond the point of no return,” the 66-year-old said.

Environmental Protection & Natural Resources


Just as a reminder, here is what the Iowa law says about ice fishing shelters...

Shelters left unattended on land or water under the jurisdiction of the state, must have the owner’s name, street address and city in 4-inch or larger block letters (in a color contrasting to their background) on all sides, but do not need to be registered. Reflectors must be attached to all sides on any shelter left on the ice after sundown. Shelters must not be locked while in use.

Shelters must be removed from all state-owned lands and waters by Feb. 20 or ice melt, whichever comes first, unless the deadline is extended.


Tour of Our District

Business Corner in Osceola County


Standing as the last testament to the former community of Business Corner, this barn, with its unique overhang, called a farbay, was built in the late-1880s.

A four-way stop, intersecting county roads A34 and M18, slightly east of May City, it's well-known by name, but somewhat unknown in its rich history.

A unique red barn on the northeast corner does draw attention.

The barn is all that stands on this once busy location. The barn is owned by local farmer David Lorch and his wife, Jane. Lorch inherited the land from his mother, Helen (Cragg) Lorch, who inherited it from her family. The barn is known to have been built in the late-1880s by a Mennonite community that moved to the area from Elmira, Ontario, Canada.

The group of about 50 people, joined by others from Michigan and Pennsylvania, settled here to form a community separate from the outside world.

Their structures were uniform and their barns distinguishable by an overhang called a farbay, which extends four to five feet and provides shade for livestock.

The building, which has vertical siding, also has a "bank barn" feature. Such structures were built into a hillside or, in this case, ground to the north side of the barn was graded on two sides to allow for an entrance into the second level of the structure. This provided easy access to the upper level for hay and grain storage. Building the barn into the ground also made the barn warmer for the animals that dwelled in the lower level.  It also made the barn cheaper to build as it required less wood to construct it.

Mennonite barns are known for their sturdiness. The Lorch barn was built on a stone foundation, which is still holding its own more than 100 years later.

According to local historical accounts, the settlement existed until about 1915. Life was hard on the prairie.Harsh winters, summer prairie fires and tornadoes and a deathly bout of measles that killed many of the community's youngest members, no doubt contributed to the settlement's disbanding.

One story told of the settlement's bishop, Jesse Bauman, who became financially successful in the area. In his prosperity his fellow Mennonites felt he was becoming "progressive" in his thinking, which caused unrest among the group. Whatever the reason, some settlement members returned to their homes in Canada, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Just west of Business Corner, near the town of May City, a small Mennonite cemetery remains with 27 marked graves. Descendants of the original group still visit the site today.

After the Mennonites left Osceola County, Business Corner continued to flourish and became a thriving business community. A grocery store, broom factory, watch repair shop, wagon shop, harness shop and jewelry store were all in operation, thus the name Business Corner.

The Lorch barn is the only structure built by the Mennonites that is still standing.

State of Iowa Fun Fact

When it comes to women’s rights, Iowa has always been way ahead of the curve. Married women received property rights in 1851, and in 1869, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that women should be allowed to practice law, making Iowan Arabella Mansfield the first female lawyer in the U.S.

How a Bill Becomes a Law

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

Standing Committee Work

A standing committee is a group of legislators chosen by the leadership of each chamber to examine all bills relating to a specific subject area. Once a bill is assigned to a committee, the committee chairperson appoints a subcommittee. The subcommittee, usually composed of three members of the standing committee, reviews the bill in detail and reports its conclusions to the full committee. The full committee then discusses the subcommittee’s conclusions and makes recommendations to the entire chamber. The committee may recommend to pass the bill, to pass the bill with amendment, to refer the bill to another committee for study, to postpone the bill indefinitely, or to send the bill to the floor for debate with no recommendation.

Tour of The Iowa State Capitol

Treasurer's Office

The walnut "cage" in the Treasurer's Office once served as the cashier area of the office. This beautifully hand-carved piece had once been removed from the Capitol. In the mid 1970s, the cage was located in a horse barn at the Iowa State Fairgrounds and returned to its original location in the Treasurer's Office. The Seal of Iowa and the federal shield are painted on the ceiling of the cashier's room.

The Treasurer's area is a three-room suite. The Treasurer's private office, to the south, is connected to the cashier's area through two doors. The vault no longer holds the state treasury but contains records and unclaimed property information. The State Treasurer also has staff in other areas on the Capitol Complex.

Map of the Week

The map can be found here

Visitors of the Week

This week, Rep. John Wills (R-Spirit Lake) Club Scout Troops- Pack 50 of Des Moines, to the Iowa House of Representatives. The troops were visiting the Capitol to say the Pledge of Allegiance on Thursday.


Pictured here are Rep. John Wills (Spirit Lake) and Club Scout Troops- Pack 50 (Des Moines).

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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