Legislative Update 3/24/16

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Quote of the Week

"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."
~~ Mark Twain

Legislative Update



Have you seen the commercial on television where the family calls themselves the Settlers in regards to “settling” for cable television instead of a satellite television service?  Well this week at the Statehouse has been a great week because we have not been Settlers in the same regard.  Last week, through intense negotiations, we sent the “Coupling Bill” to the Governor’s Office.  The Coupling Bill, if you remember from several newsletters, unifies the State tax code with the Federal tax code.  Soon after that bill was sent on its way to the Governor’s Office, work began to complete the State Supplemental Aid increase for our schools. 

We did not nor will we settle for the political fight of last year and instead we worked hard and negotiated an increase to State Supplemental Aid that, once again, proves that our schools and education is a priority for Iowa.  This year the increase to our schools, which is 52 percent of the budget, equates to 87 percent of the total available money to our budget.  This is a major investment in our schools.  To put it another way, 48 percent of our budget will only receive an increase in budgeting of 13 percent.  By the way, this increase raises the amount spent per student to $6,591 during the upcoming year. 

We did not nor will we settle for the political fight of last year when we were in Session for five weeks longer than the Session was to be open.  Instead this year we are set to finish this Session early or at the very least on time.  That hasn’t happened for several years. 

We did not nor will we settle for petty partisan politics that do nothing but harm the average Iowan.  Instead many of our efforts from 2nd Amendment bills to tax reductions have been vastly supported by a majority of legislators on both sides of the aisle. 

We did not nor will we settle for special interest groups interests over the interests of Iowan’s.  Instead the interests of Iowan’s are the focus of our efforts.  The House has been and will continue to focus on the real issues that Iowan’s want us to address.  Issues such as water quality, tax coupling, emergency drug administration, 2nd Amendment Rights, Religious Freedom, prevention of selling aborted baby parts, and other issues have been priorities for us and will continue to be so. 

Folks, we will not be Settler’s here in the Iowa House.  We will do what is right for Iowan’s and what Iowan’s want to see happen.  First and foremost we will always insure that our budget is managed with care.  With that in mind, here are some of the things we have accomplished so far this year:

  • The Tax Coupling Bill
    Governor Branstad signed HF 2433 this week.  It is an agreement between House Republicans and Senate Democrats which includes House Republican’s tax coupling bill which provides $95 million in tax relief to Iowans.
  • Supplemental State Aid
    The SSA agreement is an increase of 2.25% to K-12 schools, totaling $153 million. “This agreement provides a significant funding increase to our local schools that the state will be able to follow through on,” said House Speaker Linda Upmeyer (R-Clear Lake).  “With an additional $153 million going to schools this budget year, K-12 education is receiving the lion’s share of the state’s new available revenue.  It is clear that education remains the state’s top priority.”  Under Republican leadership in the House, this will be the sixth year in a row that schools have received an increase in funding, totaling $660 million.
  • Consumables
    The other part of the agreement involves the so-called “consumables” issue.  HF 2443 from 2014, which had broad bipartisan support, clarifies the definition of replacement parts, including the supplies consumed during the manufacturing process as exempt from sales and use tax. Advocates argue that Iowa’s manufacturers are doubled taxed under the current law and administrative rules.  The agreement ends this double taxation.  It also allows manufacturers who pay good wages and benefits to invest in equipment and employees.  Passage of this language also eliminates the ability of the Department of Revenue to reinterpret the administrative rules governing consumables and gives manufacturers certainty in regards to their tax liability.
  • Second Amendment Rights
Items we are still working on:
  • Water Quality
  • Individual budget bills
  • Miscellaneous policy bills

Finally, I appreciate your trust in allowing me to represent you in Des Moines.  Please let me know the issues that are important to me so I can 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.

The state is limited by the expenditure limitation law which means the state is allowed to spend $7.351 billion of taxpayer’s hard-earned money. This is an increase of $176 million compared to the budget that was approved last legislative session. That’s more than enough to meet the needs of Iowans’ priorities.

House Republicans original budget target is lower than the state’s expenditure limitation, while Senate Democrat’s target is above. House Republican’s plan will not require any cuts. Senate Democrats will likely need to make some big changes to make their spending fit within the expenditure limitation

Legislative Forums

Currently there are no new forums on the calendar.

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

Iowa Great Lakes Declared Ice Free...For Now

(Arnolds Park)-- It’s official: the ice has gone out of the Iowa Great Lakes. That word from Kirk Ewen of Arnolds Park, who keeps track of the official dates of when the lakes freeze over and thaw each year.

Ewen tells KUOO news East Lake Okoboji was declared ice-free on Tuesday, March 15th; he says the last chunks of ice in West Lake Okoboji were gone on Sunday.    

Whether or not they’ll remain ice-free the rest of the season remains to be seen. Even though the calendar says it’s spring, Mother Nature is saying otherwise. Forecasters say somewhat warmer temperatures Tuesday will be followed by drastically colder weather again for the middle to latter part of the week. Snow is likely late Tuesday night and is expected to continue through the day Wednesday before ending late Wednesday night. Forecasters say several inches of the white stuff could fall.    

Temperatures by Thursday and Friday will drop to low 30’s for highs, with overnight lows possibly going into the teens.

Environmental Protection & Natural Resources

Incentives for Basic Conservation Practices--Improve Iowa's Water and Land

The Iowa Environmental Council supports House File 2410, authored by Representative John Wills from Dickinson County.

The bill relates to water quality improvements, including lowering the cost for basic soil and water conservation practices; recognizing multiple benefits when prioritizing watersheds; and reducing a portion of property taxes on land where long-term conservation practices are installed.

HF2410 is a Smart, Cost-effective Investment

  • HF2410 lowers the cost for installation of basic long-term conservation practices by allowing the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) to streamline the design of these critical conservation practices.
  • HF2410 does not list practices eligible for this provision, but directs IDALS to develop rules to specify which types and sizes of practices/projects would qualify.  However, basic practices such as grassed waterways and filter strips would likely be included.
HF2410 Utilizes a Watershed Approach that Emphasizes Urban and Rural Partnership
  • HF 2410 recognizes the importance of local priorities and allows consideration of multiple benefits associated with the watershed (including population served, drinking water, ecological value and recreational assets) when determining prioritization for water quality funding.
HF2410 Offers Economic Incentives for Landowners Implementing Long-term Conservation Practices that Provide Quality of Life Benefits to Individuals and Communities
  • HF2140 provides a property tax break on up to 10% of land dedicated to long-term best management practices to incentivize conservation practices that have significant public benefits, and encourages landowners to maintain the practices.  Eligible practices include bioreactors, filter buffer strips, prairie conservation strips and/or restored wetlands.


Tour of Our District

Osceola County History 
Osceola County, located in the northwest corner of the state, is Iowa's youngest and smallest county, consisting of 397 square miles.

Besides being the smallest and youngest county in Iowa, Osceola is also the highest. The highest point in Iowa is just north of Sibley and is named Hawkeye Point.

Osceola is named after a famous Seminole Indian Chief who fought brilliantly against the United States to preserve the land and the rights of his people. He was finally captured and died a prisoner at Ft. Moultrie, South Carolina in 1838. The settlers liked to talk about his exploits and his romance with the Creek Indian Princess, Ouscaloosa.

The word Osceola is said to translate to "Black Drink Singer" and originates from a Seminole warrior purification rite. During this rite the warrior would drink a black liquid brewed from the leaves of holly bushes. The word "Assin-ye-o-la" was a long drawn out cry that accompanied the ceremonial drinking.

Osceola County was organized in 1871. The first permanent settlement took place that same year by Captain Eldred Huff when he took up residence on a claim he had filed the previous November. Since the county was void of any timber (early settlers called it the "American Desert"), Captain Huff hauled a load of lumber from Sioux City for his house. This lack of timber also caused a fuel problem in the winter. Settlers were urged to plant giant sunflowers, as an acre of sunflowers would yield a good burning material equal to six cords of good dry wood.

The first session of the Osceola County Board of Supervisors was held on January 1, 1872. The following Thursday they passed their first resolution. It read "Resolved - that Sibley, Osceola County, Iowa, shall be the county seat of said Osceola County and that the County Auditor be authorized to petition the Legislature through our representation to have the action of the Board of Supervisors legalized." The fact that the railroad went through Sibley and that the land for the courthouse was donated by the railroad promoters probably did not hurt this decision by the board.

The first courthouse was built in November of 1872 by Henry Pfingsten (or Phringston) at a cost of $4,500. The wooden frame structure also served as a school and a church. It contained a 6-foot x 10-foot privy, coal shed, front and rear steps, vane and ball on the flagstaff, and a room under the stairway inside the courthouse.

In 1901 it was decided that Osceola needed a new courthouse. A special election was held in November, and a $50,000 bond issue was passed. The contract was awarded to C.E. Atkinson, and construction was completed by 1902. It was formally dedicated in September of 1903. In October of 1915 the building was wired for electricity.

The original courthouse contained a dome which held a statue of Justice. In 1925 the dome was removed and replaced by a square-shaped cupola and the statue of Justice was replaced. This construction was done to modernize the building. On August of 1961 the square cupola was removed, leaving the upper portion of the courthouse as it is at the present time.

Constant upkeep and repairs have kept the building's beauty there for all to enjoy and admire. A major entrance change was made in 1974 to make the building more handicapped accessible. Even with the addition of an elevator, the continuity of the original design is still there.

State of Iowa Fun Fact

John Wayne A.K.A. “The Duke,” who was born in Winterset, Iowa, once aspired to be a sports journalist. He wrote for his high school newspaper under the byline “M.M.M.” Cinema lovers around the world can rejoice that this is one fellow who did quit his day job.

How a Bill Becomes a Law

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

Second Passage

Amendments adopted by the chamber of origin are incorporated in the bill before it is sent to the other chamber. As the bill follows its path through the Legislature, the procedure in both chambers is basically the same. A bill introduced in the Senate will retain its original Senate number as it travels through the House and a bill introduced in the House will retain its original House number as it travels through the Senate. If the bill is further amended by the other chamber, the amended bill is sent back to the chamber of origin for approval. If the chamber of origin concurs or agrees with the amendment(s), the bill has passed both chambers in identical form and will be sent to the Governor for review. If the chamber of origin refuses to concur with the other chamber’s amendment(s), the bill is returned to the other chamber, which may recede from or insist upon their amended version of the bill. If they recede, the bill is sent to the Governor; however; if they insist upon their amendment(s), a conference committee is appointed to work out the differences.

Tour of The Iowa State Capitol

This bronze tablet is a near-replica of the state seal used by Iowa governors. An eagle holds a banner proclaiming the state motto: Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.

Below, a soldier stands with gun and liberty cap in hand, the plow not far away. In the background is the steamer "Iowa" on the Mississippi River. Just behind it, a furnace and smokestack represent the lead factories at Dubuque.

Alexander Doyle of New York City was paid $650 to design the tablet.


Map of the Week

The map can be found here

Visitors of the Week

This week, Rep. John Wills (R-Spirit Lake) and Rep. Dan Huseman (R-Aurelia) welcomed Nate Schulte of Rock Rapids and Ronald Rubsam of Hartley, to the Iowa House of Representatives. Schulte and Rubsam were visiting the Capitol to talk to legislators about their company.


Pictured here are Rep. Dan Huseman (Aurelia), Rep. John Wills (Spirit Lake), Ronald Rubsam (Hartley), and Nate Schulte (Rock Rapids).

This week, Rep. John Wills (R-Spirit Lake) welcomed REAP members, Lee Sorenson of Spirit Lake, Dennis Heimdal of Milford, Mary Petersen of Spirit Lake, and Kiley Roth of Spirit Lake, to the Iowa House of Representatives. The REAP members were visiting the Capitol to talk to legislators during REAP Day on the Hill. REAP promotes Research Enhancement And Protection.


Pictured here are Mary Petersen (Spirit Lake), Rep. John Wills (Spirit Lake), Dennis Heimdal (Milford), Lee Sorenson (Spirit Lake), and Kiley Roth (Spirit Lake).

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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