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Legislative Update 01/21/2016

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Quote of the Week

Solve someone's problems and you produce a follower. Teach someone to solve their own problems and you produce a leader.

—  Alexander Den Heijer

Legislative Update

Friends,

This week has been a short one, with the Martin Luther King Holiday on Monday.   Even with the short work week, we have started to tackle some very difficult issues such as coupling with Federal tax laws, education funding, and quite a few miscellaneous bills and resolutions.  It is still too early to know how coupling with federal tax codes or education funding will turn out.  We know that funding will be a major issue and so school funding will be a challenge this year.

Next week, House Republication will move forward to increase funding for schools by $81 million.  When you couple the $81 million for increase funding for schools with $53 million for the Teacher Leadership and Compensation program, Iowa will be spending 84% of all revenue for FY17 on K-12 education.  In addition for the second year in a row, education funding will be the first bill passed by the House.  In the past, legislatures made an ugly habit of not following through and even pulling money off the table late in the year.  The result is local school districts are being forced to raise property taxes when the state can’t fulfill its commitment to the schools.  House Republications have made the commitment that we will not fall into that trap as its bad policy for the State.

It is important for all to understand that the House did send a bill for 2 percent to the Senate last session.  That bill is still in the Senate and they have not acted on it.  If the Senate wanted to solve the education issue quickly they could amend our bill from last year and send it to us.  Because of the Senate’s inaction, the House will work on a new bill and send it to the Senate once again.  Please let the Senate know that you do not want to see Washington politics here in Iowa.  Tell the Senate to act on the House Education Bill to save time so our schools know what their funding will look like as soon as is possible. 

In addition, some miscellaneous bills that I have filed and that have been assigned to Committees include:
  •  An act relating to procurement procedures for State Agencies – This bill will allow state agencies to purchase supplies, equipment, and expendable materials from local stores and vendors.Currently agencies are required to put many of these items to bid and often from large vendors.This bill will end the waste involved with expensive bids and will keep spending at the local level.
  • An act relating to rafting on lakes – This bill will put limits on the number of boats that can “tie-off” on a lake and the distance that those boats can be apart.On several of our State’s lakes and reservoirs our state employees have noticed that a safety issue is involved with many boats tied off and preventing safety boats from getting to one point or another.
  • An act providing education scholarships for children of military parents – This bill allows military parents the ability to choose the right school for their children that fits their schedule and individual situation by providing vouchers to those parents to help pay for those schools.
  • An act to allow students to participate in interscholastic athletic activity sponsored or administered by a statewide organization in an adjoining state – This bill will allow students to participate in sports that are not offered in Iowa as organized high school sports, such as hockey, in neighboring state.
  • An act relating to the preservation of religious freedom – This bill allows for the religious freedom of all residents of the State of Iowa.
  • An act relating to the carrying and possession of weapons – This bill allows for penalties for penalties for carrying a weapon during the commission of a crime and for a person carrying a concealed weapon without a concealed carry permit.
  • A resolution to the Constitution setting term limits for State Representatives and Senators.
This week we had several people visit from NW Iowa and that is something I always look forward to.  Next week will be a busy one and I anticipate we will debate education funding and other important bills. 

I am so proud to represent you in Des Moines and bring our Northwest Iowa values to the concrete of Des Moines.  Please let me know how I can best represent you and let me know your thoughts. 

Sincerely,

Representative John H. Wills
 


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.
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.
 
House Appropriations Begins Review of Standing Appropriations
 
A new subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee began the task of reviewing the standing appropriations within the state’s budget.  The Budget Review Subcommittee, led by Rep. Ken Rizer, will help set the foundation for the Standing Appropriations bill that will be started in the House this year.
 
Unlike other line items in the state budget, there are a series of state appropriations that are established in either the Iowa Code or Iowa Constitution.  These appropriations are known as standing appropriations.  The largest standing appropriation - State Foundation School Aid - is reviewed every year as the Legislature sets the annual Supplemental State Aid figure for growth in school funding.  But most of the remaining standing appropriations continue to be funded every year without serious legislative review.
 
The Budget Review Subcommittee will spend the next few weeks reviewing many of the existing standing appropriations.  They will work to identify what each line item does, reviews its level of funding, and determine if any efficiencies or reforms can be implemented to improve that line item’s function. 
 
The review will begin with an examination of Legislative budget.  Funding for the Legislature is set out in the Iowa Code, which grants the General Assembly a standing unlimited appropriation.  These funds are used to cover the costs of the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the central non-partisan offices like the Legislative Services Agency and the State Ombudsman’s office.  Next week, the subcommittee will move on to look at local grant funding in the Department of Cultural Affairs and tourism funding under the Iowa Economic Development Authority.  On Wednesday, discussion will turn to child development funding distributed to local schools by the Department of Education and non-public school transportation funding.
 
The subcommittee is comprised of Representative Rizer, Representative Sexton, and Representative Dunkel as the Democratic member.  Meetings will be held on Monday’s in room 102 and on Wednesday’s at noon in room 304.
 


Legislative Forums
 

January 23
9:00am    Eggs and Issues - Spencer City Hall Council Chambers, 418 2nd Avenue West, Spencer, IA
11:30am  Legislative Forum - Pearson Lakes Art Center, 2201 US 71, Okoboji, IA

January 30
8:00am    Eggs and Issues - Forster Community Center, 404 1st Avenue, Rock Rapids, IA

February 6
9:00am    Eggs and Issues - Spencer City Hall Council Chambers, 418 2nd Avenue West, Spencer, IA
11:30am  Legislative Forum - Bedell Family YMCA,1900 41st Street, Spirit Lake, IA 

 

February 20
9:00am     Eggs and Issues - Spencer City Hall Council Chambers, 418 2nd Avenue West, Spencer, IA
11:30am   Legislative Forum - Dickinson County Courthouse, 1802 Hill Avenue, Spirit Lake, IA

February 27
8:00am    Eggs and Issues - Forster Community Center, 404 1st Avenue, Rock Rapids, 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

 



News from Around the District

Snowshoes, snow boots, hiking boots sneakers, sandals; break out whatever kind of hiking footwear the season calls for and join the Dickinson County Conservation Board's monthly Hike the Wild program

 

The 2016 calendar kicks off Tuesday, Jan. 26, with a trip to the Horseshoe Bend Wildlife Area to hike the beautiful Little Sioux River flood plain to search for signs of wildlife in the snow. Weather permitting, naturalist Charles Vigdal will give a lesson on using snowshoes in deep snow and will give an opportunity to practice with the apparatus during the hike.

"We will be looking for tracks, scat and areas where animals have been active and hopefully seeing some wildlife up close," Vigdal said. "We will be hiking down into the flood plain, making this program a more intermediate-level hike. Plus, make sure to always dress for the weather."

For each Hike the Wild, participants meet at the Dickinson County Nature Center at 9:30 a.m. and caravan to the site. All ages are invited to attend the hikes to explore new and familiar terrain and to learn about a variety of topics, from glacial history to fall foliage.

"Hike the Wild programs are a great way to get out of the house, discover new wild areas and learn about some of the things you might see out in nature from a naturalist," Vigdal said.

Conservation board staff enjoy taking the public to beautiful areas throughout the county that they may have never explored before.

"We hope once they experience these area gems that they will then return in their free time to explore and relish the outdoors even more," said Kiley Roth, community relations coordinator.

Hikes are scheduled for the fourth Tuesday of each month and will take participants to the following locations:

Jan. 26: Horseshoe Bend Wildlife Area

Feb. 23: Ainsworth-Orleans Beach

March 22: Freda Haffner Kettlehole

April 26: Kettleson Hogsback

May 24: Little Sioux Savanna

June 28: Barney Peterson Memorial Trail

July 26: Westport Park

Aug. 23: Pillsbury Point and Abbie Gardner Cabin

Sept. 27: Fort Defiance State Park

Oct. 25: Diamond Lake Complex

3 p.m. Nov. 23: Kenue Park Turkey Trot

3 p.m. Dec. 22: Kenue Park Winter Solstice Hike

For more information, visit www.dickinsoncountynaturecenter.com



Environmental Protection & Natural Resources

Overharvest: A threat facing fishing

Whether in the smallest pond or the largest ocean, fish can be overharvested. For example, too many large bass can be removed from a pond. With those top-level predators gone, small fish become too abundant and the result is a population of stunted bass and bluegill.

In a larger fishery, consequences are more complex and often more devastating. By the mid 1980s, commercial fishermen had depleted mullet populations along the coast of Florida. With this primary forage fish nearly gone, populations of redfish, snook, tarpon, and other gamefish declined, as did numbers of birds that also fed on the mullet.

But a ban on inshore netting allowed the mullet to repopulate and with them came a resurgence in gamefish and birds.

Similarly, overharvest by both commercials and recreational anglers nearly destroyed the East coast striped bass fishery by the late 1970s. But in little more than a decade, moratoriums and strict limits had enabled those fish to recover..

Preferably, of course, overharvest should be avoided so bans, moratoriums, and strict limits are not needed to enable recovery. And it should be avoided because, sometimes, recovery might not be possible. Some fear that is what's happening with some ocean stocks, including bluefin tuna.

Growth of the catch-and-release ethic has helped diminish the threat posed from overharvest by recreational anglers, especially in freshwater. For example, bass anglers typically release nearly 90 percent of their catch.

This is not to say that anglers shouldn't keep a few fish to eat. Additionally, harvesting a few smaller ones often can help a fishery. For example, if a lake has a 12- to 18-inch protected slot for bass, keeping a few under the slot contributes to a faster growth rate and larger size for the remaining fish.

But being a good steward means adhering to size and number limits. Also, it means reporting those who don't.
 

And it means being respectful to the resource at times when fish are especially vulnerable, such as when they congregate under the ice or when they're nesting in northern waters, where the spawning season is short and growth rates are slow.

Solution: Harvest selectively, avoid harvesting from sensitive fisheries, and report poachers with vigilance.


 

Tour of Our District

Hawkeye Point
 

Hawkeye Point is the highest natural point in Iowa at 1,670 feet (510 m). It is approximately 4.5 miles (7.2 km) north of Sibley on the eastern side of SR 60 and approximately 3.5 miles (5.6 km) south of the Iowa-Minnesota state border.


 


State of Iowa Fun Fact

When the Civil War broke out, Iowa had only been a state for 15 years and had a population of just 600,000. Though the 76,534 Iowan men who served in the Union may seem like small potatoes compared to contributions from other states, no other state had a higher percentage of its male population serve. Iowa even had a regiment called the “Greybeards” because the men were all considered elderly, including one octogenarian.


Tour of The Iowa State Capitol

Battle Flags

The six glass display cases on the first floor once held battle flags from the Civil War, Spanish American War, and World War I. All of the flags were carried by Iowa soldiers. Each flag is made of silk.

Over the years, the manner in which the battle flags had been displayed in the Iowa Capitol contributed to their deterioration.

Fortunately, these priceless artifacts have been saved from further deterioration by removing them from the Capitol and placing them in suitable storage in the State Historical Museum. In the museum, the flags can be positioned flat. They are also protected from light and changes in temperature and humidity.

The project to restore the battle flags will take many years to complete. The goal is to update the Capitol cases with protective glass and install humidity and temperature monitors. Each case will display one flag that has been stabilized and framed. The flags will be rotated to prevent stress associated with prolonged positioning.

The battle flag collection will remain in the State Historical Museum. Six flags will be on display in the Capitol. The flags have been photographed and the history of each flag collected. To learn more about the Battle flags, go to: www.iowahistory.org.

For more information, select Battle Flag Day.
 


 



Map of the Week

 


The map can be found here


Visitors of the Week

Rep. John Wills (R- Spirit Lake) hosted Iowa Corn Growers members, Lowell Appleton of Sanborn and Jay Drenth of Rock Rapids, to the floor of the Iowa House of Representatives this week. Lowell Appleton and Jay Drenth were visiting the Capitol for Iowa Corn Growers Day on the hill.

Rep. John Wills (R-Spirit Lake) hosted NAIFA member, Don Breuker of Spirit Lake, to the floor of the Iowa House of Representatives this week. Don Breuker was visiting the Capitol for NAIFA (National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisor).



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State Representative, John H. Wills
Governor, Terry Branstad
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Secretary of State, Paul Pate
State Auditor, Mary Mosiman
State Auditor, Mary Mosiman
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