Branstad reflects on 2017 legislative session

Gov Terry Branstad

DES MOINES – Gov. Terry Branstad released a statement April 22 on the close of the 2017 legislative session:

“As a former legislator, former lt. governor and chief executive of the state, I’ve worked with the Legislature for 33 years. When you look at the volume and diversity of policy issues that were addressed this year, I am proud to say this has been one of the most significant and productive sessions in our history,” said Branstad. “We have given Iowa taxpayers and families a balanced budget under difficult circumstances, prioritized K-12 education funding while building a computer science foundation for our schools, provided money for family planning clinics that don’t provide abortions, protected the ballot box, strengthened our traffic safety laws, protected victims of domestic abuse and violence, solidified Iowans’ Constitutional 2nd Amendment rights, and most importantly, made Iowa more competitive for attracting business and industry.

This is a long list of accomplishments that would not have been possible without the hard work of the Iowa Legislature. However, I remain disappointed that we were unable to reach consensus on a long-term, reliable and dedicated source of funding for water quality infrastructure. In the next 30 days, Lt. Gov. Reynolds and I will thoughtfully and carefully review all the bills passed, and act according to our principles.”

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Branstad-Reynolds Administration 2017 Legislative Accomplishments:

BALANCED BUDGET FOR IOWA FAMILIES AND TAXPAYERS: “Under difficult circumstances resulting from a stifling agricultural economy, the Legislature wisely proceeded with caution to provide Iowa families and taxpayers a balanced budget.  This budget prioritizes education, health care, economic development and public safety.  In fact, 59 cents of every dollar spent from the general fund is now spent on education and we are investing $587 million more per year than in 2011.  We also did what we told Iowans, and redirected family planning money to organizations that focus on providing health care for women and eliminate taxpayer funding for organizations that perform abortions.” 

  • Provided family planning money for women’s health clinics that do not perform abortions.
  • Provided an additional $41 million to K-12 education for fiscal year 2018; Iowa’s baseline budget is $587 million higher than in 2011.
  • Will save taxpayers $232 million through modernized Medicaid.

STRENGTHENED TRAFFIC SAFETY LAWS: “In my Condition of the State Address, I talked about the unacceptable trend of traffic fatalities on our Iowa roads. I’m pleased that the Legislature, in a strong bi-partisan fashion, banded together to strengthen our distracted driving and drunk driving laws. These are needed to save lives and protect motorists, bicyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians and passengers.”

  • Senate File 234:  an Act relating to the use of electronic communication devices to write, send, or view electronic messages while driving as a primary offense, and making penalties applicable.
  • Senate File 444:  an Act relating to public safety on highways, including the use of electronic communication devices while driving where such use results in death and the establishment of a statewide sobriety and drug monitoring program, and providing penalties.

PROTECTED VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND ABUSE: “Because of the tireless work of survivors and their supporters, we were finally able to make important changes to ensure that habitual violent offenders serve more time in prison, and receive the proper treatment before they are released. We also modernized the crime of stalking, and prohibited the unwanted placement of a GPS tracking device on a victim’s vehicle. These changes will save lives.”

  • House File 263:  an Act relating to the criminal offenses of domestic abuse and authorized placement of a global positioning device, and providing penalties.

PROTECTED THE BALLOT BOX: “Protecting voter integrity at the ballot box is common sense and something that 34 other states have already done. The overwhelming majority of Iowans support these safeguards and I’m pleased we were able to get this accomplished this year.”

  • House File 516:  an Act relating to the conduct and administration of elections, including voter registration, absentee voting, voter identity verification, signature verification, polling place prohibitions, commissioner duties and certifications, voter misconduct information and reporting, straight party voting, and post-election audits, creating an electronic poll book and polling place technology revolving loan fund, providing penalties, and including effective date and applicability provisions.

SOLIDIFIED IOWANS’ CONSTITUTIONAL 2nd AMENDMENT RIGHTS: “I’ve always been a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, and this legislation makes Iowa one of the most pro-second amendment states in the country.  Expanding the freedoms and solidifying the constitutional rights of Iowans should always be a goal for the state whose motto is “Our Liberties We Prize and our Rights We Will Maintain.”

  • House File 517:  an Act relating to offensive and dangerous weapons, and the justifiable use of reasonable and deadly force, including carrying, possessing, transferring, and acquiring weapons, the purchase and regulation of such weapons, providing penalties, and including effective date and applicability provisions 

REFORMED WORKER’S COMPENSATION LAWS: “In the past 10 years, Iowa’s workers’ compensation system has mutated into a system benefiting trial lawyers at the expense of Iowa businesses and Iowa workers. That ends by rebalancing the scales to ensure employees are compensated fairly for being injured on the job, while ensuring that abuses are curtailed.  This legislation prevents attorneys from taking fees from injured workers when the employer was voluntarily giving benefits, ends the burden on the employer to demonstrate that intoxicated workers incurred injuries as a result of the intoxication, and ends an individual’s ability to receive workers’ compensation while receiving unemployment insurance.”

  • House File 518:  an Act relating to workers’ compensation and including applicability provisions.

REFORMED COLLECTIVE BARGANING LAWS: “These necessary reforms to our antiquated 43 year old public employee collective bargaining law bring fairness for Iowa taxpayers and flexibility to public employees. This bill also gives local governments, schools and state government greater freedom in managing their resources with the opportunity to reward good public employees.”

  • House File 291:  an Act relating to employment matters involving public employees including collective bargaining, educator employment matters, personnel records and settlement agreements, city civil service requirements, and health insurance matters, making penalties applicable, and including effective date, applicability, and transition provisions.

LIFE:  INSTITUTED A 20 WEEK ABORTION BAN: “I’ve been fighting for life since 1972 when I was first in the Legislature.  Lt. Gov. Reynolds is just as steadfast in her support for life.  We have made some real progress this year by getting legislation passed that institutes the first 20 week abortion ban, and also establishes a three-day waiting period for women who seek an abortion.  The pro-life movement is making tremendous strides in changing the hearts and minds, to return to a culture that once again respects human life.”

  • Senate File 471:  an Act relating to limitations on and prerequisites for an abortion, providing for licensee discipline, providing civil penalties, and including effective date provisions.

BUILT A COMPUTER SCIENCE FOUNDATION FOR IOWA’S SCHOOLS: ”Building a computer science foundation in elementary and middle school helps students decide in high school and beyond whether to pursue a rewarding career in the computer science field. This is also a key tool to accomplishing our Future Ready Iowa goal. These high-paying, quality careers are exactly what Lt. Gov. Reynolds and I have fought to bring more of to Iowa.  I’m very pleased at the bi-partisan effort shown to prioritize computer science education in the classroom.”

  • Senate File 274:  an Act relating to computer science education by providing for education standards by the state Board of Education, for instructor endorsements and authorizations issued by the Board of Educational Examiners, for establishment of a computer science professional development incentive fund, and for the establishment of a computer science education work group.

MEDICAL MALPRACTICE: “Comprehensive medical liability reform will improve patient care and allow Iowa to be more competitive across the nation in attracting and retaining physicians.  Iowa medical liability suits take longer to resolve, cost more to defend than our neighboring states and detract from patient care by increasing physician time dealing with liability claims. States with malpractice reforms have seen increase in the number of practicing physicians and medical residents indicate malpractice climate is an important factor in their determination of where to practice.”  

  • Senate File 465:  an Act relating to medical malpractice claims, including noneconomic damage awards and expert witnesses, and including applicability provisions.

CODIFIED PROJECT LABOR AGREEMENTS: “When I returned to office in 2011, my first executive order was the proliferation of Project Labor Agreements, or PLAs. PLAs do nothing but inflate construction costs and discourage competition for Iowa workers and businesses. The state needs to be in the business of protecting the taxpayer, and codifying our executive order, does just that.” 

         Senate File 438:  an Act relating to bidding and contracting for public improvement projects, making penalties applicable, and including effective date and applicability provisions.

LOWERED STATUTE OF REPOSE: “In an effort to reduce the costs associated with construction, I signed legislation reducing the number of years lawyers have to sue on construction projects while maintaining sufficient time to protect home and business owners. Before this legislation, Iowa had the highest statute or repose and now we will be more competitive.”

  • Senate File 413:  an Act relating to statute-of-repose periods for improvements to real property and including applicability provisions.

STREAMLINING ROAD AND BRIDGE PROJECTS: “In order for local governments to avoid onerous federal regulations, this legislation improves efficiencies and streamlines the construction of road and bridge projects around the state.” 

  • House File 203:  an Act authorizing the use of primary road fund moneys for the secondary road and municipal street systems.
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