The Behn Report

Sen Jerry Behn, (R) Boone

February 9, 2018

In the Legislature – Week Five  is coming to a close and we have been busy working to get our bills through the legislative process. With the increase in subcommittee meetings, there are bills on a variety of issues at the capitol.

One of these, Senate File 2086, allows a person with a permit to carry weapons to have their weapon while on school property while they are picking up or dropping off a person, transporting an item to or from school, or if a person is in a parking area or driveway. This does not allow them to carry inside a building. The main aim of the bill is to ensure parents who choose to carry are not violating any law when picking up or dropping off their child.

Senate Study Bill 3018 updates current law on scanning devices, like skimmers, due to the increase in information theft. The bill updates the language to include the tools criminals are using to steal information, like skimmers, wireless devices, RFID, and near-field communications. This bill is an important update to our current law as we work to protect Iowans from theft and fraud.

Commitment to public education – Our first floor vote this legislative session was to provide Iowa public schools with nearly $46 million in new money for the 2019 fiscal year.

The increase in supplemental state aid brings the allocation of state general fund dollars for K-12 education to more the $3.21 billion, which is nearly 44 percent of the state budget. This is a responsible and sustainable commitment school officials can depend upon as they begin working through their budgeting process. Many times in the past, legislators have over-promised on its resources to schools only to under-deliver in the long run, making it extremely hard on the budget of our Iowa school districts.

This bill, House File 2230, also works to address the transportation inequities between urban and rural school districts and evens out the costs of transporting students. The bill also works to close the $175 gap in per pupil funding that has existed for over 40 years. In addition to addressing SSA for our K-12 schools, we have devoted $14 million to addressing the “transportation and district cost per pupil inequities” that exist within our funding formula.

Supplemental state aid is just one funding mechanism for public schools. We have worked to give schools more flexibility with their funds so our districts and school boards can make the best decisions on how to utilize their resources.

We don’t want a student’s zip code to determine the quality of education available. Our vote this week on this important education funding bill will work to help level that playing field and increase the opportunities available to Iowa students in our rural communities.

Senate moves pro-growth energy policy – For  the last two years we have advocated and passed pro-growth policies to improve the climate for career opportunities in Iowa. Improving career opportunities was the prime objective for us during the two years of this General Assembly.

This week we started moving pro-growth energy policy through the legislative process. Senate Study Bill (SSB) 3093 eliminates a backdoor rate increase on Iowa users of natural gas and electricity. For years, many Iowans have been paying up to 10 percent more on their utility bills to fund energy efficiency projects for others. These fees are added, but state law prohibits power companies from being transparent about the actual cost of these fees to customers of rate-regulated utilities. This bill eliminates the requirement of those entities to apply those fees to their users. It lowers costs for Iowans, job creators, public entities, and any customer of a rate-regulated utility in Iowa.

With strong growth in the American economy, job creators large and small are announcing substantial investments in the economy. Iowa is poised for growth and opportunities for growth exist for many industries in many areas of the state. An important aspect of attracting investment is the availability of reliable and affordable electricity. Making Iowa competitive for investment is important for career opportunities all across our state. SSB 3093 is one more piece of legislation to encourage growth, attract investment and create an environment for better career opportunities for all Iowans.

As always, I want to hear from you. My Senate number is (515) 281-3371 and my home number is (515) 432-7327 or write me at: State Capitol, Des Moines, IA 50319 or at my home address: 1313 Quill Avenue, Boone, IA 50036 or email me at jerry.behn [at] legis [dot] iowa [dot] gov

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