The Behn Report

Jerry Behn (R), Boone

March 2, 2018

This week, the Senate finalized two bills regarding education funding. The first was House File 2230, which increased education funding by $32 million for the next fiscal year. We also passed an amended version of Senate File 455, a bill we sent to the House last year to fix transportation and per pupil inequities in the school funding system. The bill provides $14 million in new money for schools to dedicate to transportation and funding to educate all our students fairly, regardless of zip code.

We have long been committed to providing responsible and sustainable funding for our schools, and finding a solution for our rural schools who have higher transportation costs. These bills provide our schools with responsible funding and set the framework for addressing transportation and per pupil inequities in the long term.

The discussion regarding traffic cameras has been around the capitol for many years. Last year, the Legislature passed a bill regulating the use of traffic cameras in Iowa. On Tuesday, the Senate passed a complete ban of traffic cameras in the state 31-18.

Another bill we passed, Senate File 2341, requires students to pass a civics exam with a score of 60 percent or above in order to graduate from high school. Under the proposal, students would take the latest available civics exam administered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Students will have the opportunity to take the exam once per school year at no cost. As we focus on STEM in our schools, it is also important students are learning the history of our country, how government works, and the basics of the United States Constitution. I believe these principles will encourage students to get involved in the political process and be engaged citizens. The bill passed the Senate on a bipartisan vote of 38-12.

The Best State in the Nation: US News & World Report announced this week that Iowa is the new number one state as a result of our top rankings in health care (#3), opportunity (#4), education (#5), and quality of life (#9). The report also praised Iowa’s goal of bringing high-speed internet to every corner of the state.

This report only reinforces at Iowans have long known: Iowa is the greatest place in this country to live. It is a great place to raise a family, put down roots and a great place to work. Not just in our big cities, but also in our rural communities and small towns.

This news is exciting for us as we work to make our state even better. We are constantly working to make our state more competitive with the states around us, make our business environment attractive for investment, and increase the number of career opportunities for Iowans.

While we have many high rankings we should tout, Iowa was ranked lower in economy and business environment. We must continue to drive forward with policies that promote growth and opportunity in our state, or we will be overtaken by others. During the past two years, we have pushed for pro-growth policies that will allow Iowa to grow, bring new investments to our state, and new opportunities for those who live here. These policies will make our state an even better one to live, grow and work. Improving life in Iowa is always our goal here. I am proud to be an Iowan, today and every day, and I am excited that others are recognizing what our state has to offer.

The article by US News & World Report, plus our Iowa Working Families Tax Relief Act, puts us in an incredible position for growth.

Iowa Senate passes the Heartbeat Bill: A baby’s heart is the first organ to develop in their mother’s womb. It is vital for a baby’s survival. When that heart, inside and outside the womb, stops beating it also determines the end of one’s life.

Life matters. We have passed meaningful pro-life bills in the last two years since earning the majority in 2016. This week marked another monumental bill we passed in the Senate and sent to the House.

Senate File 2281 would prohibit an abortion when a fetal heartbeat can be detected during an abdominal ultrasound test, performed by a physician. The bill would direct the physician to inform the pregnant patient of the heartbeat, in writing, and explain an abortion cannot be performed. The pregnant woman would then sign an acknowledging receipt of the information. SF 2281 would prohibit an abortion unless, in the physician’s reasonable medical judgment, a medical emergency exists and would be necessary to protect the life of the mother.

Under the bill, the pregnant patient would not be criminally liable. It would charge a physician who knowingly and intentionally performs an abortion.

The bill passed 30-20 and I am proud to have voted for the bill .

A model for the nation: On Wednesday, Iowa Senate Republicans passed Iowa Working Families Tax Relief Act. This bill is pro-growth tax relief. It provides working Iowans with an average of $1000 per year in tax relief. It cuts taxes by $1 billion. It treats taxpayers more fairly and simplifies the tax code.

Iowa has the fourth highest top individual tax rate in the country, higher than even Vermont and New Jersey. These rates inhibit growth because they hinder investment and discourage work. When Iowans have an incentive to work and invest, it attracts other employers and individuals to come to Iowa because they can realize their dreams of owning a home, saving for college, and providing for their families.

Iowa also has the highest corporate tax rate in the country. This tax rate causes Iowa to be passed over by many employers looking to build new opportunities. Iowa Working Families Tax Relief Act significantly reduces the tax rate paid by employers, while also eliminating or reducing most of the tax credits for special interest groups. In order to recover the revenue lost to those special tax exemptions, Iowa’s corporate tax rates have been highest in the nation on entities not fortunate enough to enjoy those carve outs.

We are committed to reducing the tax burden on all Iowans and creating a simple, fair tax policy. These policies help career opportunities flourish and Iowans realize their dreams. Low taxes, reasonable regulations, and a safe environment allow people to work, save, spend, and enjoy the greatest state in the country.

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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