The Behn Report

Jerry Behn (R), Boone

April 6, 2018

In the Legislature

This week the governor signed several bills sent to her by the Legislature, including the bill providing affordable health insurance options for Iowans, SF 2349. This bill is a very important step to help Iowans and allow for more options for health insurance options in our state.

She also signed the Future Ready Iowa bill, House File 2548. This initiative is the governor’s effort for 70 percent of Iowa workers having education or training beyond high school by 2025. The Senate was proud to support this bill and we look forward to seeing how this proposal helps fill the gaps in our workforce.

The Senate also passed House File 2422. This bill requires the development of new training materials relating to brain injuries and concussions to be used to educate coaches and contest officials every two years. Additionally, it requires schools to ensure information on brain injuries and concussions is provided to students and their parents when they participate in extracurricular interscholastic activities, and requires a student be immediately removed from an activity if they show signs consistent with a concussion until they are evaluated by a licensed health care provider.

This bill will help ensure the safety of students by requiring coaches and contest officials know the signs of concussions and other brain injuries. Concussions are the most commonly reported injury in children and this injury often occurs during high contact sports and other activities. Requiring these policies and the training on brain injuries will help ensure best practices are in place for protecting students.

The Senate also passed House File 2467, which allows schools to offset school meal debt at the end of every year if the school has made reasonable efforts to collect the debt. Schools will also be required to provide notice twice per school year on how to apply for Free and Reduced Lunch. Under this bill, schools will be encouraged to provide a reimbursable meal and prohibited from any activities publicly identifying students with a lunch debt. This bill will provide schools a mechanism to collect debt while ensuring students with a negative balance are not singled out in front of their peers.

Expanding opportunities for Iowa students – This week  the Senate received from the House a bill the Senate passed last year making a number of changes for online education in the state of Iowa. Senate File 475 strikes limitations on online education including which schools may have online learning, enrollment caps, and a school’s ability to develop and offer online education. Online education improves educational opportunities for students in rural schools in Iowa.

The bill also increases student opportunities beyond the classroom as well, allowing students who open enroll in online education to participate in extracurricular activities locally. The proposal also creates a working group to make recommendations to legislators in an effort to make student health requirements uniform and more streamlined in order to reduce the administrative burden on our schools.

Additionally, the bill works to recognize the work of students who are proficient in two or more world languages, one of which must be English, by requiring the Department of Education to develop a seal of biliteracy program. Students who successfully fulfill the requirements of this program will receive some type of authorized endorsement to add to their high school diploma to show the completion of the program.

Enforcing federal laws in Iowa – A bill to address illegal immigration in Iowa awaits the governor’s signature after Senate File 481 passed this week in the House and Senate. It is the second time in nearly one year the Senate has passed this piece of legislation.

Prior to adjourning in 2017, the Senate passed SF 481. This week, with some tweaks to the original bill, the House passed the bill. Over the course of the year, legislators have met with law enforcement and other Iowans to listen to the arguments in favor and against this legislation.

SF 481 requires an Iowa police or sheriff’s department having custody of a person, subject to an immigration detainer request, to fully comply with any instruction and legal document provided by a federal agency. It also would prohibit a local entity from taking any action discouraging the enforcement of immigration laws, including adopting or enforcing a policy.

This bill has created a significant amount of confusion regarding the policy actually contained in the bill. Simply put, this legislation would only affect illegal aliens arrested for crimes, not including traffic stops. If someone has not committed a crime, this bill would not impact them.

SF 481 is a common-sense solution to keeping our communities safe and is simply about enforcing the rule of law in Iowa. This bill takes important steps to achieving those goals.

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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