The Behn Report

Jerry Behn (R), Boone

March 1, 2019

This was the seventh week of the 2019 legislative session, and a week busy with subcommittee meetings. Next week is the first funnel week of the year, meaning Senate bills need to be out of Senate committees in order to be considered for the rest of the year. This does not apply to bills that are in Appropriations, Ways & Means, or Government Oversight committees.

One big topic of conversations at the Capitol this week was Senate File 348. This bill is from Gov Kim Reynolds and allows a pharmacist to dispense self-administered hormonal contraceptives without a previous consultation and prescription by a doctor.
This means a patient who is 18 years or older can receive a one-year supply of one of three different contraceptives. It also requires pharmacists who dispense it to complete a training program and obtain a completed self-screening risk assessment from each patient before dispensing those contraceptives.

In the event that the assessment raises possible complications, the pharmacist can refuse to dispense the contraceptive and will refer the patient to a physician. If the pharmacist does dispense the supply of contraceptives, the patient is eligible for one additional year (two total) before she must visit a physician.

I’ve received many messages about this bill on both sides of the issue. While many are pleased the bill would expand access to birth control, especially in rural areas, there are also concerns about skipping an initial doctor consultation and screenings for other health concerns. As the bill continues to work its way through the process, please contact me with any comments or concerns about the bill.

Senate Study Bill 1190 is currently going through the Education Committee. It eliminates many regulations, put in place around 2008, such as the requirement school districts use environmentally-friendly cleaning products or requiring notice of a public hearing in a newspaper, and instead allowing online notice. This bill simply removes these mandates and the respective reporting requirements for schools, but schools will still retain the authority to continue those practices, if they choose to do so.

Decisions such as these are best made at the local level with local school boards. A previous version of the bill eliminated state requirements for school districts to have librarians and nurses. That section of the bill was amended in committee, and districts will still continue to be required to have those positions.

Senate Study Bill 1197 started making its way through the Senate Human Resources Committee on Wednesday. This bill builds on the success of last year’s complex needs bill, which created an adult system for people with mental health concerns.

SSB 1197 establishes a children’s behavioral health system in the state of Iowa. This bill is a result of an executive order by Gov Reynolds and recommendations from a workgroup on mental health in Iowa. Many people showed up for the subcommittee to discuss what they liked about the bill and additions they thought would be beneficial for the state.

Also this week the Senate considered another priority for Gov Reynolds. Senate Study Bill 1046 is a proposed Constitutional Amendment to restore the right to vote for any convicted felon who has completed their sentence. If approved by this General Assembly, it will also need to be approved by the following General Assembly before going to the people of Iowa for a vote.

A responsible budget for Iowa – This week, Senate Republicans released budget targets for the next fiscal year. The overall budget of $7,619,300,000 is the same amount of funding allocated for the previous fiscal year, but includes millions of new dollars in spending. That does not seem possible, but because we had over $200 million of one-time expenditures last year that are not required this year, it is possible.
The budget targets proposed implement a sustainable, responsible, and conservative budget that funds our priorities in education, health care, and public safety all while providing millions in additional tax relief for hard-working Iowans.

With the release of these numbers, budget negotiations with the governor and the House of Representatives will continue as all parties work to move Iowa forward. This budget puts dollars in areas that are priorities for Iowans. We remain committed to Iowa taxpayers and the responsibility of spending their hard-earned money wisely, and we are dedicated to putting this money towards policies to grow our state.

Death to the Death Tax – Benjamin Franklin is quoted as once saying, “Nothing is certain in life but death and taxes.” Unfortunately, because of the never-ending thirst for other people’s money by too many politicians over the years, even death may be accompanied by more taxes.

Iowans spend their whole lives working to provide for their families, enjoy the fruits of their labor and leave something for posterity. During the course of their lives they pay income tax, property tax, sales tax, and perhaps a capital gains tax. The inheritance tax is double taxation on many assets.

In a state with a strong agriculture presence, the death tax can also lead to situations where those who inherit a family farm are forced to sell all or a portion of it to pay the taxes due to the government. The value of the assets is high but the accompanying cash is limited and inadequate to pay the tax. A similar situation may exist for small businesses outside of the agricultural industry. The value of buildings, equipment, and materials can quickly outpace the available resources needed to pay the taxes.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee recently passed Senate File 1 out of committee and made it eligible for consideration by the full Senate. This bill would eliminate the inheritance tax in Iowa. As the bill is currently written the repeal is effective on July 1, 2019, and would apply to any deaths occurring on or after that date. It would finally end the confiscatory practice of double taxation in this state and would eliminate that hardship for some Iowa families.

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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