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From the Desk of Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer


This news story was published on February 26, 2011.
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This week, several groups of North Iowans visited me at the Capitol! It was great to see the friendly faces of members of our local Farm Bureau, AARP, realtors, Mercy Medical advocates, Clear Lake students and others.|This week, several groups of North Iowans visited me at the Capitol! It was great to see the friendly faces of members of our local Farm Bureau, AARP, realtors, Mercy Medical advocates, Clear Lake students and others. We took a lot of photos and had great conversations. I’ve posted some pictures on my Facebook page.

In the House, we also had a big week ñ we sent the first bill of the year to the governor for his consideration. As you’ll recall, the Taxpayers First Act (House File 45) was a priority of House Republicans, the first bill we took up in the House. In our version, we found over $500 million in taxpayer savings. When the Senate sent the bill back to us, they had severely reduced the size and scope of the bill. They took the bill from $500 million in savings to $10 million.

While it’s disappointing that the Senate took such a timid approach to saving Iowans’ tax dollars, the provisions they left in are a good start. Provisions that remain in the bill include: sale of the state vehicle fleet, denial of state benefits to illegal aliens, cuts in office supplies, and elimination of funds for the lobbyist shuttle. To see the full list, visit www.iowahouserepublicans.com.

A few weeks ago, House Republicans laid out our plan for the budget ñ the plan called for $6.0 billion in spending or $347 million less than the current budget spends. This week the Senate Democrats released a glimpse of their budget plans. I say a glimpse because they did not release a balance sheet, so the revenue adjustments are unclear. It appears their plan spends $6.146 billion or $146 million more than our plan. I look forward to reviewing all the budget details as we continue the process of crafting a responsible budget for Iowans. I remain committed to budgets that are transparent, honest and sustainable. The state must not spend more than it takes in.

The situation in Wisconsin has brought a lot of attention to the issue of collective bargaining. In the House, we are addressing the issue but the scope is not as broad. House Study Bill 117 was passed out of the Labor committee on Thursday.

While there has been a lot of hyperbole about what the bill does, the truth is that it only addresses a handful of factors in collective bargaining. We believe by reasonably addressing a few items in Chapter 20, we can help keep the State’s finances in order and prevent the painful across-the-board cuts endured over the last couple of years. I plan on covering this issue in greater detail in the future.

Next week is funnel week at the Capitol. The legislative funnel can best be described as an elimination round for proposed bills. There are hundreds of ideas that are turned into proposed legislation each year. We spend a great deal of time working through the subcommittee and committee process, considering those ideas and deciding which ones the majority of legislators want to pursue. The funnel is a way for the Legislature to focus as the session moves along.

All bills sponsored by House members must be approved by a House committee in order for them to remain under consideration. If a bill is not approved by a committee by next Friday, it is dead for the session (this does not include tax bills, budget bills or government oversight bills).

Check back next week for a list of what survived or died in the funnel.

Thanks again to all who visited me this week at the Capitol. If you’re going to be in Des Moines and would like help setting up a capitol tour or to visit my office, please contact me at linda.upmeyer@legis.state.ia.us or (515) 281-4618.

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