From Rep. Linda Upmeyer –
Another productive week at the Capitol is under our belts. We continue to work hard on behalf of all Iowans as we wind down the list of bills on the House debate calendar.
In addition to the bill passed last week, commonly referred to as Kadyn’s Law, the House took up another bill this week aimed at improving school bus safety for our kids. SF 2221 will require school districts to perform a background check on prospective school bus drivers and then recheck each driver’s background every five years. Iowa is one of few states that does not already have this requirement. We look forward to the Governor’s support.
In other important news, the House passed SF 2185 this week, which will allow more flexibility in health care in rural Iowa. It is sometimes interesting to notice various coalitions that may form around a particular issue. Some individuals may believe that legislators reach their position on a piece of legislation due to party affiliation. However, often times, coalitions form around rural and urban issues.
SF 2185 is an example of working with rural and urban interests to develop a piece of legislation that is good for all Iowans. This bill will help decrease the amount of time people will have to wait to see a healthcare provider across our state. Iowa law requires that a physician assistant practicing in Iowa be supervised by a physician. Under current law, a physician is limited to supervising two physician assistants at one time. This bill simply allows a physician to supervise up to five physician assistants, but of course no physician is required to supervise a physician assistant. Having passed the both the House and Senate, the bill has now been sent to the Governor.
Another issue that is not only concerning for what is typically considered “rural Iowa,” but affects our entire state’s economic success, is the recent release of new rules by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that have the potential to negatively impact quality access to Broadband Internet in our state. It is important to note that the FCC considers the entire state of Iowa rural, not just our small communities.
The FCC has proposed changes to the “Universal Service Fund,” which helps extend telephone and Internet services to rural areas. These new FCC regulations will reduce funding and decrease predictability for many locally-based cooperatives and commercial telecom providers in Iowa. Additionally, the federal government will continue to collect taxes on Iowans, but could provide a very disproportionate cut of the Universal Service Fund back to our state. This has the potential to unfairly decrease access to quality Broadband Internet in Iowa.
We want to promote Iowa as a place for families to establish their roots and flourish. Ensuring we have strong, basic services, such as quality online access, is critical in accomplishing this goal. Although this is a federal issue, I believe it is important to shed some light on the situation and encourage more discussion. We have been communicating with the federal government to voice our concerns and will continue to do so to make sure Iowa is treated fairly.
As the session continues to move forward, we will continue to focus on our key priorities- providing jobs, savings, and certainty to all Iowans. We are hopeful the Senate will bring up the House property tax relief plan, HF 2274, which will provide a total of $1.2 billion in property tax relief. It is the only property tax proposal introduced this year that will not shift the burden to any other class of property taxpayers. Additionally, we continue to work through the appropriations bills to develop a commonsense budget that ensures Iowans we will not spend more than we take in nor use one time dollars for ongoing expenses.