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Legislative update from Rep. Sharon Steckman

State Rep. Sharon Steckman
State Rep. Sharon Steckman
From Rep. Sharon Steckman –

No news is not good news! The Education Conference Committee on allowable growth for schools had three meetings this week.

Last year, the Senate voted for 6% allowable growth for the 2015-’16 school year while the House did not take up funding for schools. This year, the Senate has proposed a 4% raise in school funding for ’15-’16 while the House has approved 1.25%.

In committee, the House majority party has stated unequivocally that they will not move above that figure. The whole idea of a conference committee is to reach a compromise which is brought about by each side being willing to give a little. The Senate has already dropped two percentage points from last year.

Meanwhile, we are 41 days (April 15) from the date when most school districts must certify their budgets for the next school year and 22 days (March 27) from the date it must be published in the newspaper. My mailbox is full of desperate pleas from school administrators, teachers, parents and students.

Here’s what you can do:

Encourage school board members, teachers, administrators, parents and students to talk directly to Republican legislators at this weekend’s local legislative forums. Here is when they are scheduled.

You can also call and email legislators. Contact information can be found here.

This week, the Legislature hit the first funnel – a self-imposed deadline that is used to narrow the number of bills still eligible for debate. While there are a few exceptions for tax and budget bills, any bill that has not cleared a House or Senate committee this week is dead for the year.

The good news is that many divisive bills introduced this year did not make it through the funnel.

I picked up some facts about radon from the American Lung Association this week that I would like to pass along to my constituents:

  • Radon is an odorless radioactive gas that is produced from the decay of naturally occurring uranium in the soil.
  • It can be found anywhere and can seep into buildings and homes, even recently built ones.
  • While outdoor levels are very low, indoor levels can be high enough to cause lung cancer risk.
  • The average indoor radon concentration in Iowa is more than six times the national average.
  • Tests can be performed by licensed radon measurement professionals or by using a do-it-yourself radon test kit which can be ordered online at

    For more information, contact the Iowa Radon Hotline at 1-800-383-5992.

    Remember that Democracy is a participatory sport. You can…

    1. Participate in local forums.
    2. E-mail me with your comments and/ or concerns.
    3. Let me know if you plan to visit the Statehouse while we are in session.
    4. Stay informed about the important issues of the day.

    Legislature Moves Bill to Stop Bullying

    The House Education Committee has approved a bill that makes improvements to Iowa’s anti-bullying law and a similar bill has moved forward in the Senate. Below are some of the changes being considered this year to protect students.

    Mentoring Program

    The bill sets up a mentoring program to train and engage student leaders in bystander strategies, a program first started at West High in Sioux City. Current law includes bullying by electronic means, but the bill now adds social networking sites where the majority of bullying occurs.

    Parental Notification

    A notification procedure for parents and guardians of students directly involved in bullying is set up. An exception is given if the student would be further subjected to rejection, abuse, or neglect by way of that notification.

    Authority Off School Grounds

    Currently a school can investigate bullying off of school grounds, but the bill provides further clarifications on when and how that can happen. It also allows a student to open enroll in another district and participate in sports right away if they are victim of bullying.

    School Climate and Bullying Workgroup

    A School Climate and Bullying Workgroup is created to provide recommendations on best practices, training and resources. Multiple education groups and parents would be a part of the working group.

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