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Legislative update from Rep. Sharon Steckman


This news story was published on March 12, 2016.
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From Rep. Sharon Steckman –

State Rep. Sharon Steckman

State Rep. Sharon Steckman

What a treat it was to be in the stands last Saturday as the Mohawks Girls’ Basketball team won the 4A State Basketball Championship! I thought I couldn’t be prouder, but then, as we read the list of Honor Roll Students from Mason City High School, we noted that many team members’ names appeared on that list, including several with 4.0 GPA’s. What an outstanding group of student athletes we had representing us at the tournament!

As if that weren’t enough to make Mason City proud, Mohawks Girls Basketball Coach Curt Klaahsen was named “4A Girls Basketball Coach of the Year”. Additionally, Makenzie Meyer, Senior, was named “Miss Basketball” for the state, a first for Mason City. She joins the ranks of Dean Oliver and Jeff Horner who were named “Mr. Basketball” for the state in 1997 and 2002, respectively.

Spring is in the air…at least in Des Moines. The temperature actually reached 71 this week. With that comes the feeling that it is time to get the important things done here at the Statehouse. I am sorry to report that the conference committee on school funding still has not met beyond its first organizing meeting. There are rumors of a compromise floating around , but nothing concrete has happened.

We passed bills this week relating to the following subjects: Allowing one license plate on vintage automobiles; Restricting turtle harvesting; Contract bidding relating to Board of Regents, Hazardous household materials disposal; Summer reading programs; Rape kits, Dating violence and Fetal tissue restrictions.

We did not address Cannibidoil, puppy mills, school funding, Medicaid oversight, bullying, raising the minimum age, time off for new parents of adopted children, death with dignity, biking safety and many other issues for which constituents have been advocating. While the Senate has passed bills on many of these issues, the House leadership has refused to take them up. Disappointing!

Boosting Iowa’s Skilled Workforce

In order to improve cooperation with community colleges as well as promote apprenticeship programs, lawmakers have approved a bill to update Iowa’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs in local high schools. Apprenticeship programs in Iowa are essential to growing Iowa’s skilled workforce in careers that require additional training beyond high school, but not necessarily requiring a four year degree.

In addition to aligning CTE with national standards, the bill would have school districts set local advisory boards with representatives from apprenticeship programs to better prepare students for careers after high school.

Regional CTE Planning Partnerships would also be developed and will include input from businesses, industry leaders, school districts, community colleges and area education agencies. Some of the laws governing these types of classes offered at high schools in conjunction with community colleges have not been updated since the 1980’s.

Career Planning for Students Overhauled

The current career and academic plan that all 8th grade students must complete before moving on to high school is being revamped as well. The new plan will be coordinated with a team of educators (not just a single student counselor) and better prepare the student for successful completion of the high school core curriculum. The plan will require parents or guardians to sign the plan.

Beware of Tax Season Scams
As Iowans begin to file their taxes, many people who are receiving a refund need to be aware that scammers are operating again this year. Scammers will not only try to get your refund, but may use the tax season to get personal information from you or claim that you have to pay them for owed taxes.

Scammers operate via email, through the postal service, or over the phone impersonating the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Scammers may even threaten you with arrest, deportation, or suspension of your business or driver’s license unless you comply with their demands. In addition, some scammers may attempt to use the personal information you give them to file a phony tax return and collect your refund.

While the IRS does deal with individuals that owe money to the government, they have rules that they follow. It’s important to remember that the IRS will never:

• Call and demand immediate payment of taxes owed.
• Call about taxes owed without first mailing you a bill.
• Demand tax payment without providing you the opportunity to appeal the demand.
• Require a specific payment method such as prepaid debit card.
• Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
• Threaten arrest by law enforcement if you don’t pay.

If you are contacted by someone claiming to be from the IRS, don’t be afraid to call the IRS directly if a mailing, email, or phone call doesn’t look or sound right. The Iowa Insurance Division offer tips and resources to avoid and report scams through their website: www.iowafraudfighters.gov. In addition, the IRS has resources available at www.irs.gov or by phone at 1-800-829-1040.

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