From Rep. Sharon Steckman –
With adjournment day looming on Tuesday of next week, we are beginning to finally put together the various components of the budget which come from appropriations subcommittees.
These are Administration and Regulation, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Economic Development, Education, Health and Human Services, Judicial, Transportation, Infrastructure and Capitals and Standings. That means seven major bills that we will discuss in the next three and one half days, a tall order.
One issue that was addressed at length this week was water quality and funding through the excise tax – HF 2451. I feel that there are two troubling issues connected to this bill: 1) There is not enough money allocated (per experts) to fully address the problems, 2) The excise tax that was created for school infrastructure needs will be extended and then divided between clean water and education. I do not believe that shorting education to solve our water problems is the correct way to go. Both deserve our full attention and support.
For more information about the funding figures, please read the article on the link.
Recently, I have been approached by many constituents wanting to know my opinion on the Prestage processing plant. As a state legislator, I have no part in that decision-making process. Like you, I do have some questions and concerns. I have attempted to list some of the concerns I have heard Mason City residents express in an editorial in the Globe-Gazette. Like you, I will be paying attention as our city leaders continue to provide information to the community.
There were few visitors to the Statehouse this week; therefore few pictures. If you were here and I missed you, please accept my apology. We spent a great deal of time in caucus meetings, discussing various aspects of the bills that would be coming before us for debate on the House floor. The information that we receive in those meetings from our staff and our colleagues is invaluable in helping us to make decisions about our votes.
Other notes of interest from this week:
• Lawmakers are expected to delay a third grade retention program passed a few years ago because state funds are not available to implement the program next year.
• Tuition at Iowa’s three state universities are likely to rise next year after a budget agreement reached by House and Senate leaders fell short of the amount needed to freeze tuition.
• The House majority is still refusing to debate a medical cannabis program that would help thousands of Iowans with chronic medical conditions. It has already been approved by the Iowa Senate.