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Legislative update from Rep. Sharon Steckman

This news story was published on April 14, 2017.
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From Rep. Sharon Steckman of Mason City –

Whether you are celebrating Easter or Passover or just the fact that it is Spring, I send you my very best wishes and hopes that some part of this weekend will be spent with family and/or friends. It looks like the weather will cooperate with whatever you might plan.

I spent some time Wednesday afternoon working in the Agriculture and Natural Resources Budget Subcommittee as we finally got the chance to see the proposed budget for these categories. Needless to say, I was disappointed to find that ISU’s Leopold Center was totally defunded, as was the Flood Center in Iowa City. The funding for REAP and public parks is the lowest in a decade. One dollar out of every five dollars in REAP goes to water quality. This budget was introduced Tuesday late afternoon and was passed out of the sub-committee Wednesday afternoon. This has been the pattern with all appropriations bills this week.

We are being told that the target date for finishing the session is the 21st, and our clerks’ last day is the 18th. Next week looks like a very long week with many very late nights.

None of the budget bills have been debated yet in the House and there are at least seven of them: Administration & Regulation, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Economic Development, Education, Health & Human Services, Justice System and Transportation, Infrastructure & Capitals. And, like me, most of the representatives are just now seeing what those budget bills contain.

As you know, I am a fierce advocate for education, so I was very pleased to receive notification that the Iowa Afterschool Alliance has extended to me the 2017 Friend of Afterschool Award. I will be presented the award at a luncheon on April 27.

On the other hand, I have learned that an additional $1.7 million is to be cut from early childhood education programs such as Head Start and Shared Visions preschool for at-risk children.

Other news this week:

  • The Iowa Senate is working on a bi-partisan bill to legalize medical cannabis this year, but the House majority has already said they are unlikely to take the bill up because there are not enough votes in the majority party caucus to pass it. My hope is that they will change their minds because nearly every Democrat would vote for it. With some votes from the majority party, there would be more than enough to pass the bill.
  • The Governor is expected to sign a bill this week to stop texting while driving.
  • Lawmakers have approved a bill to protect victims of stalking and domestic abuse.
  • An amendment was added to the bicycle safety bill in the House that has killed the bill again this year.
  • An investigative report found the Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate over-ruled his own staff and released misleading information to suggest to Iowans there is voter fraud.
  • Iowa’s graduation rate inched higher again this year and topped the nation at 91.3 percent.

Although I continue to be fascinated by the legislative process and truly enjoy advocating for my constituents, I look forward to soon being back in the Mason City community full-time. As always, I will be very interested in hearing your opinions and concerns.

“On Wednesday, April 12, 2017 Representative Jane Bloomingdale and I welcomed a group of seniors from Central Springs High School into the Statehouse. These government class students were here to gain information about how their state government functions.”

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One Response to Legislative update from Rep. Sharon Steckman

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    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    April 15, 2017 at 7:46 am

    Clean up the pollution in Iowa waterways and quit bending over for public servant unions sharon.