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Rep. Upmeyer says her priorities remain alive for discussion this session


This news story was published on March 11, 2019.
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Linda Upmeyer

The following is a legislative update from GOP Rep. Linda Upmeyer of Clear Lake, Speaker of the Iowa House:

Several friendly faces in Des Moines this week with the Boys State Basketball Tournament in town. Congratulations to all the local teams that participated and for a great season!

I also want to give a shout out to the Hampton-Dumont culinary students who were recently named state champs at the Iowa Restaurant Association’s “Top Chef” style competition. These students will be moving on to represent Iowa at a national level competition in May out in Washington DC. Congratulations on a great achievement!

We had our first funnel deadline at the Capitol this week so subcommittees and committees were in overdrive as they work to move bills forward. The funnel is a way for us to narrow our focus to bills that have a better chance of being signed into law as we move through the session. During the first funnel, for any House bill to remain alive it must pass at least one House committee and vice versa in the Senate. If a bill fails to get committee approval, it is considered dead for the session and is no longer eligible for discussion. The funnel does not apply to Appropriations or Ways and Means bills.

Many of the key priorities that I have written about in previous newsletters remain alive for discussion this session. This week, I’ll briefly touch on a few of those.

Children’s mental health: Last session, Republicans and Democrats worked together to pass a landmark mental health bill. This legislation filled many of the gap’s in the adult mental health system and established access centers where individuals on the verge of a crisis can seek treatment and be stabilized. This is an important topic to many Iowans

This session, we are beginning the process of establishing a mental health system that is specifically designed for children. The Human Resources Committee has been working hard to develop a framework for the system and the services that are to be offered. These changes continue to focus on Iowa’s community-based structure, while including our K-12 education system, so that kids getting treatment can be near their families and loved ones.

This is a top priority for both the Legislature as well as Governor Reynolds, who outlined her plan in her Condition of the State address at the beginning of the session. Last summer, she jump-started this conversation by signing an executive order that established a board of mental health professionals and advocates to develop a strategy to build a children’s system.

SAVE Extension: I wrote about this topic last week and it continues to be a priority for us and Iowa schools. This would extend the school infrastructure tax, known as SAVE, through 2050 making it easier for schools to update aging facilities and ensure modern classrooms. The funds are generated from a portion of the state sales tax and provide schools with significant resources to make much-needed infrastructure improvements and reduce property taxes for local residents.

We are also making it easier for schools to use these funds to address school safety and security, upgrade classroom technology, and establish career academies to help train tomorrow’s skilled workers.

Companion animal protections: We are also taking a look at a couple pieces of legislation this session that protect our companion animals. We have all seen the news stories from across the state of animals being abused or tortured and we need to hold those individuals accountable for their actions. We take this issue very seriously and want to ensure that our pets and companion animals are safe. We are still working on these bills as they move forward.

With the first funnel deadline in the books, we are well on our way to completing our work in a timely manner. We will have lots of floor debate over the coming weeks and we will continue crafting a conservative, responsible state budget.

As session continues to move forward, please feel free to reach out and share your thoughts. If I can be of any assistance, you can contact me by email at Linda.Upmeyer@legis.iowa.gov or by phone at (515) 281-3521.

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