The following is a legislative update from GOP Rep. Linda Upmeyer of Clear Lake, Speaker of the Iowa House:
New Laws Going Into Effect
We are soon approaching one of my favorite days of the year… Independence Day. The Fourth of July is always a special time where we can all come together and celebrate American history and the freedom we have today. I hope the weather is nice and everyone is able to spend the day with family and friends at a barbecue, a parade, or by a pool!
The Fourth isn’t the only important date in July however. Each year, July 1 is a major milestone for state government. Not only is it the start of a new fiscal year and state budget, it is also the first day that several new laws become effective. While many laws are passed in January or February, most don’t become enforceable until July 1, unless they are incredibly important or time sensitive. This delay allows legislators to inform the public of the coming changes and gives state departments and agencies some time to develop rules for the new laws.
We addressed several issues this session related to education, health care, rural Iowa, public safety, and much more. Here is a sample of some of the new laws that will go into effect on July 1:
House File 772 – Empower Rural Iowa Act
One of the biggest topics of discussion this session was revitalizing Iowa’s rural communities. The Empower Rural Iowa Act will expand reliable internet access to rural and underserved areas of the state by creating a broadband grant program. It also makes changes to the Workforce Housing Tax Incentive Program and provides additional funding to spur development of affordable housing in rural Iowa and areas impacted by this spring’s severe flooding.
House File 532 – Training Health Care Providers for Rural Iowa
This law requires taxpayer-funded medical residencies in Iowa to give priority to applicants that have an Iowa connection. It also requires primary care residencies, including psychiatry, to provide the opportunity to participate in a rural rotation to expose medical residents to rural areas of Iowa. Training more providers will increase access to health care across the state and in our rural communities.
Senate File 159 – Recruiting High Quality Teachers
This law requires the Department of Education to align Iowa’s teacher preparation assessment criteria more closely with neighboring states. It also provides for a one-year license for those who have completed their prep programs, have been offered a teaching contract, but have not yet passed the assessment. These updates will help address the teacher shortage, especially here in North Iowa where we are consistently competing with Minnesota for high quality educators.
Senate File 113 – Protecting Iowans from Repeat Drunk Drivers
This law makes our roads safer by allowing a person charged with a 3rd offense OWI to be charged as a habitual offender. This would triple the time an individual could be required to serve in prison and improve highway safety by keeping repeat drunk drivers off the roads.
House File 692 – Counting More Absentee Ballots
This law makes a number of election changes. Most notably, it implements the statewide use of postal service barcodes to determine the date that an absentee ballot was placed into the federal postal service. These changes provide a uniform standard to ensure that all legally-cast ballots are counted and not disqualified because of delays from the postal service.
If you have any questions, concerns, or comments, please feel free to reach out. You can contact me by email at Linda.Upmeyer@legis.iowa.gov or by phone at (515) 281-3551.