The following is a legislative update from Representative Shanon Latham, Iowa House District 54, covering portions of Cerro Gordo, Butler and Franklin counties:
To the People of House District 54
During the sixth week of the 2021 legislative session, the Iowa House held debate on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. We passed 41 bills, covering a variety of topics from game nights for charitable organizations to additional funding for education.
Below is a summary of some bills that might be of particular interest:
House File (HF) 311 allows qualified organizations to hold charitable game nights once per month rather than once per year.
HF 313 is also known as the Lemonade Stand Bill. This bill prohibits counties or cities from imposing restrictions, such as requiring permits or charging fees, for certain businesses operated by minors.
HF 415, which passed 90-3, would require school districts and certain accredited nonpublic schools to offer the Pledge of Allegiance and to display the U.S. flag in the classroom during the recitation of the pledge. I voted “aye” because I believe all children should be given the opportunity to appreciate the ties that unite Americans.
During the pandemic, many school board members filled in where needed. HF 497 allows school board members to receive compensation that exceeds $6,000 if they were employed as a substitute teacher, food service worker, or school bus driver for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.
HF 435 relates to emergency contact information for use by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and law enforcement agencies (LEA). When a person applies for issuance, replacement, or the renewal of a driver’s license, the DOT is required to request that the applicant voluntarily submit emergency contact information. Information in this database is confidential and is only accessible to the DOT and LEA employees as part of their official duties.
Funding for Education
Additional Funds for Schools Offering In-Person Learning
House File 532 appropriates $27.2 million to help schools cover additional costs associated with in-person instruction days. The great news for schools is that this supplement may be added to the general fund, so school districts may use these dollars for any general fund purpose. For example, this one-time money could be used to help cover the costs associated with lower enrollment in pre-school and kindergarten due to the pandemic.
PLEASE NOTE: The intent of this bill is to help schools cover the additional costs of operating in-person during a pandemic. This bill does not take any funding away from schools that didn’t meet in person as this is an additional $27.2 million appropriation. A great deal of variability – and inequity – resulted from the formula used by the federal government to allocate Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) funding. Now the Iowa House is allocating state dollars to help minimize the inequity that resulted from the formula created by the federal government.
The House version of this School Aid Supplement differs from the Senate in three key ways:
HF 532 will allocate money from a year-end balance.
HF 532 allocates the money during the current fiscal year.
HF 532 allows this supplement to be used for general fund expenditures.
Supplemental State Aid (SSA)
As I mentioned in last week’s newsletter, the Iowa House passed a Supplemental State Aid (SSA) increase for schools of 2.4% for Fiscal Year 2022 for both the Regular Program and the Categorical Supplements. The percentage is comparable with what has been done in recent years. As you can see from the chart below, school funding increases have kept up with inflation.
Stay in Touch
The Statehouse is open for visitors and tours. Special thanks to the Clear Lake FFA for visiting me this week. I greatly enjoyed meeting with chapter members and hearing all of the great projects underway from preparing for contests to working in their new greenhouse. More than 760,000 FFA members from across the country will share the story of agriculture as part of 2020 National FFA Week, Feb. 20-27.
I need your input in order to represent your interests and viewpoints. I’m always just a click away! You’re welcome to send an email to Shannon.Latham@legis.iowa.gov or message me on my political Facebook page (@ShannonLathamIA).
“Front Row News” is distributed to local newspapers and interested constituents at the end of each week throughout the legislative session. “Looking Ahead with Latham” is a video update posted each Monday on my political Facebook page.