The following is a legislative update from Republican State Rep. Shannon Latham, representing portions of Franklin, Butler and Cerro Gordo counties in Iowa House District 54:
The first session of the 90th Iowa General Assembly convened January 9, 2023, in regular session. Members of the Iowa House and Senate were sworn into office on day one. Executive members have been sworn into office throughout the week.
The first week of every session is filled with ceremony. Governor Kim Reynolds’ annual Condition of the State address was broadcast live on Tuesday evening. On Wednesday morning, Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Susan Christensen delivered the State of the Judiciary. The Adjutant General of Iowa National Guard Major General Benjamin Corell delivered the Condition of the Guard on Thursday morning.
During her Condition of the State, Gov. Reynolds reiterated the strength of Iowa. She also outlined her bold agenda for 2023, which includes extending school choice to all parents and reorganizing government agencies.
School choice is an issue that has been debated each session I have been in office, but this year’s bill is different in three ways:
- In the governor’s proposal, Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) will become available to all Iowa students throughout the next three years. The State would contribute $7,598 to an ESA for students attending private schools.
- Students attending private schools will be counted in the public school’s total. Therefore, public schools will still be allocated $1,205 per student attending private school in the district.
- The State currently earmarks school districts’ budgets for specific programs and some of those dollars go unused. The Governor’s proposal provides school districts with flexibility to use these unspent funds to increase teacher pay.
- Iowa’s state government has 37 cabinet agencies. The Governor’s proposal would bring that number down to 16.
- Last year the State merged the departments of Human Services and Public Health to create the new Health and Human Services Department. It streamlined the organization, saved taxpayers money, and no services were lost.
- We are working through the details of this very big proposal. However, Republicans are supportive of efforts that make government more efficient and save the taxpayers money.
Also this week I attended the first meeting for the committees on which I serve:
- Local Government, Chair
- Economic Growth & Technology
- Natural Resources
In addition, I serve on the budget subcommittee for Ag and Natural Resources.
Constituents in the Capitol
I always say that I can’t represent you if I don’t hear from you, so I welcome visits from constituents at the statehouse. This week I enjoyed meeting with members of the Franklin County REC and hearing their priorities for this legislative session. I also met with Renee Hansen from Sukup Manufacturing during a legislative reception hosted by the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI).
Each week during the legislative session I will provide updates on committee work and floor action. I invite you to follow me on Facebook (Representative Shannon Latham), Instagram and Twitter (@ShannonLathamIA). I also will post a weekly video by Tuesday called, “Looking Ahead with Latham,” to give a preview for that week. Then I will recap the week’s activity in my newsletter, “The People’s Post.” This newsletter will be distributed to media throughout Iowa House District 55, as well as posted to my social media channels.