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Rep. Sharon Steckman describes “strangest second funnel I have witnessed” in 16 years

The following is a legislative update from Democratic Rep. Sharon Steckman, representing District 59 – the eastern half of Cerro Gordo county – in the Iowa Legislature:

The following is a legislative update from Democratic Rep. Sharon Steckman, representing District 59 – the eastern half of Cerro Gordo county – in the Iowa Legislature:

Steckman

Last week, I completed the end of the second funnel for both chambers of the legislature. I found it to be the strangest second funnel I have witnessed during my sixteen years here. Normally, on Thursday of funnel week, several House committees would work late into the night deliberating on the bills that had been passed by the Senate and vice versa.

This year, on Thursday, the Capitol was practically empty. Of the six bills sent to the House Education Committee, only one was taken up and passed.  But, while that should have signaled that the remaining five were dead, it did not because leadership put approximately 100 bills on the Unfinished Business Calendar – which keeps them alive for the time being.  So much for the “funnel”.

There is much to do before April 18, the projected last day of session.  In addition to “unfinished business”, there are the bills that made it through funnel that still have to be passed by one of the chambers, bills in Appropriations, Ways and Means, leadership bills and, of course bills turned into amendments and added to other bills.  That doesn’t even take into consideration bills like the AEA and school funding on which the Senate and House versions are very far apart.

Last week, I said I was very proud to have been able to vote for HF 2482, which increased coverage for work-related cancers that often occur in firefighters and police officers. I am saddened to report that the Senate committee refused to take it up.  There seems to be a much larger disconnect between the Senate and the House than usual.
I am anticipating a very interesting month ahead.

This week, I had the honor of receiving a very special Certificate of Honor from a couple of the pages.   I was proud to accept it!

Iowa’s Public Schools Should Be Our Top Priority

For generations, Iowans have counted on great public schools to educate our kids and act as the heart of our communities. Iowa Democrats are committed to ensuring every kid in Iowa gets a quality education.

In sharp contrast, Republican lawmakers at the State Capitol have failed to agree on public school funding for next year. For the 14th year in a row, GOP leaders in the House passed a bill to underfund public schools, setting the percentage of growth at 3%. The delay has been in the Senate who have yet to pass a school funding bill this year.

Last Friday, March 15th school districts were required to share their budget plans and tax rates with the public for the upcoming school year. This delay leaves school leaders in the dark about how much state aid they’ll receive next year – leading to unnecessary lay-offs, cuts, and potentially higher property taxes.

In public schools that serve over 90% of Iowa kids, educators are working overtime to make sure students get the world-class education they deserve. At the State Capitol, the Governor and GOP leaders can’t agree on a pay raise for teachers and are still fighting over plans to cut mental health and disability services for kids through AEAs, which could have a huge impact on school budgets next year.

Kids in every zip code in Iowa deserve a great education, and it is time to put politics aside and invest in our public schools.

Democrats Vote to Increase Teacher Salaries for K-12

It’s no secret that teacher salaries in Iowa have not kept up with other states, with the last raise in minimum teacher salary occurring in 2013. Raising teacher pay is one way to keep our best and brightest teachers in the classroom.

Recently the House passed a bill to increase teacher salaries in two phases. Increasing the minimum teacher starting salary to $47,500, up from the current $33,500, for the 2024-2025 school year, and $50,000 for the 2025-26 school year. A separate allocation of $14 million would go towards allowing each school district to raise wages for veteran teachers and paraeducators.

Instead of reducing teacher qualifications or training needed, Democrats have been calling for raising teacher pay for years to address Iowa’s teacher shortage.

Second Legislative Deadline Passes

Last week was the end of the second legislative deadline designed to help narrow down the number of bills lawmakers will consider before the session is scheduled to end on April 16th.

Although it’s mostly the controversial bills making headlines, here are a few other considered initiatives that could help Iowans:

  • More transparency to protect Iowans when they sell their homes (HF 2394)
  • Helping to employ individuals with disabilities (HF 2589)
  • Increases college savings plans (HF 2537/SF 2236)
  • Grows the amount of Workforce Housing Tax Credits (HF 2420)
  • Insurance coverage for diagnostic and supplemental breast exams (SF 2358/HF 2489)
  • Increases Iowans’ prescription drug pricing transparency and helps local pharmacies hold PBMs accountable (HF 2401/SF 2357)
  • Expand access to medical doctors (SF 477)
  • Physicians now can serve as EMTs (HF 2507/SF 2148)
  • Greater awareness of veterans’ benefits in the workplace (SF 2406)

Capitol and Community Updates

GOP VOTER SUPPRESSION BILL: Iowa GOP lawmakers passed a bill to make voting harder for Iowans. If it had been in law before the last election, the votes of 17,000 Iowans would not have been counted.

SCHOOL PUBLIC SAFETY BILL FALLS SHORT: Keeping our kids safe in school is a top priority for many Iowans. Unfortunately, Republican lawmakers think more guns will solve the problem and have proposed using taxpayer dollars to purchase guns and weapons for school employees.

EXPANDING ACCESS TO CHILD CARE: Originally proposed by House Democrats, a bill that extends a pilot program allowing childcare workers to receive childcare assistance benefits (CCA) for their children has advanced.

HEMP LEGISLATION ADVANCES TO SENATE: A deal was struck between Republican lawmakers that would continue to allow registered retailers to sell hemp-derived THC products in Iowa with additional consumer protections. House Democrats support the 21-year age requirement for hemp-derived THC products but believe it’s time to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use like other states.

LEGISLATION COULD LEAD TO IVF BAN: GOP lawmakers are working on a bill that could stop fertility treatments like IVF and some forms of birth control. Sign the petition to protect reproductive freedom and access to IVF in Iowa.

PERRY PLANT CLOSING: Tyson Foods will close its pork processing plant in Perry, eliminating nearly 1,300 jobs in a town of fewer than 8,000 residents. Closures like this are devastating to such a small community. Iowa Workforce Development is making sure workers receive unemployment services.

NRA TO RECEIVE REVENUE FROM NEW LICENSE PLATE DESIGN: Republican lawmakers are approving a new license plate design to generate revenue for the NRA.

EXTREMELY DRY FEBRUARY EXTENDS RECORD DROUGHT: February ranked as the top three driest, top five least snowy, and top two warmest of February on record.

NEW IOWA TRAVEL MAGAZINE: Plan your summer vacations with the newTravel Iowa Magazine.

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