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North Iowa Rep. Shannon Latham says legislators will max out all their paid days in the Capitol, hold drunk driving vigil

Rep. Shannon Latham announced our hard-working legislators will definitely not adjourn until all their paid days are used up, and that a vigil will be held to remember victims of drunk driving. No word on if Kim Reynolds will attend that.

The following is a legislative update from Republican State Rep. Shannon Latham, representing portions of Franklin, Hamilton, Story and Wright counties in Iowa House District 55:

Shannon Latham (R)

100th Day of Session Falls on April 16
Per diem expenses end for state legislators on April 16, but we will not stop working until our job is done. The Iowa Legislature must pass a balanced state budget before we adjourn sine die, or for the last time this session.

Members of the Appropriations Committee, on which I serve, are “on call” during this time of year to review bills that include funding. We also must pass each department’s budget before it goes to the House floor for debate.

This week the House Appropriations Committee passed its second budget bill, and this one was for the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund (RIIF) budget. The original intent of this fund was to repair and maintain existing state infrastructure. We are continuing this tradition with a $35 million allocation to the major maintenance fund for large projects including the State Medical Examiner’s office, the Woodward Resource Center, the Industrial Technology Center at the University of Northern Iowa, and the University of Iowa Lakeside Lab in Okoboji. Because the RIFF budget also focuses on making Iowa a more appealing place to live and visit, this budget includes investments in state park infrastructure, trails and water trails, lake restoration, Destination Iowa grants, Community Attraction and Tourism (CAT) grants and more.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority’s (IEDA) Enhance Iowa Board recently announced the 10 communities that would receive CAT grants.

Because it’s in my proverbial backyard, I was glad to see the City of Clear Lake and the North Iowa Cultural Center and Museum were awarded $400,000 toward the construction of the Surf District Music Enrichment and Immersive Center. This will be an 1,800-square-foot space dedicated to showcasing Clear Lake’s place in music history.

Budget subcommittees met again this week to pass departmental budgets. With the exception of Education, all department budget bills have been passed by their respective subcommittees. After a budget is passed by a subcommittee, it gets sent to the full Appropriations Committee for approval before it is eligible for floor debate.

Floor debate again this week in the Iowa House focused on bills that bounced back from the Senate, as well as budget bills. We also considered a few other bills, including the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) department bill (HF 2641).

House File 2641 passed off the House floor with 96 aye votes and one nay vote. This bill allows qualifying horticultural projects and natural fibers to be eligible for the Choose Iowa program, which promotes locally produced agricultural products. It also amends the Dairy Innovation Program Code provision to allow manufacturer Grade/Grade B milk and milk products to be eligible for Choose Iowa grants.

Another bill passed this week by the Iowa House is HF 2681 to regulate traffic cameras. Iowans have contacted me because they’re frustrated by the number of speed cameras and unfair ticketing practices by some cities. Some cities and counties argue these cameras are needed to increase public safety. However, it’s clear some municipalities are abusing these automated traffic systems — and using them to raise revenues. As a result, I voted to provide some balance by placing restrictions on the use of these cameras.

Provisions of the bill that passed the House include:

Cities or counties must prove a legitimate safety concern and receive a permit from the Department of Transportation to install a traffic camera.

Traffic cameras can only be used to issue tickets to someone driving more than 10 miles over the speed limit.

Images taken by the traffic camera must be deleted within 30 days unless they are a part of an ongoing criminal investigation.

Signs must be placed between 500 and 1,00 feet in advance of any traffic camera.

Local governments can only use the money generated by traffic cameras for transportation infrastructure improvement or for their police and fire departments.

Balancing Budgets and Protecting Tax Cuts

The Iowa Legislature has the authority to spend 99% of ongoing revenue, which helps protect Iowans from overspending. Fiscal conservatives in the majority, with conservative budgeting practices, allowed reserves to build. This has allowed us to provide several years of historical tax reductions. To preserve these fiscal restraints, on April 10 we passed House Joint Resolution (HJR) 2006. This is a companion to Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 2003.

The decision to raise taxes should not be made lightly, so HJR 2006 would add taxpayer protections to the Iowa Constitution by requiring a 2/3 majority vote in the Iowa Legislature to increase income tax or to create a new tax. Currently, votes require a constitutional majority – or more than half the members – which equals 51 “yay” votes in the 100-member Iowa House and 26 votes in the 50-member Iowa Senate.

Like any proposed amendment to our state constitution, HJR 2006 must pass through two different Iowa General Assemblies before it gets put on the ballot for a vote by the people. The 90th Iowa General Assembly met in 2023 and 2024. The 91st Iowa General Assembly will meet in 2025 and 2026.

The 100th day of the 2024 Iowa Legislative Session falls next week – and legislators are eager to start planting corn and knocking doors for their primary campaigns. I expect an agreement to be reached soon on all department budgets. I’ll provide updates throughout the week on my social media channels, as well as a summary of floor debate at the end of next week. In the meantime, feel free to contact me with any questions.

I welcome visits from constituents at the statehouse. Please feel free to send a note in through the House chamber doors if you’d like to visit with me in person. It helps if you leave the time you’re writing the note. If I’m not available, please leave your phone number if you want me to return your call.

(TOP PHOTO: “On Wednesday I read an announcement on the Iowa House floor, inviting my colleagues to join me in the Capitol Rotunda for the inaugural Candlelight Vigil of Remembrance sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving.” Via Latham office. No word on if Kim Reynolds will attend the vigil.)

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