Under the Golden Dome, Too

The warmer spring temperatures have brought reinvigorating activity to Iowa’s landscape.  Headlights from tractors can be spotted in the fields late at night as farmers continue to busily plant for a bountiful harvest in the fall, gardeners have returned to their gardens to grow fresh vegetables and beautiful flowers to enjoy all summer, and our high school athletes are competing under the warm sun, rather than cold and gloomy skies. It is certainly a great time of year in Iowa!

     With the conclusion of the 2014 legislative session, I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on some of the accomplishments from this year. My focus has always been to pass policies that make Iowa an even greater place to work, raise a family, and retire. Below are just a few pieces of legislation that were passed that make Iowa a safer and more prosperous place to live.

     Perhaps the most important thing we did this year was no single action, but instead a measured effort to effectively and responsibly manage the state budget. While ensuring the priorities of Iowans were met, for the fourth straight year, the state is spending less than we take in. Responsible budgeting is what allows us to send more of your hard earned money back to you through the Taxpayers Trust Fund. It’s what enables the state to pay off debt early. It’s how we were able to ensure a second year of tuition freezes at Iowa’s three Regent universities. And it’s what gives everyone confidence their taxes are not going to increase.

     We also took an important first step in protecting older Iowans against elder abuse. SF 2329 will provide additional protection for persons 60 and over who cannot protect themselves and can be taken advantage of due to their vulnerable status. The bill allows for elders to request protective orders in cases of elder abuse.

     Legislation was passed to protect underage Iowans who have been forced into human trafficking. SF 2311 protects children who are involved in prostitution. The bill allows people under 18, who have been forced into prostitution to be assisted by the Department of Human Services as a child in need of assistance, instead of facing prosecution. The bill also extends the statute of limitations for sexual exploitation of a minor from 3 to 10 years after the victim turns 18.

     Recognizing that Iowa’s veterans are some of the most skilled and highly-trained men and women in the country, we passed the Home Base Iowa Act to encourage their return to our state. By providing various incentives, this package of legislation is intended to attract veterans back to Iowa and expand on the career opportunities available to them upon their return.

     In an effort to promote job creation, we passed legislation to increase access to apprenticeships in our state, expand workforce training opportunities in Iowa companies, and continue our investment in skilled worker shortage grants.

     We passed legislation to help low-income Iowans attend school and continue to work without losing child care assistance. The legislation would allow Iowans to receive child care assistance if they work and go to school for a combination of 28 hours per week. Currently to receive assistance, a parent must work or go to school 28 hours per week.

     I also wanted to take this opportunity to congratulate all of our high school graduates. I have enjoyed following your many accomplishments over the years in our local newspapers. I have no doubt I will continue to read about your great achievements as you move into the next chapter of your lives. Good luck and best wishes to the Class of 2014! 

     As always, please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions, comments, or feedback.  I look forward to hearing from you. I can always be reached at linda.upmeyer@legis.iowa.gov or 515-281-4618.