Under the Golden Dome, Too

This week’s winter storm did not hinder the good work being accomplished in the Iowa House. We successfully concluded the first “funnel,” which is a deadline for legislators to pass bills out of their respective policy committees in either the House or Senate, in order to remain eligible for further consideration. Appropriations, Ways & Means, and Government Oversight bills are exempt from the funnel rules. In preparation for the storm, our committees worked hard to complete their work early.

     I am excited about a number of bills that passed out of committee that will strengthen and protect Iowa’s families, as well as promote greater opportunities for Iowans.

     Legislation to augment our community colleges’ efforts to reach out and train Iowans where there is a worker shortage was passed by the House Economic Development Committee. HSB 541 is a bill that encourages apprenticeship opportunities and ensures Iowans are getting the job training they need to access good careers. It also builds upon the skilled worker initiative passed last session.

     In an effort to eliminate fraud and the misuse of Iowa’s Medicaid program, the House Human Resources committee passed HF 2275, a bill that would modernize the process used to apply for the program. This bill would require a new, more efficient and expedited Medicaid application  process to verify income, assets, and identity of the applicants prior to approval.

     A bill that would help Iowans attend school and continue to work without losing child care assistance was passed out of the Human Resources Committee. HF 2070 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.

     The Home Base Iowa plan also made it through the funnel. This is a package of legislation to attract veterans back to Iowa and ensure they have the opportunities they need to be successful when they return.

     The House Education committee approved HSB 525, an anti-bullying proposal aimed at keeping up with changes in social media activity and ensuring a system is in place for parental notification if an incident occurs.  

     The Kathlyn Shepard tragedy last year highlighted areas where we could strengthen Iowa’s laws in regards to kidnapping. HF 2253 elevates penalties for kidnapping and eliminates the earned time credit for some offenders.

     In response to growing concerns over human trafficking, legislation was passed to protect underage Iowans who have been forced into prostitution. HF 2254 would ensure minors involved in human trafficking are provided the necessary protection and services needed for recovery.

     Two pieces of legislation aimed at protecting Iowans’ privacy also survived the funnel week. In an effort to update our privacy laws with new technology, HF 2289 would prevent individuals, state agencies, and law enforcement from recording video through the use of drones on private property. Further protecting Iowans’ privacy, HF 2116 allows parents to protect their children’s identity by placing a security freeze on the child’s credit records to protect against identity theft.

     HF 384, a bill that would allow Iowans to purchase suppressors for firearms – as long as they are properly approved by the federal government after completing a thorough application process – was also passed out of committee. Suppressors are a safety device that can help prevent hearing damage for gun owners. Currently, Iowa is one of only 11 states that does not allow for the purchase and use of suppressors.

     If you have feedback or questions on these proposals, or any piece of legislation we are considering, please do not hesitate to contact me. I’d love to hear from you. If you’d like more information on the legislation being considered in the House, please visit www.iowahouserepublicans.com. As always, I can be reached anytime at linda.upmeyer@legis.iowa.gov or 515-281-4618.