Bipartisan session accomplishments increase economic opportunity for all and strengthen economic security for working families
The 2014 session of the Iowa Legislature reached a variety of significant bipartisan agreements that will benefit Iowa families, according to State Senator Amanda Ragan of Mason City.
“I worked with Republicans and Democrats to expand opportunities for all Iowans while strengthening economic security for working Iowa families,” said Ragan. “The top achievements of the 2014 session include balancing the state budget without raising taxes; expanding job skills training; investing in infrastructure and job creation; extending the tuition freeze at our state universities for another year; boosting funding for our K-12 schools; and, standing up for working families.”
“I want to thank the people from my district who took the time to contact me during the session. Your ideas, suggestions, and priorities are reflected in many of the bills that made it to the Governor’s desk,” said Ragan.
Ragan also released a comprehensive list of legislative accomplishments which can be found at (http://bit.ly/1n1ae0n ). The list includes:
Education & job training
· Boosting apprenticeship training and job retraining at our community colleges (HF 2460 ) and internships for Iowa students studying science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) (HF 2460 ).
· Investing an additional $87 million in educational opportunity (SF 2347 ).
· Providing K-3 students falling behind with intensive literacy help (SF 2347 ).
· Increasing aid for community colleges like North Iowa Area Community College by $8 million (SF 2347 ).
· Increasing financial aid for private college students (SF 2347 ).
Job creation & economic growth
· Increasing funding for Iowa’s 16 Small Business Development Centers (HF 2460 ).
· Providing incentives for businesses that locate and expand in Iowa (HF 2460 ).
· Funding innovation at our state universities and community cooperation on technology commercialization (HF 2460 ).
· Providing flexibility to Iowa corn growers' corn check-off (HF 2427 ).
· Improving Iowa quality of life through the arts, cultural endeavors, and historic preservation (HF 2460 ).
· Tripling the amount of solar energy tax credits available to Iowa farmers, homeowners, and businesses (SF 2340 ).
· Expanding help to fix up abandoned buildings and blighted areas (SF 2339 ).
· Encouraging the production of biodiesel, biobutanol, and ethanol (SF 2344 ).
Health & health care
· Protecting Iowa kids by preventing them from using e-cigarettes (HF 2109 ).
· Maintaining local EMS by boosting state reimbursement rates (HF 2463 ).
· Hiring an additional ombudsman to protect the rights of seniors in nursing facilities. (HF 2463 ).
· Protecting Iowa’s redesigned mental health services by fully funding state commitments (HF 2463 ).
· Defining elder abuse and financial exploitation and allowing victims to secure protective orders (SF 2239 ).
· Funding for local elder abuse support services for the first time (HF 2463 ).
· Investing in Iowa’s successful Drug Courts (HF 2450 ).
· Funding victim assistance grants for domestic violence and sexual assault (HF 2450 ).
· Authorizing more state troopers on Iowa highways for quicker response to accidents, crimes, and breakdowns (HF 2450 ).
· Allowing the courts to use juvenile sex offenses to place sexual predators indefinitely in detention (SF 2211 ).
· Allowing criminal charges against coaches who sexually exploit students (HF 2474 ).
· Doubling the volunteer firefighter and EMS tax credit and extending the credit to reserve police officers (HF 2459 ).
Quality of life
· For the first time ever, providing full funding ($25 million) of REAP, Iowa’s most important environmental program.
· Increasing childcare assistance for parents working part time while learning new skills (HF 2463 ).
· Boosting the state's child and dependent care tax credit for working families (SF 2337 ).
· Making stable homes a reality for more children with a $2,500 tax credit for adoption-related expenses (HF 2468 ).
· Increasing funding for soil conservation and the Water Quality initiative (HF 2458 ).
· Providing tax credits to build and rehabilitate housing in the areas that need it most (HF 2448 ).
Veterans & service members
· Exempting military retirement pay from Iowa income taxes for those who with 20+ years of military service (SF 303 ).
· Expanding the Disabled Veterans Homestead Tax Credit to veterans with a permanent and total disability from service-related injuries and to surviving spouses or children of soldiers who died as a result of active duty (SF 2352 ).
· Eliminating the waiting list for the Military Home Ownership Assistance Program, which provides service members and veterans with a $5,000 grant for a qualifying home purchase (HF 2463 ).
· Allowing private employers to grant a preference in hiring and promotion to veterans and to spouses of disabled veterans and service members who died as a result of active duty (SF 303 ).