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From the Statehouse: District 11 Report

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Supplemental State Aid Negotiations Continue
Supplemental State Aid remains in conference committee where the House and Senate are negotiating. Senate Democrats ignored warnings that passing a 4 percent increase - or $227.9 million in new education spending - would create greater strains on an already challenging budget. House Republicans passed a 2 percent increase or $143 million in new spending on education. Senate Republicans are committed to providing our children a world-class education system and we want to provide our schools with responsible, sustainable funding.
We have a challenging budget year ahead of us. Appropriating more money to one program means cutting funds from another program.  We need to look at this responsibly and find a sustainable solution. Republicans continue to stress the importance of sustainable spending, and honoring our commitments.
Agreement appears to be reached on coupling issue
Many constituents have reached out to me since January expressing their desire to see the Iowa Legislature pass a bill in which Iowa would conform or couple with the federal government on deductions of up to $250 for out-of-pocket expenses for teachers, election to deduct state sales/use tax in lieu of state income tax as an itemized deduction and Section 179 small business expensing.
Iowa House Republicans passed coupling legislation early in the session which updates Iowa law to conform to federal tax provisions, in particular, Section 179. The legislation is estimated to save Iowa taxpayers more than $90 million when they file their 2015 taxes. However, the issue stalled in the Democrat-controlled Iowa Senate.
We learned this week a deal was negotiated on coupling, prompting the bill to begin moving through the Senate committee process.
Senate Republicans are thankful this bill will be coming to the floor for a vote so Iowans can receive the tax break they anticipated when making valuable investments in 2015. It is unfortunate Senate Democrats stalled the process in an effort to find a way to spend more of all Iowans’ hard-earned tax dollars. The right thing to do was vote on the House bill early in the session when Iowans began working on tax preparation. Our job creators and people who help feed the world deserve better than to be treated as a bargaining chip.
Treating Overdose Victims
Drug addiction is, unfortunately, a problem too many Iowa families experience. In an effort to try and help out those struggling with addiction and their loved ones, the Senate this week passed SF 2218.
The bill allows family members or friends to have access to a prescription drug which can be administered to someone they know who has overdosed on heroin or another opioid.
It also would provide immunity from any legal liability to any first responder, emergency medical service program, law enforcement agency, fire department, registered nurse, physician assistant and family member or friend and the person who prescribed the opioid antagonist from any injury arising from the provision or administration of the prescription, so long as such person acted reasonably and in good faith.
This is a good bill which will allow family members to help their loved ones who suffer from this tragic addiction. The bill passed 48-0.
Eating Disorder Insurance Bill
Often during session, we see many bills that want to do good things or come from good ideas, but are not practical or are hard to implement. Some bills start out with bipartisan support, but after amendments and the legislative process are done with them, they are hardly recognizable from the good ideas of which they started.
Another bill we did this week was SF 2204, a bill that would require insurance coverage for the assessment and treatment of eating disorders. While this bill is a good idea in theory, most of the businesses that will be required to provide coverage under this bill will be small businesses that would experience the largest potential premium increase from this mandate, even if they have no employees who would utilize the benefit. The large companies, which can afford to supply their own self-funded health insurance programs, are preempted from providing this coverage under the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).
Instead of coming up with more regulations and mandates for our state’s small businesses, the very businesses that give our small communities character and charm, we should be finding ways to help them flourish, grow and be successful.
Take care,
Tom