The Courtney Report


Did you thank a teacher this week?

Since 1984, the first full week in May is a special time to honor our teachers and celebrate their outstanding contributions. Teachers play a key role in student success, and sometimes a simple “thanks” is all a teacher needs to feel valued.

Teacher Appreciation Week, May 6-10, is the perfect time to thank current or former teachers for their sacrifices and support for our students. Teaching takes dedication, hard work, skills and intelligence, but it also requires the ability to strike a balance between discipline and freedom, to encourage individuals while considering what is best for the class.

Schoolchildren and parents can show appreciation for their teachers by sharing kind words or a special card. During Teacher Appreciation Week, students may also get the chance to learn about the daily routine of their teachers and what kind of work goes into preparing for a school day.

Iowans who have served and sacrificed for our freedom deserve the highest quality care we can offer. That’s a top priority for all legislators, regardless of party.

Unfortunately, new allegations from long-time and former employees at the Iowa Veterans Home (IVH) in Marshalltown raise questions about the safety and environment at this state facility.

A recent Marshalltown Times-Republican editorial stated that: “The veterans who call IVH home have earned the right to live in their home free from the fear of intimidation and bullying and the workers there should not have to walk on egg shells, fearful of losing their jobs or being harassed in an intimidating manner.”

Those allegations and others were the subject of a special meeting of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee this week. Legislators heard from a dozen speakers, including Commandant David Worley. Most, including a long-term care ombudsman with the Iowa Department of Aging who has worked with Veterans Home residents, reported serious concerns. It was also noted that more than 40 employees—an unusually high number—have resigned in the last two years, many with decades of service at the home.

Before the meeting, Governor Terry Branstad said he stood “wholeheartedly” behind Worley. The day after the meeting, however, the Governor appointed Jodi Tymeson, executive director of the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs, to a newly created position as Chief Operating Officer at the Veterans Home. General Tymeson will work directly under Worley and oversee the departments, staff and day-to-day activities.

This is a positive first step toward restoring confidence at the Iowa Veterans Home and ensuring the proper treatment of veterans and IVH employees.

For video of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee meeting, go to

To read the full editorial from the Marshalltown Times Republican, go to

Chief Justice Mark Cady said in his State of the Judiciary address in January that “Iowans expect their government to operate a full-time, full-service and efficient court system.”

The Legislature is working to provide that full-time access to justice with court funding in the Judicial Branch Budget. Senate File 442, approved with strong bipartisan support, provides close to $168 million to our court system, a $5.6 million increase over last year’s appropriation. The extra money will allow the courts to hire staff that provides much-needed services to Iowans, such as clerk of court offices and juvenile court services.

Budget cuts have left 21 clerk offices open only part-time. This makes it difficult for Iowans to take care of court-related business during regular business hours. Citizens shouldn’t find a closed sign on the door when they show up to apply for a protective order, access legal documents or pay a bill.

This year’s funding should help Iowa’s highly respected courts improve staffing and services to ensure we continue to have one of the most responsive court systems in the nation.

DNA collected in the context of minor crimes can yield major benefits in public safety. DNA can help solve crimes faster, avoid costly trials and save taxpayer money.

In 2006, New York extended its DNA database. Since then, DNA taken from those who commit petty larceny has helped solve about 1,000 crimes, including murders, sexual assaults, robberies and burglaries. In addition, research shows that those who commit property crimes—theft, arson, vandalism—have a high chance of reoffending, and their crimes and violence rates often escalate.

That’s why law enforcement and the Iowa Attorney General asked the Legislature to require more criminals to submit DNA samples. With their help, we put together House File 527, a bipartisan bill that requires certain defendants convicted of an aggravated misdemeanor to submit a DNA sample for profiling. This bill now awaits the Governor’s signature.

The Legislature has approved changes that will make getting your Iowa driver’s license a lot faster and easier.

SF 224, signed into law May 1, lets Iowa veterans get their veteran status marked on their driver’s license or state ID when they go in for a duplicate rather than waiting until they come up for renewal, which could be years away. It also makes licenses good for 8 years for Iowans between the ages of 18 and 74. In addition, Iowans who voluntarily give up their driver’s license for age-related or medical reasons may get a free state ID.

HF 355, approved by the House and Senate, will make it possible for most Iowans to renew their driver’s license online every other time it comes up for renewal. That means no waiting in lines, no driving long distances and the convenience of renewing your license 24/7. This is a fiscally smart move that will free up $1.2 million for fixing our roads and bridges, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency.

Those who will not be able to renew online include those under the age of 18, those over the age of 72, and those with serious vision problems such as glaucoma, cataracts, or macular degeneration. These folks will still need to go to their local driver’s license renewal office.

Online renewal will be available as soon as HF 355 is signed by the Governor. In the meantime, take advantage of other online services currently offered through the Iowa Department of Transportation at

Contact Tom
Iowa Statehouse
Des Moines, IA 50319

2609 Clearview Drive
Burlington, IA 52601

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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