Please keep speaking up for Iowans over the next week. Bad legislative proposals are still alive, and the Republican majority is rolling out their budget that contains cut after cut after cut.
You can find the e-mail addresses of legislators at http://www.legis.iowa.gov, call the Iowa Senate switchboard at 515-281-3371 or the Iowa House switchboard 515-281-3221 to leave messages for specific legislators, and call Governor Branstad’s office at 515-281-5211. See below for more details.
League of Women Voters’ Forum – Join me for our final legislative forum of the year this Saturday, April 15, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Mercy Hospital. This forum is sponsored by the League of Women Voters. It is an opportunity to submit questions and hear the responses of Linn County legislators.
Civic Literacy Workshop – I am planning to attend the “civic literacy workshop” at the Cedar Rapids Public Library this Saturday afternoon, April 15. The workshop is scheduled to run from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. For more details, visit this Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/121808871693131/
Earth Day (April 22) and Climate March (April 29) – Make your plans now for Earth Day, Saturday, April 22, including Eco-Fest in the New Bo neighborhood of Cedar Rapids from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the Peoples Climate March on Saturday, April 29, in multiple locations around Iowa. These are good opportunities to get more informed and more involved in support of clean energy, clean water, and a sustainable future. Let me know if you need help finding information about these events.
Take Action at the Iowa Legislature
Please keep speaking up with Iowa legislators and the public to stop bad policy proposals and to support state government that works for Iowans. You can attend a forum, e-mail, call, visit the Capitol, and speak up in public. Here are some of the key remaining issues in the 2017 legislative session:
Republican Budget Mess – After more than six years of Governor Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds, the state budget is a mess. In SF130, Republicans made major mid-year budget cuts, then directed the Governor to make more mid-year budget cuts. Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds then proposed more cuts, and now legislative Republicans are cutting an additional $37.9 million.
These cuts are not because of a national or global recession; they are being caused because of bad budgeting decisions by Branstad and Reynolds and their failure to grow Iowa’s economy as they promised. These cuts will hurt Iowans and make our economy worse. Here are ten pending additional budget cuts on top of major mid-year cuts that will hurt Iowans:
1. Additional cuts to human services (another $26.9 million cut, now $137 million less than FY16)
2. Cut Assistance for Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault Survivors ($1.7 million cut)
3. Additional cuts to corrections ($1 million cut, now more than $7.3 million less than original FY17)
4. Additional cuts to University of Iowa (another $6.3 million cut, total funding now below 1998 level), UNI, and ISU
5. Cuts to the Iowa Flood Center ($300,000 cut)
6. Eliminate the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and its funding ($397,000 cut)
7. On top of major mid-year cuts to community colleges, eliminate line item for community college faculty salary support ($500,000 cut)
8. Cut REAP (Resource Enhancement and Protection) by 25% ($4 million cut)
9. Cut CRP/State Buffer Initiative by 10% ($100,000 cut), eliminate and scoop remaining funds from Watershed Improvement Review Program
10. Eliminate funding for dam safety mitigation & water trails ($1 million cut)
Keep Children’s Health Care (HAWK-I) Outreach – Call Governor Branstad’s office (515-281-5211) to ask him to veto House File 625 to show your support for health care coverage for children. That bill, which passed the Senate this week with only Republican votes, 29-19, would eliminate the line on the Iowa tax form that asks parents to indicate whether their children have health insurance coverage and allows them to apply for Medicaid or the HAWK-I program for their children. This has been a cost-effective approach to outreach to parents about public health care programs for children. The bill is opposed by the Child and Family Policy Center and the Iowa Chapter of Pediatricians and supported by no registered lobby groups. Speak up for access to children’s health insurance today.
No Exemption for Private Religious Boarding Schools – Please speak up with Senators to oppose SF443/HF602, which would exempt private religious boarding schools from meeting educational standards. Thanks to Senator Herman Quirmbach of Story County for highlighting the problems with this bill, and the Des Moines Register for reporting about them this week. It’s a bad idea, but especially bad when one of the schools has a history of abuse allegations.
Update on the “Dirty Dozen” – Here is a quick update on the “dirty dozen” – six have been signed into law, but you can still help make a difference on the other eight:
1. Gut Workers Compensation for Injured and Disabled Workers (HF518) – passed both Iowa House and Iowa Senate, signed into law by Gov. Branstad
2. Take Away Local Minimum Wages and Reduce the Minimum Wage for Thousands of Iowans (HF295) – passed both Iowa House and Iowa Senate, signed into law by Gov. Branstad
3. Prohibit Local “Pre-Qualification” for Bidding (SF438) – passed both Iowa Senate and Iowa House, signed today into law by Gov. Branstad
4. Circumvent “Buy American” on Local Road Projects (HF203) – passed both Iowa House and Iowa Senate, signed into law by Gov. Branstad
5. New Government Barriers to Voting (HF516) – passed both Iowa House and Iowa Senate, now eligible for signature by Governor – call Governor’s office at 515-281-5211
6. Make Planned Parenthood Ineligible for Medicaid Reimbursement (SF2) – passed Iowa Senate, still pending in Iowa House – may be part of Republican budget bill, so contact both House and Senate
7. Create Religious Exemptions for Boarding School Regulations (SF443/HF602) – passed the Iowa House, companion bill is pending in Iowa Senate – contact Iowa Senate
8. Expand Use of Firearms for Deadly Force (HF517) – passed both Iowa House and Iowa Senate, signed into law today by Gov. Branstad
9. Unfunded Mandate on Local Officials to Enforce Immigration Laws (SF481) – passed Iowa Senate, now pending in Iowa House
10. Dismantle Des Moines Water Works (HF484/SF456) – still pending in both Iowa House and Iowa Senate – contact both House and Senate
11. End Bottle and Can Deposit Law (HF575/SSB1186) – pending in the Ways & Means Committee in both the Iowa House and Iowa Senate – contact committee members in both House and Senate
12. Restrict Right to Bring Nuisance Lawsuit (SF447) – passed Iowa Senate and Iowa House, signed into law by Governor Branstad