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Abortion, fireworks, education and more discussed last week

The attention of many Iowans was focused on the work being done in the senate this week. Several key issues being discussed this legislative session began to work their way through the process and have been the topic of many discussions at the Capitol.

Some of those bills included a proposed constitutional amendment commonly referred to as an abortion neutrality amendment to the Iowa Constitution, several different proposals to legalize sports gambling in our state and removing local restrictions when it comes to fireworks.

This week, a subcommittee advanced SJR 9, which would prevent unelected judges from writing a right to an abortion into the Iowa constitution. If SJR 9 is passed by the General Assembly and a majority of Iowans, the legislature would determine whether abortion should be allowed in the state, not the courts.

Though snow is on the ground and temperatures are far from the 80s and 90s that come with the Fourth of July, the fireworks discussion is heating up again at the statehouse. That fireworks discussion involves the fact they are a legal product that can be sold in Iowa, but some cities have strictly regulated where they can be sold.

In the past few weeks, you may have heard about proposed changes to how judges are selected in Iowa. This week, a bill addressing some changes in this system was filed and is currently going through the legislative process in both the house and senate.

Investing in education

Education funding has been a big topic of discussion during our first weeks of the legislative session. This week we started the process for setting an education budget for the next fiscal year. Senate File 172, which sets supplemental state aid (SSA) and Senate File 171, which is the equity bill, includes a total of an $89.3 million increase for K-12 schools. That means in Iowa, over $7 billion is spent on K-12 education — more than $14,600 per student.

Funding for education in Iowa comes from a variety of sources, including supplemental state aid, transportation and per pupil equity, federal spending and property tax payments. Part of the conversation we have been having on education funding is also on the SAVE extension proposal that is moving through the Senate. Senate File 74 would extend the one-cent sales tax for school infrastructure to 2049, making it a 20-year extension from the original end date of 2029. We are committed to providing Iowa’s children with a world-class education and also reexamining all the avenues in which education is funded in our state. The SAVE tax has been a big topic for the last few years here at the capitol and I look forward to hearing from you as this bill moves through the process.