Bills making their way through Senate

It was an honor to have American Legion members joins us on the Senate Floor as the body passed Senate Resolution 11 to recognize the their 100th anniversary. It was truly a special moment to thank them for their service.

Senate File 341 was passed in order to bring change for the protection of service animals and animal housing. There have been many stories about service animals being attacked by other alleged service animals, as they are have not been through proper training.

Another bill that passed was Senate File 548. This bill removes the unfair advantage private entities have over private individuals in which they can use taxpayer money to reduce the cost owed for property. At the moment, individuals who are borrowing money have to pay more due to market interest rate whereas organizations that have access to state funds may obtain an interest rate of 0 percent or 0.25 percent. This bill does not inhibit land purchasing for conversation or water quality projects. This bill quite simply levels the playing field for all private buyers.

Speaking of leveling the playing field, SF 583 was passed to help eliminate cross-subsidization of private energy production facilities. SF 583 will grandfather existing facilities, however, going forward, rate-regulated utilities will have the ability to recapture grid access fees sufficient to maintaining the fixed cost of the electric grid.

In efforts to return local control back to school boards we passed SF 438. It allows school boards to make decisions on what they believe to be best for their school districts. The bill simply eliminates mandates. It will be up to the school board whether or not they want to continue them. The school boards are better in touch with the students, teachers and parents than we are, and that is why they should have the flexibility to choose what is best for their individual district.

The Senate also passed a limited work requirement for individuals on the Iowa Health and Wellness program or the Medicaid expansion population. When Iowa expanded Medicaid to those with an income up to 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, physical need was no longer the sole basis to receive the benefit. SF 538 as amended on the floor, will quite simply ask able-bodied Iowans who receive the benefit to give back to their community.

SF 538 asks those able-bodied Iowans who are receiving Medicaid benefits under the Iowa Health and Wellness Program to participate in the following: Work at least 20 hours a week averaged over a six month period, participate in a work program for at least 20 hours a week, volunteer at least 20 hours a week, comply with the Promise Jobs Program, enroll in a Future Ready Iowa Program or any other related program specified by DHS.

The bill as amended also outlines several exemptions to the requirements based on physical, mental and medical conditions. There are also exemptions for child caregivers of children under age 6, pregnant women and those caring for a sick, disabled or elderly individual.

It is our duty as legislators to enact or reform programs that lead to a climate for success. SF 538 is nudging individuals back to work, work training or full education programs. Iowans have always been willing to provide a safety-net to those in need. Iowans do not want to provide a safety nest. We must continue to allow for hand-ups instead of hand-outs.