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Number of issues going through legislature

Friday marked the end of the first funnel week and the sixth week of the 2020 legislature. The best way to describe the environment at the Capitol this week would be to compare it to a busy Las Vegas casino. Legislators were bustling between subcommittee meetings and committee meetings trying to get their bills “funnel proof,” which means the bill has passed out of its respective committee and becomes floor eligible.

Because of this deadline, there are a number of issues that come up throughout the week. While each of us are working on our own specific issues, our goal is always to work on legislation to strengthen Iowa’s workforce, encourage investment, and expand opportunities for all Iowans.

One important bill that moved through the Senate this week is SSB 3077, which expands Iowa’s workforce through the Future Ready Iowa program. The bill aims to expand apprenticeship opportunities in high-demand jobs, help people complete their high school education and learn computer and technical skills. Community colleges are playing a major role in helping Iowans achieve prosperity through education and training.

This week the Iowa Valley Community College District Administrative team came to visit us at the Capitol. The board members had a chance to discuss many of the issues important to them and their students with area legislators. I enjoyed the opportunity to hear from them and thank them for their role in the Future Ready Iowa program.

SF 2129 clarifies the language of the constitutional amendment that automatically restores voting rights for felons once they complete their sentence and pay victim restitution. A concern regularly raised regarding this issue is whether all felons should automatically have their voting rights restored, or are some crimes, like rape and murder, so serious those felons may not receive voting rights back without additional requirements. SF 2129 only goes into effect if the constitutional amendment is adopted, and it requires only those who have committed the worst crimes, to contact the governor’s office to have their voting rights restored. Most other felons will have their voting rights automatically restored once they have completed their sentence and paid applicable victim restitution.

Passing legislation like SF 2129 to address the details of this issue are important to eliminate confusion if this change is implemented. Nearly 18 months after Floridians voted to eliminate their constitutional prohibition on felon voting, lawsuits and confusion are still dominating the news as that state’s primary election quickly approaches.

Finally SF 2013, a bill concerning the creation of land banks, passed through Local Government Committee this week.  SF 2013 will allow cities and counties to partner with private entities to facilitate property renovations of dilapidated structures.  The details of SF 2013 will likely be an ongoing conversation in the weeks to come. 

Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

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