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LEGISLATIVE NEWS 3-28-11

LEGISLATIVE NEWS

STATE REPRESENTATIVE
JULIAN B. GARRETT

Statehouse, Des Moines, IA 50319

 julian.garrett@legis.state.ia.us, 515-281-3221

House-Senate Conference Committee

A House and Senate Conference Committee is debating differences in Senate File 209 as passed in each chamber. The biggest difference involves what to do with a  “surplus” at the end of the current fiscal year that is expected to be just under $400 million. The Senate would like to spend most of the money while the House wants to use most of it for tax relief. Keep in mind that the only reason we have the “surplus” is that the State had about $700 million in federal money that was used to pay ongoing expenses. If we continue using one-time money to pay for ongoing spending we will again come up short next year. Republicans in the House are working to balance spending and revenues so that we spend no more that we take in. Democrats want to continue using one-time money to increase current spending.  

School Hours

At the request of the Department of Education, House File 534 was passed by the House requiring 1,080 instructional hours for elementary and high schools. The current requirement is 990 hours and 180 days. The 1,080 hours would include assemblies and passing time between classes, but not lunch, professional development or parent teacher conferences. The requirement for a minimum number of days was dropped. About 75% of Iowa schools already meet the requirement and most others can add a few minutes per day to their schedules to comply, depending on their current instructional hours.            

Dove Hunting Bill

The House passed Senate File 464 on Wednesday, with bipartisan support. The bill removes the prohibition against dove hunting in Iowa. The DNR now is free to set a hunting season for doves. This is a very emotional issue and I received e-mails from people on both sides. Most of the messages I received from our area supported removing the ban. I voted for the bill. I heard from a number of people who told of going to Missouri each year to hunt doves, spending several hundred dollars in the process. I believe if we can keep those hunters here in Iowa, it should be a small boost to our economy. We obviously have more important issues to deal with than this one. I am pleased to be able to put it behind us.

Abortion Bill

The House Government Oversight Committee voted out HF 5, a bill that prohibits abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. This bill is intended to prevent Nebraska, late term abortionist, Leroy Carhart from opening a facility in Council Bluffs. It is modeled after a Nebraska law. It does provide an exception to avert the woman’s death or where a delay will create a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.  

Forums

In April we plan forums in Indianola, Earlham, Milo and Winterset.  

As always please feel free to contact me with your ideas or concerns.