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Capitol highlights

April 10, 2015
By Rep. Tedd Gassman - Representing Iowa House District 7 , Estherville News

With the end of the session looming on the horizon, the topic of the budget is moving to the fore-front of our minds. By law, the legislature must have a working budget for next year before June 30th, but before the legislature creates next year's budget, we must know the increase in supplemental state aid. Currently, the SSA bills are still in conference committee, and no decision has been reached. Many interested individuals are requesting a 4% increase in state aid, but the truth is we do not have the funds to support that much increase. The latest estimate for Fiscal Year 2015 final revenue is $6.9943 billion. The REC forecast for Fiscal Year 2016 which begins on July 1st of this year is $7.1755 billion. This is a 2.6% increase from last year's actual revenue. This adds up to about $181 million in additional revenue. Taking supplemental state aid plus funding for all other additional expenses, we have in excess of $455 million in expenses. We will already have to cut other programs just to balance the budget for this year. Our K-12 schools will get over half of the new money we have available. Our principles require us to live within our means just as individual Iowans do, and State law requires us to balance our budget.

This week the House has been working diligently to pass several important pieces of legislation.

HF 488

HF 488 creates the Iowa Reading Corps program which places AmeriCorps members trained as Elementary Literacy Tutors, at sites across Iowa to implement prescribed literacy interventions for students who are just below proficiency in reading. The purpose of this bill is to help ensure that all Iowa students are on track to read at grade level by the end of third grade.

SF 462

The purpose of this bill is to allow a health care provider to engage in open discussion with a patient following an adverse health care incident. Both the patient and provider would be able to talk about the incident and discuss solutions without going to court. Discussions would be confidential and protected from any discovery if a court case proceeds.

SF 167

SF 167 prevents the board of supervisors of the county from approving separation or severance pay for the auditor, treasurer, recorder, sheriff, county attorney, or a supervisor. The bill also includes a portion requiring increases in county elected official's compensation to be recorded on a separate line item.

SF 401

This bill relates to the sub-acute care facilities in our state. A sub-acute care facility is a licensed institution, place, building or agency with restricted means of egress providing sub-acute mental health services for a period exceeding 24 consecutive hours. SF 401 increases the number of sub-acute beds available in mental health facilities from 50 to 75. It also allows a court to order placement and treatment of a patient on an inpatient basis to a sub-acute care facility.

SF 462

SF 462 is an important bill which allows schools to stock prescription epi-pens on sight for emergency situations. It also requires training to individuals who may need to administer epinephrine to an individual believed to be suffering an allergic reaction. The bill also insures that those who administer the epi-pen will not be held liable so long as they have acted in good faith. This bill will help save the lives of children who have an unknown allergy. At this point, pharmaceutical companies have offered to provide schools with epi-pens free of charge to help keep our children safe.



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