As we wrap up the seventh week of session, I am excited about everything we have been able to accomplish so far. House Republicans set out to tackle tough issues and put forth bold, smart legislation to reduce the size of government and maintain a balanced budget that funds the priority needs of Iowans.
Next week marks an important milestone in the legislative process, when any policy bill must pass through committee to remain eligible to work on the rest of this session. Our primary focus right now is committee work to ensure priority legislation survives the deadline. We have, however, begun to move forward on a handful of bipartisan bills which passed off the floor of the full House this week. I’ve highlighted a few of them below:
House File 293 – Allowing Iowa Manufacturers to Compete with Prison Industries
Iowa Prison Industries (IPI) has a long history of providing valuable job skill training to Iowa’s inmates. Prisoners employed by IPI manufacture all kinds of items from office furniture to grills and sell these items to government agencies, school districts, non-profit organizations, and employees of these organizations.
Current law mandates that if IPI manufactures a product, state agencies cannot purchase that product from another manufacturer unless they go through a long, often unsuccessful waiver submission process. This puts Iowa manufacturers at a significant disadvantage and hampers productive competition. HF 293 eliminates the waiver requirement and allows state agencies to contract with manufacturing companies other than IPI if they can verify that the product purchased is made in Iowa. This bill strikes a balance by eliminating IPI’s monopoly while still allowing them to compete with private companies in the bidding process.
House File 242 – Elimination of the Political Checkoff
This bill eliminates the political checkoff on the Iowa income tax form. Under current law, taxpayers can designate up to $1.50 of their tax liability to the Iowa Elections Campaign Fund. This money comes directly out of the state general fund and goes into the political parties. While the amount of savings to the general fund isn’t huge, House Republicans firmly believe that taxpayer dollars should not be going to pay for political campaigns.
House File 312 – Legalizing Remote Start
An important function of the legislature is making sure that Iowa Code keeps up with changes and advances in technology. An example of that is automatic start technology for vehicles. Currently, you cannot leave your vehicle unattended while the engine is running which makes starting your car from a remote location, or leaving your car on as you run into the local Casey’s on a sub-zero day, illegal. This bill fixes that and authorizes you to leave your car running or start your car using a remote starter.
As we look forward to the remainder of session, House Republicans are eager to get to work on other key policy issues impacting our state such as combating opioid addiction and bringing our election system into the twenty-first century. We will also begin to pivot to the budget for Fiscal Year 2018 and work hard to fund our commitments to K-12 education, judicial systems, and other key functions of government.