In mid-July, the Legislative Council met to discuss legislative matters that occur outside of session. The council is made up of legislative leaders and selected members of both parties from the House and Senate.
The Legislative Council has many duties, primarily of which is overseeing the legislative branch while not in session. The council is also responsible for appointing interim study committees, which are designed to examine various areas of policy and report their findings back to the legislature. This information helps us craft better policy that better meets the needs of Iowans.
Four of the study committees are set in code. These include the Fiscal Committee, which examines budget and expenditure matters; the Tax Expenditure Committee, which approves estimates of the cost of tax expenditures and performs scheduled reviews of specific tax credits; the Health Policy Oversight Committee, which provides oversight to Medicaid managed care; and the Iowa Commission on Interstate Cooperation, which works to continue ongoing communication and relationships with other states and the federal government.
This year, the council also approved four other interim study committees charged with working on several different topics that the legislature may address next session.
One of the committees will look at violence in Iowa. The committee is charged with examining the causes, impacts, and possible remedies for the increased levels of violence in our state. The committee will look at root causes, biographical research of offenders, sentencing guidelines, and other related information to determine trends and shed more light on the issue.
Another committee will look at prescription pain medications from a public health and law enforcement perspective. Iowa and numerous other states have been dealing with an opioid epidemic that has continued to get worse each year. As the number of overdoses on prescription pain medication and other illegal drugs increases at an alarming rate, this committee will work provide more information on the problem, review and evaluate current requirements and methods to combat addiction, and make recommendations for new policy.
A third interim committee will study civil and criminal forfeiture laws. This is an issue that has received a lot of discussion over the past year and the committee is responsible for reviewing current law and recently proposed legislation to make recommendations to the general assembly.
The final committee will study the potential for establishing an industrial hemp program in the state. The study will include economic, environmental, and regulatory aspects of industrial hemp production.
I look forward to seeing the finished work of these committees along with their recommendations for next session. If you have any thoughts on any of these or other areas of policy, please contact me and let me know.