By Sen. Amy Sinclair
Week four was another short week for us because of the Iowa caucuses on Monday. While the week was shorter, it also included the first floor debate of the year.
This week work also continued on finding solutions to one of the biggest issues in education, violent student behavior. SSB 3080 was approved at the subcommittee level and a number of changes were made during the Senate Education Committee to aid implementation, clarify intent, and provide more specific allocation of resources for therapeutic classrooms. The goal of this legislation remains the same, giving schools districts options for placements of students with violent behavior, keeping teachers safe, and ensuring all students receive the education they deserve.
SSB 3080 is part of an education funding package we announced last week. Together with SSB 3097 and SSB 3096, these bills provide an additional $7.7 million for transportation equity, $5.8 million for per pupil funding, and $75.7 million for K-12 education. These bills would bring total new funding K-12 schools for the next school year to $91.7 million in addition to last year’s levels of funding.
Finally, Senate File 2144 provided funding in the current fiscal year for flood relief and funding to address issues at the State Resource Center in Glenwood passed the Iowa Senate. This supplemental appropriation directs $333,000 to the institution to improve operations and the facility, which has been the subject of a federal investigation. The bill calls for $137,000 to contract with experts for the direct consultation, evaluation, and planning for improvement in operations. It also calls for $102,000 to complete a comprehensive facility assessment as well as an OSHA consultation. Lastly, $94,000 is directed to contract with the UIHC for a peer review of patient care.
Iowa counties were ravaged by flood damage last spring when levees were breached due to ice build-up, winter melt, and spring rains. Many Iowans were forced out of their homes and had no choice but to suspend farming or business operations due to the unprecedented flooding.
The Senate voted to allocate $15 million toward flood relief before adjourning in 2019. The first bill debated of the 2020 session, Senate File 2144, was a supplemental appropriation to again go toward flood relief. This bill appropriates $20 million to the State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to be allocated to local communities to begin repairing levees to protect against potential flooding this spring.
The levels of state funding necessary to address the immediate need have been determined by the Iowa Department of Homeland Security in coordination with the governor and her staff. The Department of Homeland Security will continue to work with federal agencies to determine the amount of future federal funds anticipated to be received. Once the department has a clearer picture of the federal funds to be received, which they should know before the legislature adjourns, additional state funding may be required to help Iowans rebuild and get back on their feet. The legislature will look at appropriating additional funds at that time.
Funding for these emergencies has not created a budget crisis because Senate Republicans have carefully managed the state budget and provided a cushion to absorb this need for flood relief.
Since the natural disaster occurred last spring the state department of Homeland Security has been working with federal agencies to acquire available resources to assist displaced Iowans, rebuild roads and highways, work with fellow Iowans and communities in the southwest portion of our state.
Staying in touch
As we work further into the session, your input becomes increasingly important because everything we do as a General Assembly affects you personally. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to voice your support or concerns on upcoming legislation.
Also, meet with me in your area to talk to me about issues important to you.
On Saturday, February 15, I will be in the following areas at the following times:
City Hall, Monroe, at 10 a.m.
Sprint Car Hall of Fame Museum, Knoxville, at 12:30 p.m.