Capitol Comments by Rep. Curt Hanson
State Rep. Curt Hanson, represents Iowa House District 82, which includes most of Jefferson County and Davis and Van Buren counties, in the state Legislature.
The passage of budget bills that will enable the state to pay its bills and employees was the focus of legislation this week.
The Legislature made significant progress in moving several budget bills to conference committee. When the bills are sent to conference committee the House and the Senate have exhausted their efforts to amend bills that each chamber has passed in different forms. The conference committees will meet to resolve their differences to produce a compromise bill that will pass both chambers in identical form.
The Legislature has the entire state budget yet to be approved for fiscal year 2015, but the budget work must be done before the new fiscal year begins on July 1, to avoid a state government shut-down. The House and Senate work with the Governor to reach a compromise.
Currently, there are three budget bills in conference committee, the Justice Systems Budget, Infrastructure Budget, and the Education Budget. Two budget bills are headed to the Governor’s desk, the Judicial Branch Budget and the Transportation Budget. The Administration and Regulation Budget will likely be headed to the Governor’s desk after the Senate considers the compromise amendment approved by the House.
Of the remaining budget bills, the Senate has some additional work to do on the Health and Human Services, Economic Development, One-Time Spending and Agriculture and Natural Resources budgets. The House will debate the Standings budget bill next week, as well as consider any changes to the bills considered by the Senate.
Many of us are concerned with the recent Supreme Court 5-2 decision that overturned the conviction of Patrick Ryan Nicoletto, a Davis County girls’ basketball coach.
He was charged and convicted of sexual exploitation. However, the court recently ruled that he could not be held to the same standards of a licensed teacher since he was a part-time coach and did not hold a license to teach. Since individual bills may no longer be considered, I have asked leadership to move forward in solving this problem. I have been assured a bill sponsored by leadership will soon be brought forth. Upon passage, the bill should correct this loophole, allowing for conviction and punishment in similar future cases. I have asked that this law become effective upon enactment, covering spring and summer school activities.
The recent media exposure of the dismissal of meritorious state employees and the payment of public funds, in an attempt to keep those dismissals from the public eye, has raised concern. In a response to concerns expressed by people attending last week’s forums, I have introduced a House Resolution that calls for an independent counsel to be named to investigate the allegations. The counsel retained must have the confidence of the public in seeking out the misuse and abuse of power by state administrators and elected officials on both sides of the political aisle.
I seek what I believe the people I represent seek, a fair and open investigation by an independent legal counsel of great respect; a person without a political agenda!
The whole truth and nothing but the truth should be the charge of any legal counsel and let the political chips fall where they may.
Knoxville Sprint Car racing fans will be interested in a bill (HF 2464) that will, if passed, allow the upgrade of facilities at Knoxville. Racing fans and others are aware of the growing international attraction to the Knoxville Nationals Sprint Car event held every August. People and competitors from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and England travel to Knoxville for this race, which has been deemed the most prestigious and largest sprint car race in the world.
At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and at 8:30 p.m. April 25, many of you may wish to watch the IPTV documentary, Journey to Statuary Hall. The documentary is about how Dr. Borlaug came to be selected as a notable Iowan. Dr. Norman Borlaug is an Iowa native from Cresco. He was a biologist, humanitarian and Nobel laureate and is often referred to as “The Father of the Green Revolution” or “The Man Who Saved a Billion Lives.” Borlaug won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, making him one of only seven who have accomplished this great task. The documentary also includes information about the artist and the steps necessary to make a sculpture suitable for display. His statue, by Benjamin Victor, is now one of two statues of famous Iowans on display in Statuary Hall, located in our nation’s capital.
Contact Hanson anytime by email at email@example.com or by phone at 641-919-2314
Hanson serves on the House Agriculture and Education, Natural Resources committees, as well as the Education Appropriations Subcommittee.