Regent universities pitch tuition proposal
Last Thursday, my wife and I attended the Vienna Boys Choir Concert in Fairfield. I was surprised to see how many of the members were from countries other than Austria. The performance also made me think of The Sound of Music – a story about the Von Trapp family of refugees fleeing Austria as the Nazis took over. It’s always a pleasurable evening when you can hear this group of young men sing.
While returning to Des Moines Monday, I encountered a planter being pulled down the highway. With the recent unseasonably warm weather, I think farmers are beginning to turn their thoughts to the planting season and the necessity of having their equipment ready and strategically placed.
State community college representatives met with the Education Appropriations Subcommittee on Tuesday to discuss the fiscal year 2018 budget. Community colleges are partners with our K-12 school districts in the redesign of our secondary career and technical education.
The three regent universities (UNI, ISU, U of I) attended the Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting on Wednesday. All three schools presented the same “2 + 2” proposal. If their request of a 2 percent increase in state appropriations is met each of the next two years, tuition increases shall not exceed 2 percent each year either.
I welcomed two groups of visitors to the Capitol on Tuesday. First was the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives, with whom I discussed the safety of their repair crews and support of the “move over or slow down” law as vehicles pass their construction crews.
Sarah Murray and Shana Kaska from the Rape Victim Advocacy Program were also here to advocate for funding towards sexual and domestic violence prevention.
Shana is a graduate of Fairfield Community High School and was one of my students.
In the Agriculture Committee meeting on Tuesday we passed HSB 86 – a bill that places in code a court decision that allows farmers to do their own electrical wiring and does not require them to have a permit if the building is not a place of business nor regularly open to the public.
Lori McDaniel, Supervisor of the Floodplain Management and Dam Safety Program, presented to the Environmental Protection Committee meeting on Tuesday. This program has been working on floodplain maps for all ninety-nine Iowa counties that will be implemented in the development of an insurance planning tool. These maps would also be useful when considering buying property.
In the Natural Resources Committee Meeting on Wednesday, we heard a presentation on wildlife disease. Dr. Garner, DNR Chief of Wildlife, reported that 240 feral swine (wild pigs) have been exterminated since 2001 in Iowa. This is a problem we must continually monitor because 5,000 feral swine were exterminated last year in Missouri. Feral swine are very undesirable and often carry diseases that spread into the domestic herds. I asked state veterinarian Dr. Schmitt a question regarding avian flu. Avian flu is a problem that has been very devastating to Iowa poultry and turkey flocks recently. Dr. Schmitt reported a strain of avian flu that can spread to humans has resulted in 415 deaths in Asia.
On Tuesday the House passed HF 312. I’m pleased that my idea of legalizing the unattended idling of vehicles was also considered by another member of the body. I don’t care who gets the credit for legislation that is in the best interest of the people. This new law is in-tune with the remote starting capabilities many vehicles have today.
On Thursday the Agriculture Committee discussed HSB 134. This bill extends nuisance lawsuit protections to owners of confined animal feeding operations. Under the legislation, damages are capped, the scope of evidence is narrowed, and a person who brings a lawsuit that fails must pay all costs and expenses. This means it would be much more difficult and expensive for neighbors to contest a CAFO siting. I’m concerned that this bill restricts the constitutional rights of the people. It is a bill that goes too far and could promote more bad actors, further damaging good neighbor relationships. I did not support this bill; however, the bill moves forward on a 17-6 vote.
I was happy to end the week with visitors from Davis County on Thursday. Superintendent Dan Maeder brought twelve students and parents to the Capitol to attend the Senate Subcommittee hearing on SSB 1124. Division 1 of this bill relates to the funding of preschool programs. Division 2 establishes a supplementary weighting plan of school transportation costs. Rural schools with high transportation costs are currently at a disadvantage in funding the education of students. Students should not be at a disadvantage because of their zip code. I am very proud of the students who testified before the Senate Subcommittee about the needs for this bill and how it will affect their education. The bill will now move forward.
Legislative Forums: This year, the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce Legislative forums will be held on the third Saturday of every month during the legislative session at 7:30 a.m. at the public library in Fairfield. On the fourth Saturday of each month during the legislative session, I will meet with constituents in Keosauqua at the Great Day Cafe at 9:00 a.m. and in Bloomfield at the Rancho Centinela Café at 12:00.
Please phone or email me with your comments and concerns. You may email me at Curt.Hanson@legis.iowa.gov or you may telephone me at 641-919-2314. My home number is 641-472-3349 and is found in the Fairfield telephone book. Your message is important to me and the people of this district.
– 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.