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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Jun 22, 2018

Debating school safety amendments

By Phil Miller | Mar 29, 2018

I will have to admit that at times I feel frustrated, being a member of the minority party, we have little say on what bills will be brought up and discussed and voted on or when. However, this is the way our democracy works.

The majority is there because we the people put them there. We spent most of the day March 22 trying to amend a school safety bill, School Emergency Operations Plans (SF 2364). The bill requires all school districts to develop a high quality emergency operations plan for all school buildings by June 30, 2019. This includes responses to natural disasters and active shooter scenarios. School boards are required to consider recommendations from the Department of Education.

It also requires them to consult with local law enforcement agencies in the development of the plan. It is to be kept confidential and it is exempt from the Iowa Public Records Law. An emergency operations drill in each individual school building is required at least once per school year. Persons participating in the drill may include students. No funding is attached to this new law. This is a reactive measure.

The minority tried to make this bill better with amendments. One was passed unanimously. Verbiage now includes secretaries and receptionists to be included in all training and drills. They are often the first people inside the building at the front door. An amendment that failed by party line vote would have created an anonymous statewide tip line.

Six known states, starting with Colorado, have such a program. It has been credited with saving lives and stopping threats of violence at school before they happen. This amendment failed to pass in the Iowa House. I voted yes. It is proactive in prevention. On March 14, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would authorize grants for such programs. The bill is currently in the US Senate.

A de-appropriation bill was passed by the House this week also on party lines. It’s the fourth budget adjustment in the last year that has been needed. Where do our tax dollars go?

I thought it would be good for you to know how we are all helping some very large corporations in our state with research activities tax credits. Rockwell Collins (2016: $12.3million), Deere & Company (2016: $8 million), Dupont (2016: $5.1 million), Golden Grain Energy (2016: $4 million) and John Deere Construction & Forestry Company (2016: $2.6 million). The approximate fiscal impact is $22 million per year.

Iowa’s tax credit system is unfair. We taxpayers are paying companies to do business here by sending a check for millions of dollars to just a handful of corporations. I believe we should reduce and cap these credits. Small businesses don’t get the same benefit.

— Phil Miller serves District 82 in the Iowa House of Representatives. The district includes all of Davis and Van Buren counties, and most of Jefferson County. He can be reached at 641-472-2511, or via email at phil.miller@legis.iowa.gov.

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