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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Jun 29, 2017

Legislative session comes to a close

By Curt Hanson | May 04, 2017
Representative Curt Hanson, center, attends the signing of a bill enacting stricter laws for texting while driving.

It was by dawn’s early light that we concluded the 2017 legislative session. After all-night negotiations with the Senate, the House adjourned at 6:26 a.m. on Saturday, April 22. I immediately drove home to attend the Keosauqua and Bloomfield forums. I am thankful that I have a very understanding wife as she met me in Fairfield and drove us to the forums as I napped.

The last week of the legislative session is always hectic. While trying to conclude the session, we attempted to carry on normal activities. Last Monday, I was happy to welcome Mike Miller and Sandy Stone of Keosauqua and Paula Mohr of the State Historical Society into the Statehouse.

Mike Miller was recently awarded the Loren Horton Community History Award by Governor Branstad for his work with the Van Buren Historical Society.

 

Fireworks

On Tuesday, the House debated SF 489, a bill allowing for the sale and purchase of consumer fireworks and novelties in the state. After a long debate, the bill narrowly passed and will now be sent to the governor for his signature. I did not support the bill as it did not offer the degree of local control that many thought necessary for the safety and protection of their communities.

Wednesday, after consideration and passage of a number of non-controversial bills, we debated a very important bill dealing with the funding of the Health and Human Services Department.

This bill deals with the funding of the Departments of Aging, Human Resources, Public Health, and Veterans Affairs. Elements of this bill will affect our lives from birth to death. The amendments offered to this bill were many and important.

 

Water quality

Thursday, after the passage of a number of bills, debate centered on one major bill: water quality. The improvement of our water quality will be a massive effort and passing language that states our high ideals without funding any of our plans is just plain papering over the problem, in my opinion.

Raiding other funds, funds needed to educate our children and aiding our elderly in living out their few remaining years, to provide token funds for water quality improvement is not a step forward. It is a step backward!

Water quality is an “Iowa problem” that all of us are a part of the problem and all of us a part of the solution. We must separate water quality improvement from politics, in so far as possible, and work together. Finger-pointing and shifting money from one fund to another plus the pitting of rural and urban citizens against each other does not offer a solution that will solve our long term problem!

The clean-up costs are now estimated to be $5 billion and growing daily. The bill I think of as a token approach passed without my support. After passage of the water quality bill, the House recessed until 10 p.m. The plan was to discuss medical cannabidiol.

 

Medical cannabis oil

Upon our return, we were told to go home for the evening. Medical cannabidiol oil and its pharmaceutical use is a hotly discussed issue with deeply divided opinions. While an important issue, I don’t think it is an issue nearly as important as water quality. Because Republicans in the House and in the Senate failed to reach agreement on water quality improvements, we adjourned without any real plan to address the issue.

Friday morning was spent in caucus going over the bills necessary for state government to operate next year and end this session. Much of the discussion centered on SF516, an appropriations bill that will total about $3.73 billion in FY2018. Of special concern is the plan to spend more than we receive in revenue by borrowing $131.1 million from the cash reserve.

We are to pay this back over a two-year period. I’m concerned that this plan places Iowa in a state of poverty for the rest of this decade. The funding of education, our courts and health services will continue to be an underfunded growing problem.

 

Davis County kids

Friday afternoon, I was able to meet all four sections of the Davis County 4th grade as they toured the Capitol. It is always a pleasure to greet this well behaved and well organized group. The Davis County Community certainly has reason to take pride in their schools.

Much of our time on Friday, Friday night, and early Saturday was spent at ease as negotiators scurried between the House and the Senate. They were attempting to find the common ground necessary for the passage of bills that will allow us to adjourn. I was in hope that these negotiations might go much smoother this year as both chambers are held by the same political party. That was not to be the case.

We concluded with the passage of a budget that borrows money from our unspent balance funds. We are now officially spending more than we take in! Again, I think the budget we passed will not well serve the people of Iowa.

Please continue to phone or email me with your comments and concerns throughout the interim. You may email me at hansoncu@lisco.com or you may telephone me at 641-919-2314. You may also find my home phone number in the Fairfield phone book.

 

– 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.

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