Reaching the funnel

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

It seems like every week I am saying this…we were busy this week. This time, though, it was funnel week.  

The "funnel" is a legislative term that describes how to separate the issues that are felt to be important from those that are not as important. The bills that make it through committee are “safe” for another month so they can be perfected and properly vetted. The bills that are not “safe” fail and need to be reworked and brought back to the body in the future. 

This week, the bills that I worked on and am proud to say have advanced are bike safety, license fee increases, and worker’s compensation reform.

There are many other bills that will be brought to the House in the next few weeks that are very deserving. Bills such as voter integrity and modernization and the new gun legislation that returns rights back to Iowans that have been steadily whittled away. In addition, we continue to work on school flexibility and protecting Iowans from dangerous synthetic drugs.

The bike safety bill that passed out of committee includes provisions that, when passing a bike, motorists must move to the other lane but motorists can pass on a no passing zone when safe. In addition, the bill requires the use of lights on the back of a bike from sunset to sunrise or periods of low visibility. These measures will make bikers more visible and protect them from passing vehicles.

It’s been 20 years since most hunting, fishing, and fur harvester license fees have been increased. Those fees support an $800 million industry that is associated with hunting, fishing, and trapping. A bill that will increase those fees, moderately, has passed out of the natural resources committee and will ensure adequate funding into the future for this industry. 

Iowa’s worker's compensation system was designed to compensate the injured worker regardless of fault, while allowing the employer to direct the care and to get that worker healthy and back to work. That system has eroded away significantly in the last 10 years and is out of balance. For Iowa to remain competitive and to clarify recent court decisions and bring Iowa’s law back into balance, we need to reset this law to its original intent. Over 200 businesses in Iowa support taking this look at our worker’s compensation law. 

Iowans should have confidence in their elections. Measures like voter verification and election modernization give Iowans assurance that our system is fair, clean, and ensures eligible voters aren’t disenfranchised. House Republicans have been working with Secretary of State Paul Pate on changes to Iowa’s election process, including voter verification, that make it easier to vote, harder to cheat, and ensures no one is turned away.

I often talk about what we accomplished during the week. I think it is important to talk about what House Republicans stopped as well. Here are a few bills that were stopped this week by House Republicans:

Forced union membership: House File 400 would effectively repeal Iowa’s Right-to-Work law by requiring non-union workers to pay union dues.

Banning guns: House Files 157 and 398 would make common self-defense, hunting, and sporting weapons like handguns, rifles, and shotguns illegal.

Doctor shopping: House File 97 would increase the cost of doing business in Iowa. It would allow injured employees to visit multiple doctors, paid for by an employer, which would allow attorneys to exploit the system and reap the most beneficial award possible at the employer’s expense.

Stripping employer rights: House File 192 would ban employers from reviewing the criminal records of prospective employees.

Banning immigration enforcement: House File 479 bans the state and local governments from assisting federal authorities with immigration enforcement, shielding potentially dangerous criminals from prosecution.

As always, I appreciate serving you, House District 1, and will continue to bring our northwest Iowa values to the concrete of Des Moines. Please let me know your thoughts and concerns. I serve to ensure your voice is heard. Additionally, we just found out that Iowa has been ranked as the sixth-best run state in the nation per U.S. News. The report and justification can be found here: https://www.usnews.com/news/best-state.