In the Legislature
This week was our first funnel week and it is one of the busiest weeks we have in the legislature. The first funnel week is when bills need to be through the committees of the originating chamber in order to be considered for the rest of this legislative session. If they do not pass committee, they are considered dead for this year, but they can be considered again next year.
The funnel is a self-imposed deadline to help us focus on the bills we want to get passed during the session so we can do the people’s work in a timely manner and end the session on time. Some of the bills that have been discussed are:
- SSB 1138 which would allow wireless companies to have access to rights-of-way, public facilities, and utility poles in timely and cost-efficient manner to increase their capacity to deliver wireless access, and more specifically, 5G.
- There is a lot of discussion about this bill. Those in support of it say this legislation is needed so Iowa can be one of the early states that adopts 5G technology and this bill will help wireless companies keep up with the consumer demand for mobile data. Those in opposition say this bill will take away some of the local authorities control regarding permits and placement of devices within their right of ways.
- The stakeholders are currently in discussion on the language in the bill and can hopefully come to an agreement and compromise to bring faster mobile data to the people of Iowa.
- SSB 1124, our school transportation equity bill. We discussed this a little bit last week, but this is the bill that would start to bring equity to the funding levels between small and large geographic school districts. Funds approved may only be spent on transportation costs. This bill is important to many rural districts across the state as they seek to provide the best education to their students regardless of where they live in Iowa.
- SF 257, which sets forth the steps and considerations for conducting a bass fishing tournament on public water and requires the person conducting the tournament acquire a permit from the DNR. This allows possession of up to five live bass of any length for weigh-in during the tournament so long as they are kept alive and released after weigh-in.
- Events must be: held on public water for the purpose of fishing for bass; have 6 or more vessels or 12 or more individuals (events on the Mississippi river, must have 20+ vessels or 40+ individuals); and awards prizes or incentives for participation
- The commission must address the following, at a minimum, by rules:
- Minimum requirements for weigh-in, handling, and release of live bass
- Measurement of bass to length and release from a vessel
- Allowance of up to five bass for weigh-in during the tournament
- Allowance of possession of bass of any length so long as the bass are kept alive and released after weigh-in
- Cleaning of vessels before and after the event to prevent transport of invasive species
- Permit requirements are already set in rules by the DNR, so this bill is simply codifying it.
As we continue our work here in Des Moines, please contact me with your thoughts and opinions. I am here to represent you and be your voice in the Iowa Senate.
Increasing Opportunities for Iowa Business
Iowa small businesses supplying products to state agencies may now be on a more level playing field after House File 293 was passed Wednesday out of the Iowa Senate.
Under current law, any time a department needs a product such as a park bench, fire pit or certain furniture, it is required to purchase it through Iowa Prison Industries if that organization manufactures it. That would change under House File 293.
House File 293 would direct the Department of Administrative Services director to put together rules for a competitive bidding procedure. Those rules would eliminate DAS and other state agencies from the current requirement of purchasing items from Prison Industries if an Iowa manufacturer has a like product manufactured in the state. The rules also would provide an opportunity for Prison Industries to bid on the project.
There have been some concerns expressed that this bill would be detrimental to Prison Industries. This bill does not hinder departments from using Prison Industries products. It does create more opportunities for small manufacturers in Iowa currently excluded from selling to state agencies because of the restrictions in Iowa Code.
We also passed a water quality bill in the Senate Natural Resources Committee, Senate Study Bill 1034.
The bill addresses long-term water quality funding. This is critical if we are going to make serious improvements. Keeping this alive during funnel week was important even though we know this bill needs more work. Keeping it alive allows us to keep working on it.
See you out and about the district.