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The legislature made some significant progress again this week in the 2016 General Assembly. The House and Senate conference committee announced a deal on education spending for FY17. There is good news and bad news in this agreement. The good news is that our local school districts can now work to get their budgets set for the next school year. The final agreement promises a 2.25 percent increase in the statewide cost per pupil, or supplemental state aid (SSA).
The bad news for Iowa taxpayers is that the state’s share of PK-12 education goes from $2.953 billion in FY16 to $3.107 billion in FY17. This represents an increased tax burden of $153.8 million, which is an actual increase of 5.2% for PK-12 education over last year. Why does a 2.25% increase in SSA actually cost taxpayers 5.2% more? Because student numbers in Iowa are up by around 1%, and because this agreement includes more than $50 million in new money for the Teacher Leadership and Compensation program.
One of the scourges of our society today is the horrible reality that sex trafficking does happen in Iowa, and it happens in our own hometowns. SF 2258 aims to help children who are victims of sex trafficking under the custody, control, and supervision of the Department of Human Services (DHS). This bill lowers the age from 16 to 14 for a child to be able to create a transition plan of services, support, activities, and referrals to transition from foster care to adulthood.
If DHS has reasonable cause to believe that a child under the placement, care, or supervision of the department is a victim of sex trafficking or is at risk of becoming a victim of sex trafficking, DHS is required to identify and refer the child for appropriate services and to notify the appropriate law enforcement agency within 24 hours. DHS is also required to report a child who is missing or abducted to law enforcement and to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children within 24 hours after receipt of the report.
Additionally, the bill creates a Drug Endangered Children Workgroup to examine issues and develop policy recommendations relating to the protection and safety of drug endangered children for purposes of child in need of assistance and child abuse proceedings.
This is a good bill that helps deal with sex trafficking of young victims and helps those victims get assistance in their transition to adulthood. The bill passed the Senate 47-0.
The House and Senate also sent HF 2283 to the Governor for his signature. This bill allows Iowans to carry loaded weapons on all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles while operating those vehicles on their own land. It also provides that those operating ATVs and snowmobiles on property other than their own to carry firearms if the following apply: the firearm is a pistol or revolver in a retention holster, the person has a valid carry permit and conduct is within the limits to carry. A person is not permitted to discharge a firearm while seated on an ATV or snowmobile unless that person is non-ambulatory. This law fills a void in the Iowa code which did not include language for carrying firearms on ATVs and snowmobiles.
Please continue to contact me for questions or concerns about pending legislation. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope we can finish the session up in a few short weeks.
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