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When we returned to the Senate this week floor debate and voting began in earnest. The first funnel ended last Friday, and Senators had attended scores of subcommittee and committee meetings in an attempt to get bills moving before the funnel deadline.
The Senate took up more than 60 bills this week, with the overwhelming majority of the proposed legislation receiving broad, bipartisan support. The topics ranged from a bill creating a Lyme disease task force to enhancing penalties for those convicted of kidnapping a child.
Floor work will remain steady for the coming weeks. For the next two weeks, debate should continue to be time-consuming as we work toward the second funnel deadline of March 14.
It is essential to provide our students with the flexibility and ability to participate in extracurricular activities after school. That may not always be as simple as it sounds. In some Iowa districts, certain sports or activities are not offered. Therefore, if a student wishes to participate, they may have to travel to a neighboring district that offers them the opportunity. For some, the distance between schools makes it difficult for students to participate in their after-school practices, games or competitions.
This week the Senate passed Senate File 2228, which expands the route high school students can drive, with a school driver’s permit, for extracurricular activities. If this bill is signed into law, students will have the ability to drive to a contiguous school district for after-school activities, as long as there is a sharing agreement between the districts. The bill does not change the passenger requirement or any other provision of a school driver’s permit. It only expands the route students with a driver’s permit are able to drive. I gladly supported this bill to provide our students better opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities.
Parents go to great lengths to protect their children, but unfortunately our children can be vulnerable to tragic crimes. Michael Klunder kidnapped and murdered young Kathlynn Shepard of Dayton on May 20, 2013, after she got off a school bus. Kathlynn’s parents urged lawmakers to increase penalties and oversight for sex offenders who attack children. On Tuesday, Michael and Denise Shepard saw their vision become a reality when the Iowa Senate unanimously passed Senate File 2201. I supported this bill as it adds kidnapping a child 16 years old and younger to the definition of second degree kidnapping. This would make the crime a class “B” felony. The proposed legislation also makes the second count of third degree kidnapping a class “B” felony.
In 1991 Michael Klunder was sentenced to 41 years in prison on a previous kidnapping charge after he was convicted of three kidnappings in two days. Two of his victims were three-year-old children. Klunder was released in 2011, after serving only 19 years in prison. By making this fix in the Iowa Code and increasing penalties for kidnapping a juvenile, we will keep those likely to re-offend in jail for longer sentences.
Of course, before we leave Des Moines we need to pass a balanced budget. Senate Democrats continue to find new ways to spend your money. New legislation they advanced recently called for new spending of a couple million dollars here and fifty million dollars there. Senate Republicans are standing their ground to rein in out-of-control spending.
Senate appropriation subcommittees are currently holding meetings to discuss the state budget. You have my pledge that I will continue to fight for responsible budget bills, not something that jeopardizes our Iowa families and mortgages our children’s future.
Please feel free to contact me with questions or comments. And join us again on Saturday, March 8, at Smokey Row in Oskaloosa for Eggs and Issues.
Senator Ken Rozenboom
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