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After nine weeks and the second funnel now behind us, a couple things have become very clear - Senate Democrats are determined to push for more spending and expanding the scope of government. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans are working on issues impacting Iowa families and pushing for legislation that strengthens our economy, fosters job creation and provides Iowans a world class education.
House Republicans and Senate Democrats have proposed joint budget targets of $6.972 billion, which is nearly $3 million below ongoing revenues. While I believe the budget targets will remain close to those proposed by the two chambers at the end of this session, Senate Republicans will continue to push for a budget that spends less than we take in on an ongoing basis, doesn’t purposefully underfund programs to balance the budget, doesn’t spend one-time money for ongoing programs and returns money to Iowa taxpayers.
We have spent the past couple weeks in the Iowa Senate debating and voting on legislation that deals with a variety of issues important to Iowans. It is safe to assume the reason these most of these issues passed the Senate with a large majority is because they are supported by a significant number of Iowans. Unfortunately, women’s health is not one of those issues that is being talked about on the Senate floor.
With that said, Senate Democrats hold the majority. This means they control the agenda and what bills are called up for debate on the Senate floor. I was pleased Senator Nancy Boettger, R-Harlan, took the time during her points of personal privilege this week to address women’s health. Senator Boettger shared a recent Des Moines Register Iowa Poll which indicates nearly 66 percent of Iowans oppose telemedicine abortions. The Iowa House passed legislation banning telemedicine abortions in this state on a February 12 bipartisan vote. So far, no action has been taken in the Iowa Senate.
Think about this for a minute – if three people were discussing the telemedicine abortion issue, two of them would agree with the Iowa Board of Medicine’s decision last year to require a physician to be physically present when administering abortion-inducing medicine – therefore halting telemedicine abortions.
These procedures have proven to be dangerous to women’s health, and in fact have caused more than a dozen deaths and other serious medical conditions. If we truly care about women’s health in this state like we say we do, then I stand with the Iowa House and Senate Republicans in urging Senate Democrats to take up House File 2175.
Senate Republicans voted Tuesday to maintain current driving restrictions for people convicted of OWI offenses. I did not support Senate File 2299, which would make it easier for people convicted of operating while intoxicated to get back on the road faster. Current law restricts where those found guilty of OWI can travel. Under Senate File 2299, with an ignition interlock device, someone sentenced to first offense OWI can drive wherever they like.
I also was concerned about the inequality for those convicted of OWI. Senate Democrats voted Tuesday to give price breaks for ignition interlock devices for low-income Iowans, yet requiring all other Iowans convicted of OWI to pay the full price. It is imperative that we continue to explore ways to keep our roadways and all Iowans safe, not explore new opportunities to lower the penalties and fines for people convicted of such serious criminal behaviors.
Technology has an increasingly large effect on our lives. We use our phones to check social media, keep up with emails, news, talk with our friends and family, take pictures, even order food – the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, texting and driving has also become a larger problem. An Iowa poll recently cited 83 percent of Iowans support tougher enforcement on the ban of texting while driving. We need to keep our roads safe for our citizens.
This week, the Senate passed Senate File 2289, which makes texting while driving a primary moving violation. If enacted, law enforcement will have the authority to stop a vehicle for texting while driving. The use of hands free or voice-operated devices will still be allowed. I did support this bill in the Senate and hope it will deter drivers from using their phones while driving and focus on keeping themselves and others safe.
Please attend one of our forums in the next couple of weeks. On Saturday the 15th we will be in Centerville at the Chariton Valley Regional Planning office at 10:00 am, and next Saturday, the 22nd we’ll be at Smokey Row in Oskaloosa at 8:30 am. Also Representative Guy Vander Linden and I will be at Monarchs in Pella at 9:00 am on Saturday, March 29.
Senator Ken Rozenboom
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