Minute with Mike, Week 11

By: 
Mike Sexton
State Representative, 10th District

From My Desk

We have now been here for 11 weeks. The first day of spring has come and gone. And Easter is just around the corner.

The first funnel week has passed by and the second funnel date is next week. As you recall, the first funnel killed any bills that were not out of the chamber where they originated. So, House files had to be out of House committees and Senate files had to be out of Senate Committees.

The second funnel which is next week forces House files to be out of Senate Committees and Senate files to be out of Houses committees. Bills that do not make it out of their respective committees will die in the second funnel.

The revenue estimating conference met last Friday. Once they have their meeting in March, we will know how much of your money we have to spend. What that means is that we now move from working on policy bills to working on appropriation bills.

Days become very busy and hectic but you also have to mix in a large amount of hurry up and wait which, as you can imagine, can cause frustrations and a little shortness of temper. But, for the most part, things are moving smoothly and I hope we get done early.

Last week, I stated I would talk about the 2nd Amendment Bill we passed last week. HF 756 addressed many areas of gun laws but the part that caught the most attention ended the requirement that a person has to have a permit to carry or purchase a firearm.

Anti-gun groups have been spreading misinformation about the bill even though it passed with bi-partisan support. The misinformation spread by these groups is based on anti-2nd Amendment politics not on the actual language in the bill.

 

FALSE Claim: Eliminates Iowa background check requirements.

FACT: Background checks are still required for long gun or a hand gun purchase. Background checks will be run through the National Instant Criminal Background Check run by the FBI and the ATF. This check is currently used for long gun purchases in Iowa and now it will also be used for handgun purchases.

 

FALSE Claim: Eliminates Iowa’s Permit to Carry Requirement.

FACT: HF 756 keeps the permit option in place, but does not require a permit if a law-abiding Iowan wants to carry their firearm. In order to carry outside of Iowa, Iowans would still need to have a permit.

 

FALSE Claim: Makes it easy for felons and domestic abusers to buy handguns.

FACT: HF 756 would make it more difficult for felons and domestic abusers to buy firearms because they would be subject to a background check for every firearm purchased. Current law only requires showing a permit issued in the last five years. The National Instant Criminal Background Check is updated immediately by state and federal agencies to have the most accurate information available regarding who can and cannot have a firearm.

 

FALSE Claim: Allows guns on school buses.

FACT: Iowa code was not changed regarding firearms on school premises or school buses. The accusation that guns will now be allowed on school busses shows how very little Democrats know about current law.

 

Current Law

- Permits issued by Sheriff for permit to carry or acquire.

- Handgun purchase-permit required

- Long gun purchase-no permit, NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) check or permit.

HF 756

- Optional permits to carry and acquire

- Background checks through NICS for each firearms purchase (long guns and handguns)

- NICS-Federal check

- Permit NOT required to carry

- Private sales-can't sell to a prohibited party. Class "D" felony if you know or should have known the person was prohibited.

 

Expanding access to CDL testing

I have been hearing from a lot of you all winter about how long you have to wait in order to do your driving test for your CDL. Commercial drivers play an essential role in delivering necessary supplies, driving school busses and supporting our local communities. About 10 percent of all Iowa license holders have a CDL.

In 2019, the legislature directed the Iowa DOT to conduct a study on access to the driving skills test for CDLs, and asked the DOT to evaluate testing options to increase access. The report can be found here.

Currently, there are 16 Iowa DOT locations, 12 county treasurer locations, and 15 third-party locations. Based on this report, the House Transportation Committee drafted House File 828 and approved it this week with strong bipartisan support.

This legislation allows counties that provide the driving skills test for a CDL to charge $25 for each of the three component tests (pre-trip vehicle inspection, basic vehicle control skills, and the on-road driving skills test).

Currently, counties providing this testing do not receive any extra funds, leaving little incentive to maintain testing or expand testing to additional areas of the state. This bill also allows the DOT to charge $25 for the pre-trip test.

Government entities are exempted from all fees under the bill except for one $25 fee if they choose to test at the county level. Additionally, the House has passed House File 280 which allows for CDL’s to be renewed online every other renewal cycle.

These bills are now up for consideration in the Senate. It is my hope that these bills will help shorten the time we have to wait to take our CDL tests.

 

Beginning farmers

This week we passed HF 694 also known as the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Expansion. The goal of this bill is to expand eligibility for the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit program to reach even more owners and operators.

Since its creation in 2007, the program has issued over 77 million dollars in tax credits across the State. The program was designed to provide an Iowa tax credit incentive for agriculture asset owners to lease their land, equipment and/or buildings to beginning farmers in order to transfer farming to the next generation.

Currently, beginning farmers can participate in the tax credit program for ten years and the proposed legislation will extend this cap to 15 years. The legislation also removes the $50,000 tax credit cap that landowners can receive.

As the program exists, farm land must be part of the lease.

If signed by the governor, the program will allow standalone buildings, livestock facilities and grain storage buildings to qualify. It also allows the landowner to enter into multiple agreements with different beginning farmers.

This piece of legislation has been a priority of Governor Reynolds and was a recommendation from the Empower Rural Iowa Initiative. HF 694 is now on its way to the Senate to be considered and if passed will head to the Governor’s office for her signature to become law.

If you are interested in the legislation becoming law please contact your senator to bring HF 694 to the Senate floor for consideration.

The program operated on a first come first serve basis. Applications are accepted until August 1 or until all the tax credit allocation has been awarded (there is an annual 12-million-dollar cap) If you are interested in applying for the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit program you can learn more about the qualifications at https://www.iowafinance.com/beginning-farming-programs/beginning-farmer-....

 

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We have created a Facebook page that I will be using to add comments about what is going on in the Capitol and the House floor. This page will also be used to make comments as bills are being debated on the floor.

Please go to https://www.facebook.com/citizensforsexton or search for State Representative Mike Sexton on Facebook and like it so you can stay informed about legislation we are working on.

Please let me know what you are thinking! Feel free to contact me at my legislative email at mike.sexton@legis.iowa.gov.

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