Minute with Mike, Week Seven

By: 
Mike Sexton
State Representative, 10th District

From My Desk

After seven weeks of session, many Iowans are wondering what's next for policy bills they care about, as the legislative process can be confusing for those not directly involved with the day-to-day activities at the Capitol.

Knowing where a bill is in the process and what comes next is crucial if you truly want to understand the Iowa Legislature.

After making it through the funnel last week, week seven found us doing a lot more floor debate - it was a welcome change. This change finds us preparing bills to be run on the House Floor and running around to last-minute meetings.

Floor debate is a chance for all 100 members to express their opinion on a bill, offer amendments, and vote. Up to this point, it has only been the members of the committee it was assigned to that had a chance to debate it.

However, just because a bill advanced out of committee, does not mean it's guaranteed a vote on the House Floor. Majority Leader Matt Windschitl meets with committee chairs and carefully evaluates each bill before advancing it for debate.

Once a bill has been called to the floor, it is the responsibility of the subcommittee chair and the Representative that introduced it to advocate for the bill, answer questions, address any amendments and move the bill for a final vote. While most bills pass out of the House with bipartisan support, some become partisan.

The more partisan a bill, the longer debate may take. Debate on a bill can last for two minutes or two days - representatives are given ample time to comment on bills and make recommendations for change.

Once a bill passes on the House floor, it is sent to the Senate and begins the committee process all over again.

The second funnel is the week of March 16 through March 19. All bills that started in the House must be out of Senate committees by that time. The same goes for Senate bills moving through House committees. After a bill has passed both the House and Senate in identical forms, it is sent to the Governor for her approval.

Last year, the Governor signed over 160 bills into law. Even though the first major deadline has passed, there is still a lot of time for bills to advance through the process.

The legislature is expected to adjourn for the session sometime in late April. Although April 21 is the last day legislators receive a per diem, it is not uncommon to end the session a few days before or after the 100-day deadline.

 

Emergency Medical Services

There has been a growing concern through Iowa, especially in rural counties like the ones in my House District, about the access to emergency medical services.

A common misconception is that emergency medical services are considered an essential service under the Iowa Code. They are not. However, it is currently an option for counties to choose to make it an essential service.

Under current law, county supervisors may offer for voter approval a local option income surtax or an ad valorem property tax. Additionally, if it is considered an essential service, it has to be re-approved every five years.

House Study Bill 631/HF 2434 makes significant changes to the emergency medical services chapter (IA Code 422D). The first change that it makes allows the county board of supervisors to declare EMS an essential service without calling for an election to approve this decision.

EMS advocates believe that this will greatly reduce the burden and cost of declaring EMS an essential service.

This bill also gets rid of the five-year sunset that requires the voters to re-approve emergency medical services. This gives the voters the option to end EMS as an essential service only under a reverse referendum. EMS advocates have complained that they are uncomfortable purchasing equipment if after only five years the service could not be renewed.

A new requirement under this bill is that a county that adopts EMS as an essential service shall create an EMS Advisory Council to develop how the EMS program will be structured and work throughout the county.

Current law only allows counties to enter into 28E agreements with other counties. This bill removes that barrier and allows counties to enter into 28E agreements with other entities besides just counties. Currently, in the Health and Human Services Budget there is $303,000 that is appropriated to the Emergency Medical Services Fund.

The money is divided equally among the counties. Also, Iowa Code 422D.6(3) lays out an enumerated list of items that these funds could be spent on. This bill changes that to include any operational cost.

In addition to the above-mentioned changes to emergency medical services, House Study Bill 508/House File 2224 appropriates the revenue from sports wagering (estimated between $2 million to $3 million) to the Emergency Medical Services Trust Fund.

The EMS personal and hospitals have asked for the change to help them provide the kind of service we all hope to receive when it comes to an emergency situation with yourself or a loved one.

The major goal of this letter is to give you a quick update that can be read in a few minutes.

If you need more in-depth information on a specific subject or a bill, please just email my clerk, Andrea, at mike.sexton@legis.iowa.gov and she can find the information you are looking for and get it back to you.

 

Pass It On

If you have family, friends, or co-works that you think would also enjoy MWM please forward this to them so they can read it and decide to be on our mailing list. If you are reading this and would like to subscribe to our newsletter, "Minute with Mike," please send us an email letting us know.

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.

While we are in session, please remember that I will be on the Devine Intervention Radio Show with Mike Devine on KVFD 1400 every other Friday afternoon from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

This is a call in show so use this opportunity to talk to both of us and let us know your feelings on the current issues facing Iowa citizens.

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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