Minute with Mike, Week Three

By: 
Mike Sexton
State Representative, 10th District

From My Desk

A little about the State Government Committee. When I was elected to the Senate and now in the House I have always served on the State Government Committee. It is a very busy committee. As you can imagine, it deals with all of the bills that deal with State Government.

Here are a few of the topics that I’m overseeing this year in State Government:

· Election laws

· Banks and Credit Unions

· Campaign Ethics

· Gambling

· Alcohol

· Licensing

I’m also working on HSB 130, that deals with the relationship between banks, co-ops and the farmers that work with both of these entities. It is a very complicated bill with a lot of strong opinions on both sides. It will be my job to get all of these groups together to agree on legislation.

We had our first subcommittee meeting this morning and it was obvious that I will have my work cut out for me -- wish me luck!

I have introduced a bill, in Agriculture, this week that helps dairy farms in Iowa be able to build an anaerobic digester. This will allow dairies to build a digester to use on their manure to produce natural gas, which will be added to the natural gas pipeline. I will keep you posted on the progress of my bills in coming weeks.

I’m not introducing my Daylights Savings Time bill this year. We are on such a tight schedule this year that I thought it was best to wait until next year. We have a lot of important legislation that needs to get done for the people of Iowa. I do not think my bill is a priority for most Iowans right now.

 

Education

This week, House Republicans worked hard to pass House File 103 out of subcommittee and committee; we are taking it up on the floor this afternoon. So much for getting home early on Thursday!

This bill gives parents the right to make the decision regarding their children’s education and how they will learn, whether it be in-person or online. Parents have said from the beginning, and continue to say, that there needs to be an option for in-person, full-time instruction. The majority of schools have provided in-person, full-time instruction, as the legislature intended.

However, there continues to be school districts who are not listening to all the parents when making decisions. This bill remedies that immediately.

To be clear, it does not eliminate online or hybrid options for parents, it simply states that schools must provide in-person learning as an option to the families that prefer it. I’m proud say all of the school districts in my House District are back in school.

Earlier this week, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a report which lays out the data that finds very little evidence that schools contributed to the spread of COVID-19.

The CDC also published a report citing three different domestic studies, as well as two studies from abroad, that give the same information. It states that “the type of rapid spread that was frequently observed in congregate living facilities or high-density worksites has not been reported in education settings in schools.” A study from 11 North Carolina districts, where there are more than 90,000 students and staff, found that virus transmissions were “very rare.”

Only 32 infections occurred in school with no cases of student-to-staff transmissions. Another report from Europe found that schools were not increasing community spread either.

Schools in Las Vegas, one of the largest school districts in the nation, are going back to in-person learning due to their suicide rates increasing. The amount of suicides doubled between March and December from the previous year. Cases among school-age children in Iowa have remained low.

Since March, children up to age 10 account for four percent of all cases, three percent of cases are among kids 11 to 14, and six percent among those 15 to 18 years old. These rates remained consistent even after school began.

Transmission among students in Iowa schools is rare, and infection most often occurs between family members in households. National studies show that keeping kids out of the classroom has resulted in a significant learning loss, and that students of color are most impacted. Literacy screening scores have decreased 21 percent among Iowa first graders this school year.

In December, Des Moines Public Schools reported that nearly 17,000 students, more than half the district, were failing or near failing courses. It is time to get children back in school.

 

Child Care

One of the things I heard most about while campaigning this past summer was the need for child care in my House District. This week, the House’s Health and Human Resources Committee passed four bipartisan bills related to child care.

Here is a quick review of those bills:

· House Study Bill 3 establishes a state funded off-ramp program from Child Care Assistance (CCA) that will gradually increase cost-sharing from families as they increase their income. This bill removes the ceiling on Iowan’s ability to be successful. You often hear about the cliff effect in government programs – where individuals are stuck in welfare dependency and the program is limiting their ability to take a raise or promotion. This bill addresses the cliff effect in Child Care Assistance.

· House Study Bill 2 provides significant rate increases to child care providers accepting Child Care Assistance. By increasing all child care provider rates up to the 50th percentile of the most recent Market Rate Survey and providing increases to quality child care programs, this bill will annually increase money going towards child care by $13.3 million.

· House File 6 establishes a public/private partnership to expand the child care workforce in the state. This bill will help recruit and retain child care providers in Iowa by providing matching funds to communities that match the state funds.

· House Study Bill 7, as amended by the committee, will allow nonregistered child care homes to increase by one school-aged child. This bill is important for rural Iowa parents who do not have access to a child care center in their area. 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 deicide to be on our mailing list.

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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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