Minute with Mike, Week Two

By: 
Mike Sexton
State Representative, 10th District

Editor's Note: Starting this week, The Graphic-Adovcate will be home to "Minute with Mike," a weekly column from State Representative Mike Sexton (R-Rockwell City). In "Minute with Mike," Sexton recaps his week within the Iowa Legislature and concerns brought to his attention from constituents.

From My Desk

Week two has come to a close. The purpose of this letter is to bring you up to date on the happenings in the House and Capitol as well as providing a little bit of a civics lessons now and then.

The following is a quick rundown of the process a bill must go through during the session. Any legislator can have a bill drafted. Once the bill is drafted, they are delivered to the representative for final signature and approval, after which the bill is sent back to the Chief Clerks Office.

The bill is then sent to the Speaker's Office where he assigns it to the appropriate committee. It is then introduced on the House floor.

The committee chair, to which the bill is assigned, has the power to decide if the bill moves through the committee or to kill it. If the committee chair decides to move the bill forward, it is assigned to a subcommittee. The subcommittee is chaired by the bill manager, who will run the bill in the various stages of the process.

If the bill passes out of subcommittee it must then pass through the standing committee. After passing the standing committee, the Speaker must then decide if he wants to run the bill on the House Floor.

The Speaker can either kill the bill or can schedule it on the calendar for floor debate. If the bill passes in the House, it then goes to the Senate and the entire process starts over on the Senate's side. Finally, after it passes out of both the Senate and the House, the bill is sent to the Governor's office to be signed into law. Many of you have sent in emails in the past concerned about bills that have been introduced.

Having now explained this process, I hope to have dispelled some of this concern by showing you that just because a bill has been introduced does not mean it will become law. In fact, very few bills ever make it to the Governor's desk.

So always check to see where a bill is at in the process before you get to upset or excited about any bills. 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.

Many of you have asked about my schedule while I'm in session. As I stated in last week's Minute with Mike, this is the shorter session of the two joint sessions with this year only being one hundred days. Here is a basic schedule of my days for the next one hundred days.

On Monday, I leave home by 8 a.m. with a Leadership Meeting at 11:30 a.m. We gavel in at 1 p.m. with my afternoons being filled with Standing Committee and Subcommittee meetings throughout the day.

We do very little floor debate at the beginning of session.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I arrive at the Capitol by 6:30 a.m. each morning, so I can get a head start on trying to get through emails and reading bills before the day gets busy. We gavel in at 8:30 a.m. which is followed by more Standing and Subcommittee meetings throughout the day. My last meeting on Thursday usually occurs mid to late afternoon after which I head home.

We normally have a steady agenda of folks from back home who we make a priority to see as we move through our busy schedule.

Mental Health

I have been asked a lot about mental health while back in the district. Over the last two years, the legislature has passed bipartisan mental health reform and created the state's first ever children's mental health system. These bills have been consistently regarded by mental health advocates as the most significant steps forward Iowa has ever taken to increase access to mental health services statewide.

Mental health has always been a county funded system in Iowa, and that has continued on with the establishment of Iowa's 14 Mental Health and Disability Services Regions. Each county has the ability to levy funding for their MHDS Region to a certain statutory level, and over the years, the MHDS Regions have accumulated large reserve accounts.

As of July 2019, the MHDS Regions had a combined $99 million in ending fund balances. On top of these reserves, the MHDS Regions levy funding annually.

In the current fiscal year, the mental health levy will collect $78.37 million statewide, which is $38.1 million below the statewide cap for mental health.

These are funds that the counties have authority to levy, but instead have determined in their mental health budgets and reserves that these funds are not necessary to accomplish the "core" service requirements of their MHDS Region. 

Governor Reynolds is proposing to move the majority of mental health funding off of county property tax and into the state general fund. The proposal would reduce property taxes by lowering the per capita county mental health levy from $47.28 to $12.50 statewide, and then the state would appropriate $80.6 million to the Regions.

Daylight Savings Time

I have once again had a bill drafted that would implement Daylight Saving Time year-round; it states that we will go to Daylight Savings time this spring and remain there so you will never have to change your clocks again.

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. 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 as well as on bills that 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 Senator Kraayenbrink and I will be on the Devine Intervention Radio Show with Mike Devine on KVFD 1400 every Friday afternoon. 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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