Minute with Mike, Week 10

By: 
Mike Sexton
State Representative, 10th District

From My Desk

Week 10 is over. After nearly five hours of debate, ending around 11:30 p.m. (Wednesday) night, we passed the Omnibus Gun Bill which I have talked about previously. I’m going to let the dust settle and I will talk about it in depth next week.

 

House passes legislation to ensure agricultural animal transportation

Last week, the Iowa House unanimously passed House File 655 to ensure that agricultural animals are able to be transported throughout the supply chain without being held up by animal rights activists. This bill creates a criminal offense of interference with the transportation of an agricultural animal if the person interferes with the motor vehicle transporting the animal or interferes directly with the agricultural animals themselves.

The penalty for this crime is an aggravated misdemeanor. If the person has previously been convicted of this crime, the penalty increases to a class “D” felony.

Throughout the public health emergency, the need to keep the supply chain moving and providing necessary agricultural products to Americans has been highlighted more than ever. This bill is now under consideration for the Senate.

 

Federal funding breakdown for Iowa education

On March 11th, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 into law. This bill provides just over $170.3 billion to education alone.

The funds are to be used for short term needs that are associated with COVID-19, as well as investing in long term projects. Of the $170.3 billion for education, about $125.4 billion for state K-12 public education and $39.6 billion in higher education, with remaining funds going to other educational programs.

Additionally, the Act provides $7.2 billion in funding for the federal E-Rate program which will provide devices and connectivity to students, educators, and patrons of public libraries. For private schools, governors will receive $2.75 billion in funding to assist private schools that have a high percentage of low-income students and most impacted by COVID-19.

Of the $125.4 billion for K-12 public schools, $122.8 billion will be put into the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) which is distributed to states based on their Title I, Part A funding, which is the same as the previous round of education funding.

What does this mean for Iowa? Iowa will receive a total of $774,516,000.00 for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funding.

That breaks down to $1,513.17 per pupil. LEA for learning recovery is slated to get $135,540,300.

 

Pet Protection Bill passes in Iowa House

Last week, the Iowa House of Representatives passed House File 623, which provides immunity to licensed veterinarians who in good faith report or participate in investigations with law enforcement of animal abuse. This legislation provides immunity from administrative, civil, or criminal liability to veterinarians who act to protect the abuse of companion animals.

Law Enforcement agencies in Iowa have, at times, struggled to find veterinarians who are willing to help participate to investigate animal abuse or to aid in the rescue of abused animals. There has been fear of administrative discipline with the Board of Veterinary Medicine, a civil suit, or criminal charges for veterinarians who want to help abused animals.

This bill is not a mandatory requirement to report abuse, but an attempt to protect vets who assist law enforcement to stop animal abuse. If a vet sees obvious abuse in a dog brought into their office, they would be allowed to report the alleged abuse to law enforcement without fear of a civil suit being brought against them.

Currently, 18 states provide similar immunity for veterinarians and 20 require mandatory reporting.

If enacted, this legislation would protect veterinarians who save animals from further abuse. House File 623 is assigned to the Senate Agriculture Committee.

 

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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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