Minute with Mike, Week 13

By: 
Mike Sexton
State Representative, 10th District

From My Desk

We just finished Week 13 and on one hand, time has flown by very quickly. But on the other hand, it seems like we have been here way to long.

We just finished our first week after the second funnel week. As I have stated many times, the one thing we absolutely have to get done each year is approving the next year’s budget.

This week, we passed the Judiciary budget bill out of the Justice Systems Budget Subcommittee and out of the Standing Appropriations Committee. This budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year gives a $20 million dollar increase for the Department of Corrections. This will mostly be used for salary adjustments for our correctional employees.

We are starting five other budget bills in the House and sending them over to the Senate—this is a positive sign that we are moving toward the end of session. Personally, for me, this time of year gets to be the most frustrating; it feels like you only get a few days at home to squeeze a week’s worth of work in preparing and getting equipment ready for spring and before you know it, Monday morning rolls around and it’s time to head back to Des Moines.

I have to take a minute to thank Becky, my wife, for taking care of everything at home and Joe, my hired man, for caring for the sheep and the farm while I’ve been at the State House.

One more thing before I forget; Andrea, my clerk, and I are doing our best to keep up on email. Maybe it is because no one is coming down to the Capitol this year but our email has exploded! If I do not get right back to you I apologize.

We are doing our best to get back to all of my constituents that reach out to our office. The toughest part of these next few weeks is the time we spend in “limbo”. This occurs when we are waiting for agreements to be made between the House and Senate Budget committee chairs.

Once they come to an agreement, we set about amending and approving bills in both Chambers. However, just the moving of bills across the rotunda from one chamber to the next takes an unbelievable amount of time, creating that “limbo” time that weighs on me.

Sitting around is not in my nature or in the nature of many of the legislators here; farmers don’t sit still very well.

 

Some Child Care legislation advances, many still held up by Senate

I stated in early newsletters, one of the things I heard about the most last summer was the need for child care in HD 10. This session House Republicans brought forward a legislative package to increase child care workforce, increase provider rates to maintain existing child care facilities, provide incentives to develop new child care facilities, and support hard-working families to afford the high cost of child care.

Now, these bills are more important than ever, as child care is a key factor in getting Iowans back to work throughout this public health emergency. The Senate has considered the following bills: House File 302 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 and the Senate is planning to move it out of Human Resources Committee.

House File 260 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. This bill has passed both the House and Senate chambers, and now awaits the Governor’s signature. House File 301 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. This bill is now up for consideration by the full Senate.

Five bills from House Republicans on child care still await any consideration by the Senate. In total, this child care legislative package will take significant steps to address child care access and affordability throughout the state.

 

Iowa House Republicans propose over $20 Million new dollars for Department of Corrections

This week, the Iowa House Appropriations committee passed a Justice Systems budget bill that includes $20.474 million new dollars for the Department of Corrections. This is the biggest increase to the Department of Corrections’ budget in over a decade.

The last increase of this magnitude was in FY 2012 when the department received $19.3 million. In the Department’s budget presentation, they asked for a total budget of $392,543,142. The House upped that in their budget to a total of $407,703,142.

We feel confident from budget conversations between the Iowa House and the Department of Corrections, that this $20 million increase would allow them to not only retain every worker they have, but fill many of the unfunded vacancies that exist in the current budget. Unfortunately, every single Democrat on the committee voted against this massive increase in funding.

 

Iowa House Republicans propose $9.4 million increase in for the Department of Public Safety

The Justice Systems budget also included a $9.4 million increase in funding for the department of public safety. This increase is the largest for the department in a decade. Additionally, the budget includes an additional $2.5 million for a Public Safety Equipment fund. The Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund budget also allocates $2.5 million to the Public Safety Equipment Fund, bringing the total to $5 million.

This fund will ensure the Department of Public Safety has the most up-to-date equipment and can stay on top of equipment maintenance. Iowa House Republicans were elected on a platform that included strong support of our law enforcement and Republicans are keeping that promise to their constituents.

Unfortunately, each Democrat on the committee voted against the funding increase. The Democrats ran on a platform of defunding our police and turning their backs on law enforcement, and with this vote that’s exactly what they did.

 

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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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