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Cornfields, Common Sense and Community

February 24, 2019
By State Senator Jeff Edler - R-State Center , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

In the Legislature

As we moved into the fifth week of the legislative session, subcommittee work remained the primary focus while bills have been moving through the Senate.

This week one of my sponsored bills, Senate File 88 passed out of the Transportation Committee. This bill creates a new specialty license plate, a blackout plate, which has a black background with white lettering. The additional fee for this would be $25 and would go towards each county's mental health and disabilities services. Additionally, the bill makes some changes to the minimum standard of transparency on vehicle windows and aligns us more closely with the standards of our neighboring states.

Article Photos

State Senator Jeff Edler
R-State Center

Another bill to be aware of is Senate File 76. SF76 concerns a topic of discussion for the last few years at the Capitol. During the last General Assembly, the Legislature passed a bill making it illegal to text and drive. This bill completely prohibits any use of phones or any other electronic communication device unless it is in hands-free mode. This bill does not prohibit the use of GPS or navigation systems. While distracted driving is a major concern, I am skeptical that another law is the answer to solve this problem. Citizens of Iowa simply need to use better judgement when engaging in a mobile communications.

Education Budget

Goes To Governor

This week included some of the first floor debate of the 88th General Assembly. We voted this week on an education funding package to allocate more than $89 million in new spending for K-12 education. These bills are the first to be sent to Governor Reynolds this legislative session.

This package includes new money forschools and additional money to address transportation and per pupil inequities across the state.

Our primary goal was finding an amount the state can guarantee our schools to allow them to plan their budgets and their school year, while also taking into account the number of things our budget also has to fund. The sustainable funding increase continues a nine-year trend of growth in new spending for K-12 education. In the last nine years, the legislature has increased K-12 funding by nearly $845 million.

When you look at all the taxpayer money that goes into K-12 education, the annual investment is $7.1 billion or $14,600 per student. Without a doubt, this is a strong investment into the education of students all across the state.

By achieving the passage of the education funding bills in a timely manner it will allow school districts time to budget how they will use the new $89 million.

Reforming Welfare And

Building The Workforce

A number of policies this session are focused on improving and expanding the workforce. After the success of policies implemented in the last two years to bring Iowa's unemployment rate to the lowest in the country, nearly every sector of the economy is looking for workers. A number of bills have begun to work through the legislative process to move people from welfare programs to the workforce, reduce fraud, and ensure those individuals most in need of assistance are receiving it.

As Ronald Reagan said, "I think the best social program is a job." No state program can replace the dignity and purpose of work. It should be a goal of every legislator to create an environment where Iowans can be productive citizens and reap the benefits of their efforts. The current eligibility requirements for assistance often create barriers to productivity and betterment of life standards. We need a system to pull up able bodied Iowans not hold them down.

I am the chair of the Local Government Committee and the vice chair of the Health & Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee. Additionally, I serve on the Agriculture, Education, Human Resources, International Relations, Veterans Affairs, and Ways & Means committees. Please feel free to contact me at jeff.edler@legis.iowa.gov.

 
 

 

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