Week 7 Recap: Recent Public Forum Highlights, GOP Rush $1 billion tax plan through committee process
SENATOR MCCOY HELD HIS LATEST PUBLIC FORUM LAST SUNDAY.
Here’s a link to a recording of the livestream: Click here.
LOTS OF QUESTIONS ABOUT NEW TAX PROPOSAL
Senate Republicans dropped a 128-page, $1 billion tax plan on Wednesday. Much like what happens in Congress, we haven’t been told what financial impact it is expected to have on Iowans and our state, and there is little time to read and study the whole bill.
Most Iowans have no idea what’s in Senate Study Bill 3197 because it’s being rushed through the Senate before Iowa taxpayers can get up to speed and have their say.
Democrats are willing to work on a bipartisan tax plan that:
· Is fair to all Iowans.
· Takes into account our current budget situation.
· Reins in corporate tax credits that don’t work or are too expensive.
· Makes Iowa’s tax laws easier to understand.
If you have questions, concerns or suggestions to make the bill better, please contact me.
To learn more, check out video of the initial meeting on this bill, which took place Thursday morning: www.facebook.com/IowaSenateDemocrats/videos/10155277532851778/
Video of Ways & Means Committee on GOP Tax Plan
‘LICENSE TO DISCRIMINATE’ IS BAD FOR BUSINESS
A bill to legalize discrimination based on religious beliefs is eligible for debate in the Iowa Senate.
SF 2338 passed the Senate Local Government Committee along party lines on February 14. The bill requires a court to use a new standard in reviewing cases where a person claims a burden on their exercise of religion.
In other states, such laws (often known by the misleading name “Religious Freedom Restoration Act”) would excuse people from any state or local law, policy or other government action that they claim burdens their exercise of religion.
That means any individual religious belief has the potential to determine which laws a person chooses to honor. In other states, such laws are more accurately described as “a license to discriminate.”
Under SF 2338, Iowans may say their religious beliefs mean they don’t have to pay taxes or traffic tickets; that they are entitled to use illegal drugs; or that they don’t have to do business with people who are different from them. This is a violation of the Iowa Civil Rights Act and its protections.
Iowa tourism and business groups are opposed to the bill. Based on experiences with similar laws in other states, they’re worried that it would limit our state’s chances of recruiting young families and professionals to make their home in Iowa, and it would likely drive away many who are here now. With Iowa’s shortage of skilled workers, SF 2338 would be a blow to creating jobs, increasing incomes and growing our economy.
In addition, the bill would be the death knell for attracting conventions, festivals and sports tournaments. Iowa would lose out on such events as NASCAR’s National Cup Race and the NCAA basketball tournament. These and similar events have brought tremendous economic activity to communities and have boosted business for Main Street shops and restaurants.
SCHOOLS PLAN FOR ALL TYPES OF EMERGENCIES
Every school in Iowa should have a plan in case of a natural disaster, medical emergency, bomb threat and other unexpected problems. That’s why the Senate Education Committee passed a bill requiring schools to establish security plans.
SF 2253 requires Iowa’s local school boards to develop security plans for each of their buildings by June 30, 2019. Plans must include scenarios for active shooters and such natural disasters as tornadoes and floods.
Currently, 33 states specifically require comprehensive school safety or emergency plans.
In preparing the plans, school officials must consider recommendations from the Iowa Department of Education and consult with local law enforcement and emergency management.
As part of a national grant, the Department of Education has developed resources to assist public school districts and non-public schools in putting together emergency plans in conjunction with community partners. School staff, emergency management coordinators, first responders, and public and mental health officials are involved in the process to ensure plans reflect actual capabilities and available local resources. Plans provide an overview of the school’s approach to operations before, during and after an emergency.
With the grant, 80 to 85 percent of Iowa schools developed voluntary plans and put procedures in place between 2012 and 2015. SF 2253 would require the rest of Iowa schools to do the same. For more information, check out the Planning Resources for educators, parents and students from the Iowa Department of Education.
NEEDLE EXCHANGE CAN HELP IN OPIOID CRISIS
The opioid addiction crisis affects Iowans from all walks of life every day, and it’s creating another epidemic: sharing needles to inject the drug.
As a result, Hepatitis C and HIV are on the rise in Iowa. To help stem the tide, advocates recommend syringe exchange programs that provide clean needles to those struggling with addition. The Iowa Department of Public Health and the Iowa Harm Reduction Coalition promote these programs to limit the impact of the opioid crisis.
SF 2294 would allow syringe services programs in Iowa, under the oversight of the Department of Public Health.
Although some believe this proposal would enable addicts, similar programs in other states have successfully reduced outbreaks of Hepatitis C and HIV, and have helped many get the substance abuse treatment they need. Some estimates show needle exchange programs make it five times more likely an addict will seek treatment.
JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS OF CHILDHOOD SEX ABUSE
Victims of childhood sexual abuse are often so traumatized it takes them years to come to terms with what they’ve been through. Such abuse can cause emotional and behavioral problems that last well into adulthood.
Victims have a hard time opening up about their experiences because of the shame and grief they feel. This can be true particularly when an abuser is someone they should be able to trust, such as a family member, friend or community leader.
Coming forward takes strength and courage, but oftentimes when a victim reaches that point, they are denied justice because the statute of limitations for charging their perpetrator has expired. Tragically, the statute of limitations prevents closure and may allow abusers to continue harming new victims.
That’s why I support SF 2199, a bill sponsored by Sen. Janet Petersen to remove the time limit for bringing criminal charges against those who sexually abuse children. Criminal charges could be brought any time after the abuse occurs. This will ensure perpetrators pay for their crimes and will prevent them from harming more children.
NEWS YOU CAN USE
Some Iowans still eligible for ACA special enrollment
Several thousand Iowans who lost health care coverage when their carrier left the 2018 health insurance market may still be eligible to purchase a plan from Medica on the ACA marketplace through a special enrollment period ending March 1. Learn more at www.healthcare.gov.
Grants to upgrade diesel buses
Through March 9, the Iowa Department of Transportation is accepting applications for federal Diesel Emission Reduction grants, which help fleets replace aging diesel equipment. A total of $205,760 is available for school buses, transit buses and trucks, and non-road engines, equipment or vehicles. School districts, transit systems and company fleet managers throughout Iowa can get more information and apply at the DERA grant website.
Don’t be scammed by fraudulent callers
The Iowa Department of Public Safety (DPS) says scammers are targeting Iowans by misrepresenting themselves as staff of the Division of Criminal Investigation.
Scammers make phone calls, pose as “Special Agents” and claim they’re investigating a lawsuit. If you receive such a call, contact the Iowa Attorney General’s Office Hotline at 888-777-4590.
Here are a few tips to prevent being scammed by fraudulent callers:
If you get a call from someone collecting money for DPS, hang up.
DPS does not demand immediate payment via prepaid debit cards.
Do not provide or confirm personal or financial information to any caller.
If you lost money through a scam, report it to your local law enforcement.
Get fresh produce through Community Supported Ag
The Iowa Department of Agriculture encourages Iowans to consider joining a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program that offers fresh, local produce throughout the growing season. Through CSAs, farmers sell subscriptions, and then provide a portion of their harvest to members. Iowa has more than 80 CSAs. Find one that meets your needs at https://store.extension.iastate.edu/product/5235 or http://practicalfarmers.org/member-priorities/horticulture/.
This is a legislative update from State Senator Matt McCoy, representing the west part of Des Moines, portions of West Des Moines and northwest Warren County.
To contact Senator McCoy when the Legislature is in session, call the Senate Switchboard at 515-281-3371. Otherwise he can be reached at 515-274-0561. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senator McCoy is an Assistant Leader, as well as ranking member on the Transportation & Infrastructure Budget and the Government Oversight Committee.
He also serves on the Appropriations, Commerce, Local Government and Ways & Means committees.
At a recent meeting of the Judiciary Committee, I spoke up against up against SF 2338, the Republican "license to discriminate" bill. Besides the fact that this idea is deeply offensive to Iowa values, it is strongly opposed by many Iowa business leaders. They warn that such legislation has hurt the economies of other states.