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Tod Bowman

Herald Staff Writer

As the 2012 session begins to wrap up, the biggest remaining differences between the Iowa Senate and House involve investments in education.

This includes proposals to improve early reading skills, reduce Iowa’s shortage of skilled workers and ensure college is affordable for Iowa families.

Last year, the longest session in recent memory, ended relatively quickly once conference committees were established. Conference committees are comprised of five legislators from the House and five from the Senate. Their task is to resolve the differences between the two chambers on key bills.

This year, Senate Democrats look forward to a side-by-side, public comparison of our differences with the House. We believe this effort will benefit educational opportunity and support job creation.

I took a brief hiatus from the Statehouse on April 17 to travel to Washington D.C. for the 2012 Rural Education and Economic Development Summit.

I met with educators and state leaders representing rural areas from across the country, as well as Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

We discussed ways to improve education in our rural areas, including more teacher collaboration, public-private partnerships with area businesses, community colleges and public universities, and investing more in our community colleges to train students not seeking a four year degree.

I was proud to learn that Iowa’s education system is ahead of the curve, and many states are looking to our system as a model for improvements. Let’s keep the momentum going. I look forward to passing education reform that will build upon the excellent foundation in place here in Iowa and ensure our children receive a world-class education.

I also attended Gov. Terry Branstad’s bill signing for Senate File 2239, creating a sales tax rebate for the All Star Heaven Ballpark to be built at the Field of Dreams in Dyersville.

I’ve fully supported this bill from the very beginning, when I chaired the subcommittee, sat on the Economic Development Committee, and ultimately voted for it on the Senate floor.

I am excited for this project to get under way. It will create jobs, bring tourists to Iowa from all over the country, create economic growth in our state, and provide an excellent venue for wholesome family entertainment.

Senator Tod Bowman serves the people of Iowa's Senate District 13, which includes Jackson County, northeast Clinton County and southeast Dubuque County.

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