The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

March 15, 2014

Focusing on areas of bipartisan support

By Rita Hart
Special to the Herald

---- — This was a “do or die” week at the Capitol when bills had to be passed through either the House or the Senate and by a committee in the other chamber in order to stay alive this session.

I was disappointed that several bills that I voted for and were approved by the Senate were not considered by the House. They include:

n SF2077 and SF2079 setting the growth in basic school funding for the 2015 school year at 6 percent.

n SF2295 requiring workers to be paid what they are owed.

n SF2301 making election reforms to ensure sure legal absentee ballots are not inadvertently discarded.

n SF2284 providing tax credits to encourage service stations to install large call buttons to make transportation easier for disabled Iowans.

n SF2278 establishing a way for Iowans to register to vote online.

Looking ahead, the full Senate will be voting on more bills, including an anti-bullying bill (SF2318), which was recently voted out of the Appropriations Committee. This is a bill that I worked on in subcommittee, and many constituents have told me it is important to them.

According to the Iowa Youth Survey, 57 percent of Iowa sixth through eighth-graders reported being bullied in the past 30 days. That is unacceptable. The House has its own version of this bill, so I look forward to working with them and the governor to pass anti-bullying legislation this session.

Much time has recently been spent on budget work as the various appropriations committees try to find agreement on where the money should be spent for next year. Our focus for the Economic Development Budget has been on alleviating Iowa’s worker shortage by supporting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) internships with Iowa businesses, improving funding for apprenticeship programs and assisting small business development centers. We are also working to support programs that recruit workers to Iowa, especially our veterans.

Programs like Historic Tax Preservation, Enterprise Zones, housing tax credits and Main Street investment are also major priorities. In addition, we have basic departmental obligations including funds for the Department of Cultural Affairs, Workforce Development and the World Food Prize Headquarters, among others. Now we will work hard in a bipartisan way to agree on these priorities so that we can pass these budget bills, get them sent to the governor and keep Iowa in good financial shape.

Senator Rita Hart represents Clinton County and northern Scott County in the Iowa Senate.