The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

March 22, 2014

Good week for children at the Statehouse

Rita Hart
The Clinton Herald

---- — This was a good week for Iowa children because Republicans and Democrats agreed on several measures in the Senate that will make a difference in their lives.

I was happy to run SF2388 on the Senate floor on behalf of children who are in foster care. This bill encourages Area Education Agencies to employ a child welfare liaison to facilitate the efficient and effective transfer and enrollment of a child receiving foster care services to another school district. Foster children often face more and bigger challenges than other children, sometimes due to moving from school to school. It’s important that they receive guidance and transition planning to help reduce any issues that might develop.

The Senate also voted unanimously to help Iowa families by increasing the refundable child and dependent care tax credit. Helping young working parents struggling with the cost of quality childcare makes a great deal of sense. Senate File 2337 increases the number of Iowa households eligible for the tax credit, makes the increase retroactive to Jan. 1, and indexes income eligibility to the rate of inflation.

Another piece of bipartisan legislation, HF2368, will help prevent identity theft affecting children and other vulnerable Iowans by giving them the same identity protections as adults. This legislation has been approved unanimously by both chambers, and as soon as the governor signs it, Iowa parents will be able to tell credit reporting agencies to place a security freeze on their children’s credit reports.

The anti-bullying bill, SF2318, also passed through the Senate. It will improve safety for our children in school. Among other things, it will require school districts to adopt specific procedures regarding investigation of actions (including electronic and social networking) that produce a negative school impact for a student, regardless of whether it occurs on or off school property. Unfortunately, today our students need this type of protection in order to feel safe and supported when they go to school.

This week, I was happy to meet with several families who brought their children to the Capitol on spring break. Homeschoolers also visited the Capitol, along with the Iowa Department of the Blind, and the Girls Scouts who made the female legislators honorary Scouts. As a former teacher, I appreciated the progress that we made on children’s issues this week.

If you’d like to contact me, please call (563) 210-1252 or e-mail rita.hart@legis.iowa.gov. At www.senate.iowa.gov/senator/hart, you can sign up for my newsletter, connect with me on Facebook and more.

State Sen. Rita Hart represents Clinton County and northern Scott County.