The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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Opinion

April 5, 2014

Governor signs volunteer legislation

The Protection for Volunteers on State Lands legislation, which I requested on behalf of the “Friends of the Caves” volunteers in Maquoketa, passed the Senate and was signed by Gov. Terry Branstad late last week.

The legislation requires the DNR to establish a state lands volunteer program to authorize nonprofit organizations that provide volunteer services liability protection under the state tort claims act when volunteering on state lands.

DNR State Director Chuck Gipp secured a pen, used for signing the legislation, for me to give to the “Friends of the Caves.”

High schoolgraduation rates

According to recently released data from the Iowa Department of Education, Iowa’s average high school graduation rate continues to inch up.

Of the eight school districts serving my legislative district, the five-year average shows six are above the state average, one is basically at the state average and one school district remains below the state average. Throughout the state, 54 percent show an increase, 42 percent show a decrease and 4 percent remain the same.

Over the last five years, the graduation rate has increased almost 2.5 percent statewide. I’m proud of the advancements that have been made since I’ve been in the legislature.

Visitors and Guests

On Wednesday I met with Phil Reemtsma of DeWitt who is the president-elect of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association. He feeds cattle and is a large animal veterinarian in the Jackson and Clinton County areas. We discussed issues related to the cattle industry.

Volunteer EMSTax Credit

On Tuesday, the House passed HF-2459, legislation I co-sponsored, which increases to $100 the tax credit for volunteer firefighter and volunteer emergency medical services personnel. It also offers the tax credit to full-time firefighters and EMTs as well as reserve peace officers who provide volunteer services.

Two years ago, I led a bipartisan effort to pass legislation offering a new $50 tax credit for volunteer firefighters and emergency medical services personnel which was signed by the governor. We want to recognize our friends and neighbors who volunteer their time for these services and hope this credit will help to recruit new volunteers.

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Poll

With the Clinton County Justice Coordinating Commission and the Clinton County Board of Supervisors discussing proposals to construct a new jail, do you think the time has come for Clinton County to construct such a facility?

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