The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

April 9, 2013

Flurry of activity at statehouse

By Rita Hart
The Clinton Herald

---- — Last week, we passed some major bills in the Senate, including SF429, which provides $25 million in new funding to Iowa’s community colleges, including Scott and Clinton community colleges.

The Eastern Iowa Community College District is such an important asset to our district as it provides opportunities for our residents to improve their skills and build a better life for their families.

I believe this bill represents a wise investment in the future for Iowans and the Iowa economy. While critics worried about the bill’s expense, I believe it is in our best interest to provide a means for people to improve their skills and their prospects for employment to help reduce the number of welfare recipients.

We also need to provide our businesses with the kinds of skilled employees that community college programs can deliver to keep moving our economy forward. This bill now goes to the House.

Another important bill that passed on the Senate floor was SF430, which was an outgrowth of the budget subcommittee work that I helped with in economic development. This bill includes economic development initiatives at the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa.

The universities work with businesses throughout the state on technology commercialization, marketing, entrepreneurship and technical assistance.

Their efforts help attract businesses to Iowa and help existing businesses expand.

Along with other economic initiatives — like the Main Street Iowa Program — this is a bill that does just what we need to do right now in Iowa.

It puts Iowans to work at good jobs, helps businesses create jobs and adds to Iowa’s economy.

One part of this bill is particularly important to Clinton. Last year, the Clinton workforce office was closed. This bill would reopen the Clinton office to help connect unemployed and underemployed workers with businesses looking to hire. I have talked to many frustrated job seekers from our area who will be better served if this office is able to open its doors again.

Now it’s on to the House to make that happen.

Clinton’s UI students

April 2 was Hawkeye Caucus Day at the Capitol. More than 100 students, alumni and university leaders traveled to Des Moines to discuss higher education issues, especially the tuition freeze proposed by the Board of Regents.

I support a freeze on in-state undergraduate tuition for next year.

I also had the great pleasure of talking with local students about the importance of affordable, high-quality public universities.

Brett Larkin, Drew Larkin and Saad Ansari, all of Clinton, shared with me their positive experiences at the University of Iowa.

These students are wonderful ambassadors for their school. I am proud to claim such articulate and engaging young men as constituents.