Chris Cournoyer

In the Iowa Senate, we are in the final few weeks of the 2021 session. This week we debated several bills, continued working on budget bills and confirmed governor appointments to boards and commissions. Several people have asked me about how to apply for these boards and commissions. Information and applications can be found at https://talentbank.iowa.gov/.

Bills of Note

Senate Study Bill 1269: This bill addresses future housing needs and a backlog of housing projects requiring support by providing a $15 million increase to the Workforce Housing Tax Credit Program. Additionally, it creates a new Manufacturing 4.0 Grant Program to help Iowa manufacturers compete globally by awarding financial assistance to manufacturers needing support to expand or update their facilities. It also redesigns and updates the Energy Infrastructure Revolving Loan Program that provides financial assistance for the development and construction of energy infrastructure.

Senate Study Bill 1267: This bill is the Health and Human Services budget and it appropriates $2.03 billion from the general fund, providing an increase of over $36 million for healthcare funding. In addition to Senate File 587, which provides a sustainable and predictable source of funding for mental health, that increases healthcare funding next year by over $96 million. Senate File 587, now awaiting discussion in the House, eliminates the property tax levy for mental health, and instead provides state funding for these important services. Elimination of that property tax levy gives Iowans over $100 million in property tax relief and state funding of mental health provides consistent revenue for a service that has become more important, especially after this last year. Additionally, eliminating a property tax levy provides continued tax relief for property taxpayers in the future.

Senate Study Bill 1267: This bill is crucial to ensuring public assistance programs are there for those who need them most. The Iowa Senate has advanced legislation to improve the implementation of welfare programs in the state by using technology to eliminate error, fraud, and abuse in the system each of the last three years. If a red flag arises through this process, staff at the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) will investigate and make a final determination if the person applying or receiving welfare is doing so legitimately. Applicants meeting eligibility requirements for welfare will have no issues receiving public assistance.

House File 675: The bill directs the Board of Educational Examiners to issue a substitute authorization that allows an individual to substitute in grades PK-12 who has an associate degree or not less than 60 undergraduate semester hours, or the equivalent, from a college or university accredited by an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education. I got my Substitute Authorization last Fall and I have enjoyed working with students and helping with the sub shortage.

As always, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments on the legislation and issues in the Legislature. I am honored to serve you and be your voice at the Capitol. Email me at chris.cournoyer@iowa.legis.gov or call (563) 289-7335.

State Sen. Chris Cournoyer, R-LeClaire, represents District 49 in the Iowa Senate.

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