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January 23, 2018

Legislature Convenes for Part 2 of the 87th General Assembly

Legislative Focus
January 12, 2018
Volume XVII, Edition 1

“In 2017, our agenda was big and bold.  In 2018, Senate Republicans will move an agenda that will again be big and bold because this state deserves big and bold. The changes we make will move our state forward in a positive direction, felt for many generations to come.” –Sen. Bill Dix

Gov. Kim Reynolds, along with Republican legislators, are going to try and do everything they can to advance a conservative agenda while they are in control.  No one can possibly predict what the 2018 elections will bring.  So Republicans have a sense of urgency to get done what they can, while they have control.  But there are significant challenges that loom including beginning session with a de-appropriation bill to the tune of $37 million out of an estimated $7.2 billion budget.  Republicans still control the Iowa Senate (29-20-1), the Iowa House (58-41; one open seat currently) and the Governor’s office.

The first week of the session is ceremonial—focused on rekindling friendships, and little much in the terms of substance.  Granted, chamber leaders lay out their respective caucus’s focus for the coming session, as well as the Governor providing her Condition of the State address, which she did on Tuesday morning at 10:00AM.  The real work starts next week, where you’ll start to see subcommittee and committee action.

Gov. Reynolds’ First Condition of the State:

Today, I’m proud to report to the people of Iowa and their Representatives……. the condition of our state is strong.” --Gov. Kim Reynolds

In my opinion, Gov. Reynolds did a great job delivering her 1st Condition of the State address.  It was a policy-driven, although detail-light, speech.  Highlights from the Condition of the State Address:

  • Look back at actions from Part 1 of the 87th General Assembly (2017);
  • Water Quality:  Gov. Reynolds wants a water quality bill to be her 1st bill signed.  MBI is working hard to limit diversions from infrastructure fund for water quality and opposing the current Senate bill;
  • An emphatic statement on eliminating sexual harassment in the workplace;
  • State tax reform:  Gov. Reynolds tax plan--although has not been released—is hoping to reduce rates, modernize the tax code, eliminate federal deductibility, and expand 529 plans to K-12 students.  The plan will focus on the individual side and punt the corporate discussion until next year that will also include an evaluation of tax credits;
  • Medicaid:  managed care approach will continue, while acknowledging mistakes that have been made;
  • Increased investment in recruiting psychiatrists to deal with mental health across Iowa;
  • Calling on Legislature to cap number of prescription pills given to patients to address the opioid crisis that is crippling rural America
  • K-12 funding:  $54 million in new money for schools representing approximately a 1.5% increase;
  • Calling on the Legislature to pass the Future Ready Iowa Act, which she said "creates opportunities for Iowans of all ages and experiences — opportunities to get the skills they need for a rewarding career”
    • Spending $500,000 to expand work-based learning opportunities and $1 million to expand Iowa’s current apprenticeship program; 
    • Creating the Employer Innovation Fund, which will match funding spent by the private sector on training programs;
    • Creating a new grant program for people who started pursuing a four-year degree but never finished. 

On Wednesday, Chief Justice Mark Cady gave his annual address to the Legislature.  On Thursday, General Tim Orr gave the annual address on the status of the Iowa National Guard to the Legislature.

A quick recap of the MBI 2018 Legislative Priorities:

  • Supporting a 20-year extension of SAVE for school infrastructure;
  • Protecting infrastructure funds from being used for non-infrastructure projects including water quality.  MBI continues to oppose the primed and ready Senate version of water quality that sits in the House and is favored by the Reynolds Administration. 
  • Supporting any and all efforts to bolster participation in the commercial construction workforce;
  • Taking a leadership role in alternative project delivery discussions;
  • Supporting all tax reform efforts to reduce the burden on Iowa taxpayers that do not affect current public funding streams necessary for infrastructure;
  • Address two changes to mechanic’s lien law.  MBI has drafted legislation that is in the hands of the House and Senate Judiciary Chairs Chip Baltimore and Brad Zaun.  The legislation makes two changes:
    1. allows for a lien amount to be decreased without having to go to court and without losing priority.
    2. provides a notification requirement for claims on retainage for materials and labor on the public side which would mirror the notification provisions of private projects. 
  • Support the efforts of the University of Northern Iowa to secure funding for the Industrial Technology Center Renovation and Expansion project.

If you have any questions, please get ahold of Ben Hammes, Director of Public Affairs at any time by emailing bhammes@mbionline.com or calling 515-314-9016.

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