Greetings from Capitol Hill:
Per Pupil Equity and Transportation Funding:
The Iowa House of Representatives passed the per pupil equity and transportation bill, SF455, on the floor. This bill will provide a supplement for any public school that has transportation costs of more than $432. These schools will be eligible for payment of an amount over $432 to their actual per student cost. This is a one year proposal. The equity part of the bill will give every school an additional $5 per student for the coming year and that will continue on into the future. For those schools that do not have the additional equity money it will go to their general fund. For those schools that have the additional equity funds of more than $5, the additional funds will pay down the property tax that supports the additional equity money.
HF2235 passed the Iowa House floor. Last year the legislature required the Department of Education to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) to find a new assessment beginning with the 2018-2019 school year. The American Institute for Research (AIR) was the winning bidder. However there was a lawsuit about the process of awarding the contract to AIR. The lawsuit was settled, but the House members decided to award a contract for the assessment to an Iowa company. This will save the state approximately $11 million and will keep business in the state. This bill bypasses the previous appeals made by competing organizations and names the new statewide assessment as the Next Generation Iowa Assessments. This new assessment is completely in line with the Iowa core and will do an excellent job of assessing our students.
HF2285 was passed out of the Iowa House of Representatives on February 20th. This bill requires an amendment be drafted to the state of Iowa’s Medicaid plan. The proposed amendment would allow for federal reimbursement of emergency ground transport of Medicaid patients for cities and counties for either their owned ground transport or contract company. The reimbursement rate for Medicaid patients is considerably less than the ongoing rates in the state. With this change the EMS will be reimbursed for the cost of its service.
Winnebago County Task Force:
Students from the Winnebago County Task Force came to the Capitol on Wednesday, February 21. They were here to discuss substance abuse issues including how to help fight usage and addiction in Winnebago County. Their vision is to make Winnebago County a safe and substance-abuse free environment for all of the youth. They encouraged me to vote for an alcohol tax that would accumulate into $41.6 million annually. The suggestion is for the money collected off of a tax to be used towards prevention purposes. I am not generally for increasing taxes, especially a tax on a tax, but this is an issue I could stand behind due to the concept and it is only five cents per drink.