Capitol Comments By Representative Todd Prichard (February 14th 2014)
Another busy weekend in the legislature is at a close. This was the first week of floor debate and votes on bills by the full House. This week the House took up a series of controversial bills that came down to party line votes. The first bill to fit this category was the e-cigarette bill. E-Cigarettes are simulated tobacco cigarettes. I supported an amendment that protected our children from the culture of smoking by banning all e-cigarette products in our schools and for minors, which had the support of the Cancer Society and other non for profit organizations. When the majority party rejected the amendment, the final bill did not go far enough in eliminating these products from schools and from minors and I could not support it.
Another major point of departure deals with education. Unfortunately the majority party passed a measure that delays state funding for schools, greatly affecting rural districts such as ours. With this delay, the House failed its obligation under the law to set state funding for local schools. This situation makes it difficult for school districts to budget and determine programming and staffing needs. I supported an amendment which would have followed Iowa law and increased basic state funding for Iowa schools by 6%, or $196 million. When the majority party rejected the amendment, I was again, unable to support the final bill.
In other and less controversial news, I am pleased to say that a youth hunting bill for turkey season passed. This allows more options for youth hunters in using their tags during the both youth hunting season and the regular turkey hunting seasons.
I am also happy to report that human trafficking legislation is moving in committee in both the House and Senate. The proposed legislation would give discretion to prosecutors to treat victims of human trafficking as Children in Need of Assistance and allow for the offering of counseling and other services for these children. While we are taking important steps to address human trafficking, I view this as a start to a long term discussion of how to deal with combating the industry of human trafficking.
I had nice visits from the Chickasaw and Floyd County Farm Bureau, two of our local RECs, and a group of young leaders from Nashua-Plainfield High School.
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