Bad week: GOP fights for more drug testing, more abortions and less support for local schools

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WEEK 4

It was a rough week. One of many more to come.

It started out with a proposal (SF 166) by majority Republicans to underfund our local schools. On Monday, we learned for the first time that Senate Republican would propose a 1.1 percent local schools funding increase and that the bill was on a fast track to be voted out of the Senate this week.

So, late Monday night, the bill was rammed through committee without any Senators even knowing what the financial impact would be on each of their school districts. Many districts will see real dollar cuts in state funding because they have declining enrollment. Parents, school board members and superintendents had virtually no opportunity to comment on the impact that this inadequate funding level will have on their local schools.

The school funding bill was voted on last night around 7 p.m. after a six-hour debate. Democrats offered several amendments, including one to raise school funding to the Governor’s proposed 2-percent increase. All the amendments failed on party line votes. This funding level will result in layoffs, increased class sizes and less equity in our school funding. Tax cuts for large corporations are starving our education system at all levels.

Bottom line: Senate Republicans rushed this pathetic level of local school funding through in just one week, before parents, school board members or school administrators even had a chance to give them feedback on its negative impacts. Here is a link to the Des Moines Register story on the debate. Here is a link to the legislative video on the debate.

This week, Republicans continued their efforts to punish low-income Iowa women who choose Planned Parenthood as their health care provider. SF 2 was voted out of committee on Tuesday before a packed committee room. The bill came to the Senate floor yesterday. Senator Janet Petersen did a great job leading the debate against de-funding Planned Parenthood. The full debate over the bill can be found here. The bill passed on a party line vote of 30-20. I spoke against the bill and voted NO. This bill will result in more unplanned pregnancies and more abortions.

On Wednesday, the Senate debated SF 32, a bill that would allow drug testing on hair. We currently have strong workplace drug testing laws in Iowa that keep Iowa workplaces safe. This bill was nothing more than a favor to a special interest group that wants to do business in Iowa. Here is a link to the debate on the bill. I spoke and voted against this legislation.

 

THIS WEEK’S VISITORS

Alex Miller, Autism Speaks
Renee Speh, Autism Speaks
Kim Painter, Recorder, Johnson County Department of Record
Mike Carberry, Supervisor, Johnson County Board of Supervisors
Andy Johnson, Administrator, Johnson County Board of Supervisors
Lisa Green-Douglass, Supervisor, Johnson County Board of Supervisors
Dan McMillan, Strategic Communications Director, University of Iowa College of Public Health
Tricia Kitzmann, Deputy Director, Johnson County Department of Public Health
Albert Ratner, Associate Professor, University of Iowa College of Engineering
Mark Kamps, Relator, Coldwell Banker Real Estate Professionals
Bill Casey, Publisher, Daily Iowan
Stephen Murley, Superintendent of Schools, Iowa City Community School District
Mark Patton, Executive Director, Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity
Bob Welsh, Heritage Area Agency on Aging
Sorry if I missed you.

Read the rest of my week 4 newsletter.