Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
This week, the Revenue Estimating Conference revised its budget projections for the current fiscal year. They voted to cut the current estimate by $131 million. The biggest driver in the revenue decline appears to be lagging sales and use tax receipts. That means the Governor and Republicans must dip into the emergency reserve fund to fill the gaping hole for FY 2017. The REC also estimated revenue for next year. While there will be revenue growth next year, there is only about $6 million in new revenue projected for FY 2018. That means only $6 million will be available to fund all the education, health care, public safety and environmental priorities in the state. The Branstad-Reynolds administration has created a budget crisis. They have given away hundreds of million in our tax dollars to large profitable corporations. It’s time for that to stop.
Two bills that passed in the Senate this week continue to take Iowa in the wrong direction. The first bill SF 471, would create a 20-week abortion ban. The bill allows a narrow exception between weeks 20 and 24 to have an abortion if the fetus has a lethal fetal anomaly, which means the child will most likely die or need life-sustaining treatment for the duration of the child’s life, or to avert a serious risk to the pregnant person of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.
When a woman is faced with a gut-wrenching decision to end a pregnancy she had hoped would end with a healthy new baby, she should not also be faced with laws that unnecessarily limit her options. It is better that each family makes their own decisions rather than allowing politicians to interfere. Putting women at risk puts entire families at risk. I spoke and voted against the bill. The bill was approved 32-17. It now goes to the Iowa House.
Another bill, SF 447, would make it harder for a neighbor to bring a nuisance lawsuit against a confined animal feeding operation that is causing a health or environmental nuisance. The advocates for the bill could not name a single example of a frivolous lawsuit that the bill was allegedly trying to address. Our current system of siting large hog facilities is broken. Instead of fixing it, we are wasting time on protecting bad actors.
More guns on the way. Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a House-passed gun bill. Here is a link to The Gazette story on the legislation and discussion. We will be debating this bill soon in the Senate.
Susan Shullaw and Susan Salterberg are board members for the National Heritage Foundation, an organization that protects land and water for future generations of Iowans.
THIS WEEK’S VISITORS
Susan Shullaw, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation
Susan Salterberg, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation
Amy Pajak, Student Job Shadow, University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Mike Owens, Executive Director, Iowa Policy Project
Peter Fisher, Research Director, Iowa Policy Project
Stephen Trefz, Director of Operations Integration + Implementation, Abbe Center
Sorry if I missed you
CATHOLIC WORKER HOUSE NEEDS YOUR HELP
Last week, the Iowa Catholic Worker House welcomed their 40th guest for overnight hospitality. Since the House opened on August 1, their residency has been significantly growing by an average of five new guests per week, with an average stay of 30 days each.
Children staying with the Iowa Catholic Worker House need clothes, food and other necessities. You can sign up to help a child without any long-term commitment by clicking here, where a list of current needs are listed.
You can read more about the new Johnson County location in this Cedar Rapids Gazette article.
Epilepsy advocates Sally, Margaret and Steve Gaer (left to right) were at the Capitol this
Thursday pushing the medical cannabis bill that are still alive this session. Studies show
that people with epilepsy can significantly improve their conditions with medical cannabis.
I am working with colleagues to pass legislation this session.