Rozenboom Report – April 7, 2017

We have spent much of the 2017 Legislative session rolling back burdensome regulations and modernizing old legislation to create an environment of economic growth in our state for job creators. Not every piece of legislation draws front page news coverage or results in the addition of hundreds of jobs overnight. However, over time the bills we pass today can have a lasting effect for years to come in our state.

This week Senate Republicans released our budget targets for the upcoming state fiscal year. These targets are the first step in determining how the expected tax dollars Iowans send to their state government are spent. The targets are an outline of the budget and they give the different budget areas the amount of money available to spend for the next fiscal year.

This year House and Senate Republicans plan to spend $7.245 billion. These funds cover everything from public university spending and K-12 education to state troopers and fuel pump inspectors. Earlier this session, we allocated $40.1 million in new spending on Iowa public schools. This budget keeps that promise even after revenue projections continued to decline.

The budget outline also acknowledges the reality of the state’s current revenue situation. Revenue projections have been lowered for the last five consecutive estimates. A cautious and conservative approach to spending state dollars is more important now than ever. Mid-year budget cuts are especially challenging to schools and state agencies because they have no chance to plan for lower budget commitments made by the legislature. Realistic funding promises limit the need for those even more difficult choices next year.

We will not pass a budget that is not balanced. We will not make reckless budgeting decisions in the face of consistently declining revenue, and we will operate the state budget like the family budget. When revenue is lower than expected, spending should be lower as well.

The gun omnibus bill, House File 517, was debated in the Senate this week. This piece of legislation has been worked on for a long time by legislators and constituents, and we were able to make reforms that ensure every Iowan’s Second Amendment rights. The bill also puts into Iowa Code a ‘Stand Your Ground’ provision. I have received many emails and phone calls about this part of the bill, some opposed, but the overwhelming majority in support of these changes. This policy says a person may use reasonable force, including deadly force, if they have a reasonable belief the force is necessary to avoid injury or death to themselves or others. There is no duty to retreat. This provision also includes immunity from criminal and civil liability.

Reasonable force is defined as a force that is no more than a reasonable person in a like circumstance would judge to be necessary to prevent an injury or loss and can include deadly force if reasonable to avoid injury or risk to one’s life or the life or safety of another (which is current law). Reasonable force, including deadly force, may be used even if an alternative course of action is available, if the action entails a risk to life or safety, or that of a third party. This bill passed the Senate on a 33-17 bi-partisan vote.

The Pioneer Lawmaker event is held every General Assembly to honor lawmakers, legislative staff, and reporters for their service and contribution to our state. This Wednesday we honored those legislators whose first session was 1997. It was great seeing former legislators in the chamber this week as they returned to the Statehouse for this celebration. I had the opportunity to visit with former Senator Bill Dieleman and his wife Emily. Bill had served in the House and the Senate for many years. Before he served in the legislature he was a teacher; in fact he was my American Government teacher 52 years ago! So it was great to connect with him again.

Also on Wednesday evening we held a Memorial service for former legislators who have passed away in the last two years. The Iowa Senate hosted the 50th Memorial Service and the event was well attended by current and past legislators, and the family members of those recognized and honored. One of those honored was H. Kay Hedge from Mahaska County who served in the Iowa Senate so capably for 12 years, and passed away last October. It was an honor for me to visit with his wife Alleen and their three children at this event.

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