The Rozenboom Report – March 9, 2018

I was honored to introduce some special constituents to the Iowa Senate as Pella Tulip Queen Juliana Van Gorp and her court members visited the Capitol on Wednesday. They, and their Dutch letters, were truly delightful!

I was honored to introduce some special constituents to the Iowa Senate as Pella Tulip Queen Juliana Van Gorp and her court members visited the Capitol on Wednesday. They, and their Dutch letters, were truly delightful!

by Ken Rozenboom

The Rozenboom Report

This was the ninth week of the 2018 legislative session and the days were filled with sometimes lengthy debates on a number of bills spanning a wide variety of issues. Among them was Senate File 2364, which passed the Senate with bipartisan support, and would require all schools to have a high-quality emergency operation plan. This emergency response plan includes a protocol for active shooters and natural disasters, trains school officials, and would be reviewed and updated by school officials annually.

Senate File 2371 addresses the despicable crime of human trafficking. The bill raises the penalty for knowingly trafficking a victim under the age of 18, or if the victim is under 18 and the perpetrator physically restrains, threatens, or benefits from the services of the victim. If this bill passes the House, the penalty would change from a class C felony to a class B felony. This bill is one step we can take to combat the depraved crime of human trafficking, severely punish anyone guilty of this crime, and protect Iowans from the increasing number of these incidents in our state.

Iowa’s individual health insurance market changed drastically with the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010. Since the ACA became federal law nearly eight years ago, insurance premiums have soared, and more Iowa insurance companies have declined to participate and offer individual plans in Iowa. The ACA has created significant difficulties and hardships for many Iowans, and Iowa’s individual market is in a state of collapse due to skyrocketing premiums and few options.

In an effort to provide better, more affordable health care options for Iowans, the Senate passed two important bills this week. The Senate passed Senate File 2329 on a 40-9 vote. This bill would allow agricultural organizations to offer health benefit plans. These plans would not be considered insurance under state or federal law, removing many of the ACA requirements thereby making them far more affordable. The bill also requires these organizations to self-fund these plans, and have a third party administrator manage them.

The Senate also passed SF 2349 on a 33-17 vote. The bill provides an option for small businesses and sole proprietors to join forces and work together to purchase health insurance, if they so choose to do so, rather than rely on the individual market.

This new option would eliminate some existing restrictions on creating a Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangement (MEWA) under current law, and require the MEWA have membership stability as defined by rule. A second component of the bill would require the Commissioner of Insurance to promulgate rules to allow for the creation of association health plans that are consistent with the potential changes to U.S. Department of Labor regulations. These new Department of Labor rules could provide new opportunities for small employers and sole proprietors by allowing sole proprietors to be considered as employers and by removing the restriction that employers be in the same industry.

Unfortunately, the cost of higher education has outpaced the rate of inflation. The continued increase in the cost of education and the rise in the amount of student borrowing has left many graduates with decades of debt. This week the Senate passed SF 2361 in an effort to address this stubborn problem for those students who attend our public universities. There are three main points to this bill.

First, there would be a requirement that regent institutions publicize employment data and starting salary associated with an education in a particular field of study, along with the average debt accumulated by students acquiring that particular training. Students remain free to pursue any course of study they wish, while better understanding the benefits and costs associated with their chosen field of study.

Second, SF 2361 would require a student to attend a financial literacy class prior to graduation. Too frequently college students take out loans without a full knowledge of the cost of repayment, interest rate, repayment years, and monthly costs.

Third, public universities would be required to provide a plan for current and prospective students to graduate from their field of study in three years if the student has the ability to do so. This will naturally reduce student loan costs while allowing the graduate to enter the workforce at an expedited pace.

This bill, SF 2361, breeds success for our college graduates, preparing them for the workforce with less debt and more opportunity.

 

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Posted by on Mar 9 2018. Filed under Local News, Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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