The Rozenboom Report

by Senator Ken Rozenboom

The tenth week of the 2023 legislative session is behind us. For those of us that keep track of such things Thursday, March 16 was the 67th day of the session, and if we’re able to get our work done in the 110 days that we are paid per diem, we will wrap up on April 28.

Senate Republicans just released our state budget target for 2023. That target for the next fiscal year is $8.486 billion, the same target Governor Kim Reynolds put forward earlier this year. This is a 3.3 percent increase in state spending, and is consistent with our practice of responsible, conservative budgeting that continues to deliver appropriate state services to Iowans, while keeping Iowa government efficient and effective.

Senate File 326 passed out of our chamber this week. If passed in the House and signed by the Governor, this will allow pharmacies in Iowa to dispense EpiPens without a prescription. If a patient needs emergency access or forgot their prescribed EpiPen, this will provide them that opportunity within the state. It’s our belief that these life savings drugs should not be limited to a prescription. The bill also allows self-administered hormonal contraceptives to be dispensed and administered by state pharmacists for patients 18-years and older without a prescription. The contraceptive must be approved by the FDA to prevent pregnancy, and does not induce an abortion.

K-12 education continues to be a focus for us in the Senate, and this week two more bills aimed at improving education in Iowa passed the Iowa Senate. The first bill, Senate File 251, expands the definition of school district administrative costs within the Iowa code. Currently, code states administrative expenditures must not exceed five percent of a district’s general fund. This new definition includes salaries for administrators and office staff, school administration, general administration, and data processing and collection services. The bill defines administrative expenditures as those which do not relate directly to students and their instruction.

The goal with this legislation is to ensure the billions of dollars spent on K-12 education in Iowa is thoughtfully spent with a focus on getting more money into the classroom for instruction and teacher salaries rather than growing administration. Administrative staffing and costs are rising at a rate far above the increase of students and teachers. In Iowa, between FY 1993 and FY 2021, the number of students has increased 9 percent, and teachers have increased 25 percent. At the same time the increase in all other school district staff was 60 percent.

The bill exempts schools with less than 1,000 students so we are not inhibiting schools that rely on sharing agreements or rural and small schools from being able to provide essential services.

Another education bill, Senate File 398, requires the Department of Education to provide educational resources and technical assistance to school districts with career and technical student organizations related to robotics and robotics teams and competitions. The bill would also allow robotics organizations to receive money from a school district to pay dues or membership fees, or to sponsor or administer interscholastic contests or competitions related to robotics. Robotics activities are a great way to expose students to STEM learning through hands-on experiences and helps them develop important skills like problem-solving, critical thinking, and other skills needed in our workforce today. This bill will allow additional resources to support and expand robotics programs across the state and allow more students to benefit from the program.

Another bill, Senate File 455, provides relief on over-regulation of storm water by local governments. This issue rarely makes the news or is high profile, but it is another in a long line of regulations at every level of government making the cost of living too high. SF 455 simply says local governments cannot regulate topsoil beyond the standards set by the DNR. This language provides clarity for small businesses working to build affordable housing and avoid the added costs inherent in excessive regulation.

Demand for health care professionals is strong in all parts of Iowa, especially rural Iowa. International doctors in countries with well-developed health care educational systems will find fewer hurdles to employment and licensing in Iowa with the passage of Senate File 477. This bill removes requirements for doctors in a handful of countries like, Ireland, Israel, and New Zealand to practice in Iowa without repetitive and duplicative training delaying their ability to work here. This is one more policy, in addition to rural emergency health licensing, and medical tort reform, to expand health care availability and control costs across Iowa.

For my Jasper County constituents’ information, Rep. Jon Dunwell and I will be at two events Saturday in Newton. At 8:00 AM we will be at the Farm Bureau office at 425 1st Ave. East, and at 10:00 AM we will be at the Newton Public Library at a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters. Maybe we’ll see you there!

Posted by on Mar 17 2023. 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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