The Rozenboom Report by Senator Ken Rozenboom – March 13, 2020

Since 2017 the agenda in the Iowa Senate has been focused on growth and opportunity. Career opportunities in rural Iowa are increasingly tied to the availability and reliability of broadband internet service. Governor Kim Reynolds has identified this policy as part of her Empower Rural Iowa initiative. This is a priority for agriculture, business, and rural development organizations in Iowa.

Last year the Senate approved $5 million for rural broadband expansion to expand and improve coverage to rural parts of the state. This year the governor requested $15 million for rural broadband and a number of policy changes to create more flexibility in the Empower Rural Iowa program. This week the Senate passed SF 2400 to implement policy changes requested by the governor, with the funding for this project to be debated with the rest of the state budget later in session. The main policy change in this bill was to increase the percentage of the broadband project funded by these grants from 15 percent to 35 percent for certain projects. This change is designed to encourage more private investment in rural broadband expansion.

The Senate unanimously passed Senate File 2301 regarding pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome (PANS) and pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder associated with streptococcal infections (PANDAS). These autoimmune disorders usually present themselves as an eating disorder or strep throat, and can be difficult to diagnose with symptoms worsening in just days. The bill requires an insurance carrier to offer coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of PANS and PANDAS. The cost of treatment can reach $25,000 for a single dose. In Iowa Wellmark and Medicaid already recognize this disease, and it is covered under those plans.

Additionally, the Senate passed several bipartisan bills to help a workforce shortage in a few different areas in Iowa. The first, HF 2454, provides another option for an instructor to qualify to teach career and technical education courses at a community college. It allows someone to teach a class if they have an associate degree in the field they are teaching, and they have at least 3,000 hours of recent and relevant work experience in that area. Also, someone can qualify if they have a baccalaureate degree in a similar field but completed at least 18 hours in the field they wish to teach. Another bill is Senate File 2298. It exempts certain peace officers authorized to teach the driving portion of driver’s education from having to be certified by the Department of Transportation. It also removes the requirement to take the driving instruction preparation course. Last year we passed a bill allowing certain peace officers to teach that portion to help address an instructor shortage in this area; this bill rolls back those requirements and removes another barrier. Peace officers have extensive training and experience in driving and the rules of the road, and these requirements were unnecessary.

The Senate also passed two different bills relating to driver’s licenses in the state – one regarding a school permit and another for driving farm equipment. Both of these bills are common-sense changes to make the everyday lives of rural Iowans easier. Senate File 2009 allows someone with a special minor’s driver’s license, usually called a school permit, to operate a car to a site, facility or school within 50 miles for extracurricular activities. A bill like this is especially important for rural areas where schools often have sharing agreements for extracurricular activities. Senate File 2061 says a person is not required to have a driver’s license when operating a farm tractor or other type of husbandry equipment between a home farm building and farmland for the purpose of conducting farm operations.

So much has been written about the coronavirus outbreak, and I’m not going to add to the noise other than reassure you I believe that Governor Reynolds and the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC), along with the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), are effectively monitoring and managing the situation. Let’s all use common sense, and pray this health crisis soon passes.

Posted by on Mar 13 2020. 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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