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Legislators look forward to session

Local reps highlight issues in 2019

January 2, 2019
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer (apeterson@esthervillenews.net) , Estherville News

The 88th General Assembly of the Iowa state legislature begins Jan. 14.

Feb. 15 is the final day for individual Senator and Representative requests for bill and joint resolution drafts to the Legislative Services Agency. This means citizens who wish for their representative to forward a bill or resolution this session should do so well before that final day.

Emmet County's state legislators, Rep. Tedd Gassman and Sen. Dennis Guth, shared their forecasts and hopes for the coming legislative session.

Article Photos

Schools

Tedd Gassman serves the seventh House district of Iowa. Gassman said, "One of the first things to tackle will be supplemental state aid for our K-12 schools. I will strive to have that done by the middle of February. State coffers look a bit better than the past few years. We are also being asked by many different entities for more funds. We must balance the budget in the end being as fair as possible to all those entities."

On the Senate side, Dennis Guth, senator for Iowa's fourth Senate district, said, "One tax we will discuss is the extension of the S.A.V.E sales tax used for school infrastructure. It is set to sunset in 2029. Since schools use this tax to secure bonding for new projects, they would like to see it extended, perhaps indefinitely. If S.A.V.E is extended this year, I believe it will include a requirement for a public hearing before it can be used, or reduction in other taxes to make the net effect revenue neutral."

Gassman said the issue of school transportation for K-12 has a good start. "Some of the smallest communities are looking for help with changes to our EMC program," Gassman said.

Health care

Gassman and Guth agreed health care and managed care organizations (MCOs) had issues, and the outcome for Iowans may not be resolved quickly.

Guth said, "The problems [with MCOs] seem to have been getting worked out, but it certainly isn't perfect yet. There will be discussion about several possibilities, but the outcome is unpredictable at this point."

Gassman said the fee for service system is not likely to be effective for everyone in need of state-subsidized health care.

"I think the MCO system is a good idea. There are possibilities to help those on Medicaid to live a healthier lifestyle, thus helping them and the state. "

Gassman added, "There are a number of people that an MCO probably can't help. Those that have more severe mental and physical health problems need the state's help as opposed to managing their care. They need help getting ready for the day, during the day, and at the end of the day with the actions of everyday living. I will look into putting those people back on a fee for service option."

Personal values in law

Guth said, "The restoration of religious freedom is close to my heart, and I will again be introducing legislation to restore our First Amendment freedoms. The Supreme Court of the U.S. weakened those freedoms in the 1990s when they ruled that the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act only applies to federal law. The passage of this Act would require state and local governments not restrict the free exercise of religion unless there is a compelling government interest to do so, such as safety."

Gassman expressed his continuing concern over the high divorce rate, and said he would seek changes to Iowa's divorce and child custody laws.

"We have a multitude of children living in homes where only one of the natural parents is present. This can be due to divorce or single parenthood. This is not working. I think a lot of our current problems with mental health and suicide with our children can be brought back to a divorce."

Gassman said he would change the no fault divorce law to mutual consent divorce.

"Both members of that marriage will have to come to a consensus before the divorce would be granted. Child custody would be a part of this process. Both members of the marriage would have to agree to a settlement before a divorce is granted if minor children are involved."

Gassman said there are further aspects to his proposal he intends to discuss with constituents or in a future press release.

Other issues

Guth said, "With the low unemployment in Iowa, this would be a good time to attempt to put more people to work by limiting welfare. There seems to be support for the idea of making welfare programs less of a comfortable deal for the long term."

Guth also said privatizing the transportation of alcohol in the state will provide better service for smaller retailers and save the state money. Guth said this would be one way to combine services and reduce the number of state employees.

The session continues for 110 calendar days and is scheduled to end May 3.

 
 
 

 

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