The legislative session is now a few days into overtime. Our pay stopped on the last scheduled day of session, April 22nd, and it was also the last day for legislative clerks who work with us just during the legislative session. There’s a chance we’ll wrap up work by the weekend, but we should easily be done before the calendar switches to May.
There was more progress on the budget this week, which is the only thing we are required to do before we adjourn. The bi-partisan conference committees are meeting and several have already finished their work so the bills can go to the Governor’s desk.
However, there are a few issues still up in the air that I believe should be resolved before we leave for the year. We should work together to expand job training and apprenticeship opportunities, make sure every kid has access to preschool, set funding for our k-12 schools, and expand broadband internet access to more Iowans in rural areas.
It’s disappointing these issues haven’t been passed yet, so we should stay in session long enough to get them done. If folks are willing to sit down and work together, they could all be resolved fairly quickly. They’re all critical to building a strong middle class and creating jobs.
I’m pleased we also took some steps this week to boost our renewable energy efforts in biofuels, wind, and solar. I helped to pass Senate File 2343 which extends an effective renewable energy tax credit which has created many jobs, particularly in the wind energy industry. The bill also expands these credits to cogeneration facilities which utilize methane gas or other bio-gasses in the production of energy. This bill will help move renewable energy further forward in Iowa. It passed with bi-partisan support of 91-4.
Earlier this week, HF 2471, a bi-partisan bill I co-sponsored with Reps. Art Staed (D), Kirsten Running-Marquardt (D), and Dawn Pettengill (R), passed a floor vote 94 to 1. The bill establishes Iowa Check-Off Hunger on the Iowa individual and joint income tax return. Taxpayers may designate one dollar or more to be paid to the check-off. This contribution does not impact the taxpayers refund or amount owed.
The fund will provide grants to reduce food insecurity within the state. The grants will be available by formula. 40% of the money in the fund will be awarded to Iowa food banks and their affiliates to be used to purchase food for distribution to food-insecure Iowans. 50% of the money will go to the Area Agency on the Aging to be used to provide congregate and home-delivered meals to food-insecure older Iowans. 10% of the money in the fund will be awarded as grants to people using innovative ways to reduce food insecurity in the state.
It’s the great paradox of Iowa. We are the breadbasket of the world, yet many Iowans go to bed hungry at night. It is particularly upsetting to realize that many of these Iowans are children. According to the Food Bank of Iowa, one in eight Iowans are food insecure. Worse yet, one in five Iowa children does not have enough to eat on a regular basis.
Many underprivileged children suffer from chronic under-nutrition, the under-consumption of essential nutrients and food energy. Nutrient deficiencies can lead to serious health problems, including impaired cognitive development, growth failure, physical weakness, anemia and growth stunting.
By supporting this tax check off, we are taking a stand against hunger in Iowa.
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I am proud to represent Newton, Baxter, Colfax, Kellogg, Lambs Grove, Mingo, Ira, Prairie City, and Valeria. Feel free to contact me anytime via phone at (641) 521-9260 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please visit my website at www.electkelley.com. ‘Friend’ me on Facebook and ‘follow’ me on Twitter.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve.