Editor’s Note: Each year before the Iowa Legislative Session convenes, the Newton Daily News interviews local legislators. The following Q&A features Iowa State House Rep. Greg Heartsill, who is serving his third term in House District 28, which serves portions of Jasper, Marion and Lucas counties. The Legislature convenes Jan. 9, 2017.
Q. What are your top priorities as you enter the 2017 Legislative session?
A. Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform, Banning Automated Traffic Cameras, Curbing Abuses of Eminent Domain, Election Integrity/Voter Identification, Invasion of Privacy protections
Q. With your party in the majority in both houses, what does this mean to K-12 funding? Will the Legislature follow the law in terms of submitting funding on time?
A. As with any year, the funding discussion will begin with the revenue projection forecast for the next fiscal year. That figure will determine our budget limitations. With new leadership in the Senate, I anticipate a heightened level of cooperation between the two legislative chambers, which in turn means that I fully expect Supplemental State Aid to be set in compliance with the law.
Q. You’ve said you support community health clinic funding ahead of funding Planned Parenthood or any national or “city-centric” services. Will this be debated in the Legislature in 2017?
A. In order to expand women’s comprehensive health care services across the state, it is very likely that this issue will be discussed during the upcoming legislative session. By allowing our family planning dollars to flow through the numerous federally qualified health clinics (FQHCs) in the state, this provides more services in more locations for more women.
Q. A Republican majority makes it seem possible some abortion restriction proposals might be pursued. Do you feel these will be largely partisan issues, and how will you and your party approach such proposals?
A. I can’t speak for House Leadership, but I personally am not interested in pursuing abortion restriction proposals. During the oral arguments of Roe vs. Wade before the U.S. Supreme Court, the Justices suggested that if any state were to recognize the personhood of the baby in the womb, by statue, then all the due process rights under the 14th Amendment would apply to that person and would subject the unborn baby to equal protection under the law. This will be my approach to protecting life in the womb.
Q. You’ve discussed “truth in sentencing” reform in terms of ordered sentences more closely matching what a criminal really must serve. How aggressively will you pursue this in the upcoming session?
A. I have already had pre-session meetings with the Governor’s office, area law enforcement, and area prosecutors to get the ball rolling on this issue. As there are various complexities to this issue involving numerous perspectives, I believe the next step in the process is to involve as many stakeholders as possible in crafting comprehensive legislation to address truth in sentencing. In other words, I will be pursing this issue during the session, but it may not necessarily be manifested through legislation this year.
Q. Medicaid privatization has caused delays in service and other issues. Do you feel the Legislature should address these problems?
A. Yes, I believe the Legislature will continue to monitor these issues and take necessary steps to correct problems that are still outstanding from the transition to privatization.
Q. Republicans have mentioned various ways to fund more water quality programs. What kind of funding approach do you think would work best, in this case?
During the 2016 session, the House put forward legislation that would have provided nearly $475 million of additional funding over the next decade to address water quality issues in both urban and rural settings using existing funding streams. I would expect the discussion to begin with a similar proposal this coming session.