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Opinion

Voter ID bill, education topics at Capitol

Week two of the 87th Legislative session was busy with committee and appropriations sub-committee meetings, presentations by fellow Representatives about their bills and particular legislative interests and meeting with groups who came to the Capitol to make presentations in the Rotunda. Groups this week included Teamsters, LGBT activists and representatives from the Iowa Solar/Small Wind Energy Trade Association. My committee assignments include Education, Appropriations, Natural Resources and Public Safety. I am also serving as a co-chair of the Rural Caucus. The Rural Caucus is working on strategies to help rural communities during these difficult economic times.

Last week, I was assigned to a subcommittee of Public Safety to work on House Study Bill 15, put forward by the Iowa Department of Public Safety, which deals with changes in the code concerning sex offender registration requirements and penalties regarding child endangerment.

Some of the other issues discussed this week at the Capitol include:

Voter ID requirements: Groups gathered at the Capitol’s rotunda to address their concerns about the proposed voter identification requirement by Iowa Secretary of State Pate.

The discussed legislation would require state-approved forms of ID on Election Day and other changes to Iowa’s voting system. Pate has indicated this would cost $1 million, though his office has not released a bill outlining specifics. GOP leaders say such a bill would maintain voter integrity, though there is little evidence of fraudulent voting in the state. Our state and county officials currently do a great job in preventing voter fraud and this voter ID requirement could keep people from getting out to vote. When the bill is proposed we can see what the specifics are.  

Education:  A new survey of Iowa school superintendents has found that about 2/3 will be forced to raise class size, cut teachers and reduce opportunities for students if lawmakers approve a 2 percent or lower increase in basic school funding. “Nearly every school leader surveyed said the state has invested too little to make sure our kids get a world-class education,” said Rep. Sharon Steckman of Mason City, Ranking Member of the House Education Committee. “After six years of historic funding lows for public schools, it’s important for us to listen to our school leaders and take action this year to make sure our schools can give all kids the skills needed for the jobs of the future.” Of those surveyed, 98.6 percent said the state’s investment in education for the last several years has not been enough to make sure every Iowa child receives a world-class education.

Upcoming events in House District 29:  During January through April, I will be at several constituent outreach events. I will be at the Mayor’s Coffee at Prairie City Public Library (with Chad Alleger) at 8 a.m. on Saturdays, Feb. 4, March 4 and April 1 Colfax Public Library at 10 a.m. Saturdays, Jan. 28, Feb. 25 and March 25, Baxter Community Center at 8 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 11 and Kellogg Fire Station at 8 a.m. March 11.

I value citizens’ input and welcome all people interested in what’s going on at the Capitol to come to these forums to learn facts about upcoming legislation, to express your views and to contribute to the discussion.

Contact Rep. Wes Breckenridge
at 641-521-6714 or
wes.breckenridge@legisl.iowa.gov

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