This week we have moved more legislation than the whole session so far. Most are still non-controversial bills that clean up existing code or allow for the normal functions of State Government.
Great news, we just passed out of the State Senate, SF 440, which relates to prescription drug benefits to veterans from the V.A. This requires extended care facilities to honor the V.A. prescription drug program for all eligible veterans. This had been a problem in the past due to the mode of delivery by the V.A. It has been addressed, however, and this bill would bring all facilities into compliance. This was special to me, my first Bill not only as a freshman senator, but also as a member of the minority party. This bill was inspired by my father, Louis, a WWII veteran.
By the time you read this, we will have the results of the Revenue Estimating Conference. The report comes out Friday and will give us further direction dealing with the Budget. Once the numbers are out we will be spending a significant amount of our time in the process of cutting and fitting all the different programs and department requests together.
Late last week a bill surfaced in the House that would have restructured the Commission on Veterans Affairs - not a good bill. No one from the American Legion had any input and there were provisions that were not good for our veterans. I believe that veterans are best served by veterans and if there are changes to be made they need to have input. One part of the bill would have allowed for a non-veteran to be in charge of the Veterans Home in Marshalltown. I believe you should be a veteran to be in that position. Fortunately, many veterans and concerned legislators arose to put this atrocity to an end.
Several people have asked for an update on some of the bills, where they are in the process, and their chances of survival. One bill I received a lot of e-mail interest in was the teaching parent driver's training bill which failed to leave the Transportation committee and is considered dead for this session. The three major union bills originating in the House are for the most part still alive. These include the Prevailing Wage bill that did not pass in the House but, it's been said it is likely to raise it's ugly head once again: the Fair Share bill and the Right to Work bill are all still quite warm and will be dealt with. The "Doctor Shopping" bill has yet to be debated in the Senate.The bicycle bill was passed in the Senate and is in the House to be voted out of committee. The dog kennel bill is dead for this year, along with cell phone usage while driving. The electoral college elimination bill is in the House awaiting debate.
As a theme for this year emerges, it is clear that the words overspending and borrowing are clear winners. Democrats approved a $175 million bonding bill and the Governor came out with a $750 million bonding plan. Just because the state of Iowa CAN bond for projects doesn't mean we SHOULD. By bonding, we are saddling our children and grandchildren with huge debt. Projects like improving veterans homes and making our jails more secure will happen without bonding. I am committed to our veterans as well as many local projects, but feel that charging up the state's credit card is the wrong thing to do.
As we move forward, the Senate will see many more bills advocating for more bureaucracy, more spending and programs unfriendly for small businesses. We need to focus on bringing business to the state through business-friendly policies, being a watchdog on state spending and working to make our education system stronger.
As always, I welcome your questions and comments. Thank you for letting me represent you at the capitol.
Please feel free to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org or 515 281-3371.
State Sen. Tim Kapucian represents portions of Tama and Iowa counties and all of Grundy and Benton counties.