The highlight of the week was the Condition of the Guard presented by Adjutant General Orr. For the first time since 2001 the Iowa National Guard does not have any units deployed overseas. We should all be proud of the men and women who have committed themselves to serve us and thank them for their service. Now many of them are home and furthering their education with the help of the National Guard Education Assistance Program (NGEP).
What NGEAP does is provide financial assistance to members of the Iowa Army and Air National Guard. It provides funding to members who are working toward a bachelor's degree at an Iowa college or university. The Guard authorized a maximum reimbursement of 90% for the fall 2011 semester. However, there was a greater than expected use of the program which resulted in the majority of the funding being used up during the fall semester. This resulted in the Guard announcing that the spring semester reimbursement would be reduced to 50%. This week, with bipartisan support, we in the Iowa Senate unanimously passed a supplemental appropriation of $1.3 million to the College Student Aid Commission for the NGEAP. It is expected that this additional funding will be able to return the award amount to 90% for all service members using the program.
Last year the state of Iowa committed $3million to ensure the U.S.S. Iowa became a battleship museum on the West Coast. Due to questions as to the specific areas of funding we had to readdress the issue and specify a direct purpose for the appropriations. This bill, SF2018, was passed unanimously and will ensure the continued preservation of a part of Iowa history. Also once the floating museum opens for business it will be free of charge to Iowa citizens.
As I am writing this we only have one day left to request a new bill draft. Next week many bills will be filed with the Secretary of the Senate and will begin going through the committee process. At that time they can be voted up or down. Then they can come to the Senate floor for debate. Therefore I would expect things to gear up around here in the near future as bills become eligible for floor debate.
Please continue to contact me with your concerns as the year progresses. You can e-mail me at
email@example.com or call the Senate switchboard at 515-281-3371.
See you out and about in the district,