Negotiations between the Governor and House Republican leaders continue, even though the pace has been rather slow at times. We are scheduled to adjourn this week, but it would appear that is not going to happen. Every day that goes by without an agreement means a couple more days of session. On Wednesday of last week, the Speaker announced 7 conference committees, and named the members of each of these committees. These committees are made up of both Senators and Representatives, and are supposed to iron out differences the two chambers may have in the budget bills. We had our first meetings on Thursday, but did not discuss much since we are not quite sure how much money is going to be available. I am hoping that a deal can be reached, and we can get things moving. It is time to go home and plant corn.
We have finished most of our policy bills here in the House The mental health reform bill is still waiting for floor debate, but that is about the only major piece of legislation that is left to do. It is a difficult time of the session, because there is a lot of down time and caucus time. It can also be a sad time, because we have about 20 House members who will not be running for office again this fall. They are each given the opportunity to address the body in the form of a farewell speech, so it is pretty emotional. I have served with a lot of people over the years, and it is never easy to say goodbye, but we all know the world never stops, so we keep moving on.
The House did pass a couple of pretty big bills this week, including legislation to set school start dates and a bill designed to reform tax increment financing. The school start date bill says that schools may not start the school year before the 4th Monday of August. Every year would be different, but this means that the earliest school could start would be between Aug. 22 and Aug. 28. The bill passed by a small margin, and I would be very surprised if it is taken up in the Senate.
TIF reform passed the House on Wednesday, and is headed to the Senate for consideration. This is complicated legislation, and I will wait to make too many comments on it until the Senate takes it up and makes more changes. The intent of the bill is not to stop or hinder economic development. It is designed to help stop abuses of TIF that have occurred in some areas. This bill narrowly passed the House, so I am not sure what its fate will be in the Senate.
The previous week, The Department of Transportation began a license plate replacement program that will take ten years to complete. The new plates will look about the same as what we have now, with the biggest change being the color of ink....it changes from blue to black. The old plates were born in 1997, so some of them have been around for a long time. The plan is that this year, plates that were originally issued in 1996 and 1997 will be replaced. Next year, those issued between 1998 and 2003 will be replaced. In 2014, plates issued in 2004 will be replaced, and beyond 2014, plates will be replaced on a rolling 10 year cycle. For persons who have specialty plates, a current version of the plate will serve as the replacement.
You may reach me at the Capitol during the week by phoning me at 515-281-3221, or at home on weekends at 712-434-5880. You may write me at the State Capitol, Des Moines, Iowa 50319. My home address is P.O. Box 398, Aurelia, Iowa 51005. If you have email, please contact me at email@example.com.