Hope things at home are going great! I didn't get to come home this past weekend, so am worried about my plants and the state of things there, but duty called. The last time I got home, a kind neighbor had taken care of my driveway, but the garage door was open and it smelled like cats really bad inside. I'm allergic to cats and although I feel sorry for them being outside, they are NOT taking over my garage while I'm gone.Last week was crazy busy. I think I will give you a detailed snapshot of what one week is like down here.Monday was Commerce and Ways and Means. In Commerce we had a great presentation on a study of health insurance costs/rates.
The new Department of Revenue Director spoke to us in Ways about the condition of the department and trying to move to more electronic reporting to save money. It's always interesting to hear from new people in the departments. They are able to see things longstanding employees may not be able to.
Tuesday brought a committee chair meeting, then Government Oversight where we heard from the Lottery Authority's CEO and reviewed their report. Apologies to the people from home that I missed that morning. It was nonstop. There were school superintendents, grocers and empowerment people there. At lunch, Tammy Kesterson, of Marengo, and I were able to touch base on DECAT and Empowerment. The afternoon was State Government committee and the new Campaign Ethics Director came to present. That was not pretty. We have received two different stories on the status of things there and will look into the situation. Then we debated the 0% Allowable Growth bills that we have to come up with $215 million to meet and a $47 million dollar bill to hold the property taxpayers harmless in declining enrollment schools, which all of ours are. Most everyone took off after debate to the Meredith reception, which is always nice, but I had early meetings to get ready for and missed it.
First thing Wednesday, at 7:30, was a subcommittee on bringing penalties for sale of alcohol down to the penalties for sale of tobacco for retailers - we need some work on that one. My doctor, Dr. Deardon was there and I was able to get a hug and a few chuckles from him. Laughter is definitely good medicine! The Governor had a presentation on financial literacy. Then, I had a photo taken of myself with the IPTV and the Cat in the Hat (now that was important for my grandbaby!) and then I went to a meeting with the Iowa Soybean Association on the repeal bills I have.
Heidi Schminke, Benton County Empowerment and I shared a lunch in my office with Senator Kapucian. From there it was more committee work. Commerce and State Government again. The Bankers had a reception that evening and I stayed at the Capitol until 12:30 am to get ready for Thursday's Oversight meeting.Thursday, back at the Capitol at 7:30 for caucus. In Government Oversight, the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School presented the results of the Residential Study Committee and after hearing in January they had begun implementing the recommendations of the committee without the Legislature's approval. You can imagine, there were some pointed and critical questions for them. I am writing an article specific to the Braille School soon - stay tuned. Thursday afternoon, we heard from Donna Mueller, the CEO of IPERS, on the status of the retirement plan. It's good. The plan is 81% funded and there are 300,000 members in the plan with over 100, who are over 100 years old. That was the end of the legislative day, but not mine. It was time to prepare for the Administrative Rules Review committee at 8 am the next morning and my first time chairing it!
In Administrative Rules, I was nominated and voted in as the chair and we got right to work on many issues. First up was the new rule on allowing LPNs to administer IV maintenance into PICC lines. The rule was presented by the nursing board, but the RNs were there in force to stop it. We ended up sending it to the appropriate committees for review in the House and Senate. The committee is really interesting, with all functions of government coming before it. I'm excited to have been chosen. The meeting went until almost one with no break from 8:00. Next time, I will insist on a bathroom break! I'm waaaay too old to go that long without one. Afterwards, Majority Leader Upmeyer who is on the committee with me, asked me to gavel us in as the Speaker of the House. Wow, from the chair of one of the coolest committees to getting to be Speaker for the day - maybe I should have bought a lottery ticket! From there, I had to prepare for the three city tour (Ames, Newton, Oskaloosa) on Saturday with the Governor, Senators Bartz and Kapucian, and tons of others.
Saturday I picked up Senator Bartz at the Capitol and we took off for the Regulatory Reform Hearings. Over the course of the day, we heard from over 300 people on rules their industries, their local governments and them as individuals were living with that were onerous and costly. It was everything from a gentleman who wanted to put in a new shed and had to pay $200 in permit fees and put in a concrete floor, rather than gravel to electrical, plumbing, wastewater, and water rules. Of course there were people there who said there were not enough rules and taxes were not evil, they could pay more.
We probably wouldn't turn down their money if they want to send it in. Most though were the opposite and it was a productive day. The good Senator drove me back to Des Moines from Oskaloosa, because I was beat. The entire day all we had time to eat was a yogurt parfait from McDonald's and I was running on fumes.It sounds like a lot of work to you all, I'm sure. But I love every single minute of it. It pays to love what you do. It isn't work that way! Thank you for trusting me to represent your interests. If you have any questions, please let me know.Don't forget this week's legislative coffees. Saturday, February 19th, Senator Kapucian and I will be at the Vinton City Hall at 10:00 am and the Norway Public Library at 1:30. The coffees last about an hour and a half. It's your opportunity to hear what is happening at the Capitol and share your concerns. Hope you can make it!