The Behn Report
Last Week in the Senate
Most of the action in the chamber last week was on Wednesday when we debated over 20 bills. We also passed Senate Resolution 109, commemorating April 6, 2016, as the 25th anniversary of the conclusion of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Work in the Legislature this week was primarily behind the scenes as budget compromises were made. As we move appropriations bills in the coming days, it’s important to highlight the need for fiscal responsibility and sustainable budgeting practices. The taxpayer’s hard-earned money must be spent carefully and sensibly.
Information for Veterans
The Senate passed unanimously a bill Wednesday to help our state’s veterans find jobs and give them the resources they need to be successful once they come home.
Veterans are currently entitled to preference over others in hiring for many public sector jobs. This bill, HF 2415, creates a veterans preference clearinghouse established at Workforce Development for the purpose of providing information regarding the preference. The department is to work with the Attorney General regarding information on enforcement of the preference. The Department, the Attorney General, and The Department of Veterans Affairs are all to provide information regarding the preference on their websites.
This would give veterans a central place to get the information they need on job openings and interview information. I am proud to support any way, big or small, we can support our veterans.
Bill on Treating Overdose Victims signed
At the beginning of March, the Senate passed Senate File 2218, an Act relating to the possession and administration of emergency drugs by first responders and other persons in a position to assist for purposes of treating drug overdose victims and including contingent implementation provisions. This bill passed both the Iowa Senate 48-0 on March 8, 2016 and the Iowa House 93-2 on March 23.
The bill allows family members or friends to have access to a prescription drug which can be administered to someone they know who has overdosed on heroin or another opioid.
This is a good bill I’m happy to have supported in the Senate. I’m glad to see the Governor sign this bill to help victims and their loved ones.
Education agreement signed by Governor
Two weeks ago, the Senate took up Senate File 174 and Senate File 175, setting supplemental state aid for this year after an agreement was decided on between the House and Senate.
On Wednesday, Governor Branstad signed the bills putting the final touch on the education compromise for FY17.
This agreement consisted of an increase of over $150 million for schools, including over $50 million for the Teacher Leadership and Compensation Program.
Dedicating over half our budget to education is a clear sign education is a priority for the Iowa Legislature.
This week the Senate voted on House File 2399, a bill to protect victims of domestic violence. The bill expands the definition of stalking to include by electronic means and includes conduct that would make a person feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated or threatened of bodily injury or death. Current law only requires a person to fear injury or death.
The bill also makes an unauthorized placing of a GPS, meaning a device with the intent to intimidate, annoy or alarm another person, a serious misdemeanor.
The bill additionally:
*Adds a risk assessment to the presentence investigation upon a conviction of domestic abuse assault or harassment
*Requires a presentence investigation include a risk assessment for domestic abuse assault, harassment, or stalking
*An inmate required to complete a batterer’s treatment program shall not be eligible for a of sentence unless they complete the program
*Authorizes electronic monitoring for probation, parole, work release, special sentence, or any other conditional release for domestic abuse assault, harassment, stalking, or any other offense
*Mandatory risk assessment for violation of no-contact or protective orders, contempt of court for any of the above, or if an offender has been ordered to participate in batterers’ treatment
*Electronic tracking and monitoring for domestic abusers as a condition of release
*Sets anything from 20 to 50% for mandatory time served depending on the specific crime and the specific number or prior convictions
*Expands the definition of domestic abuse assault to include those who have been in an intimate relationship that includes contact within the past year
We are learning more and more details on budget agreements between the House and Senate as we get closer to the 100th day of session. Hopefully this week there will be a lot of bill movement so we can adjourn on time.
As always, I want to hear from you. My Senate number is (515) 281-3371 and my home number is (515) 432-7327. Write me at: State Capitol, Des Moines, IA 50319 or at my home address: 1313 Quill Avenue, Boone, IA 50036. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org