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Statehouse News 

Greetings,

We are beginning to wrap things up here in Des Moines. The wait times are getting longer, while deals are being made between the senate and the house, and budget bills are slowly coming out for us to debate on. 

Debate times regarding the bills we are discussing tend to be a little bit longer—and later into the evenings, with crucial funding that we want to make sure is getting to all of the places it needs to go.

One of the bills that was more contentious this week was HF2577. HF2577 is an overreach of government. The GOP has become the party of big government by micromanaging and takes away local control from our towns, our cities, our school boards, and playing “big brother” to public educators, etc. This bill was not about transparency in our schools to better the education for our students. It’s another attack on public schools and targeting public education teachers. 

If this bill was about transparency, then the GOP would be requiring the private schools who receive $100+ million tax dollars to do the same thing -to assure those student’s education is appropriate as well. 

They aren’t —because it’s not about transparency, this is a bill targeting public education teachers - plain and simply.

My comments during debate: https://youtu.be/AYDQBm7vyr4

                 

If you are an educator -or have friends of the Muslim faith, I just want to make you aware that Ramadan is almost upon us. Here are some helpful things to know to help your students and friends who may be participating in Ramadan. 

There have been many conversations back home about the CO2 pipelines going through Iowa. 

Eminent Domain for private profit is the number 1 issue. 

I was in debate during the rally, so I sent my statement down to the leadership to be read. That statement follows:

I wish that I could be down there with you today. I am upstairs in debate currently. I have been in contact both via email and in person with dozens of people about the issue at hand. 

I could discuss a lot about the CO2 pipelines- as I have attended many meetings -spoken with so many landowners, and listened to people who have survived catastrophic events from a CO2 pipeline.

But today I just want to discuss the issue of eminent domain. 

Eminent domain has its place, in situations for the common good of all. It’s not desirable but -in the case of the common good for all -it can be used.

This issue however- is not for the common good of all. This is about private landowners and their property being stolen away through eminent domain for private profit. 

Landowners in Iowa should not fear their property-their livelihoods being taken from them for profiteering. 

This plain and simply is a way for our governor to profit along with some of her big donors and it’s wrong. 

I stand with the landowners— and I oppose the use of eminent domain for the CO2 pipelines and the companies running those CO2 pipelines in Iowa. 

             

Representatives Ako Abdul-Samad, Ruth Ann Gaines, and myself purchased a pizza lunch for all of the pages in the statehouse this week to thank them for their service to all of us this session.

As a body, we are very lucky to have great people in the house helping us do our jobs better every day-and the pages do things for us all day long that make our jobs a bit easier.  It’s also a pretty fun job— if you know students who would like to participate at the Capitol as a page next year please contact me and I will help get you to the right people to make that happen. It is preferred they be 11th or 12th graders. This is great job and learning opportunity for students who are civic duty minded. 

I was part of a few great in-district events this past weekend. Joyful Noise is a production by Family Promise of Linn County to raise funds for those who are homeless or near homelessness-providing shelter, meals and services to help families buy time to get back on their feet.

The evening was filled with great music and conversations. 

I had the pleasure to host a large crowd of constituents and supporters in Marion this past week. I discussed priorities that I’ve been hearing on the doors, and got to have many conversations with those in attendance about their priorities. 

              

The 39th annual Maple Syrup Festival was at  the Indian Creek Nature Center this past weekend.  They sold over 2,400 tickets (but fed even more if you factor in volunteers, staff, and even some lucky pups who got leftovers!), 46 pints of maple ice cream, 316 bottles of syrup, and 823 honey sticks. In total, they collected $46,293 in gross sales, sponsorships and donations. If you missed it-make sure to join in next year for the 40th. 

             

The 39th annual Maple Syrup Festival was at the Indian Creek Nature Center this past weekend.  They sold over 2,400 tickets (but fed even more if you factor in volunteers, staff, and even some lucky pups who got leftovers!), 46 pints of maple ice cream, 316 bottles of syrup, and 823 honey sticks. In total, they collected $46,293 in gross sales, sponsorships and donations. If you missed it-make sure to join in next year for the 40th.  

If you would like to still participate in the Linn County representatives and Senators survey, if you could please fill that out and send it in, or you can fill it out via the online link found directly below.

Share your thoughts by filling out the survey below:  

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScl4IA-9TenXc7ETreCrOqL-P00fWKsfH-rthGaRNSU1nFQFw/viewform



Strong Public Schools, Affordable Tuition

There were several education bills debated in the Iowa Legislature this week.

When the session began, we heard from students and educators across the state, exhausted from underfunding and navigating through two years of pandemic learning. Democratic lawmakers pledged to stay focused on returning to Iowa’s deep-rooted history in public education, and we continue that promise today.

There have been several bills that lawmakers worked together on earlier this session that bring good things to the table for Iowa students and teachers including:
  • A new scholarship program through the College Student Aid Commission to help young adults with intellectual disabilities transition to, and pay for the college (House File 2495).
  • A program to assess, monitor and track language development for deaf and hard-of-hearing kids (House File 604).
  • Keeping students safe while protecting them from bad actors that teach our children by eliminating an age requirement of an abused child under the mandatory reporter law, and requiring the reporting of the identity of a school employee under the mandatory reporters who may have caused injury to a child (House File 2567).
Unfortunately, as a whole, it’s been a troublesome session for many educators. On the very first day, the GOP leader in the Iowa Senate claimed teachers had a “sinister agenda”. Since then, we’ve heard from many who are frustrated by the bills being worked on this year, and have communicated that such legislation will likely drive more teachers out of the classroom.
 
Here are some of the controversial education bills that remain under consideration this year that have parents, students, and educators concerned:

House File 2577 creates new burdensome requirements for teachers, mandating them to share classroom materials already available to parents. Eighty-four percent of Iowa school districts already have a learning management system in place where teachers share and post information. This bill requires additional and unnecessary work that distract teachers from focusing on teaching students, along with opening the door to more easily ban books.

The Iowa Senate passed a bill, Senate File 2369 that would create school vouchers and take millions of dollars away from public schools and give it to private schools instead. A majority of Iowans are opposed to vouchers, and believe that public money should not be used to fund private schools. Iowans already have multiple options for educating their children, including open enrollment, private schools, and home schools. This year, over $100 million in public tax dollars will be spent to support non-public schools. In the last six years, funding for private schools and homeschools has increased by 150 percent while public school funding has not kept up with rising costs.

The state’s education budget, House File 2575, passed the Iowa House on Tuesday. With a small investment in community colleges and no new funds to operate Iowa’s three public state universities, which could lead to another tuition increase next fall. Many Iowans have expressed concern that tuition increases will prevent more Iowans from getting training or education after high school.

       

 

Increased Protections for Seniors

Anyone who abuses aging Iowans could face criminal charges under a new proposal that passed the Iowa House.

Senate File 522 makes physical, psychological and financial exploitation of our older population, 60 years of age or older, illegal in Iowa. The penalties for elder abuse range from one to five years in prison. The penalty for financial exploitation of an older individual can be up to 25 years in prison, depending on the value of the assets involved in the exploitation.

According to FBI data, 10 percent of people age 60 and over experience elder abuse each year, across the country. Senate File 522 passed the Iowa House unanimously. The bill previously passed the Senate last year unanimously, but with new changes made this year, it will now return to the Senate for approval.

 

Legislature Set to Expand Solar Energy

Iowa lawmakers are working together to follow through on a commitment made to Iowans who invested in solar energy to power their homes.

House File 2395 won bipartisan approval and will reimburse Iowans who invested in solar technology. For several years, Iowa offered a $5,000 tax credit for solar energy installations, but once it expired last year, many Iowans were left on a waiting list without receiving the credit.

While this bill is a good step, Democratic lawmakers have been working to continue and expand the successful solar energy program to reduce demand and lower energy costs.

The bill now goes to the Iowa Senate for further consideration.

       

 

Legislature Takes Steps to Fix Teacher Workforce Shortage

Iowa is currently facing a workforce shortage, which impacts every sector of employment in the state, including those in education. There are many reasons for the workforce shortage in the state, none more obvious than GOP lawmakers prioritizing tax cuts for corporations instead of investing in education and other good paying jobs.

This past week a bipartisan bill was signed into law with the hope of attracting retired workers back into the workforce. The bill, Senate File 2266 lifts the income cap on retired teachers and other public employees who come back to the workforce.

Other bills to curb the teacher workforce crisis include:
  • Eliminating exams teachers take between graduation and certification (House File 2081)
  • Giving schools more flexibility for teacher substitutes (House File 2493)
  • Expanding the Iowa Scholar Program to expand eligibility for teachers who apply for grants (House File 2083)
  • Allowing a student teacher to substitute teach (House File 2158)
While these are steps in the right direction, this alone will not solve the issue. Iowa continues to rank behind many of their border states in wages and investments in quality of life.
 

Radon Testing in Schools Set to Become Law

Increased radon testing and mitigation in schools is set to soon become law. Radon is an invisible, odorless gas that is known to cause cancer. Iowa has some of the highest radon levels in the country and is commonly found in basements and older buildings, including schools.

While many school districts are already addressing the problem, the bill would require schools to implement radon testing by 2027, and at least once every five years. Schools must also have a plan to mitigate any radon issues to protect kids and staff.

The bill, House File 2412, is named the “Gail Orcutt School Safety Radon Act”, as she advocated for the bill for many years before losing her battle to radon induced lung cancer in 2020.

 

More Iowa News

IOWA YOUTH CONGRESS NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS: Iowa young people are encouraged to apply to the Iowa Youth Congress to advocate for youth issues and provide input to state and local leaders. The Iowa Department of Human Rights is accepting applications for the 2022-2023 term of the State of Iowa Youth Advisory Council (SIYAC). SIYAC is a formal council composed of 21 youth from across Iowa, ages 14-20. Members advocate for youth issues with policymakers through advocacy, service, and public awareness. The application and two letters of recommendation are due June 3, 2022. For more information visit: humanrights.iowa.gov/cas/siyac.


INCREASING HEMP PRODUCTION IN IOWA: Thanks to a bill recently sent to the Governor, Iowa farmers will soon be able to grow up to 320 acres of hemp a year. The bill, House File 2380, increases the number of acres a farmer can grow from 40 acres to 320 acres. Hemp is growing in popularity in Iowa and around the country. The increase in acres is needed for farmers to grow hemp for industrial use. Industrial hemp can be used to make products from paper and clothing to construction materials. As the industrial hemp industry continues to gain popularity, Iowa should be a leader in its growth.


NATIONAL VIETNAM WAR VETERANS DAY - A TIME TO HONOR OUR VETERANS: On Tuesday, March 29th, the United States celebrated National Vietnam War Veterans Day. This day honors all veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time from November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975, regardless of location. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there are more than 6 million U.S. Vietnam veterans living both in the United States and abroad. To help veterans in our state, the House of Representatives recently passed a bill that increases the amount of money that can be allocated to assist veterans in need from the Veteran’s Trust Fund. Currently, the Trust Fund can spend $500,000 annually, but this bill would raise that amount to $800,000. The Veterans Trust Fund helps qualified veterans for job training, education assistance, emergency housing, vehicle repairs, dental work, and durable medical equipment. The Iowa Lottery provides $2.5 million annually to the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund. Since 2008, the Iowa Lottery has given more than $36 million to the Fund. The bill, House File 2293, is currently in the Senate waiting for consideration. We take this time to thank those that have served, and House Democrats continue to find ways to show our appreciation.

I am honored to represent all of you in house district 68 for this last session  as well as those of you in my future senate district 37.

           

I thank you for your support as your State Representative, and I look forward to your continued support as I work to become your  new State Senator after the current session.

I understand there are some who have a different opinion about the legislation and choices made on the floor, but I hope to keep communication lines open for all to continue to share their concerns with me. 

It is my plan, as always, to work with everyone in the state house to better my district and the state. I look forward to bipartisan efforts that I know we will have to move Iowa forward. 

Please follow my Facebook page for updates on what’s happening around the district. I will do my best to kept events listed there over the coming months.

Go to the link below and like my legislative page to keep up to date:

https://m.facebook.com/DonahueForIA/

As your representative, I am available throughout the year for questions, concerns, and suggestions. Please contact me if you have any concerns, questions, or comments:

https://m.facebook.com/DonahueForIA/

Molly.Donahue@legis.iowa.gov

It is truly an honor to serve you and I am looking forward to what the future brings as I run for senate in SD37 in 2022. 

 

Warmest regards,

Contact State Rep. Molly Donahue

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