What a beautiful week we have had in Iowa Luckily, we have been busy enough here under the dome that I haven't had time to even think about the weather.
So far the only bills we have debated have been what I would call fix it bills, nothing too controversial, just minor bills to fix existing legislation. The big one, of course, dealt with the disasters of last summer.
The big cloud on the horizon seems to be the attempt to force unionization. I am totally against changing or tampering with the Right-to-Work laws that have been in existence for decades. This agenda would be a major step in the wrong direction and would severely hinder - not help - the economic forecast for Iowa. Right to Work is an area where it looks like a division in the Legislature will take shape.
Committee work is still hearing testimony from department heads defending their budgets and hoping for minimal cuts.
The Doctor Shopping bill was rushed out of committee this week and, if passed, would give workers injured on the job the ability to visit multiple doctors until they receive their desired diagnosis.
This will result in a 14% increase in the cost of workers' compensation insurance to employers in Iowa. This bill will have huge ramifications on schools and businesses in this state. It will put undue strain on the taxpayer and as a result, employers could potentially reduce benefits and institute layoffs. Injured workers already have many options - we don't need to fix a system that is not broken.
Also on the horizon is the gas tax. Democrats in the House and Senate filed bills to raise the tax by 4 cents upon the Governor's signing and another 4 cents by January 1, 2010.
This tax is designed to improve roads and tax people traveling through the state, but Iowans already contribute to the Road Use Tax Fund, an increased license fee that passed last year.
This bill has been controversial and I will be sure to keep you updated on it. I would appreciate your input here as I have not decided how to go on this one.
Finally, in an effort to rid the state of inefficiency, a Democrat proposal was introduced in the Senate that would effectively close every rural school in Iowa with 750 pupils or less. Taking away local control of the issue and forced consolidation is not the answer to inefficiency. Rural schools are top performers in education in Iowa and the lifeblood of the state. This is a rural - urban debate. I'll bet on the rural schools every time.
I welcome your questions and comments. Thank you for letting me represent you at the Capitol.