During each legislative session there is a point in time when we reach the â€˜funnel weeksâ€™. These are self imposed deadlines which state a bill must have made it out of committee or it cannot be considered for the rest of the year. The deadline does not apply to spending bills, tax bills, or certain leadership sponsored bills.
This week was the first funnel week at the Capitol and like every year, there are some survivors and some casualties.
First, some of the causalities or bills that didnâ€™t make it:
- Tougher penalties on the delivery, possession, and manufacture of cocaine
- Increase penalties for employing illegal immigrants
- Allocate $15 million from the Iowa Values fund to Small Businesses for disaster recovery efforts.
- Create tax credits to benefit those in disaster areas
- Changes to Iowa Smoke Free Air Act
- Bills prohibiting cell phone use while driving
- Repeal of Iowaâ€™s right-to-work law (once again this bill is dead, weâ€™re hopeful no attempt will be made to amend it on to any other bills)
Now, the survivors:
- Prevailing Wage (price fixing for public projects)
- Employee choice of doctor (doctor shopping workers compensation bill)
- Public Employee (Chapter 20) contract negotiating technical changes — this bill is identical to the initial collective bargaining bill the Democrats tried to sneak through last year
- Private cause of action for consumer fraud
- Increasing Tax on Propane
One quick note, even though a particular idea may have â€œdied in the funnelâ€ it may still return in the form of an amendment. For the full list, visit the House Republicansâ€™ website at http://iowahouserepublicans.com/funnel-week-survivors-first-funnel-2009.
It was a rather crazy week. It had some highs and some lows. The most significant positive was the fact that enough votes to pass the doctor shopping bill never surfaced. You may recall the Democrat majority had, with much fanfare, declared they were going to turn our current workers compensation balance on its ear by allowing employees to choose their own doctor for employment related injuries.
Recall also that currently Iowaâ€™s workers compensation cost is 41st in the nation and yet we have the 3rd highest employee benefits. Itâ€™s a well balanced system and this proposal was projected to raise insurance by as much as 15%. But Iowans engaged and the bill did not even get called up for a vote.
My biggest disappointment is that we still have yet to do anything of consequence to help restore our economy. On Monday I did a Point of Personal Privilege on the House floor reminding the Speaker that Republicans believe the House priority should be bills tested with the following: Does the proposed legislation grow Iowaâ€™s economy â€“ Does it create more jobs â€“ Does it encourage employers to invest in our workforce? If it passes the test we should press forward, if it does not, it should be set aside.
Regardless, 80,000 Iowans remain unemployed and we continue to debate things like changing the names of state government departments and creating a special tax on paint. This seems ridiculous to me.
I think itâ€™s regrettable we have now finished week 9 and really have yet to do anything affirmative to restart Iowaâ€™s economy. Nothing to help small business owners who are hanging on with all their might and nothing to help ease the tax burden on families across the state.
Republicans will not stop trying to reach across the aisle to get productive work done on behalf of Iowans. Weâ€™ll sit down with Democrats, when they let us, and craft solutions to the problems weâ€™re facing.
We will work hard coming up with solutions that help restart Iowaâ€™s economy and balance the budget without raising taxes on Iowans.
As always, if you have ideas and thoughts, please contact me [email protected] and visit our website to see constantly updated information (www.iowahouserepublicans.com).