Overhaul of tax code to be addressed; pilot program in works for mental health treatment



District 11, R-Storm Lake

The 2018 session of the Iowa General Assembly gaveled in on Monday, Jan. 8 with the customary addresses by House leadership laying out goals for the session. After a very successful 2017 session there is still work to be done. Water quality and tax reform are at the top of the list of goals to be accomplished this session.

Tuesday the Legislature gathered in joint session in the House chamber to receive Governor Kim Reynolds for the 2018 Condition of the State Address. This is the 12th Condition of the State message that I have attended as a member of the House, and it was unquestionably the best address I have witnessed. It was a message that intertwined her goals for state government with her personal compassion and love for the people of Iowa.

Governor Reynolds made it very clear that the first bill that she wants on her desk would be a water quality bill. The Senate and the House each passed their own versions of water quality in 2017, but time in the session ran out before the differences could be reconciled into one bill. I believe that the Senate bill will be the base for the negotiations as we put together a comprehensive water plan for the state.

An overhaul of Iowa’s tax code has long been a goal of Republicans in the Legislature and Tuesday Governor Reynolds put tax reform at the top of her “to do” list also. With the changes in federal income taxes enacted in December, a fair and equitable overhaul of the system became more complicated. The Governor’s goals include an overall modernization of the code, a reduction in rates, researching the many tax credits that have been amended to the system and studying the utility of federal deductibility.

As many farmers, small businessmen and women, and self-employed folks know the market for individual health insurance coverage in Iowa has collapsed. The Governor is putting the final touches on an Iowa plan to establish an affordable option for Iowans.

Over the last several months, the Governor in cooperation with Des Moines University and the National Association of Mental Illness has developed a pilot program to further improve the delivery of mental health treatment in Iowa. This innovative plan will build on the success of the regionalization of mental health treatment delivery in Iowa.

The abuse of opioids, in the form of prescription painkillers and illegal drugs has become a huge problem. The Governor requested that the Legislature include opioid prescriptions in the prescription management plan, which was established to track pseudoephedrine purchases to stop the illicit production of meth. Real time reporting of opioid purchases will greatly reduce the ability of abusers to doctor shop to obtain prescriptions for opioid pain killers.

The Governor’s “Future Ready Plan” was front and center in her education initiatives. Future ready will prepare Iowans for the jobs of the future, with a goal of 70% of working Iowans to have the post high school training that will be required to perform those jobs by 2025. The Governor also proposed an increase of 1.5% in funding for K-12 schools. Iowa ranks third in the nation in support for public schools over the last ten years and the Legislature will give full consideration to the Governor’s proposal.

Wednesday, Chief Justice Mark Cady of the Iowa Supreme Court gave the Condition of the Judiciary Report. On Thursday, Major General Tim Orr addressed a joint session to deliver his address on the Condition of the Iowa National Guard and Air Guard.

Senator Segebart, Representative Huseman and I will be at King’s Pointe on Saturday, Jan. 20 at 10 a.m. for an open forum sponsored by Storm Lake United.

Chairman of the Justice Systems Appropriations Subcommittee