The Thompson Times

State Rep. Mark Thompson

It was an intense week finishing up the budget and voting on many other bills. It was like having a race to stuff 30 bushels of corn in a 1-bushel bag. All members of both chambers (House and Senate) saw the capitol in the dark as they left their respective chambers. Suspending the rules to be able to go past midnight became the norm for the week. Finishing on Friday (3 days past the 100-day session limit) was the goal. It was 4:23 am Saturday when the House gaveled out Sine Die...Final with no forwarding work. I hope to continue to represent District 56 and draft further legislation to protect those in our state.

I have received recent emails with AEA concerns. It has been a legislative year filled with AEA proposals scraped and discarded, started over, accepted by superintendents to then have changes to it by the Senate. I plan to monitor the promises made by the bill passed and now law, are followed and implemented as we were told. If the legislation does not allow our special education students to continue to thrive, I will be working with those within the State House to fix, change or enforce the law as written and promised.

Just to clarify, the AEA bill we passed this year takes the responsibility of oversight from the AEAs and places it under the Department of Education’s Special Education division. The $10 million transferred to the DE represents the amount the DE says it needs to handle the responsibility of oversight. 

According to previous budget reports from the AEAs, the AEAs collectively spend somewhere between $12.4 million and $47.2 million to perform the oversight and compliance services. (They don’t have a more accurate number for us than that range.) 

This means, with this $10 million transfer, the AEAs will have a minimum of $2.4 million up to $37.2 million in additional money to now spend on special education and other services.

Grooming Law passes both House and Senate

House File 2602

The House judiciary committee staff and I wrote this bill.  Grooming is often the precursor for trafficking of minors.  Grooming will now be a class D felony.  Awaits Governor's signature.

Bills from the Week

House File 2683: Transportation Budget

The first budget we passed through the Iowa House for Fiscal Year 2025 was the Transportation budget.  This budget operates a little differently than any of the other budgets. That’s because the Transportation budget doesn’t come from the general fund. Instead, this budget funds the Department of Transportation using money generated by the gas tax and other driver fees.  Money left over after funding the Department of Transportation’s operations goes toward building roads and bridges.   This fiscal year’s budget is about $2 million less than last year. This is made possible by reaching the completion of implementing RealID and extending the driver’s license renewal cycle from five years to eight years. This leaves additional money available for essential infrastructure projects.

House File 255 – Alternative Teacher Licensure 

Last year, the Iowa House passed a bill to create additional pathways to license teachers in Iowa to address the teacher shortage.  Unfortunately, the House’s version of the bill died in the Senate last session. This session they have revisited the idea of creating an alternative teacher licensure and sent the House the bill with an amendment.  This alternative teacher licensure program will allow more folks to change career paths and help fill the teacher shortages we face.

House File 2689: Rural Attorney Recruitment Assistance Program

The limited number of attorneys in rural Iowa is astounding. Looking toward the future, it is only predicted to get worse as many of the attorneys currently serving rural Iowa are approaching retirement age.  House File 2689 aims to aid that problem by establishing a Rural Attorney Recruitment Assistance Program within the Department of Education.

House File 2688: Rural Veterinarian Innovation and Revitalization Program

There is a great need to support veterinarians serving Iowa livestock farmers in rural Iowa.

In many rural areas, there aren’t enough large animal veterinarians, leaving livestock without timely access to preventative care and vulnerable to dangerous diseases.  In many cases, individuals have continued working long past their preferred retirement year because without them their communities and clients would be vastly underserved.  The creation of the Rural Veterinary Practice Innovation and Revitalization Program will provide grants up to $25,000 to veterinary practices in rural counties to: improve or expand existing facilities; acquire existing equipment and tools; incorporate new methods and technologies. This bill came out of a roundtable with rural veterinarians.

   House File 626 – Nonmedical Switching 

This bill prohibits health insurers from switching someone’s prescription drugs to a less costly alternative when the individual is stable on the drug and their doctor continues to prescribe the same drug.  It prioritizes quality care for the patient over the insurance industry’s profits. It was sent to the Governor’s desk.

Due to the volume of legislation that was voted on this week, I will be submitting another article next week listing several more bills and those that have been signed into law by the Governor.


The Leader

The Leader 
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