May 2, 2014

TOPICS
Week 16
LWV forum this Saturday, May 3
Bipartisan accomplishments strengthen economy and working families
Thank you!
2014 session highlights


WEEK 16
The Senate adjourned this morning, with the legislature accomplishing a lot this session. See some of the details below.

Here are the highlights for the University of Iowa:

* 4 percent operating increase ($8.9 million) to guarantee the second year of the tuition freeze.

* Full funding ($66.3 million) for the College of Pharmacy Building renovation/replacement.

* $5 million for unpaid services provided to indigent patients following the enrollment cap in the IowaCare program.

* $1.2 million to the Iowa Flood Center for the soil moisture monitoring network.


LWV FORUM THIS SATURDAY, MAY 3
The final Johnson County League of Women Voters forum of the 2014 session is Saturday, May 3. Please join us at 9:30 a.m. at Iowa City Public Library Room A for a discussion of the issues.


BIPARTISAN ACCOMPLISHMENTS STRENGTHEN ECONOMY AND WORKING FAMILIES
Iowa legislators adjourned the 2014 session after reaching bipartisan agreements that will have big benefits for our state. Republicans and Democrats worked together to expand opportunities for all Iowans while strengthening economic security for working families.

The top achievements of the 2014 session include:

• Balancing the state budget without raising taxes. Iowa is expected to have a budget surplus of about $610 million when this fiscal year ends on June 30. We also have $649 million in our reserve funds, the largest amount in state history.

• Expanding skills training to help Iowans fill openings for good jobs at local businesses.

• Increasing funding for infrastructure investments and boosting incentives for businesses that create good local jobs and grow the economy.

• Keeping tuition affordable at our colleges and universities, including leading the effort to freeze tuition at Iowa State, UNI and the University of Iowa for the second year in a row.

• Boosting student achievement in our K-12 schools through investments in early reading initiatives and quality teaching.

• Continuing our commitment to Iowa's quality of life with strong investments in the environment, as well as cultural and recreational opportunities.


THANK YOU!
I want to thank all the constituents who took the time to contact me during the session. Your suggestions and priorities are reflected in many of the bills that made it to the Governor’s desk.

As your State Senator, I am available to you year around. Please get in touch in the coming months with any concerns and ideas you want to share. You can e-mail me at joe.bolkcom@legis.iowa.gov.

I look forward to working together for a bright future for our children and for the state of Iowa.



I spoke on the Senate floor in recognitions of John Pollak, who is retiring after almost three decades helping keep the machinery of state government working smoothly as a nonpartisan legal services research analyst, drafter, editor and committee services administrator.


John is dedicated to the ideal that good research and good counsel result in good legislation. On Wednesday, Republicans and Democrats alike stood to thank John for his service to the state of Iowa. He will be missed!


2014 SESSION HIGHLIGHTS
Here are some of the highlights of the 2014 session. You can find a complete list of this year's many accomplishments at www.senate.iowa.gov/democrats/2014-session-successes.

Education & job training

• Increasing the number of skilled workers with apprenticeships, job training and retraining and internships for students studying science, technology, engineering and math (SF 2347, HF 2460).

• Providing K-3 students falling behind with intensive literacy help (SF 2347).

• Recruiting the next generation of great Iowa teachers and encouraging our most effective educators to help others improve classroom results (SF 2347).

• Keeping tuition affordable with a funding increase to our community colleges (SF 2347).

• Freezing tuition at Iowa State, UNI and the University of Iowa for the second straight year (SF 2347).

• Providing more financial aid for private college students (SF 2347).

Job creation & economic growth

• Increasing funding for Iowa’s 16 Small Business Development Centers (HF 2460).

• Providing incentives for businesses that locate and expand in Iowa (HF 2460).

• Funding innovation economic development efforts between our state universities and communities and businesses (HF 2460).

• Investing in the arts, cultural endeavors and historic preservation, which draw visitors to our communities (HF 2460).

• Tripling the amount of solar energy tax credits available (SF 2340) and encouraging the production of home-grown fuels (SF 2344).

• Expanding help to fix up abandoned buildings and blighted areas (SF 2339).

Health & health care

• Protecting the health of Iowa kids by preventing them from using e-cigarettes (HF 2109).

• Maintaining local Emergency Management Services by increasing the amount the state pays through Medicaid for local ambulance and other emergency services (HF 2463).

• Helping kids with epilepsy by legalizing medical cannabis oil to treat seizures, upon doctor recommendation (SF 2360).

• Hiring an additional ombudsman to protect the rights of seniors in nursing facilities. (HF 2463).

• Protecting Iowa’s redesigned mental health services by fully funding state commitments (HF 2463).

• Making it easier for seniors to continue living in their own homes (SF 2193, SF 2320).

Safe communities

• Defining elder abuse and financial exploitation, and allowing victims to secure protective orders (SF 2239).

• Providing state funding for the first time for local elder abuse support services (HF 2463).

• Investing in Iowa’s successful Drug Courts and Family Treatment Courts (SF 2449, HF 2450).

• Funding for grants to help victims of domestic violence and sexual assault (HF 2450).

• Allowing criminal charges against coaches who sexually exploit students (HF 2474).

• Doubling the volunteer firefighter and EMS tax credit, and extending the credit to reserve police officers (HF 2459).

Quality of life

• Providing a record $25 million for REAP, Iowa's popular Resource Enhancement and Protection program (HF 2458, SF 2349, SF 2363).

• Expanding childcare assistance for parents working part time while learning new skills (HF 2463).

• Boosting the state's child and dependent care tax credit for working families (SF 2337).

• Making stable homes a reality for more children with a $2,500 tax credit for adoption-related expenses (HF 2468).

• Increasing funding for soil conservation and water quality (HF 2458).

• Increasing housing for working families with incentives to build and rehabilitate housing in the areas that need it the most (HF 2448).

Veterans & service members

• Exempting military retirement pay from Iowa income taxes for those who with 20+ years of military service (SF 303).

• Expanding the Disabled Veterans Homestead Tax Credit to veterans with a permanent and total disability from service-related injuries, and to surviving spouses or children of soldiers who died as a result of active duty (SF 2352).

• Eliminating the waiting list for the Military Home Ownership Assistance Program, which provides a $5,000 grant for a qualifying home purchase (HF 2463).

• Providing a pathway to jobs by matching military occupational training to Iowa's professional and occupational licensure requirements (SF 303).


How to Contact Me

Joe Bolkcom
728 2nd Avenue
Iowa City, IA 52245
319.337.6280
joe.bolkcom@legis.state.ia.us
joe@joebolkcom.org
www.joebolkcom.org
www.senate.iowa.gov/bolkcom
www.legis.state.ia.us


About The Networker

The Networker provides brief summaries of some of the things that I am working on, the work of the General Assembly, and political perspectives on issues. I also use it to announce meetings and how to find useful information about state government.

Additional information

Senator Joe Bolkcom is an Assistant Majority Leader and chair of the Ways & Means Committee. He also serves on the Appropriations, Commerce, Environment & Energy Independence, Human Resources, and Natural Resources committees.