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Minute With Mike: Ag, education measures keep lawmakers busy

Before I start Minute with Mike for the week, I usually go back and read what I have written for the same legislative week from the previous two years.

Last year at this time, I wrote about the upcoming county caucus. It seems like such a long time ago when the presidential campaign started.

You may have seen in the news or on social media where the House Democrats have decided to make a point about us not having a mask mandate at the Capitol and more specifically on the House floor. They have decided not to follow the rules governing clothing on House floor by wearing jeans and street clothes in protest. It’s just my opinion, but this is very disrespectful to the office we hold and quite childish. Iowans expect us to show up to work and do the jobs they elected us to do and the speaker continues to encourage all members to wear a mask, and compliance remains very high in House-controlled spaces. We will continue to follow the guidelines crafted with the Iowa Department of Public Health and do the work we need to do on behalf of Iowans.

Agriculture

I have introduced a bill (HF 287) that deals with anaerobic digesters on livestock farms, more specifically dairy farms. This bill will allow dairy farmers to take manure and process it into natural gas that can go into our Iowa pipeline system. This is the only bill I have introduced this year.

I do not have bills drafted unless I’m serious about getting them passed – unlike some members that have tons of bills drafted knowing that they are not going anywhere. They do it just to prove a political point. These types of bills are a waste of time.

Even though I have only had one bill drafted, I have been assigned many bills. I continue to work hard on these bills, moving them through the legislative process. Some of them will make it to the floor, where I will manage them and some will not, as there will not be enough support to keep them alive through the rpocess.

On Tuesday, Feb, 2, 2021, the Iowa House Agriculture Committee passed House Study Bill 4, expanding the state’s special minor’s driver’s license to include children and employees of farmers who are under 16 and who need to drive to accomplish agricultural work.

Education

On Friday, Jan. 29, Gov. Reynolds signed into law Senate File 160, which required districts to offer fulltime in-person learning as an option for parents to choose if they want their student in the classroom. Schools have until Feb. 15 to come into compliance with the new law. Schools must let parents know that they now have this option for their child to go back to school full-time for in-person instruction and give families five days to make their decision. The Department of Education stated in their guidance that nothing in that language should cause any delay from schools being prepared to go in-person on Feb. 15.

We continue to work hard on the child care crisis in Iowa. This week we worked on incentives to build more child care centers and support for businesses offering on-site child care for their employees.

One of my favorite parts of this job is meeting with constituents both at the Capitol and at legislative receptions. I always enjoy having groups and individuals meet me at the statehouse. The Capitol is such a beautiful building and I enjoy showing it off to visitors. Unfortunately, that is not really happening this year because of COVID. However, the Capitol is still open to the public, so if you want to come visit, just let me know.

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