News from the State House

by Patti Ruff, State Representative

Since the end of session, all of the members of the House are back in their districts and getting back into the swing of home life. The only legislative action that has been taken is the Governor signing and vetoing legislation that had been passed by the both the House and Senate.
I was asked by a few constituents if I would write on some highlights of the Governor’s actions. I thought that was a good idea.

The big item that received the greatest media attention, most deservedly, was the signing of the Medical Cannabidiol bill to help children suffering from daily multiple seizures due to epilepsy.  While no one thought this legislation had a chance of passing at the beginning of session, parents of these children mobilized and convinced legislators and the Governor to take action this year. The State of Iowa put our partisan ways aside and did what was right for the children.
The Governor also signed the Transportation budget for FY15 with an increase of $5.4 million. Even with this increase there is still a need for more funding for our roads and bridges. The condition of our infrastructure keeps getting worse and more counties in Iowa are bonding as a way to help offset the cost of fixing their roads. We did allocate $7.8 million for FY14 supplemental dollars to replenish their road salt supply and $200,000 to establish a program about the dangers of distracted driving.
A couple vetoes by the Governor’s pen will have a lasting impact.  First, the line item requiring the staff positions at the girl’s Juvenile Home in Toledo to be filled again was scratched. Governor Brandstad’s reason was because the facility no longer serves children, staffing is not necessary. Currently, these children will have to seek services outside of our state because we do not have a facility to house them. I’m sure that this will be addressed next session.

Another veto that has an affect statewide was the cutting of over $20 million in water quality dollars. There was $9 million for REAP in one-time funding that was cut, as well as $11.2 million for additional conservation and water quality programs. Right now there is a backlog in certain programs for farmers patiently waiting for matching dollars to become available to further extend their conservation efforts. This money would have gone a long way in moving our nutrient reduction strategy forward.
 With signings and vetoes, it is all another step in our democratic process, checks and balances that have been place for over 200 years. We are all fortunate to live in the United States of America.
If you have any questions or concerns always feel free to contact me at