Skills2Compete Coalition at Capitol

United Way of Central Iowa organized a very successful lobby day centered on workforce readiness issues (to see specific policy recommendations, see the coalition's report). Meetings were held with all the key players on workforce issues, including Senators Mike Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs), Bill Dotzler (D-Waterloo), Liz Mathis (D-Cedar Rapids) and Rep. Chris Hagenow (R-Windsor Heights).
 
In addition, the group had a productive meeting with Iowa Workforce Development Deputy Director Ed Wallace.
 
These lobby days are very effective.  Having grassroots advocates at the Capitol is essential for legislative successes, and it shows our lawmakers that various community organizations are invested in these issues.


Skills2Compete advocates with Senator Dotzler.
 
 

March 11 Funnel

The next funnel deadline on March 11th will significantly limit the number of bills.  A bill must pass one chamber and a committee in the other chamber by March 11th or the bill is dead for the session.  Exceptions are made for Ways & Means and Appropriation bills.
 
With one chamber controlled by Democrats and one controlled by Republicans, it is no easy task to meet this funnel deadline. Our lobbyists and volunteers will have to put in extra effort in the next few weeks to advocate for our legislative priorities. 

Career and Technical Education Bill Advances

HF 2392:  No change this week.  Passed the House Education Committee.
 
The bill seeks to modernize Iowa's Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs and codify many of the recommendations of the CTE Task Force.  The goal is to close the skills gap and assist high school students seeking a technical career.  High schools and community colleges will play a key role in implementing the CTE initiatives.

Career and Technical Education Bill Advances

HF 2392:  No change this week.  Passed the House Education Committee.
 
The bill seeks to modernize Iowa's Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs and codify many of the recommendations of the CTE Task Force.  The goal is to close the skills gap and assist high school students seeking a technical career.  High schools and community colleges will play a key role in implementing the CTE initiatives.

Children's Mental Health

SF 2161.  No change this week.  Passed Senate Human Resources Committee.  Awaiting action in Senate Appropriation Committee.
 
1.  Appropriates $300,000 to DHS for planning grants for the development and implementation of children's mental health crisis services.
 
2.  Directs DHS to study and collect data on emerging, collaborative efforts in existing programs engaged in addressing well-being for children with complex needs and their families in communities across the state.
 
3.  Requires DHS, in consultation with DPH, the Mental Health and Disability Services Commission, and the Mental Health Planning Council, to submit a report with recommendations to the Legislature by December 15, 2016.  The report will cover the creation and implementation of a statewide children's mental health crisis service system and the development and implementation of a children's mental health public education and awareness campaign.

Early Childhood Iowa Legislation

SSB 3128:  Passed subcommittee.  Awaiting action in Senate Appropriation Committee. 
 
The bill makes changes to several program features.  The bill eliminates the requirement that at least 60 percent of state funding that an area board designates for family support programs must be committed to programs with a home visitation component.  The other changes can be found in the explanation section near the bottom of the bill.

Preschool Expansion

SF 2237: Passed Senate Education Committee. Awaiting action in Senate Appropriation Committee.
 
This bill requires each school district to implement a plan for the school district's preschool program to have sufficient capacity to operate without a waiting list for school budget years beginning on or after July 1, 2020.
 

Childcare Center Licensure

SF 2235:   Passed Senate Education Committee.  Awaiting Senate floor action.
 
This bill focuses on childcare centers that use the term "school", "academy", or a similar word.  If they use one of these terms, the center must meet certain minimum accreditation standards.
 

K-12 Funding Update

Little will get done at the Capitol until the K-12 funding issue is resolved.  The Governor has proposed an increase of 2.45%, the House Republicans proposed 2%, and the Senate Democrats proposed 4%.
 
We are hearing rumors that there may be movement on this issue next week.
 

Refugee/AmeriCorps Bill Introduced

HF 2237/SF 2153:  Companion bills introduced by Rep. Zach Nunn (R-Altoona) and Sen. Janet Petersen (D-Des Moines).  The Senate bill remains alive and has been assigned to the Appropriation Committee.

These bills establish a RefugeeRISE program.  The bills require the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service, in collaboration with the DHS, to establish a RefugeeRISE AmeriCorps program to increase community integration and engagement for diverse refugee communities in rural and urban areas across the state.
 

Bills of Interest

United Ways of Iowa is registered on the following bills:
 
SF 2235 Undecided: Remains alive.  Provides for the licensure and regulation of certain children's centers, which have an official name that includes the word "school," "academy," "training institute" or similar words and charges for the services it provides to a child; provides residential services for children; or provides counseling services for children.
 
SF 2100 For: Remains alive.  Allows 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations to participate in the Iowa educational savings plan trust, which will allow them to open accounts for individual beneficiaries and make contributions for the future payment of higher education costs on behalf of those beneficiaries.
 
HSB 620 For: Remains alive.  Modifies provisions relating to student academic and career guidance, technical education courses, curriculum, and programs, and programs that involve students learning at a workplace.
 
HF 2203 For: Remains alive (Appropriation bill).  Creates the Iowa employment and education rides initiative and funding for public transit systems that provide transportation to Iowans on a competitive grant basis. The grant must be matched dollar-for-dollar by the public transit system. 
 
SF 2130 / HF 2205 For:  Did not survive. Establishes the safe routes to school program and funds the program.
 
SSB 3128 Undecided: Remains alive (Appropriation bill).  Eliminates the requirement that the Early Childhood Iowa state board be selected from the individuals nominated by the ECI area boards and removes references relating to levels of excellence rating system to be used in the state board's designation process for area boards. The bill eliminates and amends several of the ECI programs funding requirements.
 
SSB 3138/ HF 2253 For: Remains alive (Appropriation bill). Provides for donation programs, funding, and a sales tax exemption for Iowa's food banks.
 
SSB 3114 Undecided:  Remains alive.  Amends the child custody case permanency plan and transition services plan requirements, adds sex trafficking into the definition of "child abuse" within the Code, requires DHS to identify children who are or at risk of being a victim of sex trafficking, and requires that DHS report a missing and exploited child within 24 hours of a report.
 
SF 2161/ HF 2220 For: Remains alive.  Provides funding for children's mental health crisis services, directs the DHS to study and collect data on collaborative efforts within existing programs related to children's mental health across the state, and instructs DHS to create and provide support for a children's mental health and well-being advisory committee. 
 
SF 2042 For: Did not survive.  Provides an individual with transportation to or from a workplace or adult education venue, including but not limited to community college, evening or weekend class, apprenticeship program, or job training program.
 
SF 2011HF 2062 For: Did not survive.  Provides additional funding for students who are enrolled in the statewide preschool program for four-year-old children if they are identified as limited English proficient.
 
SF 2010 For: Did not survive.  Provides additional funding for students who are identified as limited English proficient.
 
SF 2009 / HF 2037 For: Remains alive.  Expands the statewide preschool program for four-year-old children to also include five-year-old children who have not previously enrolled in a preschool program.
 
HF 2237/SF 2153 For.  Remains alive (Appropriation bill).  The bill requires the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service, in collaboration with the DHS, to establish a RefugeeRISE AmeriCorps program to increase community integration and engagement for diverse refugee communities in rural and urban areas across the state.
 

TAGS: Advocate

Sarah Ramsey

About The Author: Sarah Ramsey

Sarah Ramsey is the Advocacy Officer for United Way of Central Iowa.