Category Archives: View Point

View Point – Federal Crop Insurance – July 29, 2015

Federal Crop Insurance Gets Failing Grade

By John Crabtree, Center for Rural Affairs

At the Center for Rural Affairs, we’ve heard from farmers across the Midwest and Great Plains about the negative impacts of federally subsidized crop insurance for over a decade. A farm safety net is important to help family farmers mitigate risks, but there are real concerns with the current crop insurance program. The best way to begin addressing those concerns is through honest assessment of the crop insurance system.
Toward that end, the Center for Rural Affairs recently released a crop insurance report card, entitled: Promises vs. Performance: A Report Card Evaluating Federal Crop Insurance. Most of the grades awarded are not what parents would hope to see on their own child’s school report, and the accompanying Policy Brief offers further analysis and recommended reforms to improve the performance of the crop insurance system. In overall performance, crop insurance received a failing grade (www.cfra.org/crop-insurance-reform).
Subsidizing the nation’s largest and wealthiest farms on every acre, every year, regardless of crop prices, production or farm profitability, puts America’s natural resources at risk. And, absent reform, crop insurance gives mega-farms an advantage in bidding up land costs, driving their smaller neighbors out of business, and preventing the next generation of farmers from ever getting started.
The impact crop insurance will have on future years of farming practices is significant, making reform of the federally subsidized crop insurance system vitally important to the future of rural and small town America.

ViewPoint: In the Statehouse – A Few Words About Education Funding

By Dawn Pettengill

After the Governor’s vetoes, the first session of the 86th General Assembly is over and it was a grueling year. We worked a month over without pay and most of what we did in that month to find a bipartisan compromise, the Governor vetoed. You can imagine how the Legislature feels about that – believe me, it is not good.
On education, there was a bi-partisan agreement to give a 1.25% raise to the per pupil cost and an additional $55 million to help with problems we were told districts needed help with, like transportation costs, books and curriculum. Unfortunately, the Governor vetoed the $55 million. We had a balanced budget and it was under his original budget. I have to admit, his veto explanation was not sufficient for me.
Speaking of EDUCATION FUNDING. We need to set the record straight on the misinformation that’s out there. Here it is:
THE STATE DID NOT CUT DOLLARS GOING TO EDUCATION. In the eleven years I’ve been there, the ONLY CUT to education was the 2010 Culver 10% Across the Board cut. In every other year, the schools received more ‘Per Pupil’ than they received the year before. When you ask for a 6% raise and get a 1.25% raise, only in ‘political speak to make the public mad’ is that a cut. And that is exactly what happened this year. The ask was for a 6% raise and we passed 1.25%, which amounts to an extra $80 per pupil.
The House passed the 1.25% on January 27, 2015. It was our first bill of the year. We also passed a 2% increase per pupil for the 2016/17 school year, but the Senate did not take the bill up. I am embarrassed and apologize to the schools for it taking so long to let them know how much they have to spend.
Please note, the state cost ‘per pupil’ is an important term, because that’s how we pay the schools. The tax dollar increases the state sent for every pupil in the last four school years are in the below chart.

Pettengill_EdFunding_chart

 

 

 

Because they have fewer pupils, many schools ARE receiving less money. Let’s take Vinton-Shellsburg for instance:

Pettengill_Vinton_chart

 

 

 

Vinton enrollment was estimated to be down another 63 students in FY15, bringing the number of students lost to 189 in 5 years. 189 students x $6,366 = $1.2 million less, but look at how their budget has went up in spite of the number of students going down.
Bottom LINE, the state IS sending more money. It may not be what was asked for, but it is more. And we pay PER STUDENT. If you have less students, you receive less. Unfortunately, the School Boards who have this situation will have to make some hard decisions and each school board will have different priorities based on their district’s situation. I’m sure you know at the state level, we send dollars in a lump to the school districts and they determine how to manage it.
I hope this clears up some of the confusion. If you have any questions or concerns, you can give me a call at 319-610-3412. That’s my cell phone. Or you can send a message to dawn.pettengill@legis.iowa.gov. I’m here for you!

View Point – Healthy Conversations: Are You Getting the Nutrients You Need?

Vitamins are the essential nutrients that your body needs to thrive and function. By eating a well-balanced diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, you’ll take in most of the vitamins you need. But, sometimes, we fall short. Certain illnesses and conditions can also keep us from getting the proper levels of nutrients. So, how do you know if a multivitamin supplement is right for you?
When to use a multivitamin — and how to choose one
While a balanced, nutrient-rich diet is the best way to get vitamins and minerals, people with dietary restrictions or food allergies might fill in the gaps with a multivitamin. Because the recommended daily intake for nutrients varies by age, gender, and health condition, talk to your doctor about what you should look for in a vitamin supplement.
Those who should consider using a multivitamin:
•Women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Consume adequate amounts of folic acid (found in fortified breads, cereals, pastas and other grains, and in supplement form) to prevent spina bifida and other birth defects.
•Premenopausal women, vegetarians and vegans. Monitor iron intake (red meat, beans, lentils and spinach contain iron), as many people fall short of this nutrient.
•Vegans and adults over the age of 50. You might be deficient in vitamin B-12. That nutrient comes from dairy, eggs, seafood and poultry, which vegans avoid, and some older adults don’t easily absorb the vitamin from food.
•Older adults and people not exposed to enough sunlight. You may need supplemental vitamin D. The body’s ability to get the vitamin from the sun’s rays decreases with age.
•Individuals who have conditions affecting how the body digest food (such as food allergies, gastrointestinal diseases or lactose intolerance). Those who have had gastric bypass surgery for weight loss, may need to enhance their diets with supplements.
Other considerations
When considering multivitamins, watch out for potential interactions with medications and lifestyle habits. Too much iron, for instance, builds up in the body and can damage organs and tissue. Extra folic acid might boost cancer risk. Supplements containing vitamin K can lower the effectiveness of blood-thinning medications like Warfarin (including Coumadin and other brand names). Research also links multivitamins containing large amounts of beta-carotene and vitamin A to increased lung cancer risk among smokers and former smokers.
To avoid taking in too much of certain nutrients, consider multivitamin formulas created for specific ages and genders. Multivitamins for older adults tend to include extra vitamin D and calcium, for example, while men’s formulas tend to contain lower levels of iron.

ViewPoint: Work Continues on State Budget

By Dean Fisher, Iowa House of Representatives, District 72

The Legislature has now passed the 110 day milestone; our clerks are all released and our per diem has ended. However, the work continues as we work on the budget. My clerk for this session, Collin Brecher of La Porte City, did an excellent job and I miss him as we continue the session. I relied on Collin heavily for research activities along with the other more clerical tasks that go with the job. Collin is a Political Science major at UNI so his work here was beneficial to his studies. Collin will now be going back to his full time studies at UNI.
I have nearly completed the round of donations from my unused legislative expenses to the fire departments in the district for the 2014 session; I have one department left to visit to complete the year. For 2014 I will have donated $13,000 for the year, $26,500 total since I made this commitment beginning with the 2013 session. I have also begun the donations for the 2015 session with a simultaneous contribution for 2014 and 2015 to the Clemons Fire Department.
The budget bills have been moved off the House floor and have been sent to Conference Committee where the Senate and House versions will be negotiated.
The Appropriations bills that started in the House consist of the following:
House File 637 – Deals with the Department of Transportation infrastructure, maintenance programs, planning and other needs before the rest of the Road Use Tax Fund is distributed to the state, counties and cities. This bill does not use General Fund Revenue; it distributes only money from the Road Use Tax Fund which is supplied by fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees.
House File 650 – Is the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund bill that distributes the Casino money that the state receives for infrastructure projects such as buildings at our Regents schools, water quality and nutrient reduction initiatives, etc.
House File 659 – Is the Administration and Regulation Appropriations which funds our governor’s office, other executive functions and the state regulatory agencies.
House File 658 – Is the Education Appropriations which funds our community colleges, Regents universities, grants for students at private colleges, and many other education related agencies (but not K-12 funding, that is in a different bill).
As always, feel free to contact me at dean.fisher@legis.iowa.gov with your thoughts and concerns about our state government.

View Point – Safe at Home Act Vital

Safe at Home Act Vital

By Paul D. Pate
Iowa Secretary of State
Paul.Pate@sos.iowa.gov

April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and that made it the perfect time for the Iowa Legislature to approve the Safe at Home Act. The bill’s purpose is simple. It is designed to prevent victims from being physically located through a public records search.
The incidents of sexual assault and domestic violence in Iowa are much more frequent than most people realize. The statewide numbers are staggering. According to the Attorney General’s Crime Victim Assistance Division, almost 21,000 Iowans receive victim assistance services at any given time because of domestic violence. Almost 3,500 domestic violence convictions are handed down to criminals every year in Iowa courts. Domestic violence affects men, women and innocent children in our state.
The Safe at Home Act will provide an alternate address for participants to utilize as their new legal address after they have moved away from their abuser to start a new life. In order to become certified in the Safe at Home confidential address program, participants must take action against their abusers, such as protective orders, criminal complaints or police reports. Participants may enroll in the program before an abuser is convicted. That is part of the success of the program – it enables victims of these crimes to be proactive toward getting their lives back on track.
This legislation cannot replace other legislative initiatives that might keep offenders in prison longer, nor does it expedite the legal procedures that might incarcerate offenders sooner. However, this program helps victims of violence start over by taking back the power and control from their offenders.
My office has worked closely with legislators on both sides of the aisle, state agencies, SAH programs in other states and public records interest groups to work out complicated arrangements related to public records and public disclosure. The fact that both chambers of the Iowa Legislature passed the bill unanimously is an indication not only of its widespread support, but also reflects that interested groups are satisfied that their concerns are addressed.
More importantly, saving the lives of Iowans currently living in fear is a worthwhile and meaningful plan. According to data from the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, an average of 13 deaths occur every year in our state due to domestic violence. This bill will reduce that number by making it easier for victims to leave their abusers and to prevent being found by them. The Safe at Home Act is real progress in this battle. It will help victims become survivors.