Bergan ReportBy: News Release
Mar 18th, 2017
March 17, 2017
Greetings from the State House,
I had an enjoyable visit from Jenna Hartz of Decorah who is a sixth grade student at St. Benedict School in Decorah. Jenna is a State finalist in “What the flag means to me” essay contest. Her parents treated her to a day at the Capitol where they had a tour of the building from bottom to top and she met Governor Branstad. Jenna led the Pledge of Allegiance in the Senate as they gaveled in for the day.
The past three weeks have been fast paced in the House. It has been a challenge to get accustomed to the pace and process of activities. We have worked through the first funnel which is the process of requiring a bill to be passed out of committee. A bill is considered “dead” if it has not made it through committee. There are exceptions for bills in Appropriations, and Ways and Means.
The focus has shifted to passing bills out of the House and moving them on to the Senate as we approach the second funnel. This accounts for much of the floor debate over the past week as we move bills through the chamber. Several of these bills have received significant attention in the media including Election Modernization and Integrity, 2nd Amendment Rights, Flexibility in School Funding, and changes to Workers Compensation among several others.
I have floor managed four bills so far this session. The bills have dealt with the definition of child foster care, an exemption to child care licensing for Early Childhood Special Education programs in schools, the definition of dependent adult abuse to include personal degradation, and the Dept. of Public Health omnibus bill.
The big news of the past week has been the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) report forecasting State revenues for budgeting purposes. Anticipated State revenue growth failed to meet expectations, once again. The REC announced an anticipated shortfall of over $131 million in the current year budget. This news comes after the legislature made more than $118 million in cuts in January to the Fiscal Year 2017 budget. House and Senate leadership is working with the Governor’s office on a process to deal with the shortfall in anticipated revenue.
Revenue projections for FY18 have also been reduced. This will impact our work on the FY18 budget and other opportunities being explored in school funding and water quality initiatives.
I will be participating in forums on Saturday, March 18 in Oelwein at Valone’s Family Restaurant at 9:00 AM and in Waukon at the Farm Bureau office at 11:15 AM. I appreciate the many emails, phone calls, letters and postcards I have received. Sharing your viewpoint helps me to evaluate legislative proposals and amendments as we work through our process.
Very truly yours,
Representative Michael Bergan