Greetings from the Statehouse: First week of debate

Representative Bergan pictured with Luther College social work students in the Capitol Law Library. (submitted photo)

The first week of debate is always an enjoyable, if not demanding, time at the Capitol. As the Legislature wipes the dust off their microphones, there’s a sense of fulfillment in seeing legislation pass on the floor, knowing that Iowans will benefit as a result. One of the bills of particular note this week included HF 2512, a piece of legislation involving the social work licensure compact which I floor managed on Thursday that passed the House Floor with bipartisan support. Throughout the week the Capitol was also visited by numerous groups, including students from Iowa State University and Luther College social work students. 

AEA and teacher salary update

HSB 713: While the Governor’s original AEA reform proposal has not passed committee, we have continued discussions with stakeholders to draft our own legislation to improve outcomes. The goal of our bill is to improve special education outcomes. We believe it does this by providing accountability over the AEA’s services, creating a task force to review the current system and look for areas for improvement, and giving more flexibility to the school districts on how to spend their money.

A couple important things to note that are different about our bill from the original proposal you may have heard about previously:

• The goal of our bill is for there to be no disruption to special education services.

• This bill does not terminate any employees of the AEAs.

• This bill does not prohibit the AEAs ability to perform any of the services they do now.

This is only a small part of what the bill does and careful consideration will be given to all aspects of it as it works its way through the House. 

HSB 714: We have taken feedback from the teachers’ union, superintendents and more as we crafted this legislation to responsibly raise teacher pay. Our bill increases the minimum teacher salary from the current amount of $33,500 to $47,500 beginning next year, and then bumps it up again to $50,000 the following year. This bill also increases the minimum wage for education support staff to $15/hour. Our teachers are doing essential, important work. We want our teachers to receive the compensation they deserve and incentivize more people to enter the profession. While some may say this bill may not directly address veteran teachers, the House passed HF  2613 this week, which includes additional Teacher Salary Supplement money and increasing State Supplemental Aid by three percent, both of which would give schools additional money to spend on teacher salaries how they see fit. 

Guests at the Capitol

Monday I had a visit from pastors Mike Wilker and David Severston who were here for Lutheran Services in Iowa Day on the Hill. We discussed mental health and refugee issues here in Iowa. That night I attended the Iowa Brewer’s Guild Reception where I met with one of my constituents, Curt Wymer, from Toppling Goliath Brewing Company. The next day, Tuesday, the Capitol was visited by students and staff from Iowa State. It was a pleasure seeing young Iowans passionate about their fields of study. With the visit from Iowa State came the Iowa State Creamery which served free ice cream to legislatures and staff. Soon after that I caught up with some Luther College social work students. It was wonderful to be able to show them around the Capitol. Later that same day I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Des Moines Area Foodbank. Finally on Thursday I spoke with one of my constituents, Sara Neuzil, who was visiting the Capitol with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Visiting the Capitol?

It is always an honor to meet with constituents. If you are visiting the Capitol, kindly notify me of your intent to visit at michael.bergan@legis.iowa.gov. This will greatly assist me in the scheduling process.

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