Greetings from the Statehouse: High-profile bills passed on the House Floor

By Michael Bergan, Iowa House District 55

Representative Bergan pictured with staff from the Decorah Public Library in the Capitol Law Library.

It has been a productive week here at the Capitol, full of many high-profile bills getting passed on the House Floor. Some of those bills included laws that would ensure election integrity here in Iowa, raise teacher’s starting salaries, and address the growing problem of fentanyl. Outside of debate, I met with other members of the Appropriations and State Government committees to narrow down which bills to send through the second, and smaller, funnel of the session. There were also plenty of guests with staff from the Decorah Public Library visiting the Capitol on Tuesday and members of the Iowa Hospital Association attending on Wednesday. 

Notable Bills 

HF 2610: The election bill has been in the news a lot recently since it was passed Tuesday afternoon. Under this bill, it is required that absentee ballots arrive the Monday before the election in order to be counted. Drop boxes and rank choice voting are also made illegal. While this may seem rather drastic it is important to clarify that drop boxes have only been around for four years, and in that time some of them have been in unsecure locations. Iowans can still deposit their absentee ballots in the mailbox, and if a voter is unsure if their absentee ballot has been received by the Monday before the election, they can check with their county auditor, and vote on election day if necessary. This bill would return things to the way they were prior to the Covid Pandemic while also ensuring the integrity of future elections in Iowa.  

HF 2576: The topic of this bill is the growing number of fentanyl deaths here in Iowa. Under this bill, which received almost unanimous support in the House, if someone provides fentanyl to another individual and that individual then dies, the supplier can be charged for first-degree murder. Fentanyl deaths are rising across the country and Iowa is no exception. Drug traffickers are often not punished severely, and the absence of an intense penalty means that those who are caught feel little incentive to stop. This new law will serve to be a disincentive for traffickers and make sure all who contribute to the problem are punished. 

HF 2630: As I mentioned in last week’s newsletter, this bill increases the starting salary for beginning teachers to $47,500 next year, and $50,000 the following year. The move to increase teacher’s pay received bipartisan support and was quickly passed in the House. From here it will go to the Senate for their deliberation on beginning teacher salary. 

Guests at the Capitol

Tuesday I had the opportunity to meet with Decorah Public Library staffmembers Kristin Torresdal, Tricia Crary, Sophie Nall and Zach Row-Heyveld, as well as Cresco Librarian Jordyn Moore. Together, the group was able to take an extended dome tour, the highlight of any trip to the Capitol. 

On Wednesday I met with members of the Iowa Hospital Association including Julie Creery and Patrice Kuennen from Gundersen Palmer Lutheran Hospital, and Justin Gullekson, Clark Goltz and Steve Slessor from WinnMed. 

Later that day I also spoke with the city manager of Decorah, Travis Goedken, who was visiting the Capitol alongside other city officials from across Iowa. After our chat, I led a small group including Representative Ingels and Oelwein City Administrator Dylan Mulfinger up to the top of the dome. 

Finally, on Thursday, I did yet another extended dome tour, this time taking members of the Head Start Program from the NEICAC up the 298 steps to the top of the Capitol where we enjoyed the best view in Des Moines.

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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