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Capitol Highlights

April 18, 2014
By Rep. Tedd Gassman - Representing Iowa House District 7 , Estherville News

We are currently working on 3 budget bills with more than a half dozen to go. By the time we get through these bills plus a few policy bills and the conference committee on the differences between the House and Senate it will probably go until the end of the week of April 20th.

We are currently working on SF2349. The legislation is called RIIF, Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund. The money allocated in this budget is used for a host of infrastructure updates. Some of those infrastructure updates are; Iowa great places, nursing home facility improvements, lake restoration and water quality, tuition replacement, Iowa State University Biosciences Building, railroad revolving loans and grants, and county fair infrastructure improvements.

The Iowa Great Places budget will approve grants that include infrastructure projects such as park creation and development, acquisition and renovation of historical buildings, renovation and expansion of museums, and recreational trails design and construction.

The Nursing Home Financial Assistance Program in Iowa Code chapter 249K was established in the 2008 Infrastructure Appropriations Act to support the appropriate number of nursing facility beds for the State's citizens and to financially assist nursing facilities in remaining compliant with applicable health and safety regulations.

Funds for the Lake Restoration and Water Quality budget are used for projects identified in the Lake Restoration Annual Report and Plan focusing on the first 35 projects that make up the priority of the list of lake candidates.

Tuition Replacement appropriation replaces the student tuition and fees that would be required to pay the debt service on academic revenue bonds authorized in prior fiscal years. The first academic revenue bonds were issued in 1970 and provided the primary sources of funds for construction of academic facilities at the universities for several decades. The appropriation is not mandatory by statute, the Board or Regents has previously indicated that without a tuition replacement appropriation, an aggregate increase of 5 percent in tuition across the universities would be required to pay the debt service. The General Assembly provides the appropriation to keep tuition costs lower for students.

Iowa State University Biosciences Building budget is for the construction of the new biosciences building at Iowa State University of Science and Technology. A new biosciences building is part of Iowa State University's comprehensive plan to address space needs for the biosciences programs. Faculty from disciplines such as biology, agriculture, engineering, computer sciences, chemistry, and social sciences have collaborated in the area of biosciences.

Railroad revolving loans and grants funds are used to provide grants and loans for construction and improvements to railroad facilities, such as railroad main lines, branch lines, switching yards, siding, rail connections, intermodal yards, and highway grade separations.

Finally, county fair infrastructure improvement funds are used for vertical infrastructure improvements at the 105 county fairs in the Association. County fairs will receive $10,095 each. Examples of recent projects with the funding include renovations to sheep barns, grandstand roofs, offices, adding ADA compliant restrooms and showers, new hoop buildings, new cattle barns, repairs due to storm damages, new community centers and exhibit buildings, renovations to main auditoriums and remodeling of horse barns.

Once we get through this appropriations bill we can work on the education budget. This year the education budget will include; funds for community colleges, regent's universities, for-profit colleges, and the Iowa tuition grant. Also included in this bill are funds for the department of the blind, Iowa brail and sight saving school, and a host of other functions.

The other budget bill on my desk is the administration and regulation budget. I am the vice-chair of that committee. This budget applies to 13 different agencies that administer state departments and agencies. You have probably heard and read a lot about DAS. This is one of the agencies under fire right now by the senate oversight committee.

I once again want to thank each and every constituent from district 7 for allowing me the honor of representing you in this legislature. Even though, every vote may not meet with the wishes of all, I do hope that you feel I have represented you to the very best of my ability. Most of what we have left to do is budget bills. Please feel free to email at or call me 515-538-0117.



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