News from the Iowa House of Representatives

Federal Stimulus to Create 37,000 Iowa Jobs On Tuesday, President Obama signed into law the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Nationally, the stimulus package of tax cuts and carefully targeted investments is estimated to create or save 3.5 million jobs over the next two years. Nationally, the economy is in a crisis not seen since the Great Depression. The financial credit markets are frozen, consumer purchasing power is in decline, in the last four months the country has lost 2 million jobs and we may see another 3 to 5 million lost in the next year. The short term goal of the stimulus package is to prevent the loss of millions of jobs and to get the economy moving again. The long term goal is to make the needed investments that restore the ability of average middle income families to increase their income and build a decent future for their children. The stimulus package targets investments to key areas that will create and preserve good jobs at the same time as it is strengthening the ability of this economy to become more efficient and produce more opportunities for employment. Iowa’s share of the federal stimulus package is estimated to be $1.9 billion over the next two years. Details on the how the funding will flow to Iowa are still being determined. These key investments are estimated to create or retain 37,000 jobs in Iowa over the next two years.

Highlights of the package:

  • Clean, Efficient, American Energy: Put people back to work today, and reduce dependence on foreign oil tomorrow, by strengthening efforts directed at doubling renewable energy production and renovate public buildings to make them more energy efficient.
  • Transform our Economy with Science and Technology: Put scientists to work looking for the next great discovery, creating jobs in cutting edge technologies, and making smart investments that will help businesses in every community succeed in a global economy.
  • Modernize Roads, Bridges, Transit and Waterways: Build a 21st century economy by engaging contractors across the nation to create jobs rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, modernizing public buildings, and putting people to work cleaning our air, water and land.
  • Education for the 21st Century: Enable more children to learn in 21st century classrooms, labs, and libraries to help our kids compete with any worker in the world.
  • Lower Healthcare Costs: Save jobs, money, and lives, by updating and computerizing our healthcare system to cut red tape, prevent medical mistakes, and help reduce healthcare costs by billions of dollars each year.
  • Help Workers Hurt by the Economy: High unemployment and rising costs have outpaced Americans’ paychecks. Investing in worker training and helping them find jobs will help struggling families make ends meet.
  • Save Public Sector Jobs and Protect Vital Services: Provide relief to states so they can continue to employ teachers, firefighters and police officers, and provide vital services without having to unnecessarily raise middle class taxes.
  • Constitutional Amendment Advances Both the House and Senate passed House Joint Resolution 1 this week to add an amendment to Iowa’s constitution to protect natural resources and outdoor recreation funding. The amendment will now be on the November 2010 ballot for a vote of the people. House Joint Resolution 1 creates a natural resources and outdoor recreation trust fund for protecting and enhancing Iowa’s waters, parks, trails, fish and wildlife habitat, and agricultural soils. No revenue will be credited to the fund until the Legislature increases the sales tax in the future, after the public votes on the amendment. The intent is to credit 3/8th of 1¢ of a future sales tax increase to this fund, which would generate approximately $150 million. The Legislature would establish the parameters for distribution of the funds, but they can only go for protecting and enhancing water quality and natural areas in Iowa.

    Pharmacies to Track Pseudoephedrine Electronically If House File 331 becomes law, all pharmacies will track the sale of pseudoephedrine products through an electronic logbook. Currently, there is a pilot project in Greene, Boone and Story counties that requires this be done. This project is showing that not only is it quicker and easier for the customer, it provides real time information for tracking purposes. Currently, when a person purchases a package of pseudoephedrine (i.e. common cold medicine), their name, address and signature must be captured in a logbook. These logbooks are kept so that law enforcement and pharmacists can detect if the purchaser is using the pseudoephedrine for illegal purposes. Pseudoephedrine is a key ingredient in making methamphetamine. With an electronic logbook, the person’s license or identification will be scanned and the data will immediately be transferred to a central storage warehouse. This warehouse will enable law enforcement to better track persons who travel from store to store to purchase pseudoephedrine to make meth. Accomplishing this will cost money, but Iowa has access to a $700,000 federal grant. The bill states that if there is no money available, then the state will not implement the electronic logbook.

    DNR Proposes a Residential Burn Ban Rich Leopold, the director of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), stated that background levels of particulate matter are dangerously high to putting the entire state in nonattainment of the federal Clean Air Act. In order to control this issue, the department is focusing on a residential burn ban to address some of these background particulate matter issues. Director Leopold noted that throughout much of Iowa, levels of particulate matter under the federal Clean Air Act are high.