From Representative Taylor Collins

To the People of House District 95


We are now more than three months into the legislative session and the second funnel deadline has officially passed. What that means is if a bill hasn’t made it out of a committee in both chambers, it can no longer be considered this legislative session. The only exception to that being bills that are referred to the Appropriations or Ways & Means Committees.


House Republicans Release Budget Proposal for Fiscal Year 2024

House Republicans released spending parameters for the Fiscal Year 2024 state budget, once again proposing a responsible, conservative funding plan for the state. House Republicans are moving forward with a state budget of $8.5791 billion for the next fiscal year beginning July 1, 2023. The plans calls for an increase of $364.3 million over the current year spending level of $8.2148 billion.

The largest increase goes to the state’s local school districts, who receive an additional $127 million through the 3 percent increase in the state foundation formula plus the results of the adjustment in property tax valuations passed in Senate File 181.  The budget also contains the funding already passed for the implementation of the Educational Savings Account program.

Funding increases are provided to the various budget subcommittees to address a number of critical issues facing Iowa.  The budget will include new funds that will be used to provide increases to the Department of Corrections and state public safety programs. Provider rate increases for nursing homes, mental health providers, and substance abuse treatment will be funded in the Medicaid program.  Additional funds will also be used to address workforce shortage issues facing a number of professions.

Budget subcommittees have already begun work on the individual line items contained in their individual budgets.  As that work is completed, those numbers will become public.  Senate Republicans have yet to release any individual budget parameters.  It is not known if there is a plan to do so.


Mad About Your New Property Tax Assessment? 

When talking about assessing a home—what is really being talking about is the determination of market value. The law in Iowa is that assessed value is market value. The assessor finds the market value by analyzing recent sales, but also looks at the replacement cost (the amount it would cost to rebuild the property) less depreciation. Assessed value should be as close to market value as possible.

One thing people often wonder is how an assessor knows that they finished a basement or added a bathroom without ever coming into a home. Assessors actually find out most of this information by looking at building permits that are filed with the local city hall or the county. Another issue people have is when they find mistakes in their assessments—like a basement that claims to be finished when it is not. When homeowners find inaccuracies with their assessment, they should contact the assessor’s office. The assessor will review it and determine if the changes need to be made. An appraiser from the assessor’s office may need to walk through the property to obtain accurate data.

After considering all relevant information, assessments are sent out to homeowners by April 1 of the assessment year. A homeowner will not actually pay the taxes on these assessments until September of the following year.

What if a homeowner completely disagrees with the assessment of their home and property?  Fortunately, there is a process for you to argue your case. The first step is NOT to call the Department of Revenue. Instead, file with the local Board of Review – this website will describe the process:

In a reassessment year, a property owner may protest an assessment for one or more of the following reasons:
•    The assessment is not comparable to others with similar properties.
•    The property is assessed at more than its actual value.
•    The property is exempt from taxation.
•    There is an error in the assessment.
•    The assessment is fraudulent.

Completed protest forms can be received in the local assessor’s office starting April 2nd up to and including April 30th. The Board of Review will then review the assessment and determine whether the assessed value is fair. If, after review, you still do not agree with the assessed value, the homeowner may choose to appeal the case by filing in district court or with the Property Assessment Appeal Board at the Department of Revenue.


Education Savings Accounts FAQs

The Department of Education has issued more guidance on educational savings accounts. As we are coming closer to seeing the application process open up – let’s revisit the basics.

How it Works:
Parents who choose to enroll their eligible children in an accredited private school will receive an amount equal to the per pupil funding allocated to public school districts for the same budget school year. Funds will be deposited into an education savings account (ESA) to be used for tuition, fees, and other qualified education expenses as specified in the legislation.

Who is Eligible?
ESAs will be available based on the following eligibility:

Year 1: School Year 2023-24
•    All entering kindergarten students
•    All students enrolled in a public school
•    A student enrolled in a private school with a household income at or below 300% of the 2023 Federal Poverty Guidelines, $90,000 for a family of four
Year 2: School Year 2024-25
•    All entering kindergarten students
•    All students enrolled in a public school
•    A student enrolled in a private school with a household income at or below 400% of the 2024 Federal Poverty Guidelines that will be updated January 2024
Year 3: School Year 2025-26
•    All K-12 students in Iowa regardless of income
Categorical Funding
Other student funding generated by categorical funding formulas will remain with public school districts. This will include funding for students who choose to leave their public school, and for all students who live in the district but attend a private school. It’s estimated that Iowa’s public schools will receive approximately $1,205 per pupil in categorical funding for students enrolled in private schools.

Q: Can I use ESA funds to pay preschool tuition for my child?
A: No. ESA funds must be used for kindergarten through 12th grade education at an accredited private (nonpublic) school in Iowa.

Q: My daughter is in a private Pre-K program this year. Will she qualify for an ESA as an incoming kindergartener this fall?
A: Yes. All incoming kindergarteners are eligible for an ESA in the 2023-2024 school year regardless of income. ESA funds must be used for an accredited private (nonpublic) school in Iowa.

Q: If my kindergartener is eligible for an ESA this upcoming school year, will he receive a payment in his ESA again the following year when he’s a first grader?
A: Yes. Once an ESA account is established for a student, funds will be deposited into the account each year as long as they are enrolled in an accredited private school and until the student graduates from high school or turns 20 years of age. Families are required to apply annually to remain in the program.

Q: My kids are currently in a public school. Do they qualify for an ESA next school year even if we are above the income level?
A: Yes. All students who currently attend a public school and choose to enroll in an accredited private school for the 2023-2024 school year are eligible regardless of household income.

Q: Our children already attend a private school. When are they eligible for an ESA?
A: ESA eligibility for students who are currently enrolled in an accredited private school is based on household income during the first two years of the program. For the 2023-2024 school year, families with household incomes at or below 300% of the federal poverty level (FPL) are eligible. The level increases to at or below 400% FPL for the 2024-2025 school year. Beginning in 2025-2026 school year, all K-12 students who already attend an accredited private school are eligible for an ESA regardless of household income.

Q: We are a family of six with three of our children currently attending a private school. What income amount applies for us to be eligible for an ESA next school year?
A: Income eligibility will be determined using the current year’s federal poverty level (FPL) guidelines. The 2023 FPL guidelines were updated on Jan. 19, 2023. For the 2023-2024 school year, families making at or below 300% FPL will be eligible to receive an ESA for their children who currently attend an accredited private school. The following school year, families making at or below 400% FPL will be eligible.

Q: Is income eligibility based on gross income shown on our 2022 federal tax return, 2022 state tax return, or something else?
A: The ESA application process will require proof of income for families whose children are currently enrolled in an accredited private school and applying for an ESA for the 2023-2024 or 2024-2025 school years. Details regarding how applicants will verify income will be provided before the application period opens in the coming months.

Q: My children attend a private school and we receive tuition assistance from a STO. Are we also eligible for an ESA?
A: Yes. You can receive an ESA in addition to other tuition assistance that may be available to your family.

Q: We live in Council Bluffs, near the Nebraska border. Can my kids use their ESA funds to attend a private school in the Omaha area since it’s close to our home?
A: No. ESAs provided by the state of Iowa can only be used to attend accredited private schools located in the state of Iowa. The funds cannot be used to attend a private school in another state.

Q: We homeschool our children. Are they eligible for an ESA if they enroll to take 1-2 classes at an accredited private school?
A: No. Students must be enrolled full time in an accredited private school to be eligible for an ESA.

Q: Our children are currently homeschooled. If we move them to a private school next year, are they eligible for an ESA?
A: Yes, they would be eligible for an ESA regardless of income as long as they are enrolled as a full-time student at an accredited private school.

Q: Can an ESA be used to attend an online private school?
A: Yes. However, the student must be enrolled full time, and the online private school must be accredited through the Iowa Department of Education.

Answers to frequently asked questions are posted regularly on the Department of Education’s website. Send your questions to or call 515-281-5211.


RFA–Biofuel and Farm Leaders Press White House for Immediate Action on E15

On Wednesday April 5th the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) issued a press release that relayed that Biofuel and Farm leaders called on President Biden to get ahead of rising fuel costs by authorizing sales of E15 this summer.  In a letter to the White House, six stakeholder groups noted that current conditions are analogous to those in place last summer, when President Biden waived outdated Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) restrictions on E15. The move saved drivers up to nearly a dollar per gallon at the pump in some areas, and an average of 23 cents per gallon according to the Minnesota Department of Commerce. “The ongoing conflict in Ukraine, now extending into its second year, continues to reverberate across global energy markets,” said the letter, whose signatories include the RFA, Growth Energy, National Corn Growers Association, National Sorghum Producers, American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union. “At home, this conflict continues to cause fuel supply disruptions, high gasoline prices, and ongoing uncertainty for millions of Americans. To help remedy these disruptions, provide stability for American families, and support domestic energy and economic security, we urge the administration to authorize the summer sale of gasoline blended with up to 15 percent ethanol (E15).”


Student Privacy Simply Explained – No Legal Mumbo-Jumbo

Senate File 482 was recently signed by the Governor. The bill addresses student privacy in bathrooms, changing rooms, and other places in a school setting where a student may be in a state of undress. Legislation can be complicated to read. Below you can find a non-legal, simple explanation of the bill.

Q: What basic information should I know about Senate File 482?
A: Simply put, the bill requires biological girls to use the girls bathroom or changing room and biological boys to use the boys bathroom or changing room in school or at a school sponsored activity. This also includes overnight trips.  That means girls sleep in the girls rooms and boys sleep in the boys rooms.

Q: How do you determine who is a boy and who is a girl?
A: The child’s official birth certificate determines if the child is a boy or girl. It’s a simple and uniform way to ensure every student is treated the same.

Q: What if a student wants more privacy and doesn’t want to use their designated bathroom?
A: Parents can request an accommodation for their student through the school. School officials shall offer reasonable options for alternative facilities. This can include a single occupancy bathroom or changing room, but the school cannot allow the student to use a bathroom that is designated for the opposite sex.

Q: What do schools have to do?
A: Schools need to be sure their bathrooms and changing rooms are designated for either boys or girls. A single occupancy bathroom or changing room can be designated for anyone as long as only one person occupies the room at a time.

Q: What if I believe the school is not following the law?
A: If you believe the school is not following the law, it is easy to address the issue. First, provide written notice to the school describing the violation. If the school does not address the issue in three days, you can file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office.

At the end of the day, this bill is about protecting the privacy of boys and girls in school. It keeps politics out of the bathroom and changing room and allows students to focus on learning and not worrying about their privacy in school settings.


Governor Signs State Government Realignment into Law

This week Governor Reynolds signed into law Senate File 514 / House File 662 which streamlines and realigns the state government departments and agencies. It has been nearly 40 years since the organization of the state government has been evaluated and restructured in order to better serve Iowans. In that time, the number of cabinet level departments and agencies has grown to 37 agencies. Within these agencies are many duplicative and redundant services which impacted efficiency.

By aligning functions and services that are similar, taxpayers have a more straightforward process for interacting with the government and receiving the proper services without unnecessarily going to several agencies. One of the biggest changes is bringing in all licensing and regulatory services into the newly named Department of Inspections, Appeals, and Licenses. Currently, the licensing and management of 136 professional licenses is overseen by 11 state agencies. Now when contractors work on a project they will only have to coordinate with one agency in order to complete various inspection aspects of the project.

With such an important task as moving boards, authorities, and departments into their new locations the State Government Committee assigned a seven-member subcommittee to review the legislation and to speak with departments to ensure smooth transitions and that these policy changes would work. The subcommittee then held 6 public meetings to hear from the public and the department directors to flesh out concerns. The State Government Committee then considered the bill and adopted a 40-page amendment addressing concerns and issues that were raised.

While there was lots of hyperbolic rhetoric about the size of the bill, 1,513 pages, the first 880 pages largely dealt with the merger of the Department of Human Services and the Department of Health which has been in the works for over a year. The remaining changes made in the bill are not changes to services provided to Iowans, but moving boards and oversight to more appropriate departments in a way to make efficient use of staffing and resources. Above all the legislation aims to provide more streamlined access to government services for Iowans.

This legislation was an overdue measure to ensure that government is working for the taxpayers. Consolidating existing services from 37 agencies to 16 will better pool resources and provide stronger oversight to ensure the best service possible for Iowans.


Severe Weather Hits SE Iowa

Last Friday severe weather hit SE Iowa and Des Moines County suffered some severe storm damage – especially to the City of Mediapolis. Within 15 minutes of the storm passing volunteers had already filled the streets to help with cleanup, and by the end of the weekend, most of the cleanup had already been completed.

On Saturday after the storm hit I along with other county Des Moines County Officials asked the Governor’s Office to add Des Moines County to the Disaster Emergency Proclamation. Within hours, the proclamation had been signed by the Governor, and the Iowa Individual Assistance Grant Program had been activated.

The Iowa Individual Assistance Grant Program provides grants of up to $5,000 for households with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Grants are available for home or car repairs, replacement of clothing or food, and temporary housing expenses. Original receipts are required for those seeking reimbursement for actual expenses related to storm recovery. The grant application and instructions are available on the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services website at Potential applicants have 45 days from the date of the proclamation to submit a claim.


Navigating the Closure of Iowa Wesleyan

Last Friday the Mount Pleasant Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a legislative roundtable to discuss current bills before the legislature and of course the elephant that was in the room – the closure of Iowa Wesleyan University. I want to thank everyone who came out the forum and shared their thoughts on the situation which will be of great impact to the SE Iowa area. As I’ve said before and will continue urge other leaders in the community to do is to keep pressure on the USDA (which will soon own the campus) to work with the community on what to do with the University’s remaining assets. Yesterday, Thursday, April 6th, I talked with the USDA’s State Director for Rural Development Theresa Greenfield and relayed that same message. It still remains to be seen how this process will work as the USDA assumes ownership but community leaders are in the right frame of mind as we navigate how to move forward. This week representatives from Iowa Workforce Development were on campus and next week the Director of the State’s Economic Development Authority, Debi Durham, will be in town.



Rep. Taylor Collins
Iowa House District 95