From Senator Mark Lofgren

Week 7

Dear Senate District 48

Week seven is the last week before funnel week. This is the first of two major deadlines for legislation during the legislative session. As we wrap this week up, we are also preparing for another busy week next week at the Capitol as we work on preparing bills for floor debate in the Senate. Next week will be full of subcommittees and committee work as we move forward in the legislative session and ensure our focus remains on the most important issues.

Fixing  an Error for Property Owners
On Tuesday, Governor Kim Reynolds signed Senate File 181 into law. The bill fixed an error in how taxable values were calculated for property owners. Fixing this mistake will automatically save Iowa taxpayers up to $120 million. If local governments decide they need those funds in their budgets, they need to justify the levy increases to their constituents. In the Iowa Senate, property tax reform is a top priority this legislative session and we are happy with the progress made so far. We look forward to continuing the hard work to provide tax relief for Iowans.

Innovate @ Iowa State Day!
Tuesday was Innovate @ Iowa State Day at the Capitol.  The second of our major universities to visit the Capitol this session, definitely made a presence and did themselves proud. Students, Faculty and Staff from ISU were available in the First Floor Rotunda to share what the various programs have to offer and how the university is making a difference for Iowans across the state. Iowa Senators are proud to see how great our universities are doing and the opportunities they provide Iowa students.

Commercial Vehicle Liability Reform
This week the Iowa Senate passed SF 228, tort reform for commercial vehicles. I was not in favor of this legislation and attempted to, once again, protect human life, by drafting an amendment to this bill. This amendment would have added an exception to this cap in the instance of death. My amendment did not pass. I understand that the trucking industry is a major employer in Iowa. Beyond the jobs it creates, it is also vital to the success of the state’s economy. With that being said, I also believe that the 7th Amendment to our Constitution, which guarantees all citizens the right to a trial by jury should be upheld, and that those citizens called to be jurors should be allowed to do the job they are called to do.

Proponents of this legislation made claims of high liability insurance costing Iowans more for goods transported by commercial vehicles and promises of “big pay days” for those injured in car accidents with commercial vehicles. The truth of the matter is that no one injured or suffering loss of a family member due to a tragic accident is looking for a “big pay day”. Also of note, liability insurance rates for Iowa’s commercial trucking companies are already the 4th lowest in the country.

Accidents happen. And when negligence is the reason, someone should be liable for that negligence, and commercial trucking companies, like medical providers in our state, should not be held to a lower standard than anyone else. Another issue with this legislation is the fact that we have many interstate trucking companies crossing our state with no other state capping noneconomic damages like we will be doing if this bill passes out of the House. This will provide protections for out of state trucking companies, but not protect our Iowa trucking companies if an accident should occur while in another state. This legislation is now in the hands of the Iowa House.

Visitors to the Capitol this Week
Along with the Red and Yellow and the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association on Tuesday, visitors to the Capitol throughout the week included representatives from NAIFA, National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors of Iowa, the Iowa Fire Arms Coalition, and Eastern Iowa Light & Power Company (REC).

Bringing Iowa’s Stories to Life: Statewide Guide Training Workshop Enrolling Now
Have you ever thought about sharing your talent for talk with tourists in your community? With funding provided through a collaborative partnership among ISU Extension and Outreach, Central Iowa Tourism, the Iowa Arts Council/Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts, individuals across the state can become trained as tour guides and volunteers to tell their local stories. This one-day workshop will take place on April 18th in Earlham, Iowa. Follow the link below to learn more, or share with someone you know who might enjoy this opportunity.

As always, please feel free to contact me with questions as legislation is introduced and moves through the legislative process.

Best regards,