Mark Lofgren – District 48 Update Week 3

This Week in the Senate

Since this is the second year of the 90th General Assembly, our timeline is a little shorter and deadlines will be coming up on us quicker. This will make our work a little more fast paced this year. We covered a variety of topics in subcommittees and committees this week, ranging from education standards and student driving permits to “left lane camping” or staying in the left lane too long.

Strong Support for Life

The Iowa Prayer Rally for Life was held on Monday to celebrate the successes of the pro-life movement and the achievements we have made in Iowa to protect life. You may recall that last summer a special legislative session was called just to address this important issue because of an unexpected ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court. We passed the Heartbeat Bill once again to make clear our support for the start of life at the sound of a heartbeat. Governor Kim Reynolds and Attorney General Brenna Bird also spoke at the rally, discussing their commitment to life and to protecting it.


More Consistency Needed in Driving Violations

The Senate Transportation Committee discussed several bills this week. Senate File 16 is one that I have been involved with for the past two years and was responsible for running in committee this week. This bill determines that if a driver drives too close to a bicyclist and causes a serious injury or death, the driver is subject to a simple misdemeanor resulting in either a $500 fine and/or a possible license suspension for 90 days if a serious injury occurs, or a $1,000 fine and/or a possible license suspension for 180 days if a death occurs.

Under current law, driving too close to a bicyclist—a current traffic violation—is not included in the list of violations (321.482A) that have enhanced penalties if a serious injury or death occurs. Among those currently listed include current hands-free laws, running stop signs and stop lights, improper passing, and driving too close to a pedestrian or another vehicle. There are 29 Code sections currently referenced in this list.

Driving too close to a bicyclist is currently a primary offense, meaning an offender can be pulled over for it. This does not change under the bill. This violation goes against a driver’s record and is subject to habitual offender considerations (321.555). SF 16 would provide more consistency with driving violations.

Improving Student Literacy in Iowa
During her Condition of the State speech, Governor Reynolds discussed the need to improve student literacy. This week the Senate began work on Senate Study Bill 3069.

SSB 3069 directs Iowa schools to implement evidence-based reading curriculum to teach elementary school students. It requires kindergarten through third grade students be taught using evidence-based instruction, including phonics, and prevents instruction which teaches kids how to read based on context, visual cues, or memory, including an instructional model known as the three-cueing system. It also requires teacher preparation programs to focus on evidence-based practices for literacy instruction.

Reading scores of Iowa students are near the national average. However, when students fall behind after third grade, most do not recover. Limited literacy skills decrease career opportunities, reduce income potential, and have other negative consequences. Many studies have clearly demonstrated the success of phonics instruction for more than 50 years.

Phonics is how reading was taught for decades. There are many methods out there that are simply not evidence based and we want students in Iowa to be given the best start possible. Phonics and evidence-based reading programs best equip Iowa children to become readers and prepare themselves for career success.

The goal of SSB 3069 is to improve student achievement. It is the same goal as the review of Area Education Agencies, passage of school choice, sustainable and reliable increases in education funding, empowering parents in the education of their children, and every other education policy passed in the Iowa Senate. High student achievement is critical to the success of Iowa children and to the future growth of our state.

National School Choice Week

This week was National School Choice Week, a time to celebrate educational choice and a quality education for all students, a time to discuss all the options available to students to ensure the best education for them, and a reminder of our accomplishments as a state. One year ago, Governor Kim Reynolds signed into law House File 68, the school choice bill passed by the Iowa Senate and House.

Prior to its passing, it was estimated the state would receive about 14,000 applications for an education savings account. However, we saw overwhelming demand with over 29,000 applications submitted for the program. Of the 29,000 applications received, almost 19,000 were approved. We are still waiting on updated numbers on how many of these families were able to use the accounts and get their child into the school of their choice.

House File 68, also called the Students First Act, gives all parents more options for K-12 education, helps improve achievement for all students, and provides more flexibility to school districts when it comes to funding.  The bill as signed into law phases in over three years, and we are only into the first year of enactment.

In previous years we provided more choice for parents and students by ensuring open enrollment was available for all, allowing students to go to different public schools out of their resident district if they thought it would be a better fit. We are constantly striving to ensure the best education possible for Iowa students.

Even with the higher than expected demand for educational scholarships, we know that a vast majority of Iowa students will continue to attend public schools. Education remains a focus at the Capitol and improving student achievement is the goal, whether in public, private, charter, or any other type of school.


  Bills that Moved through
Committees this Week

The following bills were previously discussed in subcommittees and moved through committees this week:



SSB 3090  (Transportation)-  This bill requires drivers to drive in the right-most lane, with some exceptions. If a road has more than two lanes, the driver is required to drive in the middle lane. Only warnings will be given by law enforcement until July 1, 2025. After that date, a violation results in a $135 fine.


SSB 3097 (Workforce) – This bill codifies the unanimous recommendations made by the Minor Driver’s License Interim Study Committee. This bill addresses the available driving privileges for persons between the ages of fourteen and a half and sixteen. At age sixteen, an individual may seek an intermediate license which provides more expansive privileges.

Under current law, a person that is at least fourteen and a half and has satisfied the prerequisites (held a learner’s permit for six months, completed driver’s education, and no accidents or traffic violations) may apply for special driver’s licenses granting privileges to drive unaccompanied to school, extracurricular activities, and farm work. Currently, these privileges do not extend to non-farm work. This bill would treat farm work and non-farm work the same in terms of the driving privilege, creating a privilege for this age group to drive to all types of work unaccompanied as opposed to just farm work. A licensee’s parent or guardian must provide the DOT with written consent for the licensee to drive to work. The bill does not authorize a licensee to drive as part of the licensee’s employment. For example, if a licensee were employed at a pizza parlor, the licensee would not be permitted to drive to deliver pizzas.

Under current law, licensees that are non-public school students may drive up to 50 miles from their residence to their school of enrollment on the most direct and accessible route. The same 50-mile distance limitation applies for travel to extracurricular activities for non-public school licensees. Licensees may also currently drive up to 50 miles for farm work.

Under current law, licensees enrolled in public school are permitted to drive to their school of enrollment and extracurricular activities within the school district of enrollment. Current law also allows licensees enrolled in public school to drive within a school district contiguous to the licensee’s school district of enrollment for participation in extracurricular activities and other sanctioned activities.
This bill would change the permissible distance to 25 miles for farm work, while adding the new privilege of being able to drive 25 miles to non-farm work. Current law allows no such privilege. Additionally, non-public school student licensees would now have a 25-mile distance limit for school and extracurricular activities. Public school licensees would also have a 25-mile distance limit as well. However, if the distance between the residence of a public-school licensee and the licensee’s “default” or “zoned” school is greater than 25 miles, that public school licensee may still drive between their residence and the school of enrollment.

Lastly, current law states “The fact that the applicant resides at a distance less than one mile from the applicant’s school of enrollment is prima facie evidence of the nonexistence of necessity for the issuance of a license.” This is eliminated in this bill, allowing prospective applicants living less than one mile from their school to seek this license.

Under current law, licensees are permitted to drive to school, extracurricular activities, and farm work between the hours of 5:00 AM and 10:00 PM. This bill would instead allow a licensee to drive to school, extracurricular activities, and all work for one hour preceding and one hour following the permissible activity/event.

The bill requires the Department of Transportation to suspend a licensee’s license for three months if:
• The licensee violates the license restrictions.
• The licensee is at fault for causing an accident or collision.
• Or if the licensee is convicted of violating any other traffic law.

Additionally, the DOT is prohibited from issuing an intermediate driver’s license for three months beyond when a person would otherwise be eligible for the license (normally age 16). Unlike current law, the bill makes a violation of the license restrictions a moving violation. Further, moving violations may be considered for purposes of administrative suspension of a driver’s license or to establish habitual offender status.
The bill does not require a person who holds a special minor’s license that was issued before the effective date to apply for a new license. Instead, they may continue to operate a motor vehicle in accordance with the bill. However, that person is prohibited from driving unaccompanied to work until after that person’s parent or guardian provides written consent to the DOT.
A person that violates the restrictions on the special minor’s restricted license commits a simple misdemeanor punishable by a $70 scheduled fine. The bill also provides enhanced penalties for if the person is convicted of using an electronic communication device or electronic entertainment device and the violation results in injury or death.


SSB 3039 (Local Government) – Prohibits common interest communities and unit owners associations from forbidding the display of American flags on the exterior of a resident’s home. Last week this bill was run through subcommittee and this week, it was passed out of committee and will be ready for floor debate when it is called up.


Wapello School District Robotics Team is Honored during the Iowa 1000 Friends Awards Ceremony
On Tuesday, the Wapello robotics team, Roboloco, was the proud recipient of the Renewable Energy Product of the Year Award during the 1000 Friends of Iowa awards ceremony. Click here for a short news clip regarding this achievement.