Representative Taylor Collins Monthly Newsletter

To the People of House District 95

Wow, it’s already December! The next newsletter you should receive will be in the New Year. Following that newsletter, I will be going back to my regular updates that many of you should have received last session. The first day of the second legislative session of the 90th General Assembly will be on Monday, January 8th.

Smaller Growth Projected by Surrounding States as FY 2025 Revenue Forecasts Set
As legislators, executive branch agencies, and other stakeholders await the December 13th meeting of Iowa’s Revenue Estimating Conference, several states in the region are already setting their revenue forecasts for their upcoming legislative sessions. The results of these meetings help give some indication of where the three members of Iowa’s revenue forecasting panel may go when they meet and set the official revenue forecast for Fiscal Year 2025.

Revenue estimates for Kansas are put together by that state’s Department of Revenue, its nonpartisan legislative budget staff, and economists from state-funded universities. Their latest projection, put out just before Thanksgiving, slightly lowers their previous forecasts for revenue collections in the current fiscal year. They are now projecting the state to take in $10.284 billion in tax revenue this year, which would be $30 million more than what was collected in FY 2023. For the next fiscal year, the Kansas forecasters are seeing a slight decrease in revenue of 0.3 percent, taking it down to $10.257 billion.

What is driving the virtual status quo numbers for the Sunflower State? Growth hindered by inflation according to the panel: “The Kansas economy is expected to experience modest real growth throughout the forecast period. Persistent elevated levels of inflation are forecast to largely offset the relatively strong nominal growth of the Kansas economy… The forecast does retain concern for the overall economy due to the impacts of sustained elevated interest rates and lingering high inflation, as well as more typical concerns related to multiple geopolitical conflicts, costs of health care, volatility in energy prices, tariffs or possible trade war effects on commodity prices, and consumer demand for products and services subject to sales taxation.”

In Nebraska, the nine-member Economic Forecasting Board held its annual fall meeting just before Halloween. And like the Kansas revenue forecast, Nebraska expects to see continued economic growth, just at a slower rate.

For the current budget year, Nebraska is projected to collect $6.445 billion in state revenue. This would be $80 million more than what the Cornhusker State collected last fiscal year. The October projection is slightly higher than the figure used to set the state’s budget for this year, reflecting continued growth.

The Nebraska legislature spent its last session trying to keep up with Iowa. The unicameral legislative body approved tax cuts this spring, including a reduction in personal income tax rates. This package is expected to reduce state revenue by $232 million. This is why the Economic Forecasting Board set their expected Fiscal Year 2025 revenue figure at $6.365 billion, approximately $80 million lower than the current year.

Iowa’s Revenue Estimating Conference will hold its December meeting on Wednesday, December 13th at 11 AM. Iowans are invited to watch this via the Legislative Services Agency’s YouTube page:


Iowa’s Unemployment Rate Increases to 3.2%
Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased to 3.2% in October, up from 3.1% a year ago. The state’s labor force participation rate decreased from 68.6% to 68.4% but remains 0.3% higher than one year ago.

Meanwhile, the U.S. unemployment rate rose to 3.9% in October, and the national labor force participation rate fell to 62.7%.

The number of unemployed Iowans increased to 56,000 in October from 52,800 in September. The total number of working Iowans decreased to 1,679,900 in October. This figure is 8,300 lower than September and 13,600 higher than one year ago.

“October’s numbers demonstrate that national economic pressures and the federal government’s efforts to slow inflation are having an impact on Iowa,” said Beth Townsend, Executive Director of Iowa Workforce Development. “As we enter the winter, when we traditionally see higher seasonal unemployment rates, we will most likely see these trends continue. However, there are still almost 65,000 open jobs on “I encourage any Iowan who is impacted by this economic slowdown to look first to IWD for assistance. Our team works every day to connect workers with employers, and we know these efforts are successful as evidenced by Iowa having the shortest average duration for unemployment claims in more than 50 years.”

State Board of Education Hears Proposed Rules on Parents’ Rights Bill
Last month, the State Board of Education heard proposed rulemaking for Senate File 496. This bill deals with ensuring books and materials in schools are age-appropriate, ensuring gender identity and sexual orientation instruction in K-6 does not occur, along with spelling out certain rights of parents related to their child’s education. Public hearings for the proposed rules will be January 3rd and 4th.

The bill is very clear on what is not age-appropriate. Material with descriptions or visual depictions of sex are not age-appropriate. Most legislators were stunned to learn over the last year that material containing graphic depictions of sex acts were available in school libraries and were part of class reading lists – especially in the Des Moines Metro.

Confusion over what is covered by SF 496 appears to be deliberate in some cases as ploy to further left-wing political agendas. A simple mention of sex in a book is not covered by the law as any clear reading of the bill indicates. Rules now also state that “a reference or mention of a sex act in a way that does not describe or visually depict a sex act as defined in that section is not included in the previous sentence.” This, of course, makes sense. It is the only logical conclusion if one were to read the bill. Hopefully, with this rule, district leaders can see what House Republicans have been saying all along. While it remains to be seen if certain districts will follow the law as it was written, House Republicans are hopeful. If anyone needs a reminder as to what the definition of a sex act is, the new rule repeats Iowa Code section 702.17.

Some school district leaders were also spun up about the enforcement piece of the law. The Department may exercise enforcement discretion if any violation is voluntarily and permanently corrected prior to the department making a determination of a violation. For library programs that serve multiple age ranges, the district must have reasonable physical, administrative, and technological controls in place to ensure the materials are age-appropriate based on their age and grade. This isn’t a “gotcha” game. Districts must comply, of course, but they are given time to comply.

Lastly, when it comes to letting parents know that their child wants to transition to a different gender at school in secret. Yes, a parent should know that information. Additionally, rules solidified what House Republicans have been saying about nicknames. Wanting to be called “Bill” instead of “William” does not mean the parents need to be called or that they need to give written permission. That example obviously does not involve a request to transition to a different gender. Again, a simple application of common sense and clear reading of the law could have alleviated any confusion.

I hope school districts feel better now that the Department is saying exactly what House Republicans have been saying since the bill was going through the legislative process last spring: age-appropriate material didn’t use to be controversial, nor did parents being informed of their own child’s behavior at school.

There is no good reason schools, instead of parents, should be instructing children on topics such as gender identity and sexual orientation in grades K-6. There is no reason a child should need to look at or read incredibly graphic material that cannot be shown on TV or read aloud at school board meetings. There is also no reason for school districts in the Des Moines Metro to pull political stunts and remove books that don’t meet the age-appropriate standards of the law.

Iowa Department of Education Releases New State School Performance Ratings and Federal Designations
The Iowa Department of Education released the new Iowa School Performance Profiles, which includes new state school performance ratings and federal designations.

The website shows:
• Schools that have been identified for additional support and improvement based on their performance to meet requirements of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
o Of the 468 total schools currently identified in need of targeted assistance and support, nearly half of all were identified because their students with disabilities performed below the level of the lowest 5 percent of all schools.
• Updated scores and state school performance ratings for all public schools in Iowa based on how they performed on multiple measures, including student proficiency and growth, in the 2022-23 school year.
o Ratings range from exceptional (highest performing), high performing, commendable, acceptable, needs improvement, and priority (lowest performing).
• Additional data beyond that included in the school performance ratings, including educator effectiveness and per pupil expenditures.

This year, 134 additional schools were identified as in need of targeted assistance and support (targeted schools) based on the performance of and achievement gaps experienced by a subgroup of their students (students who are eligible for free and reduced-price meals, english language learners, students with disabilities or students by racial / ethnic group). Targeted schools are identified annually and are part of a three-year cycle during which they implement a plan for improvement with the support of the Department of Education.

Schools are identified for comprehensive support (comprehensive schools) once every three years. No new comprehensive schools were identified since the 32 schools identified last year are in their second year of state support and assistance. These schools represent the lowest five percent of all Title 1 public schools, as well as schools with graduation rates lower than 66%, based on the overall performance of their students. Title 1 schools typically serve high numbers or percentages of children from low-income backgrounds.

In addition to the federal ESSA accountability designations, state school performance ratings provide an overall score and performance rating for all Iowa schools across a number of performance measures. The overall distribution of schools by rating category changed only slightly from last year, with 94.2% of schools remaining unchanged or only shifted by one category. The Commendable category saw the highest increase (2.9% points), while the High Performing and Exceptional categories changed by less than a percentage point. The share of schools in the bottom two rating categories (Needs Improvement and Priority) decreased by 0.3% combined. More schools moved into the upper half of the rating system (53%) compared to the prior year (51%).

The Iowa School Performance Profiles, launched in 2018, meets state and federal requirements to publish report cards reflecting the performance of all public schools.

The graphs below show the Achievement Average of students on the state assessment. This score represents the average performance in mathematics and reading of students and provides information about overall academic achievement.

Transparency for Temp Staffing Agencies in Health Care
In 2022 and 2023, the legislature established Iowa Code 135Q to ensure that Iowa taxpayer funds are not being gouged by temporary staffing agencies charging health care entities unnecessarily high costs. These bills ensured that temporary nursing staffing agencies (registered nurses, LPNs, CNAs, etc.) are the target of the requirements described below.

This law helps provide transparency in pricing by requiring these temp nursing agencies report quarterly a detailed list of the average amount charged to the health care entity for each agency worker category, and average amount paid by the agency to the agency workers for each worker category.

The law also requires these health care employment agencies to register with the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals and Licensing, and requires DIAL to investigate complaints against these agencies. Importantly, this law requires agency workers to be qualified and meet health regulation requirements for the health care setting they are working in. Lastly, this bill prohibits non-competes, as it has been seen that these agencies are using these for even CNA positions.

Iowa’s Opioid Settlement Funds: How Much Does Iowa Get?
The receipt of various payments from the pharmaceutical industry to states and local governments is burning the proverbial hole in the pockets of Democrat legislators and numerous interest groups. But a key question has emerged amongst the rush to spend: just how much money is the State of Iowa supposed to get and how are policymakers allowed to use it? Having a clear understanding of how the money will work and what it can be used for is critical before any steps are taken to spend what is accruing in Iowa’s Opioid Settlement Fund.

With Tom Miller as attorney general, Iowa was involved in several lawsuits against pharmaceutical drug companies, drug distributor firms, and giant pharmacy companies. Over time, these suits generated a number of separate settlements with states and local governments to address the impacts of opioid abuse in the United States. This approach was modeled after the actions of the mid-1990s when states banded together and sued tobacco companies for the costs of smoking-related illnesses. However there are some key differences.

Unlike the tobacco settlement, the cases against the opioid industry were settled on an individual basis. Currently, the State of Iowa is involved in eight separate opioid lawsuit settlements. Unlike the tobacco settlement, these payments are going to the states and local governments (primarily counties). Furthermore, an additional difference is the opioid settlements come with fifteen pages of restrictions on how the settlement payments can be used.

Like the tobacco settlement, the Iowa Legislature took action to make sure Iowans had a voice in how the payments from opioid settlements will be used. The 2022 legislative session saw the creation of the Opioid Settlement Fund. All settlement payments received after the Opioid Settlement Fund’s creation will now be appropriated as part of the state’s budget. So, how much does the state currently have in the Opioid Settlement Fund and how much will we get in the future?

According to the State Treasurer’s office, Iowa currently has $27.4 million in the Opioid Settlement Fund. While a sizeable amount, this is a small fraction of what the state received from the tobacco settlement. And unlike the tobacco settlement, the payment structures for each opioid settlement vary significantly. While the payments from opioid distributors will continue until Fiscal Year 2039, the payments from Walmart will be over at the end of this year.

The varying amounts and timelines for the opioid settlements means the inflow of revenues to the state fluctuates. In Fiscal Year 2024, the state is expected to receive $11.5 million for these settlements. That amount rises to almost $12.7 million in FY 27, when the amount start decline. They will fall to $9.8 million in FY 2030, $6.4 million in FY 2035, and end with just $3.4 million coming in during FY 2039.

A new complicating factor has emerged in recent weeks to this process – bankruptcy. One of the companies who settled with state and local governments subsequently filed for bankruptcy protection. Surprisingly, the federal bankruptcy court decided that the company should be able to discharge at least part of the settlement payments. This action has some wondering if other companies involved in these settlements will consider taking a similar path.

Having a clear understanding of the amounts of available funds and what the rules are for their use is an important first step before the state begins to set up a long-term plan for the use of the Opioid Settlement Fund. Iowans can expect that House Republicans will have these answers to these questions before funding starts going out the door.

Law Enforcement Academy and Human Trafficking Discussed at Statehouse
At the end of the 2023 legislative session, Senate File 562, the Justice Systems Budget, was approved. The bill authorized two different interim study committees to take a deeper look at the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) training, and human trafficking dangers facing our state. Interim study committees give the legislature and the public a chance to dig deeper into important issues outside of the legislative session.

The ILEA interim was chaired by Rep. Steven Holt and Sen. Brad Zaun. Members included Sheriffs, Police Chief’s, County Attorney’s, department heads, and others directly involved with the ILEA. The 22 members of the committee were charged with reviewing training standards and the facilities at the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy. While there’s no doubt Iowa has some of the best peace officers, improvements can always be made. Discussion focused on keeping standards consistent across the state, improving training facilities in Des Moines, and ensuring every officer who graduates from the ILEA is meeting the high standards expected from officers in Iowa. Recommendations are being put together and a final report will be issued sometime in December.

Rep. Brian Lohse and Sen. Dan Dawson chaired the interim study committee on human trafficking. Members of this interim had a large goal including studying current laws focused on stopping human trafficking, services available to victims, barriers facing those who want and need help, funding needs for programs, and other changes that would help rescue victims and provide them a safe environment.

During the three hour meeting, the 21 members discussed a variety of recommendations for Representatives and Senators to consider including how victims of human trafficking should be treated in a deposition, where minor human trafficking victims should receive treatment, and how to target the individuals and groups that engage in the trafficking. The discussion was spirited and left no doubt that ending human trafficking and caring for victims is a priority. A final report will be available before the 2024 session starts.

Department of Revenue Reminds Taxpayers of Filing Changes
This week the Iowa Department of Revenue reminded taxpayers that changes are coming next tax season for those who file individual income tax returns. Individuals who file Iowa income tax, fiduciary, and inheritance taxes can now make payments and manage their accounts through GovConnectIowa, the State’s secure online tax and licensing portal. GovConnectIowa replaced the previous system called eFile & Pay.

The Iowa Department of Revenue is in the third rollout of a multi-year effort to modernize and simplify the tax paying process for individual taxpayers and businesses in Iowa. Last month, The State added additional tax types and increased online service functionality through GovConnectIowa.

This third rollout includes:
• New features for making payments and account management for individual income tax, fiduciary, and inheritance taxes.
• Administration of the State of Iowa Setoffs Program. The program is a way that public agencies collect past-due (delinquent) debts (for example, child support payments) that are owed.
• Expanded functionality for the Department of Inspections, Appeals, and Licensing.

Learn more about the modernization effort and GovConnectIowa at

$29 Million Provided to EMS in Iowa
One of the most basic functions of government is ensuring citizens have the ability to call for help when it’s necessary. House Republicans believe that an Iowan’s zip code shouldn’t determine whether or not they live or die when faced with a medical emergency.

Based on legislation by the Iowa House, emergency medical services recently received an additional $29 million to 67 EMS locations in Iowa. The Medicaid supplemental payment provided to these city and county ambulance services is based on their uncompensated care costs over the last year.

Additionally, the legislature passed SF 615 in 2021, which makes EMS an essential service so that local governments have the resources and certainty to make long-term investments in EMS infrastructure. This bill helps local communities fund life-saving emergency medical services for their citizens.

Secretary Naig Announces Next Stage for SE Iowa Water Quality Project
Last month the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) issued a press release in which Secretary Naig announced that a successful Water Quality Initiative (WQI) project in Lee, Henry, Van Buren, Des Moines, and Jefferson Counties is accelerating toward a new phase with an added focus on edge-of-field conservation practices. Since the Lower Skunk River and Big Sugar Creek Partnership started in 2014, more than 54,000 acres of cover crops have been seeded in the project area and nearly 238,000 feet of terraces have been built. The next stage of this project will continue to emphasize the use of these conservation practices. However, the project will also now include an added focus on the installation of edge-of-field practices such as saturated buffers and bioreactors as well as nutrient reducing grade stabilization structures.

Staying in Touch
As always, you can shoot me an email at with any questions or concerns.


Rep. Taylor Collins