|Wednesday was a BIG day for me. I started the day with a subcommittee on firefighting training requirements the state has placed on our small volunteer fire departments 13 years ago. I have been a volunteer firefighter for the past 31 years and GREATLY love to serve my community in this manner. However, I have a firsthand understanding as to how the government, even with their good intentions, can be overwhelmingly burdensome. Because of that, I introduced SF 313 which allowed an easement on the training requirements on our veteran volunteer firefighters at the discretion of the fire chief.
Wednesday night the Senate voted on SF 228, tort reform for commercial motor vehicles. I believe this was a vitally important bill due to how much Iowans rely on the trucking industry. Trucking in Iowa is the 2nd largest industry of employment with 1 out of 13 paychecks coming from this industry. Besides being a major employer in Iowa, everything we use in our day to day lives is brought to us by a truck! Simply put, without trucks, IOWA stops! This bill limits the amount of noneconomic damages a jury can award in a commercial vehicle accident lawsuit. Economic damages, such as health care costs, lost wages, and other definable expenses remain uncapped, as well as punitive damages where a driver/company is guilty of extreme negligence in conducting their business. However in the very, very race occurrences where drugs or alcohol might be involved, the limits from this bill are removed. SF 228 creates a balance between awards for those injured in an accident while slowing down many of the erroneous lawsuits that are taking place in this industry.
Another large piece of legislation that is moving forward is the Governor’s Realignment Bill. A longstanding goal of Governor Reynolds is to make government smaller, smarter, and more efficient by eliminating needless obstacles that burdens Iowans. This week, the Senate State Government Committee passed SSB 1123, which works to improve the alignment of the State’s government functions and departments. The bill combines 37 executive branch cabinet agencies and reduces the number to 16. At the moment, Iowa has more cabinet agencies than all of our neighboring states. This reduction in cabinet agencies will bring departments with similar functions together, and in doing so increase efficiency and communications. Over the next four years, this bill is estimated to save Iowans $214 million. There is still work to be done on this bill, but it is a great step forward in the right direction of making Iowa’s government smaller, smarter, and overall more efficient. The end goal – for the government to work better for Iowans.
Next week is sure to be an interesting and busy week, but one I look forward to. If you happen to find yourself at the Capitol please feel free to send a note into the Senate chamber and I will do my best to find time to meet with you. Thank you for your continued support!