|Hello Senate District 44!
All I can say is that I am glad Funnel Week is over. There are 3 grueling weeks every session: the first funnel week, the second funnel week, and the final week. In my opinion, the first funnel is always the most difficult, so I’m certainly glad that week has passed! Between lengthy committee meetings, last second subcommittees, and some “spirited” conversation, I am ready for the weekend.
This week also saw more groups find their way to the Capitol. Some of these groups were the Mt. Pleasant iJAG. The iJAG program (Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates) is an awesome program that is optional for schools to participate in and for those that do, the state provides funding. This is something I encourage all schools to look into! It provides our youth a lot of different learning options focused on careers and in ways that differ than traditional education formats. In a short summary, it exposes students to a vast array of careers that most of them may have never known to exist.
Indian Hills Community College, Southwest Iowa Community College, and even a group of international guests from Ukraine visited me as well. I had a wonderful time visiting with these groups and valued the conversations that arose. Taking time to speak with these groups was definitely a needed distraction from this busy week, and I want to thank each of these groups for their time.
I am sure many of you saw the untruthful attack ads that were taken out on me last week – full-page color ads in my local papers. Have you heard the term “dirty politics”? Well that ad was it. A group of trial attorneys paid for the ads that were untruthful and hypocritical! The legislation they referred to was NOT a self-interest bill. It did deal with an issue I am very passionate about (and campaigned on) and that is TORT reform! Greedy attorneys are bogging down our legal system. For every illegitimate lawsuit they file, a legitimate one gets pushed back. It is because of these ambulance-chasing attorneys (they are the ones with the billboards up, the ones who have commercials on 2 AM tv, etc.) as to why WE NEED TORT REFORM in Iowa. It is NOT about trucking companies avoiding responsibility. It is simply slowing down the crazy number of lawsuits that have NO merit to them.
Their attacks suggested that I should not have voted on the bill however they did not tell the Representatives and Senators who are also attorneys (I’m guessing there are 20 of them) to do the same thing. Attorneys in this state had more to lose financially with tort reform than what anyone else has to gain! When have we demanded that every farmer that serves in the Capitol remove themselves from voting on legislation that concerns farming, like the ethanol bill? We don’t. This argument holds true with every industry.
One realistically would ask, “Why would these attorneys file these lawsuits if the trucking company was not at fault?” and it is a fair question. However the reason is, because it costs attorneys a few hundred dollars in legal fees to file the lawsuit and it costs the plaintiff NOTHING to file or to “sign on” with an attorney. However, it costs the trucking companies $200,000 – $300,000 or more in legal fees, expert testimony, accident recreation, attorney fees, etc. to defend these bogus cases and even after spending that, there is a risk the trucking companies could lose. There is a HUGE trend where juries in very litigious counties are awarding BIG verdicts even when the trucking company is NOT at fault. So when a trucking company is looking at the risk and the cost to defend, it often makes more “business sense” to settle for $200,000 than to incur the cost to defend yourself and still have the risk of losing. These attorneys are making a lottery out of our legal system!
Slowing down this craziness was the basis of this litigation. Regardless of what the attack ads states, this was NOT a personal bill by me. There are 9,306 trucking companies in Iowa. Additionally, nearly every farmer today is a trucking company if they have even a single grain truck and any small business that uses anything from a pickup truck to a semi would is also affected by this legislation. 1 out of 11 paychecks in this GREAT state are tied to the trucking industry. That is a lot of companies and A LOT of lives that would be POSITIVELY impacted with this legislation. The tort reform issue and legislation trying to address the issue has been in the Capitol years before I ever got elected.
The last piece of legislation I want to highlight is SF 167. This is a bill that I ran through the Workforce Committee, and I look forward to taking it to the Senate floor. This bill focuses on providing opportunities for teenagers to work, ONLY if they choose to. Federal regulations greatly limit the number of hours and days that 14-18 year olds may work. These same individuals are free to attend extracurricular activities, sporting events, etc. with little to no regulation. This bill simply allows greater opportunity for youth to work at a job if they choose. They may want to save money for a new car, take a date to the movies, or simply save money for college. This bill also PROHIBITS youth under 18 years of age to work in/with a variety of dangerous environments, such as explosives, saw-mills, mining, and on the floor of a meat packing plant. All in all, this bill helps to PROTECT Iowa’s youth, while also providing them with greater opportunity to engage in work activities. The news outlets and various Democrats have painted this bill to be a “youth slave labor” bill, and protested that “our kids are not for sale.” This is not only a great disrespect to those throughout history who were enslaved, but a downright lie. I am proud to have brought this bill to the Senate Workforce Committee, and appreciate the support of those who backed this great bill.
This week brought some amazing legislation out of committee, and leaves me with a great feeling. Funnel week again has proved to be as crazy as expected, but it feels great that it is now done. As always, thank you for the support and for reaching out.