Legislative Update for 01/14/2022

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Legislative Update for 01/14/2022

Welcome to the 2022 Legislative session! First, an introduction is in order. I am in my eighth year at the Iowa Department of Education within the Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation and have had the pleasure of working with many of you over that time. Now, I am excited to have the opportunity to serve as the Department’s interim Legislative Liaison. Today marks exactly one week in that role. I’m still learning the ropes, and am very thankful for all of my talented colleagues for providing invaluable assistance, information, and advice! I, however, already know this about the upcoming session - I’m going to need a more comfortable pair of shoes.

The session kicked off on Monday and the week has largely been filled with ceremonial and preliminary business items. As always, the Governor’s Condition of the State and proposed budget were the capstone of the week. Education features prominently in both, with key initiatives around:

  • Attracting and retaining teachers: implementation of a first-in-the-nation teacher and paraeducator registered apprenticeship grant program (information available on the Department’s website); and a one-time $1,000 teacher retention bonus for those who stayed on the job through the pandemic and will continue teaching next year;
  • Promoting work-based learning: make it easier for industry professionals to deliver and supervise experiences; promote WBL and FAFSA completion through ICAP; and better reporting on the types of and participation in WBL experiences.
  • Educational choice and transparency: establishing a student first scholarship program allowing a portion of the “per pupil” funds to follow a student into a private school or education program of their choice; and increasing transparency and communication around classroom and library materials.
  • Increasing support for education: a proposed 2.5% increase for all education sectors including K12 schools (an additional $154,097,339) and community colleges (an additional $5,378,954).

This certainly doesn’t mean that there was a lack of legislative activity. Both the House and Senate Education Committees held meetings this week with introductory remarks from leadership and ranking members. The chairs of both committees remain the same from last session. Senator Amy Sinclair is leading the Senate committee, with Vice Chair Jeff Taylor and Ranking Member Herman Quirmbach. In the House committee, Representative Dustin Hite will serve as chair, with Representative Skyler Wheeler serving as Vice Chair and Representative Sharon Steckman serving as Ranking Member. Information on the proceedings of each committee, including agendas, minutes, meeting notices, etc. is available on the Legislature’s website (Senate link; House link)

Already several bills were introduced in the chambers and by committees, subcommittees are being assigned, and fiscal notes are starting to trickle in. The Department also has a pre-filed bill (5324XD) consisting of technical Code corrections. As in years past, we are maintaining an extensive legislative tracking system to monitor bills impacting the Department, schools, and community colleges. You can keep up to speed by monitoring the Department’s legislative information webpage (and reading this weekly newsletter!)

Prepare yourself for the next newsletter, when I will commence with the legislative bombardment. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or comments.

Eric St Clair
Legislative Liaison
Iowa Department of Education
Grimes State Office Building
400 E 14th St
Des Moines, IA 50319-0146
Cell: 515-729-0859