Washington Evening Journal
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Washington, IA 52353
Mark Lofgren Senate update
May. 3, 2023 2:46 pm
Although we have reached the scheduled end date for this year's session, we are still working hard to move legislation through the Senate, and will be back at the capitol again next week to bring things to a close.
This Week at a Glance
•The House and Senate came to agreement on an overall budget of $8.516 billion for FY2024. This amount is representative of 88.25% of our ongoing revenues and is a fiscally responsible and sustainable target. This amount also includes an increase of $107 million to education and increases to both health care and public safety.
•The Senate passed SF 554, a bill to hold a reverse auction for the state’s prescription benefits manager (PBM) services. The Department of Administrative Services will hold a reverse auction, similar to a bid process, to identify the most cost-effective provider for prescription services for the thousands of state employees who qualify for benefits. Other states have seen substantial savings using this type of process and it is estimated that we could see $22 - $32 million in cost savings.
•The Senate passed SF 478, a bill to protect Iowans’ most sensitive data from unnecessary intrusion by the state auditor. One might think that with our state auditor being an elected official, that this would not be a necessary measure, however, our current auditor has been known to pursue information beyond his statutory authority and to garner information even when not related to an audit. This month the Iowa Supreme Court ruled the auditor exceeded his statutory authority in issuing subpoenas to private entities. This will protect all Iowans by clarifying audit standards and holding secure our personal data like vaccination, tax, and academic records.
•The Senate passed House File 135 so prospective students at Iowa’s regent universities have the information they need to make smart choices regarding career paths and student debt. Many students enter college without knowing their major and without realizing the significant financial impact that will be waiting for them to start paying off upon graduation. This bill would help inform current and prospective students about the realities of student loans so they are better prepared and more aware of their potential loan obligations, by requiring the Board of Regents to post the five specific data points listed below on their webpage, sortable by graduating class, academic major, and institution, and update it annually.
These postings would also help students compare job and salary prospects while considering which major to choose.
•The percentage of students who have completed a graduate level degree program after completing the bachelor’s degree
•The median annual income of students one, five, and ten years after completing their bachelor’s degree
•The median student loan debt of students who complete a bachelor’s degree
•The ratio of the student loan debt of students who complete a bachelor’s degree to the annual gross income of such students
•An estimate of a student’s monthly student loan payment and the percentage of this payment relative to the student’s monthly gross income
•The Senate passed House File 614 this week. With the unanimous passing of HF 2081 last session, Iowa's Praxis test requirement was eliminated for educators to become licensed in the state of Iowa. However, some states still require this test for licensure. With the teacher shortage in our state, this bill clarifies that out-of-state applicants are not expected to pass such tests in other states in order to receive an Iowa license.
•The Senate passed House File 256. With concurrent enrollment becoming more and more prevalent across the state, and many high school students in Iowa graduating with an associate's degree already secured, the issue of age requirements for licensure has become a concern. This bill creates the flexibility for graduates to ensure their age does not prevent them from being able to obtain a teaching, coaching, substitute, or other license from the Board of Educational Examiners (BOEE) as long as they have completed all required courses.
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