Your Capitol Voice: 2014 brings EMS, elder abuse, property rights issues by Bobby Kaufmann, State Representative · Op-Ed · January 17, 2014
This will begin my weekly column. Keeping all of you informed about my activities in Des Moines is a task I take very seriously.
It has been a busy time between sessions for me. In between farming and running my business, I have spent my days attending school board and city council meetings, community events and parades, and numerous constituent events. I deeply appreciate all of the e-mails and phone calls I have received from you.
One of the most fulfilling parts of the job is when I am able to help someone with a problem when they had nowhere else to turn. In October, I was appointed to serve on the EMS interim committee. I received an overwhelming response when I invited our local EMS and firefighters to a public meeting on how the state can best help. Over 60 people attended and I learned much, especially the challenges of our local EMS volunteers.
This week marks the beginning of the 2014 legislature.
Last year was by most accounts one of the most productive legislative sessions in recent history.
Members of both parties were able to work together and pass property tax relief and reform, education funding and reform, modernizing health care availability for those in need, and maintaining a responsible budget.
I am very proud of my part in all of this. I was fortunate to be in the “top 5” for the number of bills managed in the Iowa House last year. I am most satisfied with my part in contributing to the atmosphere of cooperation.
I firmly believe all of you want me to work with others, find common ground, and most importantly do what is best for all of you and not any political party or interest group. I have kept that promise and I intend to do that again this year. Thank you for this opportunity to work for you.
The second year of a legislative term is by law 10 days shorter than the first. This means deadlines for bills and votes will come quicker than usual. A large part of our responsibility this year will be managing any unintended consequences from last year’s bills.
That being said, I am hopeful that a host of issues that aren’t “headline grabbers” but are equally important will have a chance. Below are a list of some of my priorities this year.
EMS – I have filed a bill to increase the EMS/firefighter tax credit from $50 to $500. We must do better to support our volunteers. I am also working towards the ultimate goal of EMS being codified as an “essential service” along with fire and police.
Elder Abuse – Iowa is one of only a handful of states with no strong elder abuse laws. Having delivered Meals on Wheels with my late grandmother and participating yearly in the Fill-the-Plate telethon, protecting our seniors is an issue of personal importance to me.
Outside influence – The state of Iowa pays dues from your tax dollars to several organizations for their networking and collaboration. Two of the more prominent groups are “ALEC” and “NCLS”. Each of these groups are partisan leaning and dues are funded with tax dollars. I personally find it ridiculous that any group believes they think for me. I get my “marching orders” from all of you. I have filed a bill that will remove the mechanism that allows your tax dollars to pay dues for any partisan-leaning group.
Eminent Domain – Private property rights are central to our basic rights as Americans and the attempts to erode those rights are numerous. I will again, this year, run several bills to protect your rights including one to hold Rock Island Clean Line accountable for their actions.
Budget – Iowa is one of the best fiscally-run states in the country. I will continue to spend less money than we take in, make sure we plan for our future, and return your tax dollars to you when the state has taken too much.
Mental Health – This issue is important to our district and our most vulnerable citizens. The new redesign is not necessarily helpful to our district. I harbor deep concerns about the costs, autonomy of our counties, and quality of care. This has the potential of the State getting in the way of what our counties do best … help our mental health patients.
These are just a few of the dozens of issues that are important and will come up. Please feel free to e-mail, write, or call me with your input and ideas. Every week I will schedule Listening Posts in many towns and neighborhoods. There will be over 30 of these opportunities in the next three months. Every week, I’ll alert you to the weekend’s upcoming meetings: Saturday, Jan. 18, 8:30-10 AM, Bennett American Legion; then 10:30 AM-12, Lowden City Hall
You may contact Rep. Kaufmann at Bobby.Kaufmann@legis.iowa.gov, 515-281-3221 or 1527 330th St. Wilton, IA, 52778