The 2nd of 3 Legislative Briefings, was held Saturday morning, February 20, 2010 at the Washington County Court House. The primary focus of this legislative session has been to balance the budget in these difficult fiscal times. With stark reductions in revenue due to our economic times, we get a bit of a feel of what the reality would be like during even the best of times during a Republican administration.
Senator Becky Schmitz and Representative Larry Marek indicated that attempts are being made to keep reductions to counties at a minimum. They indicated that there was a concerted effort to avoid reducing road use funds, as an example.
They expressed concern regarding the increase of Wellmark Blue Cross health premiums by 18% this next year. Wellmark Blue Cross carries 71% of the health coverage in the state of Iowa. Legislation is pending requiring transparency in what constitutes the reasoning behind the dramatic increase.
The cell phone texting bill is moving through the legislature this session. Texting/cell phone use while driving has become a major cause in traffic accidents in Iowa.
This legislative session is slated to end on March 31, 2010 if all goes as planned, creating a savings due to the shorter session.