Most of the focus this past week was on the House as they addressed the gaming issue. It is predicted that the debate will be ongoing into this week. Over 100 amendments were filed. Just presenting the amendments alone will take hours.
If passed by the House, it will come to the Senate for debate and when that will be, is anyone's guess.
Senate standing committees have been meeting however the budget sub-committee meetings have been put on hold until the estimated revenue numbers are established.
The Natural Resources and Environment committee passed a bill designed to increase the sales of home grown oil and the promotion of not only ethanol sales but sales of E-85 blended fuel.
Currently Iowa ethanol sales account for approximately 65% of the fuel sold in the state. This legislation establishes an ethanol fuel standard that would prohibit the sale of non-ethanol blends by January 1, 2007. I continue to wrestle with the idea of mandating what types of fuels should be sold in Iowa Retail outlets.
Lawmakers joined senior advocates to unveil a legislative package that improves healthcare options for Iowa's seniors.
The package is a long-term care initiative that provides tax incentives for Iowans to invest in long-term care insurance. Long-term care can range from home-based services such as home health aides to community-based services that include hospice, respite care, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes.
Under the plan, Iowans who purchase qualified long-term care policies would receive a state income tax credit of 50% of their annual premium, up to $500. Also the plan would establish a pharmaceutical assistance program to improve access to affordable prescription drugs.
It would provide for a telephone hotline that would inform seniors of their eligibility for various manufacturer-sponsored discounts on prescriptions.
In a first-ever event of its kind, the General Assembly met in joint session to hear the Condition of the Iowa National Guard. With the decorated performance by the men and women of the Guard in the war on terrorism, it is only fitting that legislators learn more of the accomplishments and sacrifices of the Guard.
In a stirring speech, Major General Ron Dardis spoke about the troops he commands. He then awarded the Purple Heart to five Iowa Guard soldiers wounded in Iraq.
Emotions ran high the names of the ten Iowa soldiers and Marines killed over the past year were read.
The Iowa Guard mobilization is the largest since World War II. The current Iowa Guard deployment stands at 3.200. The recent deployment of the local units touches each of our homes.
General Dardis referred to Guard members as "citizens most of the time, soldiers and airmen some of the time, and patriots all of the time."