• Rizer Report | Week 7

    Rizer Report-Funnel Week

    These last days in the House have been a whirlwind of activity due to it being “funnel week.”  The “funnel” is a rule-imposed deadline for all non-tax or non-appropriations bills to make it through their respective committees.  If they don’t make it through committee this week, providing enough time to get through both houses, then they die until next year.

    Two of my four sponsored bills made it through the funnel.  The bill adding plasma gasification to the acceptable means for recycling waste unanimously passed the Environmental Protection Committee; this bill paves the way for a plasma gasification plant’s construction in Marion, which will provide long-term employment for 50 workers, generate $650k annually in property taxes, and divert waste from the landfill.  The bill strengthening our synthetic drug law passed unanimously out of the Public Safety Committee; this bill will better deter, prosecute, and punish people who sell, buy, or use these dangerous drugs.  My only bill which didn’t make the funnel was the Smoke-Free Casino bill, which died after a subcommittee meeting in the State Government Committee; while this bill didn’t make it, it did open up a discussion about the role of the Racing and Gaming Commission which might yield changes in the future.  My 4th bill updates a tax incentive for hiring people with disabilities, but it wasn’t subject to the funnel as it’s a tax bill.

    In addition to bills I’ve sponsored, I managed a number of bills through various committees.  In Commerce, I ran a bill that would protect public safety by restricting the importation of powdered alcohol.  In Judiciary, I ran a bill that would give cities liability protection against injury claims resulting from the normal and expected risks of recreational activities; this will allow cities like Dubuque to lift their sledding ban rather than protect against unjustified lawsuits.  I ran a bill through Judiciary that would give military victim advocates confidentiality protections to better serve victims of sexual assaults.  Finally, I ran a bill through Judiciary that would make it illegal to install counterfeit or non-functional airbags in vehicles, protecting public safety.

    This week I also voted a number of important bills out of committee.  In Human Resources, I voted for a bill which would make organizations like Tanager Place eligible for monies appropriated to recruit psychiatrists, an important step in filling our shortage of mental health providers.  In Judiciary, I voted for a bill which would protect the privacy of military funerals by restricting protests to areas 1000+ feet away; this bill will keep the Westboro group and others from dishonoring our veterans, while protecting their legitimate First Amendment rights.  Finally, I voted for the omnibus gun bill, which received overwhelming bipartisan support and passed out of Judiciary 19-2; the bill will protect 2nd Amendment rights, improve our permitting process, and allow Iowans the same access to hearing-protecting suppressors that the vast majority of other states already have.

    I capped off what was a busy but great week by assuming the duties of the Speaker one afternoon to read-in bills and adjourn the House for the day.  Wanting to well-represent our district, I gaveled us in and out with such force that some referred to me later as “Thor.”  It was an honor to sit in the Speaker’s seat, but I’m glad to be sitting in my own in the back working hard for the great people of Marion, Bertram, Ely, and the surrounding parts of Linn County.

    As your Representative, I’m always open to hearing from my bosses, who are those of you reading this!  Please contact me anytime at [email protected] or on my cellphone at 319-651-7316. I’ll be back home in the District every Friday, so if you want to get together for coffee to discuss an issue, just let me know.  I look forward to serving all of you!

  • Rizer Reports | Gas Tax Edition

    The biggest issue in the Capitol this week was raising the gas tax. The Iowa Senate and Iowa House both passed the 10 cent per gallon increase by relatively narrow margins. The Governor signed the bill and the increase went into effect March 1st.

    While I’m committed to solving our infrastructure problem now, and I understand that people of integrity and conscience disagree about how to do so, I could not support this approach.

    I was sent here to represent the great people of Marion, Bertram, Ely and the surrounding parts of Linn County. After knocking 11,000 doors and meeting thousands of constituents, I learned that people of the district want our roads fixed, but not by raising taxes.

    The State of Iowa has a budget of approximately $7.2 billion, which provides more than enough revenue to fix our roads. The amount of money needed to augment the Road Use Tax Fund to eliminate our infrastructure funding deficit is less than 3% of that $7.2 billion. Having dealt with large budgets before in the Air Force, and after learning the details about our state budget, I know that the last 3% of our state budget is being spent on something less important than roads.

    We ought to do what Iowa families, non-profits, and businesses do when desires outpace their dollars–we should spend available funds on our top priorities and live within our means. That is why I co-sponsored a bill that would use current revenue to solve our infrastructure problem without raising the fuel tax. Instead of showing some fiscal discipline, our government is taking the easy path to increase taxes, particularly on those most in need of relief.

    I’m thinking of the retirees in Bertram, who are living on fixed incomes, are seeing their property taxes, health care, and other costs sky-rocket, and are in jeopardy of losing their homes; they can’t afford a gas tax increase.

    I’m thinking of the young families in Ely, who are working full-time to pay a mortgage and put the kids in daycare, who are living paycheck to paycheck; they can’t afford a gas tax increase.

    And I’m thinking of the 20-somethings in Marion, who are just starting their adult lives, playing by the rules, working hard, living in small apartments and eating macaroni and cheese rather than depending on their parents; they can’t afford a gas tax increase.

    That is why I urged my colleagues to solve our infrastructure problem in some way other than raising taxes upon those living on the margins. That is why I co-sponsored a bill that would allocate current revenue to fix our infrastructure problem rather than raise taxes. And finally, that is why I voted against the gas tax increase.

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  • Your New Wingman in Des Moines

    As the new Iowa House Representative for Marion, Bertram, and Ely, I’m honored and excited to be your wingman in Des Moines!  When I take the oath of office in the Capitol on Monday, I’ll be keenly aware of my sacred responsibility to well-represent and serve the people of the District.  I intend to serve all and get things done, as that is what I’ve learned you expect from your Representative.

    I ran on a platform of protecting individual liberty, keeping taxes low, limiting government growth, and improving education.  My committee assignments will help me to fulfill my promises.  As Vice Chairman of Appropriations, I’ll be intimately involved in making sure we keep our financial house in order by not spending more than we take in.  My Commerce Committee assignment will enable me to work on expanding employment and improving standards of living by creating a pro-growth economic environment.  Serving on the Judiciary Committee will give me the opportunity to oversee our legal system, ensuring that all Iowans achieve justice.  Finally, assignment to the Human Resources Committee as well as the Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee will allow me to pursue my passion of helping people with disabilities achieve their full potential through the power of work.

    I’ve put the time since the election to good use, meeting with constituents and city leaders to better learn the issues.  As a result, I intend to introduce several bills.  I’m working with city and police officials on language for a bill to toughen Iowa’s synthetic drug law, in order to get these dangerous narcotics off our streets.  I’m sponsoring a bill to allow Marion’s plasma recycling project to receive permitting, which will allow this critical project to move forward.  Finally, I’m sponsoring a bill to expand current tax incentives for hiring people with disabilities, which is sorely needed with the future closure of Linn County Options.  In addition to these efforts, I’m thoroughly engaged in some of the most pressing issues for this legislative session, to include road and bridge improvements, the Regents funding formula, and K-12 funding, to name but a few.  I look forward to providing you updates on all of these issues and more throughout the session.

    As your Representative, I’m always open to hearing from my bosses, who are those of you in the District reading this!  Please contact me anytime at [email protected] or on my cellphone at 319-651-7316.  If you’d like to visit the Capitol, let me know and I’d be happy to meet you and show you around.  I’ll be back home in the District every Friday-Sunday until the session is over, so if you want to get together for coffee to discuss an issue, or if you’d like me to come talk to a group of citizens, just let me know.  If you’d like to receive my legislative update newsletter, just email or call me and I’ll get you on the list.  I look forward to better knowing and serving all of you!

    In Service & Gratitude,

    Ken

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  • Ely Independence Day Parade

    Enjoyed spending time with the people of Ely while marching in their Independence Day Parade. We had 21 volunteers (22 if you count Truman the dog) who drove the red, white, and blue convertibles, handed out 50 lbs of candy, and gave people the ever-popular Rizer For House notepads.  I shook hundreds of hands, and met lots of great people (many of whom we saw at the pancake breakfast in the morning).

    I even had the opportunity to meet my opponent, Daniel Lundby himself (who promptly welcomed me “to the area”).  I guess he doesn’t know that I lived here years before he was even a twinkle in his father’s eye, was married here, had all 4 of my kids baptized here, and called this area home for the 25 years I was off serving the people of Iowa and all the nation in war and other assignments around the world.  After retiring from the service, it’s good to be home and ready to serve in other ways!

  • Ely Fireman Pancake Breakfast

    Fantastic morning celebrating Independence Day with the people of Ely at the Fireman’s Pancake Breakfast.  Met hundreds of great people, including Dick and Zelda Sherman, who are members of the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with their band The Escorts/The Do’s & The Don’ts.  Learned a lot about what is on people’s minds, and how they think government needs to work better.

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