• Rizer Reports | Week 2

    This second week of the legislative session was filled with committee meeting presentations from the executive branch, laying groundwork for the tough policy and budget work ahead. In the Appropriations Committee, we heard from the Director of Veterans Affairs as well as the Veterans Home Director. In the Commerce Committee, we heard from the Iowa Insurance Commissioner, who explained the CoOportunity failure; while no Iowans will be left without healthcare coverage, this federal debacle will cost U.S. taxpayers $146 million and force 30K+ Iowans to change their healthcare. In the Human Services Committee, we heard from the Director of Human Services, who briefed us on the exploding cost of Medicaid (increasing by $206 million in the year ahead) and answered my questions about how the Department will provide mental health services while decreasing the number of beds.

    I chaired two Judiciary subcommittees, which was quite an experience. The first considered a bill to limit municipal liability for sledding on city land, which was a reaction to Dubuque’s decision to ban sledding for fear of lawsuits. After hearing from all the stakeholders, I cast the deciding vote to advance this bill to the full committee. In my opinion, if people engage in recreational activities that bear some element of risk, they should bear the responsibility for predictable injuries suffered rather than have the city do so. This is an issue of individual liberty and personal responsibility. Let the kids sled!

    The second subcommittee I chaired considered a bill to make it illegal to install counterfeit or non-functional airbags in a car, or to tamper with the warning system to make it appear that such airbags are functional. After hearing from all the stakeholders, I directed the Attorney General’s office to tweak the language to make it more enforceable, after which we’ll likely advance the bill to the full Judiciary Committee. This is a simple public safety issue for which few had objections.

    The big issue we’re working on is K-12 funding. Because the legislature is required by law to pass a K-12 appropriation in the first 30 days, the Education Committee has been hard at work. The Governor proposed a budget to spend $50 million for the Teacher Leadership and Compensation Program, in addition to a 1.25% increase in Supplemental State Aid. These two added together would equate to $100 million in new spending for K-12, or a 3% increase. While this is a significant increase above the current inflation rate of approximately 1%, educators are demanding a 6% increase in Supplemental State Aid. Such a request would increase new K-12 spending to $292 million, which would require major cuts in Medicaid and other programs given that we’re projected to have only $200 million in new, available revenue. I’ve met with several of the district’s School Board Chairs and Superintendents; due to their being locked into collective bargaining agreements that increase costs 3-4%, a 1.25% increase will force them to cut teachers. This is a difficult problem, requiring creative solutions. On the one hand, we need education reform to control costs, since K-12 education can’t be growing at 3-4% when the number of enrolled students is leveling off and inflation is only 1%; such a trend is unsustainable. On the other hand, we need to adequately fund education to return Iowa to the top ranks in the nation. I look forward to a public hearing this week to hear all sides of this thorny issue.

    Finally, I’ve been thrilled to meet many constituents at the Capitol in these first two weeks, to include Joel Grandon, Craig Adamson, Leland and Peggy Smithson, as well as representatives from Kirkwood, Linn County Veterans Affairs, and others. A special shout-out goes to constituent Joni Scotter, who the Governor recognized as an honorary colonel on the day of his inauguration.

    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. If you’d like to visit the Capitol, let me know and I’d be happy to meet you. 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!

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  • Rizer Sworn in to the Iowa House

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Tuesday, January 13, 2015

    Contact:  Josie Albrecht (515) 419-1038

     

    Rep. Rizer Sworn in to the Iowa House

     

    (DES MOINES)— Rep. Ken Rizer (R-Cedar Rapids) is seen here signing the oath of office in the Iowa House chamber as the 86th General Assembly kicked off Monday at the Capitol.    

     

    During the session, Rizer can be reached at [email protected] or through the House switchboard at (515) 281-3221.

     

    The swearing in ceremony of all 100 state representatives begins a week full of ceremonies, including the condition of the state address by the governor, and the condition of the judiciary address by the Iowa Supreme Court chief justice.  A full slate of committee work begins as well, as bills begin the process it takes to get them to the House floor for full debate.

     

    The legislative session is slated to last 110 days, ending May 1.

     

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    rizer oath

  • Cool Flying Video

    Discovery Wings filmed this segment at a Red Flag flying exercise I was participating in. Fast forward to 10:50 to see yours truly giving the mission brief and an interview:

    http://www.documentaryflick.com/red-flag-thunder-at-nellis/