• Rizer Reports | Week 5

    It’s been another productive week in the Iowa House!

    My synthetic drug bill has been assigned to a Public Safety subcommittee.  It looks like the bill will be the basis for a broader Public Safety bill that will incorporate some other good ideas as well.  I think we should take the best ideas available to make a tough law that gets this poison off our streets.  This has been bipartisan all the way; we all can agree that illegal synthetic drugs have no place in our society.

    An Environmental Protection subcommittee met to consider my plasma gasification bill.  Was honored to present to the subcommittee along with Marion City Manager Lon Pluckhahn and project lead Erik Miles.  The subcommittee found our case compelling, and advanced the bill to the full committee with minor amendment.  I’m optimistic we can pass this bill and set Marion on a course to open the first plasma gasification recycling plant in the country!

    My smoke-free casino bill has been assigned to a State Government subcommittee.  Mayor Ron Corbett and other Linn County advocates visited to lobby members for the bill.  This is going to be a tough path ahead, but we’ll get the opportunity to explain why the Racing and Gaming Commission ought to authorize two smoke-free casino licenses.  This bill would go a long way towards offering gamblers and employees a smoke-free casino option, which the voters of Linn County and my district clearly want.

    Finally, I offered an amendment in the Human Resources Committee to the proposed ban on indoor tanning for people under the age of 18.  I agree we need to keep youngsters out of tanning salons, and saw my amendment as the only way to win House approval to get a bill to the Governor.  I think Iowa should go the route the vast majority of other states have taken, which is to provide an exception for 16 and 17 year olds who receive parental consent at the salon.  After all, if such young men and women can fly airplanes, get married, ride motorcycles, hunt, own firearms and fight for their country, shouldn’t they be able to tan with parental consent?  I believe my amendment struck the right balance between public health, individual liberty, parental rights and personal responsibility.  While it won the support of a Republican majority, the Democrats had enough votes to kill it.  Unless that amendment is put back on the bill during floor debate, I doubt the House will pass the bill as it stands.

    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 | Week 4

    It was another action-packed week in the Iowa House!

    The biggest looming issue is how to generate revenue for much-needed road and bridge construction/maintenance. Many ideas are on the table, and the way forward is not yet clear. Some believe the best solution is to increase the gas tax by 10 cents per gallon. I ran on a platform of lowering rather than raising taxes, so see raising taxes only as an option of last resort. Given all the seniors and young families I’ve met who are living paycheck to paycheck, and given the massive increases in healthcare and other expenses, I’m extremely resistant to increasing the tax burden on these people.

    I filed two bills this week, bringing the total thus far to four. In addition to my bills for Marion’s plasma gasification plant and the toughening of our synthetic drug laws, one of the new bills I filed will incentivize employment of people with disabilities, and the other will direct the Racing and Gaming Commission to issue up to two smoke-free casino licenses.

    With the closing of Options of Linn County and similar work centers around the state, we have an abundance of people with disabilities who desperately need competitive, integrated employment. My bill incentivizes hiring of these folks, updating the criteria for a hiring tax deduction that is already on the books. The current deduction was passed 30 years ago, and is only available to businesses that meet the 1984 standard for small business (< 20 employees, < $3 million in revenue). This is badly outdated and excludes too many small businesses, limiting employment opportunities for people with disabilities. As a result, my bill updates the criteria to the current Small Business Administration standard (< 500 employees, < $21 million in revenue), which will greater incentivize employment of people with disabilities and help them to transition from government dependence to independence.

    The second bill I introduced this week would direct the Racing and Gaming Commission to issue up to two licenses for smoke-free casinos, reporting back to the Legislature annually on the status of this smoke-free casino pilot project. Applications would be made this year, with eligible applicants being those whose projects have received county approval and who abide by the same smoke-free workplace requirements as all other Iowa businesses. Iowans who gamble, and those who work in casinos, shouldn’t be subject to second-hand smoke! This was confirmed this week by the Chairman of the Iowa Tobacco Commission, who said to me during committee Q & A, “I would love for all casinos in Iowa to be smoke-free.” Given that the voters of Linn County have approved a casino, and given that the current project proposal is for the Cedar Rapids casino to be smoke-free, I would anticipate their application. I’m proud to say this is a bipartisan bill, with Representative Todd Taylor (D, Cedar Rapids) as cosponsor and several other members of the Linn County House delegation signing on as well.

    In the Judiciary Committee this week, I managed a bill that would make it an aggravated misdemeanor to install a counterfeit or non-functioning airbag in a vehicle. Additionally, the bill would make it illegal to tamper with an airbag diagnostic system. It was rewarding to run a bill which will address an important public safety issue. The bill passed unanimously out of committee; I look forward to floor managing the bill before the entire House.

    I have learned so much already this session, and I am honored to be serving you all here week after week. It feels good to be filing legislation, having discussions with constituents, and truly working to make a difference as an Iowa lawmaker. I am excited for what the future of this session has in store, and I thank you all for putting your trust in me to represent 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!