Civic News & Info
Braley Introduces Bill to Create National “Kadyn’s Law” PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Jeff Giertz   
Friday, 23 March 2012 12:28

Bill would require states to match new Iowa penalties for passing stopped school bus


Washington, DC – Less than one week after Governor Terry Branstad signed “Kadyn’s Law” to strengthen penalties in Iowa for drivers that pass stopped school buses, Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today introduced a bill that would seek to apply Iowa’s new tough penalties under “Kadyn’s Law” to the entire country.


Kadyn’s Law was championed in Iowa by Kadyn’s mother, Kari Halverson, her family, and Kim Koenigs, a local advocate.


The federal Kadyn’s Law would require states to strengthen their penalties for drivers who pass stopped school buses to the new Iowa standard at a minimum – or face losing 10 percent of federal highway funding each year.


Braley said, “When reckless drivers ignore warnings and pass stopped school buses, children’s lives are put in danger.  Toughening penalties for drivers who violate school bus safety laws will save lives and convince more people to drive responsibly around kids and schools.  It’s a common sense change that rises above petty partisan politics.


Braley continued, “Thanks to Kadyn, Iowa has become a national leader in school bus safety.  It’s time every state adopt these strict standards so the penalty matches the severity of this crime.”


Kari Halverson said, “The fact that Kadyn's Law is being introduced at a federal level today is beyond amazing to us.  As a mother who has lost a child by someone illegally passing by a stopped school bus, I can only hope and pray our leaders at the national level will embrace this act for our children all over the country.  I applaud Congressman Bruce Braley for stepping up and taking on an issue that is extremely near and dear to my heart as well as others who have lost children in this way."


Iowa’s Kadyn’s Law mandates for first offenders fines of at least $250 and the possibility of jail time of up to 30 days.  For a second offense of passing a stopped school bus within 5 years, fines would range from between $315 and $1,875 with up to one year of jail time.


The federal Kadyn’s Law would threaten to cut 10 percent of a state’s federal highway funds each year until that state adopts at least these standards.


The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services estimates that cars illegally pass stopped school buses 13 million times per year.  An average of 16 children per year are killed by drivers who illegally pass stopped school buses.


Full bill text can be downloaded at the following link:


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Scott County Farmer Wins $2,500 for Eldridge Fire Department Through America’s Farmers Grow CommunitiesSM PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Paul Spooner   
Friday, 23 March 2012 11:01

Richard and Mary Hemphill of Davenport have been selected as winners in America’s Farmers Grow CommunitiesSM, which gives farmers the opportunity to win $2,500 for their favorite local nonprofit organizations. The donations are available through the Monsanto Fund. Richard and Mary have designated the Eldridge Fire Department to receive the award in Scott County.

In 1,245 eligible counties in 39 states, farmers could win $2,500 for their favorite community nonprofit.  The Monsanto Fund expects to invest more than $3.1 million in local communities.

America’s Farmers Grow Communities is part of a broad commitment by the Monsanto Fund to highlight the important contributions farmers make every day to our society by helping them grow their local communities. Nearly 60,000 farmers participated in the second annual Grow Communities program, which is designed to benefit nonprofit groups such as ag youth, schools and other civic organizations. For more information and to see a full list of winners, visit



Iowa Legislative Update PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Peggy Huppert   
Monday, 19 March 2012 14:57

Do you think it’s true that good and bad things come in threes? Well it certainly seemed that way this week in the Iowa Legislature, where it was the second “funnel” week of the session. By today all bills not dealing with spending or taxing have to pass out of their originating chamber and out of committee in the other chamber to remain alive. This eliminates many bills!

We had three disappointments related to our legislative agenda:

(1)  The bill to legalize online poker was brought up for debate in the Senate. An amendment requiring that all casinos applying for the new license be smoke free was offered by Sens. Bob Dvorsky (D-Iowa City) and Randy Feenstra (R-Orange City). Unfortunately the amendment was determined to be not relevant (germane) to the bill so was not even debated. The House did not take the bill up so it is now dead for the session. The stand-alone bills eliminating the casino smoking exemption died earlier in the session, so it seems likely this issue will not be addressed this session.

(2)  The education reform bill was passed in the House this week. The massive bill had dozens of amendments, most of which were defeated. One of those amendments, offered by Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad (D-Des Moines), would have required that all K-12 school property be tobacco and nicotine free.  That amendment was ruled not relevant, so Rep. Abdul-Samad requested that the House suspend the rules to consider the amendment. That motion failed, so the amendment was not considered.

(3)  A bill sponsored by Sen. Jack Hatch, D-Des Moines, establishing a consumer-friendly health insurance exchange was eligible for consideration in the Senate but was not brought up for debate by Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal. It now seems almost certain that the Legislature will not pass legislation establishing an exchange this year.

Luckily we also have some good news!

(1)  The K-12 tobacco-free school requirement is part of the Senate education reform bill.  This bill will likely end up in conference committee where we will urge members to include it.

(2)  A number of House and Senate leaders have pledged that funding for tobacco prevention and cessation will be restored in Health & Human Resources appropriations bill. We are hopeful that will happen and will continue to work to see that it does.

(3)  Sixty high school students from across the state came to the Capitol on Tuesday and made their voices heard on tobacco-related issues. All costs associated with this youth advocacy day were covered by the Iowa Tobacco Prevention Alliance. The kids did a great job. They were articulate advocates for public investment in tobacco prevention and cessation!

As always, feel free to contact me directly with any questions or concerns – This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Harkin Announces More Than $100,000 for Affordable Housing Assistance in Iowa PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Sen. Tom Harkin   
Monday, 19 March 2012 14:57

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today announced that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded Iowa a total of $101,056 in grants under the Housing Counseling Program.  The funds will go toward counseling services to homebuyers, homeowners, low-to-moderate-income renters, and the homeless to expand homeownership and improve access to affordable housing.  Harkin is a senior member of the Appropriations subcommittee that funds HUD.

“Quality, affordable housing is a necessity and any funds that can go toward expanding access to it is money well-spent,” said Harkin.  “I congratulate all of these recipients on this competitive funding and look forward to the improvements it will generate.”

The funding was awarded as follows:

Center for Siouxland – $25,000
Eastern Iowa Regional Housing Authority – $24,465
Home Opportunities Made Easy, Inc. (HOME, Inc.) – $28,014
United Neighbors, Inc. – $23,577


This Week in the Senate by Senator Shawn Hamerlinck PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Shawn Hamerlinck   
Monday, 19 March 2012 14:52

March 16, 2012

The first policy bill I authored this year passed through the Iowa Senate chambers on Tuesday.  In order to receive veteran discounts at stores, veterans must prove status.  It is irrational to believe these individuals must carry around their DD214 and Discharge Certificates to receive a 10% discount at a local business.  These documents are as important as birth certificates.  Therefore, Senate File 2037 allows the word “Veteran” to appear on a driver’s license or a state issued ID to serve the same purpose.  Keep your DD214 in the lock box from now on!

The second funnel deadline appeared on Thursday which means any bill which has not passed one of the chambers and a committee in the other chamber is no longer available for discussion.  Think of this as a taxpayer protection rule.  This means all the wish list bills are now dead.

Budget bills have stalled as the House, Senate and governor’s office are showing off to each other like peacocks displaying their feathers.  No one is ready to start the fight but the cards have clearly been displayed.  As a result there was still time this week to move through a series of “post-card” bills.  These are bills which sound good in theory and great to use as campaign fodder, however, in true application they are difficult to enforce.

The Iowa Senate passed a series of preservation clauses to buy American products and employ Iowa businesses in government contracts.  Though I whole-heartedly agree with the concept of these bills we must watch states like Illinois establishing the same protectionist clauses against Iowa companies.  These bills have the greatest impact upon the interstate commerce of companies on our borders.  Think of an Illinois company receiving a 5% leeway on bidding against Iowa companies.  Also, I fully support U.S. steel used in construction projects, however we must take on the bigger issue that steel refineries have largely been exported.  We are now feeling the drastic effects of businesses moving overseas.

The Iowa Senate also passed a bill allowing online gambling in virtual poker rooms with real money.  As I have never been a fan of gaming I simply caution on the extent which online gaming may go to in the future.  There is a possibility to move to betting on sporting events and even political races.  Sometimes, like with touch-play machines, you get more than what you asked for.

Next week the Senate will return to debate on education reform.  I look forward to sending you an update.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve in the Iowa Senate.

For more information please visit

hamerlinck signaturesmall.jpg
Shawn Hamerlinck
State Senator
District 42

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