Legislative forum draws lots of interest, comments

(Above) Senator Amanda Ragan and House Speaker Linda Upmeyer listen to constituents at Friday’s Legislative Forum.

A much-larger than usual crowd attended Friday’s Legislative Forum, hosted by the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.

They wanted to talk; and they wanted House Speaker Linda Upmeyer (R-Clear Lake) and Senator Amanda Ragan (D-Mason City) to listen.

Subjects ranged from the Iowa legislature’s recent changes to collective bargaining laws and its effect on teachers, along with laws governing concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and medical marijuana legalization.

The lawmakers said they have been seeing increased turnout at events such as the forum and appreciate the public’s willingness to make their feelings known.  However, with only about three weeks remaining in the session, the focus will soon turn to the state budget.

Upmeyer said she has been focused on giving schools additional flexibility and noted last week the House passed legislation to loosen funding restrictions and allow schools to use funds that sit unused from year to year, stuck in accounts because of burdensome state restrictions.  “We’ve worked closely with school boards, superintendents, and other school officials to craft this legislation and address the needs of schools,” she said.

She added that the legislature’s deadline to set funding has also been changed for schools in a way that provides more certainty.

“I’m incredibly proud of the work we’ve accomplished so far this year and that we’ve been able to discuss issues, in addition to funding.  These changes will allow schools to thrive and provide our kids with a world class education,” she said.

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