Following is news from Week 11 of the 2021 legislative session.
Award made to Classroom Clinic in Carroll
The Iowa Economic Development Authority Board made an award to Classroom Clinic at its meeting on March 19. Classroom Clinic in Carroll offers school-based telehealth services to rural school districts. It offers an innovative solution for rural mental health services, which in turn could improve academic achievement and cause higher graduation rates and advancement to postsecondary education. The platform allows telehealth providers to effectively connect with schools, students and families to deliver the care they need. The company was awarded a $25,000 Proof of Commercial Relevance (POCR) loan for market analysis and IP development and evaluation.
Iowa is considered a leader in both laws and regulations by the insurance industry. The state is at the forefront of adopting model laws and regulations. Because of this, there are more than 200 insurers domiciled in Iowa and more than 1300 non-domestic admitted insurance carriers in the state. Last week, the House of Representatives passed several bills impacting the insurance industry.
HF 839 — Creates a framework and liability protections for financial advisors to report suspected financial exploitation of eligible adults. The Iowa Insurance Division is tasked with investigating these reports to ascertain the validity of the concerns and take further action as appropriate.
HF 583 – Creates a framework for offering private flood insurance in Iowa. Federal changes have created an opening where private flood insurance could be less expensive for consumers than options offered through the federal government. Iowa is a leader in the insurance industry, and this legislation is important for the state to retain its leadership role in the country.
The insurance industry has a positive economic impact for Iowa. There are more than 46,000 industry professionals, favorable tax rates. We are the No. 1 state for insurance as percentage of GDP, leading all other states, including Connecticut.
Iowa’s broadband expansion
Recently, the IT committee heard a presentation from Connected Nation, which holds the contract for creating the map of broadband service in Iowa. The OCIO uses this map to identify which areas of the state that lack broadband internet service. Connected Nation has also overlaid a map of the state with FCC data and information from internet providers in the state identifying where they offer service.
An interactive GIS map can be viewed at https://connectednation.org/iowa/interactivemap. Viewers can filter the state based on technologies and/or speeds available to see what is available around the state down to individual addresses. Technologies include fiber, cable, DSL and fixed wireless options. Speed tiers include the FCC minimum of 25/3 and step up to 1000/1000 speeds.
The Iowa House realizes that broadband is a large economic driver for rural Iowa. I would support all efforts to expand broadband. I believe that we should support the governor’s request as closely as possible. She has requested $150 million per year for the next three years to support this project.
Felon voter bill
Last week, the Iowa House passed a bill to allow felons to get their voting rights back under certain circumstances. Felons convicted of murder, rape and child molestation will not receive voting rights. Other felons of lessor offenses will be able to receive voting rights, but victim restitution would be required first. Iowa is one of a few states that do not have automatic reinstatement for lessor offenses. This bill allows for a constitutional amendment, which means it will need to be passed in the House again, two years from now, and approved by the citizens of Iowa in the next general election.
Iowa likely to extend tax return due date
The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service announced last week that the federal income tax filing due date for individuals will be automatically extended from April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021. The IRS will be providing formal guidance soon. Individual taxpayers also can postpone federal income tax payments for the 2020 tax year due on April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed.
Additionally, the Iowa Department of Revenue is likely to extend its income tax filing deadline again this year as a result of the pandemic. Iowa’s state income tax filing deadline traditionally is April 30. Iowa Department of Revenue has publicly confirmed that the state likely is to change that date but is waiting on more details from the IRS before finalizing its decision. Stay tuned to the department’s website for details forthcoming.