A roundup of legislative and Capitol news items of interest for Monday, March 12, 2018:
PRINCIPAL COACHING: School Administrators of Iowa has launched a statewide initiative to coach school principals on how to make the most of the Teacher Leadership and Compensation system, or TLC.
It will build on the Iowa Department of Education’s previous work with the New York City Leadership Academy. Together, in collaboration with the Area Education Agencies and SAI, the education department and leadership academy built a comprehensive curriculum with the goal of training administrators in how to use TLC to maximize support for teachers. The state has paid the academy $2.3 million over three years.
This school year, SAI is training 27 principals. It has committed to expand training with workshops and one-on-one coaching for 100 principals next school year.
At her Monday news conference, Gov. Kim Reynolds said Iowa has the most extensive TLC system in the nation. More than 25 percent of teachers in all the state’s 333 school districts are in leadership roles, such as instructional coaches and mentors.
Jessica Burger, SAI’s 2016 Iowa Elementary Principal of the Year, said the principal coaching had a positive effect on Hoover Elementary in West Branch by helping to “improve the clarity, effectiveness and sustainability of our work.”
SAFE HAVEN EXPANSION: The Iowa House voted 98-0 to expand Iowa’s Safe Haven Act of 2001 that allows parents or someone authorized by a parent to turn over a newborn up to 2 weeks old to any hospital or health care facility without fear of prosecution.
SF 360 would expand the number of days for a parent to give up a newborn from 14 to 30 and allow a parent seeking to give up a baby for adoption to call 911 and give the infant to police or emergency responders with the same promise of immunity. The 911 recording and police report would be confidential.
Iowa Department of Human Services officials have used the state’s safe haven procedures 30 times since the law went into effect.
The bill was approved 48-0 by the Senate and now goes to the governor.
MONARCH BUTTERFLY HABITAT: The Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium has set a goal of establishing 480,000 to 830,000 acres of monarch habitat by 2038.
The updated Iowa Monarch Conservation Strategy will guide the implementation and documentation of a voluntary, statewide conservation effort based on the best available science. The consortium is a group of 40 organizations, including agricultural and conservation associations, agribusiness and utility companies, universities, and county, state and federal agencies. The strategy also calls for establishing 127 million to 188 million new milkweed stems in Iowa.
“This means that every patch of milkweed habitat added in Iowa counts, and Iowa is perfectly situated to lead the way in conservation efforts for the monarch butterfly,” said Chuck Gipp, director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “The recovery cannot succeed without Iowa.”
Female monarchs lay eggs exclusively on milkweed plants. However, habitat plantings are expected to include a diverse array of nectar species to provide forage for adult monarchs throughout their life cycle and seasonal migrations.
The monarch population has declined by more than 80 percent in the last 20 years in North America. Monarch surveys indicate the numbers still are less than half the size needed to ensure a sustainable population.
SENATE ACTION: The Iowa Senate voted 49-0 Monday to keep stun guns classified as a dangerous weapon but removed the requirement that a person age 18 or older would need a permit to carry or possession the devices. Sen. Dan Dawson, R-Council Bluffs, said the change was made to acknowledge that various family members may use a stun gun for protection. Senate File 2321 now goes to the House for consideration. Also Monday, senators voted 49-0 to approve a bill (SF2247) that would send visitation disputes involving grandparents or great-grandparents to mediation, and they voted 43-6 to lift a one-year “sunset” they established last year when they voted to expand traffic enforcement powers for Iowa Department of Transportation officers.
BANNED FROM SCHOOL: The House approved HF 2276 to expand the prohibition on convicted sex offenders being on school grounds from only those who are convicted of a sexual offense with a minor to anyone required to be on the state sex offender registry.
State law requires sex offenders convicted of an offense with a minor to get permission from school administration before being in a school or on school grounds even if they are parents of a student or are there to vote. The bill extends those prohibitions to all people required to register as a sex offender.
On a voice vote, the House adopted an amendment to require that once a sex offender has submitted a request to the school administration, permission cannot be “unreasonably withheld.”
The bill passed 97-1 with Rep. Mary Wolfe, D-Clinton, casting the lone “no” vote. She objected because earlier the House approved HF 2401 to eliminate the ability of Tier II and III sex offenders from applying to be removed from the registry. Tier II and III refer to repeat offenders. That means most of those on the registry will be on it for life, she said.
SCHOOL SIGNING: HF 2390 to allow schools to offer American Sign Language as an option to meet the requirement to offer and teach foreign/world languages was approved 98-0 by the Iowa House on Monday.
Rep. Jon Jacobsen, R-Council Bluffs, said ASL is used not only in the United States, but around the world, and ASL signers are the third-most often requested interpreter in courts.
The bill now goes to the Senate.
While the bill was being debated on the House floor, the discussion was being signed by Vania Kassouf of Cedar Rapids and other representatives of the Iowa School for the Deaf, University of Iowa and ASL Interpreters.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It’s an issue of power and how one chooses to use it.” — Senate Democratic Leader Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines, commenting on the resignation of Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix, R-Shell Rock, after the release of a video that appears to show him kissing a lobbyist who is not his wife.