Around 30 individuals traveled to the restored Creston Depot and visited with area legislators Saturday morning, for the first of three legislative coffees sponsored by the Creston Chamber of Commerce.
Members of the public participated in a town-hall question and answer forum with the visiting legislators, after listening to each legislator give an address outlining what they were working on in their respective chambers and how the early legislative session is progressing.
State Representative Tom Moore (House District 21) and State Senator Tom Shipley (District 11) were in attendance, with Executive Director of the Creston Chamber of Commerce Ellen Gerharz moderating.
Tom Moore, a Republican and former teacher and coach at Grinnell and Griswold Community Schools, is serving his second term after winning a mid-term special election in December of 2015.
He serves on five committees in the Iowa House, including Education Budget (Vice Chair), Education, Environmental Protection, Human Resources and State Government.
Tom Shipley, a Republican, was born and raised in Adams County and is a fifth-generation farmer.
He serves on five committees, including Natural Resources (Vice Chair), Agriculture, Appropriations, Human Resources and Judiciary.
What did they say?
Both legislators first addressed the crowd with an opening statement. Moore began with the state budget.
“It seems like the aggressiveness of last year’s session has just spilled over and we’re doing a lot of things,” said Moore. “We still have deappropriation to deal with – $37 million – all the budget gurus are working on that.
“And we’re going to get something passed on transportation equity – which is a huge issue for us out here in rural Iowa.”
Moore also focused on education funding, saying the house still maintains K-12 education as a high priority and has not cut funding to education since Republicans gained control of the Iowa house.
Shipley also opened his address by speaking about the pace of the young 2018 session.
“Well, as representative Moore said, it’s been busy,” said Shipley. “I don’t remember the session being this busy – we’re moving a lot of stuff through. We’ve got “funnel week,” [at] the end of next week. What we mean by that is the bills have to be through committee by then.”
Moore, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, explained that that was what takes up most of his time.
“And we handle everything there from pornography for prisoners to traffic cameras,” Moore said.
Moore also mentioned that the house passed a water quality bill, touching on the tap-water tax and where funding is coming from to help pay for various water quality projects in the state.
“It’s a step; it’s not the end,” Moore said. “I tell people it’s all kind of written in pencil because it needs to flex and change as it goes down the road. That (water quality) is one of the things the governor wanted done first, and we had a bill signed for that on Wednesday morning.”
Moore concluded by speaking about a bill he supports to legalize the farming of industrial hemp, saying that farmers in Iowa deserve the opportunity that many have in other states. He stressed that this does not mean the legalization of recreational marijuana.
The forum was then opened up and the representatives were asked a variety of questions by the public. Look in tomorrow’s edition of the Creston News Advertiser for a recap of the Q&A session.
There are two more legislative coffees scheduled at the mealsite at the restored Creston Depot; they are 8 a.m. March 3, and 8 a.m. April 7. No RSVP is required.