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SEN. BROWN: Working on driving safety and equity for schools

Brown_WaylonBy Sen. Waylon Brown, R-St. Ansgar

The Legislature has been very busy as many committee and subcommittee meetings are underway. I was involved in a subcommittee on Senate Study Bill 1079. This is known as the “hands-free” bill. This bill would prohibit the use of a hand-held electronic communication device while driving a motor vehicle unless the motor vehicle is at a complete stop off the road.

SSB1079 also exempts GPS from the prohibition. To further ensure this, an amendment to the bill exempts navigation systems and other devices that are physically or electronically integrated into motor vehicles. This would exempt built-in items such as On-Star or built in electronics on the dash of a vehicle. Safety on Iowa roadways is a must and this bill is the right step to ensure protection for Iowa motorists. The scheduled fine is $30 for this violation.

One common issue I discussed in the district related to education, and education funding is the challenge of school funding for rural schools. Rural schools cover a much larger geographic area than urban or suburban districts. Consequently, those districts have much higher costs per pupil to transport those students between school and home. All those dollars spent on transportation are then unavailable to spend in the classroom, creating more disparity in resources between rural schools and urban schools.

Proposals have been offered to address this inequity in recent years but have not been able to see this policy advance through the legislative process. This year Senate Study Bill 1124 (SSB 1124), which will start to bring equity to the funding levels between small and large geographic districts, has been submitted. Funds approved may only be spent on transportation costs.

This bill was approved in subcommittee last week and will be discussed in the Education Committee this week. Senate Republicans have long believed student educational opportunities should not be determined by a student’s zip code. This bill is important to many rural districts across the state as they seek to provide the best education to their students regardless of where they live in Iowa.

I want to also note that I have been switched from the Natural Resources Committee to the Transportation Committee. This was due to a continuous scheduling conflict. Like always if you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me at email,