Local Legislators Discuss Anti-Bullying, Homeschooling And Dog Racing Print
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Saturday, 22 March 2014 06:54

Senator Ken Rozenboom, and State Representatives Guy Vander Linden and Larry Sheets answered questions on anti-bullying, homeschooling and dog racing at 'Eggs & Issues' on Saturday morning.

D.J. Claussen, an Iowa City resident, asked the legislators their thoughts on the anti-bullying bill. The Democrat-led Senate recently approved an anti-bullying bill on a 26-19 vote. The bill requires parental notification in some instances of bullying, allowing schools officials the authority to deal with off-campus bullying incidents.

Rozenboom said the bill is "nebulous" and questioned whether teachers and administrators should be tasked with these additional responsibilities. He added that the bill will open up the door for lawsuits. 

The bill requires $250,000 to establish an office within the Department of Education that would coordinate anti-bullying policies, and $750,000 for a grant program that would help schools implement the new policies.

Oskaloosa Schools Superintendent Russ Reiter asked about the homeschooling bill. Reiter said the bill does not require homeschooling parents to report to the state. He said there's been instances where parents pull out students out of school based on disagreements with the district, and said students are not receiving the proper education in those cases. He asked the local legislators if there's a way to address the issue.

"The 'home schoolers' I know are very responsible people," Sheets said. "The fact that they don’t report to the state doesn’t mean they’re getting a poor education."

Shortly after, Oskaloosa resident Joe Crookham brought up the issue again and asked what the state can do to make sure homeschooling is done for its legitimate purpose.

"I think there's a legitimate question," Rozenboom said. "I think we do have to ask ourselves if we have one of those unintended consequences." 

Mahaska County resident Alvin Meppelink asked the legislators their thoughts on the dog racing bill. The Iowa Legislature is considering a bill that allows the casinos in Dubuque and Council Bluffs to end dog racing. 

Vander Linden and Rozenboom agreed that dog racing has not been profitable in those two cities.

"It’s no longer a moneymaker in the state and I think it’s time we end dog racing in Iowa," Vander Linden said.

Rozenboom also talked about texting while driving. Lawmakers granted initial approval of a bill that tightens texting while driving restrictions. Rozenboom said the bill makes texting while driving a primary offense, instead of a secondary offense. This means a police officer would now be able to pull you over.

Councilman Tom Walling asked the local legislators what they liked, and didn't like, about tax increment financing (TIF). TIF is a financing method used as a subsidy for infrastructure, redevelopment and other projects.

"It's kind of a mixed blessing," Vander Linden said. "Within reason, it's a good thing."

Vander Linden said TIF allows for urban renewal, but it also keeps cities from funding things they'd typically fund, and then the state has to "fill the gaps."

Oskaloosa resident Laurie Fiscella asked whether the local legislators will support state supplemental aid, previously known as allowable growth. Vander Linden responded and said that issue will probably not be addressed until December. 

Moderator Dave Krutzfeldt also asked about legalizing fireworks. Rozenboom said he supports the bill, but said he's open to hear what people have to say.

About 55 people attended the forum that lasted 60 minutes. This is the last Eggs & Issues forum of the year.