Maj. Gen. Timothy Orr, adjutant general of the Iowa National Guard, will deliver the annual Condition of the Guard address to a joint session of the Iowa Legislature at 10 a.m. Thursday in the Iowa House chambers at the Iowa Capitol building. Orr’s speech will include Iowa National Guard readiness, mobilizations, operations and community support. Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds are scheduled to attend.

GIFT REPORTING: Senate State Government Committee members agreed by voice vote Wednesday to expand transparency and accounting under Iowa’s gift law covering employees and officials in state government’s executive branch. Senate Study Bill 1010 would establish a monthly reporting requirement with the state Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board for gifts, bequests and honoraria in excess of $100 from a paid lobbyist or other restricted donor. Senators accepted an amendment that removed spouse and immediate family members of executive branch employees or officials from the reporting requirement. Currently, Iowa law allows government employees and officials to receive gifts and honoraria from restricted donors under certain circumstances, but there’s no reporting requirement. There are 19 exceptions in the Iowa code that exempts certain activities — including a $3 limit on what legislators, statewide elected officials or other state employees may receive as a permissive gift.

TEEN DRIVERS: Senate Transportation Committee members voted 8-5 Wednesday to approve changes in the law governing young, inexperienced drivers. Senate Study Bill 1019 seeks to extend from six months to one year the time that a teenager with a learner’s permit would need to practice supervised driving with a parent or guardian in the car before he or she would receive a graduated driver’s license. Sen. Tod Bowman, D-Maquoketa, said requiring a full year of driving would expose a teen driver to all weather conditions and seasons they could encounter on Iowa roadways. The measure also would restrict the number of passengers riding in a car operated by a driver to one during the first six months of an “intermediate” license to minimize distractions. An exception would be made for more than one sibling passenger. Currently, teen drivers can get a learner’s permit at age 14 after an intermediate driver’s license at age 16, after they’ve driven at least six months with an adult in the vehicle. Opponents worried the change would increase the number of cars on the road and increase expenses for family in rural areas. Sen. Jerry Behn, R-Boone, sought to allow a parental exception to allow more than one non-sibling passenger in a car-pool arrangement.

ROEDERER HEALTH: David Roederer, Gov. Terry Branstad’s budget director, was released from a Des Moines hospital Wednesday afternoon after passing out in his Statehouse office earlier in the day. Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht said Roederer, 62, was diagnosed with a kidney stone and later sent home where he was “doing great.” Roederer also serves as director of the Iowa Department of Management and is chairman of the Iowa Revenue Estimating Conference. He previously served as Branstad’s chief of staff and held other state posts as well as GOP campaign positions.

WELFARE STATE: Just over 31 percent of all Iowans receive some service from the state Department of Human Services, Director Chuck Palmer told a budget subcommittee. He said 949,268 Iowans are served by the agency, which has a $5.1 billion budget. Sixty-six percent of the funds come from the federal government. Child support, Medicaid and food assistance are the largest service areas, Palmer reported. He presented the governor’s budget that calls for a $157,504,393 increase — 9.9 percent – from the current year. Palmer noted that less than 1 percent of the budget is spent on general administration.

MONEY CHANGES EVERYTHING: Twelve years ago, Denny Wulf met with the Senate Education Committee to support an initiative to professionalize the teaching profession. “Some of the faces have changed,” the Norwalk superintendent joked, but the issue remains the same. Then Wulf was asking for lawmakers to approve the Iowa Teacher Career Ladder to make the teaching profession more attractive and offer teachers leadership opportunities that didn’t require them to leave the classroom. Wednesday, he was asking again as part of the Teacher Leadership and Compensation Taskforce. Wulf and others encouraged senators to support Gov. Terry Branstad’s education reform proposal. The panelists were asked why this latest proposal would work if the career ladder was unsuccessful. “The big difference is there is cash,” Jason Glass of the Department of Education replied. “We’re funding this.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I was probably one of the best ‘b.s.-ers’ when I was 16 years old and I’m probably not too far off from that now.” — Sen. Dick Dearden, D-Des Moines, in supporting proposed changes in the law governing practice time and limits on passengers for young, inexperienced drivers.

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