A special message from the ISBA President on judicial branch deappropriation
In December 2016, the state’s Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) lowered its projection for the current fiscal year (FY 2017), which means the current state budget is no longer in compliance with the statutory 99 percent spending limitation. Consequently, the governor and the legislature must deappropriate funds to cover the shortfall by June 30, 2017.
In conjunction with the State of the State Address last week, Governor Terry Branstad released a budget revision with a $110 million deappropriation amount. The proposal exempts more than two-thirds of the state budget from cuts, including K-12 education, property tax credits, and most of Medicaid. That means $110 million in cuts must come from the remaining third of the budget.
For the judicial branch, this means a 4.25 percent reduction in the current budget--or roughly $7.7 million—all to be done with less than half of the fiscal year remaining.
Last year, the judicial branch requested a $5.5 million increase for FY 2017 to maintain current service levels. With roughly 96 percent of the judicial branch budget used for employee costs, the increases often represent cost of living increases and rising health care premiums that are beyond the control of the branch itself. These costs simply must be absorbed in order to maintain workers. The legislature did not, however, appropriate any new money to the judicial branch to cover this additional $5.5 million. Now, the governor plans to deappropriate an additional $7.7 million this year.
The total effect on the judicial branch will be devastating. I have no direct knowledge or information on how the judicial branch anticipates recovery of $7.7 million between now and June 30. Rough calculations by ISBA staff rely on furlough days to address the budget shortfall. Based on those estimates, beginning March 1, all court employees, including judges, clerks, court reporters, juvenile officers and staff at all levels would be limited to a four-day work week for the balance of the fiscal year. All court personnel, court functions and court programs may be affected throughout the state. Failure to receive necessary funding will have serious consequences—likely resulting in substantial reduction to judicial services statewide.
The House Appropriations Committee must review the governor’s request and determine how to meet the shortfall. The committee will take action within the next couple of weeks.
It is essential to contact your representative, immediately. Legislators need to hear what impact furlough days, delayed motion days, extra travel, restricted travel for court officers and limited specialty courts will have on your practice and your clients.
Do not hesitate to take immediate action. Click here to find out how to contact your representative. If you have trouble navigating the webpage, please call the ISBA office for assistance. Once you have made contact, please email an update to our legislative counsel: Jim Carney, Doug Struyk or Shannon Henson.
This is one of the toughest challenges our bar family has faced. I cannot stress enough how dire the circumstances are—or how essential your help is during this crucial time.
Arnold “Skip” Kenyon III
Stay up to date on legislative action with the ISBA's weekly Legislative Report
In an effort to keep members informed on bills at the Statehouse related to legal matters, the ISBA legislative team will put together a weekly legislative report to be shared with members.
You can read this week's report at this link.
In future issues of Iowa Lawyer Weekly, through the end of session, you will find the Legislative Report on the right-hand column of the newsletter.
ISBA officers lobby leadership at the Statehouse
On Wednesday, Jan. 11, an ISBA delegation visited with the governor and legislative leaders as part of the ISBA's annual lobby day at the state capitol. ISBA President Skip Kenyon, President-Elect Stephen Eckley, Vice President Tom Levis, YLD President Reed McManigal and Executive Director Dwight Dinkla had scheduled meetings with Governor Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Reynolds, as well as leadership from both parties in the House and Senate. They were accompanied by the ISBA's assistant legislative counsel Doug Struyk and Shannon Henson to discuss topics such as the judicial branch budget, indigent defense funds and the potential for tort reform action in the legislature this year.
You can read more about the ISBA's legislative agenda in the upcoming February issue of The Iowa Lawyer magazine.
Pictured above: ISBA President Skip Kenyon meets with House Majority Leader Chris Hagenow (R) and Speaker of the House Linda Upmeyer (R). Hagenow is also an ISBA member.
2017 Rural Practice Meet and Greet to be held Feb. 4
The ISBA’s Rural Practice Committee will hold its Third Annual Meet and Greet on Saturday, Feb. 4, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at bar headquarters in Des Moines. Lunch will be provided at no charge.
The meet and greet event brings together rural practice attorneys and students who are considering practicing in a rural area in a neutral setting. While the meeting with each student is brief – generally under 10 minutes depending on the number of participants -- the goal is that something will click between the attorney and students so they establish an ongoing communication that leads to a hiring.
Previous meet and greet events have met with high praise from attorneys and students. As one attorney stated in a follow-up evaluation: “The most important things were how quickly we got to meet many students, and how qualified many of them were for what we’re looking for.”
In order to plan the setup for the event, the rural practice committee members need to know who will be attending. Please RSVP by Feb. 1 to Phil Garland, committee chair at firstname.lastname@example.org, 641-923-3792, or Steve Boeckman, committee staff liaison at email@example.com, 515-490-2279.
Friday is last chance to be included in list of military veterans
The February issue of the Iowa Lawyer magazine will feature a list of ISBA members who are military veterans. The goal is to have the list as complete as possible.
If you haven’t already notified the ISBA Communications Department of your veteran status, please do so by this Friday, Jan. 20. The only way the ISBA knows if you are a veteran is if you indicate such.
Please email or call with your name, branch of service and years served. The contact information is: Communications Department, firstname.lastname@example.org; phone: 515-697-7864.
Beginning farmer workshops start next month
The Iowa Agricultural Development Division (IADD) is hosting 10 regional workshops around the state, beginning Feb. 14, to acquaint new farmers and their advisors with loan programs available through the USDA and the state.
Each half-day program is designed to familiarize attendees with the USDA-Farm Service Agency Beginning Farmer programs, as well as the Iowa Finance Authority’s programs. (IADD is a division of the Iowa Finance Authority.) Each workshop also includes an ag lender panel discussion that addresses such topics as working with an ag lender, preparing financial statements and dos and don’ts to improve one’s credit scores.
A list of the workshops and their locations can be found here. Click on the town to see the exact location, and to see the agenda.
In addition to the beginning farmer loan programs, IADD offers a Beginning Farmer Tax Credit program, which gives older, established landowners tax credits for leasing land, equipment, breeding livestock and buildings to beginning farmers. Details about the tax credit program can be found on the IADD website here.
SUPREME COURT OPINIONS
January 13, 2017
PAULA SEGURA and RICARDO SEGURA vs. STATE OF IOWA
Plaintiffs seek further review of a court of appeals decision affirming the district court’s order dismissing their claims against the State for failing to exhaust their administrative remedies. DECISION OF COURT OF APPEALS VACATED; DISTRICT COURT JUDGMENT REVERSED AND CASE REMANDED.
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Iowa ranks second to last for animal legal protection
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Not even close.
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Department of Education flags 5 law schools' debt-to-income ratios, including 3 in Infilaw system
Two for-profit law schools are not meeting the U.S. Department of Education’s gainful employment standard, which measures debt-to-earnings ratios, the agency reported Monday.
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