The Knoxville Chamber of Commerce held a legislative forum Friday night at the Chamber office.
State Senator Amy Sinclair and Representative Greg Heartsill presented their summaries of activities at the statehouse this year, and took questions from the audience. Among the topics discussed were the budget shortfall, education funding, and the likely defunding of Planned Parenthood. Tensions heightened when a proposed plan to allow parents to use what is being called an Education Savings Account that would allow funds that currently go to public schools to follow the student instead and be used to fund enrollment in private schools or for homeschool curriculum. Multiple members of the audience wanted assurance that there would be accountability for private schools and homeschools. The recent starvation death of 16-year-old Natalie Finn in West Des Moines in a homeschool environment became a focal point of discussion when an audience member engaged Senator Sinclair on the issue, and the role of the Department of Human Services in the tragedy. The audience member took a passionate stand in advocating for the children who she believes have no advocates and doesn’t want to see the same thing that happened to Finn to happen again. While the person has nothing against homeschooling, she’s concerned that if there isn’t sufficient oversight of home-schooled children, it could happen again. Over 60 people attended the forum.