Newsletters 2020-09-10T20:17:30+00:00

Newsletters

September 10, 2020

Greetings to you all,

Hopefully, you and your family are doing well during the difficult times we are facing. September is Suicide Prevention Month, and with all the challenges of the pandemic that we are facing, suicide is occurring in our community and there are things we can do to help prevent suicide. Pain isn’t always obvious, but most suicidal people show some signs that they are thinking about suicide. The signs may appear in conversations, through their actions, or in social media posts. If you are aware of these actions, please step in and try to help the individual.  I have included a link below that gives information on what steps to take and there is additional information in the newsletter to help with preventing suicide.
https://www.suicideispreventable.org/?fbclid=IwAR0mGiFiWUaIfV_0Xlj12wKWA9pCIfW1QgtA57SWtH1mxcScbi3rwfK8498

The November 3rd, 2020 elections are 54 days away from happening. Registered voters may request an absentee ballot to be sent to them by mail. You must complete an absentee ballot request form and return the original, signed form to your county auditor. The request form does not need to be witnessed or notarized. Once the ballot is requested, voters can track the status of their request form and ballot on this website: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/absenteeballotstatus/absentee/search

Going forward, I will be listening and working closely with local leaders and community members, to make sure the state is partnering with those in our community who need help and assistance. I’m available by email, phone, and social media, to answer questions and listen to your concerns. You can always reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter, and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events
10 College Hill Farmers Market The Hill, 4-6pm, 273-7883
11 Drive-In: Bull Durham South ITC Lot (across from *GBPAC), 7pm, 273-3660
12 Scott Sterrett Memorial 5K, 10K, Half Marathon 215 W 2nd, Cedar Falls, 7am, 231-2441
12 Waterloo Urban Farmers Market RiverLoop Expo PLaza, 8am-12pm, 291-2038
12 Cedar Falls Farmers Market Clay & Third St, 8:30am-12pm, 961-2045
12-13 God of Carnage Oster Regent Theatre, Sat 7:30pm; Sun 2pm, 277-5283
12-10/31 Scarecrow Stroll at the Arboretum Cedar Valley Arboretum & Botanic Gardens, Mon-Sat 9am-7pm; Sun 11am-7pm, 226-4966
17 College Hill Farmers Market Cedar Falls The Hill, 4-6pm, 273-7883
17 Paws and Draws Toast To Toast, 5-9pm, 260-2600
17 Screaming Street Party – Dead Presidents Screaming Eagle, 6pm, 235-8865
17-19 Waterloo’s Largest Flea Market 351 Thorson Ave, Thu & Fri 8am-5pm; Sat 8am-3pm
19 Waterloo Urban Farmers Market RiverLoop Expo PLaza, 8am-12pm, 291-2038


Thank You Iowa Essential Workers 

Iowans Continue to be Resilient

This Labor Day Iowans across the state thanked essential workers —including nurses, teachers, utility workers, factory laborers, first responders, and other front-line workers that have been risking their lives, spending long hours keeping the state healthy and safe.  We owe them a debt of gratitude for their countless sacrifices.

During this difficult year, Iowans continue to be resilient, offering help to their friends, family, and neighbors. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the Derecho that ripped through the state, communities have seen people step up to support one another, whether it’s delivering meals, cleaning up trees, caring for those in our long-term care facilities and hospitals, preparing lunches for those affected by the disaster, making masks for hospitals and neighbors, or working overtime to repair electrical lines.

House Democrats are dedicated to supporting Iowa’s essential workers by expanding protections and worker compensation during a pandemic, while providing financial security for businesses and workers with COVID positive cases.

Nominate a Deserving EMS First Responder 

There are so many deserving EMS providers and services right now. EMS providers dedicate themselves every day, with little or no recognition. If you know someone who has gone above and beyond, please nominate that person for this prestigious recognition. Nominate them online here, or print and mail the PDF form here by October 1.

Show You Care, Wear a Mask

With Iowa’s coronavirus cases increasing at the highest rate in the nation, the best mitigation effort to control the spread is to wear a face covering or mask in public and social distance. The White House Coronavirus Task Force has asked Governor Reynolds to take steeper mitigation efforts, the Governor has yet to take the advice from public health officials.


New Storm Recovery Relief Available to More Iowa Counties

This week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) amended the state’s Major Disaster Declaration to provide Individual Assistance funding for the following counties: Benton, Boone, Cedar, Jasper, Marshall, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Story, and Tama. Linn county was initially approved for federal Individual Assistance on August 20th.

Disaster-affected homeowners, renters, and businesses in the above counties may begin applying for assistance, including grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help recover from Derecho.

Individuals and business owners who sustained losses can begin applying for assistance by calling 1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-462-7585 for TTY users.  Users of 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS) may call 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. CST, seven days a week, until further notice. Another option is registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov . A copy of FEMA’s full press release/declaration can be found here: https://www.fema.gov/press-release/20200820/president-donald-j-trump-amends-iowa-declaration.

Because of federal relief eligibility, county residents are now no longer eligible for the State Individual Assistance Program and should apply under FEMA’s Individual Assistance Program.  However, Disaster Case Management remains available to all impacted Iowans. For more information, please contact your local community action association or visit www.iowacommunityaction.org.

The Governor’s initial August 16th Presidential Disaster Declaration request included 27 counties for federal Individual Assistance approval. Through further FEMA and state assessment, the departments determined 16 counties did not have sufficient damage to receive this funding, including the following counties that withdrew from consideration: Audubon, Clarke, Grundy, Iowa, Jackson, Jones, Madison, Muscatine, and Washington.


New COVID Tracking System for Iowa Schools

It was announced that over 100 Iowa schools have reported cases of COVID-19, with some placing whole grades under quarantine.

Schools are stressed to maintain an education workforce and keep their populations safe.  With lack of data from the Iowa Department of Education, the Iowa State Education Association has developed their own self-reporting tracking system.  Although voluntary, it at least provides a look at the virus effects on schools, and a tool for parents to check.

The Department of Education has provided a link to which school districts have been denied a waiver to go to online learning and which have been granted due to COVID-19.  In addition to the list, the Cedar Rapids District was allowed, for their first two-weeks, to have online learning due to Derecho.


Suicide Prevention and Mental Health During the Pandemic

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in Iowa, new and additional mental health issues and suicidal thoughts may be affecting Iowans. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations, and throughout this COVID-19 outbreak it’s required social distancing, quarantine, and some isolation. Feelings of anxiety, loneliness, and stress are completely normal. Here are a few strategies from the Iowa Department of Human Resources on ways to cope with these emotions:

  • Stay calm and recognize when other people’s fears and anxieties are influencing your mental health.
  • Keep up-to-date on current information to help cope with these issues.
  • Unplug from social media and give yourself a break.
  • Connect with others using the telephone, email, text or video conferences.
  • Stick to a routine and practice self-care to maintain a sense of normalcy and manage stress.

To better understand suicide, the Iowa Department of Public Health has teamed up with the Suicide Prevention Resource Center to offer a free online course to reduce its prevalence in the state. To take the free course, please visit: https://training.sprc.org/enrol/index.php?id=35.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please visit www.YourLifeIowa.com for free and confidential help by online chat, text, or phone.


Other Iowa News

GRANTS AVAILABLE FOR CLOSED BARS & BREWERIES: Bars, taverns, breweries, wineries, and distilleries that were forced to close due to the August 27th public health proclamation are eligible for a $10,000 grant through the state.  Iowa Economic Development Authority will accept applications from September 10th through September 24th.  Businesses can apply at https://www.iowaeconomicdevelopment.com/Business/business-disruption.

DERECHO TREE REPLACEMENT PROGRAM: People needing to replace trees damaged or lost in the derecho can buy seedlings from the DNR State Forest Nursery.  The nursery offers 40 different species of native Iowa trees and shrubs ranging in price from $0.80 to $1.00.  Orders must be placed in increments of 25, with a minimum order of 25 per species.  People who were not impacted by the derecho can also buy seedlings from the state nursery.  To shop the nursery visit, https://www.iowadnr.gov/Conservation/Forestry/Forestry-Landowner-Assistance.

IOWA DOT NOW APPOINTMENT ONLY PERMANENTLY: Iowans needing to conduct in-person business with the Department of Transportation (DOT) will need to continue to schedule an appointment going forward. The DOT originally moved to appointment-only visits following the outbreak of COVID-19, and has received positive feedback from Iowans regarding the speed and ease of the new process. Iowans who qualify can also renew their licenses online, as well as request a six-month extension if their license expires in the next 90 days or has been expired for fewer than 60 days. The wait time for an appointment currently averages three to four weeks, although the Iowa DOT is working on adding additional appointment times. To see options available visit the Iowa DOT’s website.

NEW DEER EXCHANGE PROGRAM FOR FOOD INSECURE IOWANS: Deer hunting kicks off on September 19th with the youth and disabled seasons.  Many hunters in the past have taken advantage of the HUSH program by donating harvested deer to meat lockers around the state. The lockers then donate the venison to food banks in Iowa.  Due to increased demand for meat from lockers, fewer lockers are participating in the HUSH program this year. To fill the void, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has a new deer exchange program to connect deer hunters with people who want venison. Hunters can sign up for the program and upload their location to the DNR’s website.  Once matched, the hunter and recipient pick a place and time to meet to do the exchange.  No money can be exchanged because it is illegal to sell harvested venison in Iowa.  Hunters are still required to report their harvests.

August 27, 2020

Greetings to you all,

With the recent Derecho storm that impacted several communities in Iowa, many people are still struggling to recover from the storm. I had the opportunity to volunteer during the cleanup in Cedar Rapids and was able to see the destruction caused by the storm.  The damage is pretty significant and several families were without power for days and several lost their homes. I know there are several groups that are working to help the people recover. The newsletter has information for people to get access for help.

Here we are approaching the end of August and students and staff have recently returned to the classroom. Governor Reynolds’s 50 % in-person instruction mandate is being challenged by several school districts. The mandate can only be waived if there is a local outbreak with a 15% rate of infection and 10% student absenteeism. School districts are saying that they are the best to decide whether schools do a full return to the classroom. Hopefully, as we move forward, we can continue focusing on keeping our students, teachers and staff safe and healthy during this pandemic.

The November 3rd 2020 elections are 68 days away from happening. Registered voters may request an absentee ballot to be sent to them by mail. You must complete an absentee ballot request form and return the original, signed form to your county auditor. The request form does not need to be witnessed or notarized. Once the ballot is requested, voters can track the status of their request form and ballot on this website: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/absenteeballotstatus/absentee/search

Going forward, I will be listening and working closely with local leaders and community members, to make sure the state is partnering with those in our community who need help and assistance. I’m available by email, phone, and social media, to answer questions and listen to your concerns. You can always reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter, and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events
27 College Hill Farmers Market The Hill, 4-6pm, 273-7883
27 Final Thursday Reading Series – Adrianne Finlay Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
29 Cedar Valley VIRTUAL Heart Walk 815-541-1945
29 Waterloo Urban Farmers Market RiverLoop Expo Plaza, 8am-12pm, 291-2038
29 Cedar Falls Farmers Market Clay & Third St, 8:30am-12pm, 961-2045
29 The Lost Drive-In – The Lion King Lost Island Waterpark, 8pm, 291-4490
9/1 Book Reading with Patti Stockdale Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
9/3 College Hill Farmers Market The Hill, 4-6pm, 273-7883
9/5 Waterloo Urban Farmers Market RiverLoop Expo Plaza, 8am-12pm, 291-2038
9/5 Cedar Falls Farmers Market Clay & Third St, 8:30am-12pm, 961-2045
9/8 Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché Hearst Center, 1pm, 273-8641
9/10 College Hill Farmers Market The Hill, 4-6pm, 273-7883
9/11 Lunchtime Concert Hearst Center, noon, 273-8641
9/12 Scott Sterrett Memorial 5K, 10K, Half Marathon 215 W 2nd, Cedar Falls, 7am, 231-2441
9/12 Waterloo Urban Farmers Market RiverLoop Expo Plaza, 8am-12pm, 291-2038


Storm Recovery Relief Available to Iowans

Many Iowans are still recovering from the devastating Derecho that swept through Iowa earlier this month. A number of resources have now been made available to those affected by the storm.

Federal Individual Assistance for Linn County

Last week, Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Individual Assistance funding for Linn County was approved. Linn County disaster-affected homeowners, renters, and businesses may begin applying for assistance, including grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help recover from Derecho.

Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in Linn County can begin applying for assistance by calling 1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-462-7585 for TTY users.  Users of 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS) may call 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. CST, seven days a week, until further notice. Another option is registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov . A copy of FEMA’s full press release/declaration can be found here: https://www.fema.gov/press-release/20200820/president-donald-j-trump-amends-iowa-declaration.

Because of federal relief eligibility, Linn County residents are now no longer eligible for the State Individual Assistance Program and should apply under FEMA’s Individual Assistance Program.  However, Disaster Case Management remains available to all impacted Iowans. For more information, please contact your local community action association or visit www.iowacommunityaction.org.

Federal Local Government and Nonprofit Assistance Available 

Federal funding through FEMA’s Public Assistance program is now available to the state, eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations in Benton, Boone, Cedar, Clinton, Dallas, Jasper, Johnson, Jones, Linn, Marshall, Muscatine, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Story and Tama counties on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and facility repair or replacement relating to severe storm damage. For more information relating to Public Assistance, please visit https://www.fema.gov/disasters.

Individual State Grants Available to Iowans

Eligible Iowans residing in Audubon, Benton, Boone, Cass, Cedar, Clarke, Clinton, Dallas, Greene, Guthrie, Grundy, Hardin, Iowa, Jackson, Jasper, Johnson, Jones, Madison, Marshall, Muscatine, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Story, Tama and Washington Counties may apply for relief under the Iowa Individual Assistance Program. This program provides up to $5,000 grants for households with (up to) 200% federal poverty level income or a $43,440 maximum annual income for a family of three. Grants are available for home/car repairs, food or clothing replacement, and temporary housing expenses. Those seeing reimbursement for storm recovery related expenses must provide original receipts and potential applicants have until September 25th to apply. Both the application and instructions can be found on the Iowa Department of Human Services website: https://dhs.iowa.gov/disaster-assistance-programs.

Food Replacement Program

Iowans who receive food assistance may request replacement of food destroyed during the storm or from losing power. Iowans now have until September 17 to apply. Fill out the form below and email to: ImagingCenter5@dhs.state.ia.us. Local food pantries are also available to help at foodpantries.org/iowa.


For a comprehensive list of disaster relief resources go to https://iowahouse.org/disaster-recovery-assistance-information/. If you need assistance accessing resources, find the DHS office nearest you, or call 1-877-347-5678.

 


Keeping Students Safe at School

As some Iowa kids head back to school this week, keeping students safe is at the top of everyone’s mind. Many schools are working to mitigate health concerns during the Governor’s in-person mandate on schools.  Schools are encouraging social distancing of at least 6 feet by limiting passing times, having one-way hallways, reducing passengers on buses, and reducing class sizes while spacing desks. Many school districts have decided to start school later to lower the curve.

The Governor’s in-person instruction requirement can only be waived if there is a local outbreak with a 15% rate of infection and 10% student absenteeism. The Iowa Governor’s threshold, set at 15%, is the highest in the country.  Minnesota’s threshold of infection rate to deem a school district unsafe to return to in-person learning is 1%.

Schools Sue the Governor over In-Person Mandate

Due to the Governor’s guidelines, Iowa schools are not able to decide what is best for their districts. Because of this, the Iowa State Education Association (ISEA), and the Iowa City and Des Moines School Districts have sued the Governor over her proclamations and SF 2310.   They contend that local schools are required by the constitution to protect the safety and welfare of its citizens, the Governor is not protecting those rights and upholding the constitution, and her enforcement of SF 2310 is not constitutional.

They point to under SF 2310 it says “A Return to Learn plan is deemed to meet the 1080 hours of instruction requirement, regardless of the nature, location or medium of instruction.”  The Governor is hanging her opinion on one word “primarily,” and her interpretation that it means 50.1% in-person instruction.

Extracurricular Activities

One enforcement tool that the Governor is using is that a school district can not go 100% online learning without her approval.  And if they do, then they cannot have extracurricular sports of any kind, including sports, music or speech.

However, even the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union and the Iowa High School Athletic Union (IHSAU) states in their Fall guidance, “The decision regarding whether or not to allow teams to participate, rests solely with local school districts.”  Also, the IHSAU states that, “The general guideline is that a day of school is a day of school, regardless of how instruction is delivered.”

Colleges and Universities Start Classes

Iowa’s colleges and universities are holding in-person or a hybrid of online and in-person classes, with mask mandates in place on campus. Many students moved back into the dorms in the last two weeks.  Iowa State University required COVID-19 testing prior to moving into the residence halls. There were 8,094 students tested with 175 positive cases.

Iowa Regent Universities have now been cut by over $26 million over the last four years, including $8 million by GOP leaders in charge of the Iowa House and Senate in June. With the pandemic and declining investments, state universities may have more difficult decisions to make moving forward.


Voting by Mail Remains Safest Way to Vote

As the COVID-19 virus shows no sign of slowing down, Iowans may need to plan ahead when voting in the upcoming November election. For many, the safest option will be voting from home by mail.

Voting by Mail is Safe 

Iowa has a long and safe history of voters partaking in voting by mail with multiple safeguards in place to make sure Iowans who are voting by mail have their voice heard. While there is some confusion about what voting by mail is called, there is absolutely no difference between voting by mail or absentee voting despite the message coming from some national politicians.

The state of Iowa plans to send all registered voters an absentee ballot request form that they can fill out and mail back to their county auditors. You will only have to fill out a request form ONCE. Iowans who have requested to vote by mail should receive their ballot in early October.

Track Your Ballot

Once the ballot is requested voters can track the status of their request form and ballot on this website: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/absenteeballotstatus/absentee/search

If you do not want to wait for the form from the Secretary of State you can print off a request form from this link and mail to your county auditor: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/pdf/absenteeballotapp.pdf


COVID-19 Assistance for Iowa Farmers

Iowa farmers that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including price declines and additional marketing costs, now have until September 11th to apply for direct relief from the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). Previously, the deadline was August 28th.

The CFAP program contains two major elements, direct support to farmers and ranchers, as well as the purchase of fresh produce, dairy, and meat.  For direct support, CFAP will provide up to $16 billion in support based on actual losses for agricultural producers where prices and market supply chains have been impacted.

The USDA is also partnering with local distributors for fresh dairy, meat, and vegetables that would have otherwise been purchased by restaurants, hotels, and other food service entities. These products are then packaged and delivered to food banks and other nonprofits helping to feed the food insecure.

The USDA is now accepting applications at: https://www.farmers.gov/cfap. Producers can apply through the Farm Service Agency at their local USDA Service Center. All other eligibility forms, such as those related to adjusted gross income and payment information, can be downloaded from farmers.gov/cfap. For existing farm service agency customers, these documents are likely already on file.


Other Iowa News

SMALL BUSINESS UTILITY DISRUPTION PREVENTION PROGRAM EXPANDED: The Small Business Utility Disruption Prevention Program has been expanded and extended.  Iowa small businesses and nonprofits, who have experienced a loss in revenue due to COVID-19 between March 17th and October 15th, may be eligible for a grant to help pay up to four months in utility costs.  Applications are being approved on a rolling basis until October 31st, or until the funds have been exhausted.  For more information on eligibility requirements and to apply visit, https://www.iowaeconomicdevelopment.com/Business/energy-recovery.

REAL ID DEADLINE EXTENDED UNTIL 2021: Due to COVID-19, it’s been announced that the REAL ID Gold Star deadline for identification used to fly or enter a federal building has been postponed for one year. The new deadline is Oct. 1, 2021. More info at https://iowadot.gov/mvd/realid.


“SHE GOES OUTDOORS” SUBSCRIPTION BOXES: The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has teamed up with Kansas and Nebraska to offer a quarterly outdoor subscription box to women interested in hunting and the outdoors.  Boxes are $50 and include gear, educational resources, and field guides.  An online tutorial accompanies each subscription box.  Upcoming boxes include bird watching, outdoor cooking, pollinators, and fishing. Visit https://www.sgooutdoors.com/ for more information.

CONCUSSION AWARENESS MONTH: August is concussion awareness month in Iowa. A concussion is a type of brain injury that disrupts the way the brain normally works. In 2018, the Iowa Legislature passed a bill that developed training materials and courses on the return to play protocols for concussions and brain injuries that coaches or contest officials would complete every two years. The new law also stated that a student removed from sports participation cannot resume any sports activity until they are evaluated by a licensed health care provider. Now, students and their parents (grades 7-12) that are participating in interscholastic athletics must sign a form every year that provides extensive information on concussions. Concussions can have lasting impacts on both physical and mental health, and sleeping patterns. Common signs and symptoms of a concussion include headache, nausea, or vomiting, balance problems, dizziness, and blurry vision. For more information relating to concussion protocols in Iowa, please visit: https://idph.iowa.gov/brain-injuries/concussion/medical-team.

August 12, 2020

Greetings to you all,

Hopefully you’re all doing okay, especially with the recent weather that we experienced on Monday. I’m sure thankful that we didn’t have the weather that the others in the state dealt with and that everyone can get back to normal again. With the governor’s mandate, that requires local schools to have 50.1% of the instruction be taught in-person, our teachers, students and staff need to have all the things necessary to be safe and successful in the classroom. Some of the school districts are moving forward with what they see as appropriate, by starting with online learning and allowing local control to make the decisions. Others are going back into their schools full time.

I wanted to share some important information regarding how Iowa compares with other states, regarding mental health services.

  • 50th for the numbers of mental health institute beds
  • 45th for mental health workforce availability (2018)
  • 47th for the numbers of psychiatrists
  • 46th for the numbers of psychologists

We definitely have some work to do, especially with the virus and Iowa students heading back to school in the next few days. The need for mental health services has increased exponentially across the state. The mental health situation in Iowa, prior to Covid 19, was extremely serious and now it is critical that we make the much needed improvements to the mental health system. Please check out some new resources on reducing loneliness among older adults from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center and how to increase access to #mentalhealthhttps://go.edc.org/y5vw care https://go.edc.org/6acn #COVID19 #suicideprevention

The November 3rd 2020 elections are 83 days away from happening. Registered voters may request an absentee ballot to be sent to them by mail. You must complete an absentee ballot request form and return the original, signed form to your county auditor. The request form does not need to be witnessed or notarized.

Going forward, I will be listening and working closely with local leaders and community members, to make sure the state is partnering with those in our community who need help and assistance. I’m available by email, phone, and social media, to answer questions and listen to your concerns. You can always reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter, and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

12 Waterloo Bucks vs. Rochester Honkers Riverfront Stadium, 6:35pm, 232-0500
13 Soo Hostetler: Childhood Fantasy Artist Reception Hearst Center, 5:30pm, 273-8641
14-16 The 2020 Midwest Un-Fair Horse Show Hippodrome, 11am, 234-3015
15 Booth Brothers Riverview Conference Center, 6pm, 268-0787
15 Waterloo Bucks vs. Rochester Honkers Riverfront Stadium, 6:35pm, 232-0500
17 Waterloo Bucks vs. Rochester Honkers Riverfront Stadium, 6:35pm, 232-0500
20 Waterloo Bucks vs. Mankato MoonDogs Riverfront Stadium, 6:35pm, 232-0500
21-22 Movies Under the Moon – Goonies UNI, 8pm, 277-0213
27 Final Thursday Reading Series – Adrianne Finlay Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
29 The Lost Drive-In – The Lion King Lost Island Waterpark, 8pm, 291-4490
9/1 Book Reading with Patti Stockdale Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
9/3 College Hill Farmers Market The Hill, 4-6pm, 273-7883


Help for Iowa Small Businesses & Nonprofits

Ways YOU can Support Iowa Small Businesses

Many small businesses and nonprofits in Iowa are still feeling the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic. Iowa has taken a few steps to provide some relief:

Help for Nonprofits

Iowa nonprofits who have been impacted by COVID-19 can apply for a grant through the Iowa Nonprofit Recovery Fund.  Eligible nonprofits can receive a grant up to $25,000.  Eligible organizations include 501(c)(3), 501(c)(6), and 501(c)(19) nonprofit organizations with 25 or few employees that serve priority populations.  Applications will be accepted by the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) until August 14th or until funds have been exhausted.  For more information and to apply visit, https://www.iowaeconomicdevelopment.com/Business/nonprofit-recovery.

Small Business Utility Assistance 

IEDA is still accepting applications for the Small Business Utility Disruption Prevention Program.  Iowa small businesses and nonprofits who have experienced a loss in revenue due to COVID-19 from March 17th to June 30th and have unpaid utility bills may be eligible for a grant to help pay those bills.  Applications are being approved on a rolling basis until August 21st.  For more information on eligibility requirements and to apply visit, https://www.iowaeconomicdevelopment.com/Business/energy-recovery

Shop Small Iowa

Retail small businesses in Iowa now have another way to promote their businesses online.  IEDA has launched Shop Iowa, a website aimed at giving small retailers an online profile.  Customers can go to  https://www.shopiowa.com/ to buy products from businesses all over the state.  Products can be purchased directly from the website and more information for each store is available.  Business who would like products sold on Shop Iowa can visit, https://www.shopiowa.com/sell/

There are many ways Iowans can support small businesses during this time including:

  1. Shop local online
  2. Order takeout from local restaurants
  3. Or buy gift cards for attractions, restaurants, breweries, and much more at https://explore.traveliowa.com/checkout/311/travel-iowa/1644/travel-iowa-gift-card-marketplace

How Does Iowa’s COVID Response Compare to the Rest of the Country? 

Iowa is one of the few states to limit online learning for the upcoming school year in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Iowa is the only state in the nation to force a requirement that 50.1% of the instruction be taught in-person as directed by Governor Reynolds.

The Governor’s in-person instruction requirement can only be waived if there is a local outbreak with a 15% rate of infection and 10% student absenteeism. By comparison, Minnesota requires in-person instruction if a county has just .09% COVID-19 cases.

Over the last month, many parents, school leaders, teachers, and students have expressed concern over the Governor’s new in-person requirements. Many Iowans believe the decision to hold in-person, on-line, or a hybrid option are best left to local school officials.

Check to see where an Iowa county is over the last 14-week period:  https://coronavirus.iowa.gov/pages/percent-school-district-positive-analysis

Masks not Required, No Local Control

In addition, Iowa does not have a statewide mask mandate nor does it allow local governments to decide.

This week at a news conference, the Governor was asked about efforts in Muscatine, Iowa City and Johnson County, for example, to have a local mask mandate. “We do not believe, during a public health emergency, that local governments have the ability to supersede what has been put in place on a statewide.”

Despite that many school districts have stepped up and will require masks when school starts, some for all schools, some just for middle school and high school. Many businesses already require masks to enter.

The CDC still recommends wearing a face covering whenever possible in public places including schools, stores, and in restaurants and bars when not eating or drinking.

Fall High School Sports are Full Steam Ahead

The boys the Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) and the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union (IGHSAU) have released guidance to allow fall high school sports in Iowa.  Schools that intend to play football this season must inform the IHSAA by Aug. 17. The regular season will run for seven weeks, from Aug. 27 to Oct. 9, followed by a postseason from Oct. 16 to Nov. 20. It is a six-week, single elimination tournament.

Football will have mandatory two-minute timeouts every four minutes to enforce sanitizing and hydration protocols.  In addition, spitting will be prohibited for the 2020 football season and water is not to be used for any purpose besides drinking. The IHSAA recommends bringing a new football into play every fourth down.

Cross country matches for both boys and girls are to consider using staggered starts instead of a mass start.  Volleyball will eliminate spectator seating in the first two rows if possible, avoid simultaneous side-by-side courts if possible, rotate three balls for sanitizing, and teams are not to switch benches between sets.

All boys’ or girls’ sports will eliminate pregame or post game handshakes.  Masks are permissible in all fall sports, but not required.

The complete girls fall sports guidance can be found here. The complete boys fall sports guidance can be found here.


Iowa Students Encouraged to Apply to be Legislative Pages

The Iowa Legislature is looking for high school students to learn more about the legislative process by applying to serve as a Legislative Page in the Iowa House of Representatives for the 2021 legislative session.

Legislative Pages provide invaluable assistance to representatives and staff by running errands, delivering messages, and distributing bills and amendments.  Pages will work with staff and representatives in the Iowa State Capitol building.

The Iowa House Chief Clerk’s office will be accepting applications until Friday, October 9, 2020. Guidelines to the program include:

  • Must be 16 years of age by January 11, 2021
  • Uniforms are provided
  • Living arrangements are unsupervised and must be found on their own
  • Students are responsible for transportation to and from the State Capitol
  • This is a paid position and excused absences are permitted
  • Students are expected to be able to handle any school responsibilities
  • Parental permission is required to participate in this program

For more details on the page program and how to apply go to, https://www.legis.iowa.gov/careers.


Cities and Counties in Iowa to Receive CARES Act Funds

Iowa’s local cities and counties will see $125 million in extra funds to help with serious economic challenges, with 60% of those funds going to Iowa cities and 40% going to counties. The monies, allocated by Governor Kim Reynold, can be used for PPE, sanitizing products, medical supplies and equipment or emergency staffing dedicated to the COVID-19 health emergency.

Iowa Homeland Security will use $25 million to pay for the local share of FEMA projects.  The state will hire a third-party vendor to accept applications which will be made available by mid-August.


Other Iowa News

IOWA PERMANENTLY ALLOWS ALCOHOL TO-GO:  At a time when restaurants and bars were shut down for in-person consumption, the state of Iowa eased some regulations, including the sale of alcohol to-go as a way to help keep the economy going.  More than 30 states and Washington D.C. eased restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the closing days of the legislative session the legislature decided to make this change permanent and became the first state in the nation to allow carry-out and delivery of cocktails and mixed drinks.  According to the Distilled Spirits Council, many other states are considering making these changes permanent. The changes will allow bars and restaurants to be creative in their menu offerings and for Iowans to continue to enjoy their favorite beverage at home while the virus continues to spread out of control in Iowa.

COVID-19 RENT AND MORTGAGE ASSISTANCE: Iowans who are behind in rent or mortgage payments may be eligible for the Iowa Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Program.  The program has been expanded to include people who were receiving the extra $600 a week in unemployment benefits.  People who were previously denied for the program are encouraged to apply.  Iowans can receive up to four months of rent, a maximum of $3,200, or two months of mortgage assistance, a maximum of $3,000. For more information visit:  https://www.iowafinance.com/covid-19-iowa-eviction-and-foreclosure-prevention-program/

DEFECTIVE FACE MASK WARNING: This week, the Iowa Attorney General’s office warned businesses and consumers to avoid certain types of face masks, which may be sold using deceptive claims and provide inadequate protection from COVID-19.The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing cloth face coverings to prevent transmission. However, they have also warned about counterfeit sales and respirators not meeting U.S. safety standards. The Attorney General issued a consumer alert after his office noticed retail stores and online sites are selling masks that do not meet performance standards and are a potential safety risk for Iowa healthcare workers. Prior to purchasing masks from suppliers, retailers should practice due diligence to ensure they’re buying a safe, quality product. Consumers who want to file a complaint should contact the Consumer Protection Division at (515) 281-5926 or by email at consumer@ag.iowa.gov.


EXTREME DROUGHT HITS PORTIONS OF IOWA: After an unusually dry and hot July, an area of extreme drought has appeared in the state.  While nearly 80 percent of the state is in some level of drought, about 6 percent of the state is in extreme drought.  The area of extreme drought covers portions of Audubon, Carroll, Greene, and Guthrie Counties. Shallow groundwater resources are deteriorating in several areas around the state as well.  Stream flows are generally normal, but there are areas that are below normal. A complete review of Iowa’s water resources and trends can be found at www.iowadnr.gov/watersummaryupdate.

CHILDHOOD VACCINATION CAMPAIGN: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and changes to routine health care, there has been a 55.5% decrease in non-influenza vaccinations for children ages 4-18 during March and April of this year compared to the same time in 2019.  Due to this decline, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) is promoting the importance of childhood vaccinations. Up-to-date vaccinations are a requirement for school entry, so parents should check with their child’s health care provider to make sure they have the required vaccinations.  To view more information about childhood vaccinations, please visit: https://idph.iowa.gov/immtb/immunization/laws?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

July 30, 2020

Greetings to you all,

Were nearing the end of July and several discussions are occurring on how to restart schools and what is the best approach to make sure schools are able to reopen safely for students, teachers and staff. The Governor recently added some new guidelines that schools must follow this fall, including a requirement that at least 50.1% of instruction be face-to-face. It seems like the governor doesn’t trust the local schools to make the right decisions for each district. I would think local schools can determine what the best approach is for their district. Not just one approach for the entire state from the governor. Hopefully we will begin to see the decision making being done locally.

The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn have negatively affected many people’s mental health and created new barriers especially for people already suffering from mental illness and substance use disorders. Mental health is an important part of our overall health and wellbeing. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It may also affect how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices during an emergency. Please reach out to your physician if you or a family member are struggling with mental health issues and get the resources that can help.

The November 3rd 2020 elections are 96 days from happening. Registered voters may request an absentee ballot to be sent to them by mail. You must complete an absentee ballot request form and return the original, signed form to your county auditor. The request form does not need to be witnessed or notarized.

Going forward, I will be listening and working closely with local leaders and community members, to make sure the state is partnering with those in our community who need help and assistance. I’m available by email, phone, and social media, to answer questions and listen to your concerns. You can always reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter, and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

25-8/1 Cedar Falls Bible Conference Riverview Conference Center, 268-0787
30 Pat Mitchell Memorial Golf Outing Pheasant Ridge Golf Course, 8am, 553-2500
30 Waterloo Municipal Band RiverLoop Amphitheater, 7:30pm, 273-2118
31 Live to 9 – Brad and Kate River Place Plaza, 6:30-10pm, 273-8636
31 Waterloo Bucks vs. Mankato MoonDogs Riverfront Stadium, 6:35pm, 232-0500
8/1 Billy and the Downliners Rock and Roll Drive In *GBPAC, 4 & 8pm, 273-7469
8/1 Waterloo Bucks vs. Mankato MoonDogs Riverfront Stadium, 6:35pm, 232-0500
8/4 Red Herring Readers Theatre Presents: A Raisin in the Sun Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
8/5 Waterloo Bucks vs. Rochester Honkers Riverfront Stadium, 12:05pm, 232-0500
8/6 Red Herring Readers Theatre Presents: Clybourne Park Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
8/7 FridayLoo – The Ice Breakers Lincoln Park, 5:30pm, 291-2038
8/7 Live to 9 – Bruce Day & The Dangits River Place Plaza, 6:30-10pm, 273-8636
8/7-8 Movies Under the Moon – Lego Ninjago UNI, 8pm, 277-0213
8/8 The Lost Drive-In Lost Island Waterpark, 8pm, 291-4490


New Challenges for Iowa Schools Amid COVID-19

Take the Back to School Survey

As Iowa students, teachers, and staff prepare for the upcoming school year amid COVID-19 there are still many concerns.

In July, Iowa schools submitted “Return to Learn” plans to the state to detail how they were going to offer instruction to students during the pandemic. After those plans were submitted and just weeks before schools start up again, the Governor added new guidelines schools must follow this fall, including a requirement that at least 50.1% of instruction be face-to-face. In response several school districts have sought a waiver from the new in-person requirement, but it is unclear at this time if those waivers will be granted.

The Governor’s latest guidelines have led to more confusion and uncertainty among parents, school leaders, and teachers. So far, the Governor still has not provided any additional emergency funding for schools to at least make sure local schools have the PPE necessary to keep educators and kids safe.

Legislators are gathering thoughts from Iowans on how to safely learn during COVID-19. Take the survey at: https://bit.ly/30XHRbQ


All Iowa Voters Will Get a Vote from Home Request in Mail

After record setting vote from home primary election turnout and pressure from local elected officials, the Iowa Secretary of State has changed course and will now be sending out blank vote-from-home request forms to all voters. Legislative Republicans were initially resistant to making sure all voters had access to a request form.

This past session the legislature implemented a new law that requires the Secretary of State to get Legislative Council approval to make changes to the upcoming election. However, a proclamation from the executive council, made up of top Iowa elected officials prohibits the county auditors from sending out pre-populated absentee ballot request forms to voters.  Auditors will be allowed to send blank request forms to voters, and will waive the request deadline for voters who are patients or tenants of a health care facility in the 2020 general election.

Since the legislation has become law multiple counties have announced that they will be sending out requests to all voters with pre-filled information, including the voter identification number. This was a response to language that was put in the standings bill that prevented a county auditor from looking up a voter’s PIN number in the voter registration system.


Annual Tax-Free Weekend Aug. 7 & 8

The yearly tax-free holiday begins the first Friday in August and runs through the next day, or August 7-8 this year. The back-to-school sales tax holiday does not include Sunday.   No sales tax is collected on clothing or footwear that sells for less than $100.  The exemption applies to each article priced under $100, no matter how many individual articles are purchased.

Clothing included in the sales tax holiday is generally any article of wearing apparel and typical footwear that is worn on the body.  The holiday does not include watches, jewelry, sporting equipment, or any special clothing or footwear designed for a specialized activity that is not usually considered everyday wear.

Any business that is open during these days is required to participate.  Businesses do not have to do any special sales tax reporting, but when completing the sales tax return should list qualifying sales during the holiday on the “exemptions” line.
Additional information on the sales tax holiday can be found at https://tax.iowa.gov/iowas-annual-sales-tax-holiday?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery.


Other Iowa News

SMALL BUSINESS UTILITY DISRUPTION PROGRAM: Iowa small businesses and nonprofits who have experienced a loss in revenue due to COVID-19 from March 17th to June 30th and have unpaid utility bills may be eligible for a grant to help pay those bills.  Eligible businesses and nonprofits include those with 50 or fewer employees who did not receive a grant from the small business relief grant program or the nonprofit recovery fund. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis now until August 21st.  For more information on eligibility requirements and to apply, visit https://www.iowaeconomicdevelopment.com/Business/energy-recovery

 
VETERAN CAREGIVER SUPPORT AND RESOURCE FAIR:  The 2020 Veteran Caregiver Support Program Virtual Caregiver and Family Resource Fair will be held virtually on August 11, 2020 from 9am-12pm.  This fair provides support and services for family caregivers of veterans and helps with navigating the VA healthcare system and accessing resources. By promoting the health and well-being of these caregivers, it in turn, assists them in helping veterans live to their fullest potential. Organizations attending the virtual fair include: Peer Support Specialists, Primary Care Providers, Suicide Prevention Services, Veterans Justice Program, and VA Telehealth staff, among others. To RSVP and receive an invitation and agenda, please email your name or the name of your representative to vanessa.andersen@va.gov

 
FREE COVID-19 LEGAL ADVICE: The federal eviction prevention program expires on Saturday, July 25. Under the CARES Act, tenants of apartment buildings financed by federally backed mortgages could not be evicted for failing to pay rent for 120 days. If you have any questions or problems related to evictions, contact Iowa Legal Aid for free legal advice at: https://www.iowalegalaid.org

                          
 

PHASE-IN UTILITY SERVICE DISCONNECTIONS: This month, investor-owned utilities resumed customer utility disconnections that were previously paused do to COVID-19. On March 27, 2020, an emergency order that restricted utility shut offs by all electric and natural gas utilities, including investor-owned, municipal, and cooperative. On May 20th, the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) issued an order establishing requirements for all Iowa utilities to follow before resuming disconnection service with a utility disconnection service timeline. Iowans who need information can go to IUB’s frequently asked utility service disconnection questions sheet. Those who are unable to reach a resolution with their utilities can call the IUB at 877-565-4450 (toll-free), 515-725-7300 or email customer@iub.iowa.gov.  Any customer who has a complaint about utility service and is unable to resolve the issue with their utility may use the IUB online complaint form to file a complaint with the IUB.

July 15, 2020

Greetings to you all,

The Iowa Department of Public Health reported 391 new confirmed Coronavirus cases and two deaths, between 2:30 p.m. Sunday and 10:30 a.m. Monday, according to the state’s Coronavirus website. That brings the state total to 35,462 cases and 752 deaths. Please take precautions when gathering in groups.

  • Practice social distancing.
  • Wear a face covering.
  • Wash hands frequently.

Do your part to slow the spread of COVID-19.  Hopefully, you are staying safe and healthy during these difficult times we are facing.

Make sure that you consider voting by mail, during the upcoming elections in November. The newsletter has information to help you learn how to safely vote from home. The Dept. of Transportation service centers are currently open by appointment only.  Walk in customers will not be served. In the Legislature’s omnibus budget bill, the state’s universities were cut by $8 million. This will be a major problem for our students, their families, and the educators and staff at the universities. We should do better as a state, making sure that education is a priority.

The Cedar Falls Downtown District Sidewalk Sales are July 17-18 at 10am. Take a stroll downtown and stock up on discounted merchandise from retailers. For a list of participating locations, click here.

Going forward, I will be listening and working closely with local leaders and community members, to make sure the state is partnering with those in our community who need help and assistance. I’m available by email, phone, and social media, to answer questions and listen to your concerns. You can always reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter, and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events Calendar
16 Party on the Patio – Karla & Deb Hearst Center, 5pm, 273-8641
16 Waterloo Municipal Band RiverLoop Amphitheater, 7:30pm, 273-2118
17-18 Sidewalk Sales Cedar Falls Downtown District, 10am, 277-0213
17-19 Greater Cedar Valley Jaycee’s Waterloo Open Waterloo golf courses, 234-9271
19-25 Waterloo’s Annual Great Ride Around Waterloo/WAGRAW SingleSpeed Brewing Co., 233-8350
20-21 Waterloo Bucks vs St. Cloud Rox Riverfront Stadium, 6:35pm, 232-0500
21-26 Iowa State Trap Shoot Cedar Falls Gun Club, 987-2141
23 Waterloo Bucks vs Rochester Honkers Riverfront Stadium, 6:35pm, 232-0500
23 Waterloo Municipal Band RiverLoop Amphitheater, 7:30pm, 273-2118
24-25 Movies Under the Moon – Mary Poppins UNI, 8pm, 277-0213
25 The Lost Drive-In – Mulan Lost Island Waterpark, 8pm, 291-4490
25-8/1 Cedar Falls Bible Conference Riverview Conference Center, 268-0787


Protecting Elections from Voter Suppression 

Request to Vote from Home 

Coming off a record turnout in the primary election in June, Iowans could once again be voting during a health pandemic that may require them to plan ahead to keep themselves and their community safe.

Beginning last week, Iowans can now start requesting to vote by mail. A link to the form can be found here: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/pdf/absenteeballotapp.pdf. Just fill out the vote by mail form, mail it to your county auditor, and a ballot will be sent to your home in early October.

Iowans are encouraged to submit their vote by mail form early this year because Republican leaders proposed new restrictions during session at the last minute to make it more difficult for Iowans to vote by mail this fall during COVID. While House Democrats continued to work across party lines to reach a compromise and protect the right to vote, several changes were signed into law in June that will lead to voter suppression.

The first change will require the Secretary of State to seek legislative approval before making changes to how elections are administered in emergency situations, which will prevent the Secretary from unilaterally sending out absentee ballot requests without first getting legislative approval. The changes will not prevent a local county auditor from sending requests to registered voters if they choose to, which many auditors have plans set in place to do.

Another change made on the last day of session will make it harder for Iowans to vote by mail by requiring more information on a form and preventing local auditors from using verified information in the voter registration database to help voters complete the form if they’ve made a mistake. A similar idea was adopted several years ago, but it was overturned by an Iowa Court.


New Food Assistance for Students Impacted by COVID

Some Iowa families will be receiving more food assistance benefits due to the ongoing pandemic, the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) announced last week.

Households with children in Pre-K through grade 12 who lost access to free and reduced-price meals due to school closures are eligible to receive this extra benefit.

Over 247,000 Iowa children who are eligible to receive the extra $307.80 in food assistance, and will receive this money in one of two ways:

  1. If the child’s household already receives food assistance benefits, their benefits will automatically be added to the household’s current EBT card on July 15, 2020.
  2. If the child’s family has not previously had access to food assistance, they will receive a new P-EBT card in the mail between July 14-21, 2020.

For more information regarding this extra benefit, please visit: https://dhs.iowa.gov/P-EBT?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery.


Governor Signs Online Education for Schools Legislation

On July 1st schools submitted their online learning plans, called Return to Learn.

Schools will have to be ready for instruction in August by either in a classroom or online which will require access to the internet and a computer for students.  With the lack of reopening guidance from the Department of Education, districts on their own will decide whether or not to require face masks, how to social distance, or have temperature checks.

The Governor has also signed new online learning regulations in SF 2310 that also addresses COVID-19.  Here are some of its provisions:

  • Open Enrollment – The deadline is extended to apply for open enrollment from April 1 to July 15 for an online program.  It is only open to a child, or another resident of the child’s residence, that has a significant health condition that increases the risk of COVID-19.
  • Truancy Regarding Online Learning – If a district implements their online program, any student that does not participate remotely through an online learning program due to COVID could be considered truant.
  • Social Distancing – In implementing social distancing policies included in a return-to-learn plan, schools are required, to the extent possible, in-person instruction for core academic subjects.
  • Statewide Assessment – The Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP), is required to be administered for the upcoming school year.  The Governor waived its implementation for the 2019-20 school year due to Covid-19.
  • CPR Certification Waived – The requirement that a student complete a CPR course to graduate is waived, if the school district or accredited nonpublic school closes.

Racial and Ethnic Minorities Most Impacted by COVID-19 at Meat Processing Facilities

Iowa is the nation’s leading pork producer and has about a dozen large-scale meat processing plants. A new Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report studying the impact of COVID-19 on workers at meat processing plants found that 87% of people infected were racial or ethnic minorities even though they make up 61% of the overall worker population. To date, at least 86 workers have died from COVID-19.

However, the State of Iowa did not contribute COVID-related meat processing plant data to the CDC, although many of Iowa’s meat processing plants continue to experience COVID cases.
This past session, Iowa GOP leaders passed legislation providing blanket immunity to meat processing corporations and bad actors from COVID-19 liability. Under Senate File 2338, Iowa meat processing plants have special protections against coronavirus-related lawsuits. Iowans are unable to sue meat processing corporations unless they are hospitalized or die of COVID-19. Facilities are also not liable for civil damages related to coronavirus exposure unless they “recklessly disregard” a risk of exposure or intentionally expose someone to the virus.

Democratic lawmakers proposed amendments to protect Iowans who have to continue working during the pandemic, including requiring meat processing corporations to report COVID outbreak related data to Iowa public health officials.

SF 2338 was signed into law by the Governor last month and retroactively became effective January 1, 2020.


Other Iowa News

DRIVER’S LICENSE STATIONS OPEN BY APPOINTMENT ONLY: The Iowa Department of Transportation is working to provide the services Iowans need while keeping individuals as safe as possible during the pandemic. DOT service centers are currently open by appointment only, walk-in customers will not be served. Due to demand, appointments may need to be scheduled several weeks out. To schedule an appointment or to see if there are alternatives to an in-person appointment visit, https://iowadot.gov/mvd/driverslicense/service-selector. Visitors must wear masks at appointments. Iowa DOT rest areas, garages, weigh scales, and administrative offices are open. Cleaning and sanitation efforts have increased in rest areas, particularly in high touch areas.

COVID UNEMPLOYMENT STILL AVAILABLE: Iowans can still apply for unemployment if they were laid off due to COVID-19 or had their hours reduced.  People can apply for unemployment here, https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/  Currently people on unemployment receive an extra $600 a week which is paid for by the federal government.  Unless Congress acts before the end of the month, the extra payment will stop on July 31st.  For people looking for work, Iowa Workforce Development has temporary job openings posted on their website at: https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/temp-jobs

STATE UNIVERSITIES UPDATE: In the Legislature’s omnibus budget bill, the state’s universities were cut by $8 million.  They have now been cut by the state legislature by over $26 million over the last four years, despite the Regents agreeing to freeze tuition for the upcoming fall semester. They have not ruled out increasing tuition for the Spring semester to help make up the difference.

COVID & MENTAL HEALTH: The coronavirus outbreak may be causing new or additional stress and anxiety. For Iowans in need of someone to talk to or in need of help accessing mental health resources, Your Life Iowa is available 24/7 to talk over phone, text, or live chat. Call: (855) 581-8111 Text: (855) 895-8398 Chat: YourLifeIowa.org.

July 2, 2020

Greetings to you all,

July 4th is just a few days away and people are anxious to get out and enjoy the weather. There is going to be a few 4th of July events taking place in the Cedar Valley and to celebrate this holiday, the Mayor’s Independence Day Celebration will be on July 4. Even though people will not be gathering for live entertainment and food, fireworks will be shot off in Waterloo around the vicinity of Lost Island Water Park and South Hills Golf Course. Park in a nearby parking lot and enjoy the show. I have included the event in the Upcoming Community Events Calendar.

Included in the newsletter is some information regarding the Department of Education lack luster recommendations for the schools when students return this fall. Many concerns have also been raised about the Department of Education not recommending schools require masks for students or teachers even if social distancing is not possible. Hopefully the schools can make the right decision for our students and staff health and safety. The Governor also extended the COVID-19 Public Health Proclamation to July 25

Going forward I will be listening and working closely with local leaders, to make sure the state is partnering with those in our community who need help and assistance. I’m available by email, phone, and social media, to answer questions and listen to your concerns. You can always reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events Calendar

6/27-7/4 Prospect Light Show 4th of July 1056 Prospect Ave, Waterloo, various times
7/2 Waterloo Municipal Band RiverLoop Amphitheater, 7pm, 273-2118
7/4 Mayor’s Independence Day Celebration Lost Island Water Park and South Hills Golf Course, 10pm, 291-4490
7/9 Party on the Patio – Zoot & Newt Hearst Center, 5pm, 273-8641
7/9 Waterloo Municipal Band RiverLoop Amphitheater, 7pm, 273-2118
7/10 FridayLoo – The Evan Stock Band Lincoln Park, 5:30pm, 291-2038
7/10 Live to 9 – Stackhouse River Place Plaza, 6:30-10pm, 273-8636
7/10-11 Movies Under the Moon – Hook UNI, 8pm, 277-0213
7/16 Party on the Patio – Karla & Deb Hearst Center, 5pm, 273-8641
7/16 Waterloo Municipal Band RiverLoop Amphitheater, 7pm, 273-2118
7/17 Live to 9 – Dry Run Creek River Place Plaza, 6:30-10pm, 273-8636
7/17-18 Sidewalk Sales Cedar Falls Downtown District, 277-0213
7/17-19 Greater Cedar Valley Jaycee’s Waterloo Open Waterloo golf courses, 234-9271
7/18 Accel Triathlon George Wyth State Park, 8am, 596-1101
7/21-26 Iowa State Trap Shoot Cedar Falls Gun Club, 987-2141
7/23 Party on the Patio – Amelia and Melina Hearst Center, 5pm, 273-8641


State COVID-19 Guidance for K-12 Schools Lacking

On June 25, the Iowa Department of Education (DE) released COVID reopening guidance to k-12 schools for the upcoming school year. After significant push back from education leaders, teachers, and parents, the department quickly offered to take more input.

At just two pages, many Iowans are concerned the guidelines are inadequate given the pandemic and more thorough recommendations should be given to keep students and teachers safe and healthy. Many concerns have also been raised about the DE not recommending schools require masks for students or teachers even if social distancing is not possible.

The Iowa State Education Association, which represents Iowa teachers, said the state’s guidance is inconsistent with CDC guidelines, common sense, and good public policy. They’ve recommended the DE develop guidance based on health expertise, educator voice, access to protection, and equity. The National Education Association has also released guidance on reopening schools.

On July 1, schools will be submitting their online learning plans, called Return to Learn.  Schools will have to be ready for instruction in August by either in a classroom or online which will require access to the internet and a computer for students.


COVID-19 Public Health Proclamation Extended to July 25

The Governor has extended the Public Health Disaster Emergency through July 25th which impacts many businesses around Iowa.  Some highlights from the latest proclamation are:

  • Restaurants, bars, wineries, breweries, distilleries, country clubs, fraternal clubs, and wedding receptions can remain open at full capacity but groups or tables of people must continue to be spaced 6 feet apart.  All customers must have a seat at a table or the bar.
  • Gyms need to continue to keep equipment spaced 6 feet apart.  While attending classes, customers must be 6 feet apart.
  •  Salons and barbershops must continue to keep customers 6 feet apart.
  • Theater and live performance venues need to continue to keep groups of people 6 feet apart.

All businesses need to make reasonable efforts to maintain social distance and increase hygiene practices. The Iowa Department of Public Health has guidelines for businesses.  Guidelines can be found here, https://idph.iowa.gov/Emerging-Health-Issues/Novel-Coronavirus/Business-and-Organizations.


ACA Protects Iowans with COVID-19 and Pre-Existing Conditions

During COVID-19, the Affordable Care Act has protected 1.3 million Iowans with pre-existing conditions. Without the law, people recovering from COVID-19 who try to purchase an individual health insurance policy could have been turned down, charged higher premiums, or had follow-up care excluded from coverage.

Last week, opening briefs were filed with the US Supreme Court in a case backed by the Trump Administration and others to repeal the ACA. Because the economic crisis stemming from the pandemic is driving millions of people onto coverage programs supported by the ACA, the Center for American Progress estimates that over 227,000 Iowans will lose their health insurance coverage if the law is repealed.

Before the ACA, people who lost their jobs and wanted to keep their employer’s health insurance could do so under a law known as COBRA. It’s still on the books, but it requires full premium payment, plus an administrative fee. The high cost means many can’t afford to use it.

Due to ACA instability at the federal level, Iowa House Democrats offered legislation this session that would have expanded affordable COVID-19 health coverage and provided Iowans protection from being denied insurance coverage because of having COVID or a pre-existing condition.

That COVID-19 healthcare package was proposed as an amendment to the state budget (HF2643), but it was blocked from debate by the Majority Party.


Other Iowa News

TAX FILING DEADLINE APPROACHING: In March, the Department of Revenue extended filing and payment deadlines for several state tax types.  This includes extending the deadline for tax returns and tax due for individual income tax, corporate income tax, and several other taxes due after March 19th until July 31st of this year.  The federal tax filing deadline was extended until July 15th, 2020. The Iowa Department of Revenue is reminding taxpayers that Estimated tax payment deadlines have not been extended.  Second quarter installments of tax year 2020 for taxpayers that pay on a quarterly basis are due June 30, 2020. Additional information on state taxation and changes because of COVID-19 can be found on the Iowa Department of Revenue’s website at https://tax.iowa.gov/COVID-19.

SUMMER STUDENT FOOD LOCATIONS: The USDA’s Summer Food Service Program has 303 approved Grab and Go meal sites in Iowa to provide meals and snacks to children who might go without. To find a location in your community go to: https://www.fns.usda.gov/meals4kids

SUMMER BOAT SAFETY: Summer is in full swing and many Iowans are out on the water.  The Department of Natural Resources has the following boater safety tips to help Iowans have fun and be safe on the water.  Kids 12 and under must wear a life jacket but it is recommended that everyone wear a life jacket.  There must be a lifejacket on board for every person plus a throw away jacket in case of an emergency.   Check water conditions before heading out, have a sober driver, and carry a fire extinguisher on board.  When leaving the water, help stop aquatic hitchhikers by draining all equipment and wash off all plants, animals, mud, and dry the boat before moving it to another waterway.

HEALTHY IOWANS REPORT:  The 2020 Healthy Iowans Progress Report has been released by the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the results were mixed.  Some positive changes include a decrease in the number of child deaths (ages 1-4) in the state, more young adults (ages 18-44) received a routine medical check-up, the number of opioid-related deaths decreased and more children in rural Iowa were able to receive health services through the use of telehealth. The report also highlighted some negative trends occurring in the state.  First, there has been a significant increase in the rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), with gonorrhea and chlamydia rates spiking. Also, suicide deaths among all ages has risen, and increased by 18% in those aged 15-19. Finally, the rate of confirmed child abuse cases has increased by 33% since 2016. The Healthy Iowans Progress Report is created through a partnership with almost 100 private and public groups who strive to make Iowa a place where everyone has an opportunity to live a healthier, more productive life.  Read the full report.

June 19, 2020

Greetings to you all,

Hopefully, you and your family are staying healthy during these very difficult and uncertain times we are facing.  The Legislature adjourned on Sunday, June 14 after a marathon overnight debate that saw the passage of a mostly status quo budget and a very controversial expansion of the state’s voter ID program. I was disappointed that some legislative leaders brought up too many divisive, partisan issues in the closing days of session. The time wasted on voter suppression and restricting the rights of women should have been spent on COVID relief and recovery.

In the wake of the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, I was proud to join my colleagues and approve a bi-partisan plan to take the first step in bringing an end to inequality and racism. The Plan for a More Perfect Union signed into law will ban police chokeholds, make it illegal to rehire police fired for misconduct, allows the Attorney General to investigate police misconduct, and require annual bias and de-escalation training for law enforcement officers.

As lawmakers, the only bills we are required to pass every year relate to Iowa’s state budget. It’s the job of the Legislature to set the state budget, be transparent with taxpayer dollars, and provide oversight of the executive branch. I was very disappointed that the majority party agreed to an additional 8 million dollar cut to our regent schools UNI, Iowa and ISU. What we will see is reductions in staff and faculty and students will see increases in their tuition. Even as questions still arise about the multi-million dollar no-bid contracts made by the Governor, the majority party also refused to provide any oversight of the $1.25 billion in tax dollars Iowa received to deal with the pandemic.

Going forward I will be listening and working closely with local leaders, to make sure the state is partnering with those in our community who need help and assistance. I’m available by email, phone, and social media, to answer questions and listen to your concerns. You can always reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events Calendar

6/19-2O Movies Under the Moon – Moana UNI, 8pm, 277-0213 27-
7/4 Prospect Light Show 4th of July 1056 Prospect Ave, Waterloo, various times
7/2 Waterloo Municipal Band RiverLoop Amphitheater, 7pm, 273-2118
7/4 Mayor’s Independence Day Celebration RiverLoop Expo Plaza, 5:30-11pm, 291-4490
7/9 Party on the Patio – Zoot & Newt Hearst Center, 5pm, 273-8641
7/9 Waterloo Municipal Band RiverLoop Amphitheater, 7pm, 273-2118
7/10 Friday’Loo – The Evan Stock Band Lincoln Park, 5:30pm, 291-2038
7/10 Live to 9 – Stackhouse Cedar Falls Downtown District, 5:30pm, 273-8636
7/10-11 Movies Under the Moon – Hook UNI, 8pm, 277-0213
7/16 Party on the Patio – Karla & Deb Hearst Center, 5pm, 273-8641
7/16 Waterloo Municipal Band RiverLoop Amphitheater, 7pm, 273-2118
7/17 Live to 9 – Dry Run Creek Cedar Falls Downtown District, 5:30pm, 273-8636
7/17-18 Sidewalk Sales Cedar Falls Downtown District, 277-0213
7/17-19 Waterloo Open Waterloo golf courses, 234-9271
7/23 Party on the Patio – Amelia and Melina Hearst Center, 5pm, 273-8641
7/23 Waterloo Municipal Band RiverLoop Amphitheater, 7pm, 273-2118


Legislative Session Recap

First Step to Racial Justice in Iowa

In the wake of the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, legislators worked together to take the first step in bringing an end to inequality and racism.

The Plan for a More Perfect Union. HF 2647, introduced by the Legislative Black Caucus and other lawmakers, was signed into law last week. The legislation will ban police chokeholds, make it illegal to rehire police fired for misconduct, allow the Attorney General to investigate police misconduct, and require annual bias and de-escalation training for law enforcement officers.

More Restrictions on Women’s Health 

During a debate in the middle of the night, House Republican leaders passed a bill mandating a 24-hour waiting period for women trying to access essential healthcare services.

Forcing women to wait 24-hours to access safe, legal abortion, is demeaning to women and implies that a patient hasn’t thought about their decision carefully. Many Iowans already face far too many barriers getting access to healthcare, especially those who live in rural areas and individuals with low incomes. This bill is another example of the majority party’s assault restricting women’s health care.

Bipartisan Legislation Approved This Session 

There were a few pieces of legislation that passed the legislature this year that will benefit the people of Iowa. A few of those pieces include:

  • Showing the respect our veterans and service members deserve (SF 388, HF 2312, HF 717, SF 280, HF 2382, HF 2236)
  • Banning human traffickers from commercial driving (HF 2235)
  • Enhancing safety and justice for crime victims (HF 2445, HF 2554)
  • Cracking down on animal cruelty (HF 737)
  • Encouraging minors to seek help in alcohol-related emergencies (HF 684)
  • Raising minimum age for tobacco and vaping (SF 2268)
  • Helping foster kids transition to adulthood (HF 2220)
  • Ensuring better health care for Iowa seniors (HF 2269)
  • Ensuring safe health care by expanding the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (SF 2120)
  • Preventing insurance fraud (HF 426)
  • Making EMS an essential service in rural areas (SF 2283)
  • Expanding access to health care providers and services throughout the state (SF 2118, SF 2357, HF 2267, HF 310, SF 2261, HF 2197)
  • Incentivizing veterinarians to practice in rural Iowa (HF 2643)
  • Helping rural schools cover busing costs (SF 2164)
  • Improving classrooms so all students can reach their full potential (SF 2360)
  • Expanding special education opportunities (HF 2340)
  • Expanding reading help for dyslexic students (SF 2356)
  • Laying out rigorous return-to-learn criteria and waiving certain requirements to help students get back on track following the COVID-19 pandemic (SF 2310)
  • Encouraging a diverse teaching workforce (HF 2359)
  • Expanding Career and Technical Education (HF 2454)
  • Expanding skilled apprenticeship training (HF 2629)
  • Expanding access to child care (HF 2270, HF 2600)
  • Expanding business opportunities and neighborhood services (SF 155)
  • Expanding farm learning opportunities (HF 2477)
  • Establishing a plan for growing solar energy (SF 583)
  • Protecting Iowa’s natural resources (SF 583, SF 2250, HF 2475)
  • Boosting jobs and economy by promoting Iowa-grown commodities (SF 583, SF 2403, HF 2581)
  • Providing tourism opportunities by extending hotel/motel tax (HF 760)
  • Expanding broadband throughout the state (SF 2400)
  • Helping local governments save money by sharing staff (SF 2025)
  • Allowing first responder agencies to donate used vehicles, equipment (SF 2259)
  • Providing immediate resources to address the COVID-19 pandemic (SF 2408)
  • Providing disaster recovery assistance for homeowners (SF 2406)

GOP Bill Makes it More Difficult to Vote 

After the Iowa Secretary of State encouraged more Iowans to vote from home during the pandemic, there was record turnout in Iowa’s primary election in early June.

In response, Republican leaders passed new restrictions at the last minute to make it more difficult for Iowans to vote by mail this fall. If there is a mistake on the mail in ballot request form, it will restrict local officials from using verified information. This piece of legislation will negatively impact Iowans who are poor, elderly, and those with intellectual disabilities.

Now more than ever, every Iowan deserves the right to vote safely. Republican lawmakers need to focus on the things that matter to Iowans – racial justice and relief for those affected by coronavirus – not changing the rules to make it more difficult for Iowans to vote safely.

It’s not too late, tell Governor Kim Reynolds to VETO further barriers to vote by mail during a pandemic. Please sign this petition to the Governor: https://bit.ly/2YowqZk

State Budget & Oversight

Prior to adjournment, lawmakers are required to pass a state budget every year. It’s the job of the Legislature to set the state budget, be transparent with taxpayer dollars, and provide oversight of the executive branch. Unfortunately, the $8 billion state budget approved by the majority party this year turns over nearly all of the spending decisions that should be made by the Legislature to the Governor.

Even as questions still arise about the multi-million dollar no-bid contracts made by the Governor, the majority party also refused to provide any oversight of the $1.25 billion in tax dollars Iowa received to deal with the pandemic.

Update on Felon Voter Rights

Currently, Iowa is the only state in the country where all felons lose their right to vote unless those rights are restored by the Governor.

This session, the majority party lawmakers failed to give felons who have served their time the right to vote back. They did however, pass legislation that insisted restitution be paid before voting rights are restored. Many Iowans have expressed concern that it amounts to a poll tax on Iowans who are unable to afford to repay crime-related debts.

Iowans feel strongly that the Governor Reynolds should use her authority to sign an executive order that would restore voter rights immediately. Previously, an executive order was established by Governor Tom Vilsack in 2005 but then was reversed by Governor Terry Branstad in 2011. There are about 50,000 people in the state of Iowa that have lost the right to vote because of a criminal record.


Other Iowa News

COVID RESTRICTIONS LOOSENED: Governor Reynolds announced last week that all restrictions aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19 have been lifted. As of June 12, all of the establishments, including restaurants and bars, that were limited to 50% capacity will now be allowed to open at full capacity. Please continue to follow CDC social distancing guidelines.

IOWA STATE PARKS PASSPORT: 2020 is the 100th anniversary of Iowa’s state parks.  In effort to encourage more people to visit the parks, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Iowa Tourism Office have teamed up to provide a free digital passport for people to use to explore the parks.  People can use the passport to learn about the parks, visit new parks, earn prizes, and receive coupons for local restaurants and attractions.  To use the passport visit, explore.traveliowa.com/PARKS.


SUPPORT IOWA SMALL BUSINESS:
 The Iowa Tourism Office also has a new online portal where people can buy gift cards to support their local restaurants and attractions.  For more information or to purchase a gift card visit:  explore.traveliowa.com/giftcards.

FOOD INSECURITY HELP:  As the economy continues to struggle, we know that COVID-19 is a financial strain for many families. Find a food dispensary: https://www.foodbankiowa.org/gethelp. If you are able to donate, please visit: https://www.foodbankiowa.org. Grants are also available to food banks, food pantries and other non-profit organizations receiving donated food for distribution to food insecure Iowans are eligible to apply. The competitive grant opportunity helps efforts to expand storage and cold storage of donated food. Information and application materials can be downloaded under the “food waste” tab at www.iowadnr.gov/FABA.

May 28, 2020

Greetings to you all,

Hopefully, you and your family are staying healthy during these very difficult and uncertain times we are facing.  The Legislature plans to reconvene on Wednesday, June 3, at 9 am. The Legislature suspended the session on March 16 dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and to protect the health and safety of legislators, staff, and the public. The Capital will be open, but strict guidelines will be in place at the Capital, limiting access to the House or Senate chambers.  No reservations will be allowed in the capitol, for committee rooms or the rotunda. The House and Senate chamber doors will remain locked and will require badge access to enter. The safety of everyone in the building is of upmost importance.

I anticipate the majority party is going to move the funnel deadline to June 5th so they can move bills forward that didn’t pass during the session before early adjournment on March 16th. Then we will probably be addressing the budgets that have to be completed by the end of June. One issue that we are facing is as we prepare to reopen our schools and businesses, there is a greater need than ever to address the social, emotional, behavioral, and mental health needs of all Iowans. We have seen the impacts that the virus has had on everyone and especially our students and teachers. Hopefully, we will be able to make that a focus before closing the session.

In the days ahead of the session restarting, I’ll be listening and working closely with local leaders, to make sure the state is partnering with those in our community who need help and assistance. I’ll also be working with my colleagues, on important issues that must be addressed during this crisis. While I will be at the Capitol starting next week, I will be available by email, phone, and social media, to answer questions and listen to your concerns. You can always reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!


As Iowa Opens Take Precautions 

As the state continues to open, it’s important to remember the virus is still spreading so we need to continue to take precautions.

SOCIAL DISTANCE: If you go out, try to avoid close contact with others and put 6 feet of distance between yourself and others as much as possible. Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus.

WASH YOUR HANDS: Be sure to wash your hands often, especially once you’ve been out of your home.

WEAR A MASK: In light of data about how COVID-19 spreads, the CDC recommends that people wear a cloth face covering to cover their nose and mouth in community settings. This is to protect people around you if you are infected but do not have symptoms.

STAY HOME IF YOU ARE SICK: Stay home if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 including a fever, runny nose, or chest pain.

What is Open in Iowa? 

While COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Iowa, Governor Reynolds loosen more public health measures. Here is the updated list of what is open and still remains closed.

Businesses opened before or starting May 28th

  • Restaurants, bars, winery, brewery, distillery, country clubs, fraternal clubs, and wedding receptions
    • Limit customers to 50% capacity
    • Groups are limited to no more than 10 people
    • Groups of people must be 6 feet apart
    • No self-service food or beverages
    • Must make reasonable efforts to maintain social distance and increase hygiene practices
    • Live performances can resume but performers must be 6 feet away from customers. Customers are prohibited from congregating closer than 6 feet
  • Fitness Centers
  • Malls
  • Other Retail Stores
  • Salons & Barber shops
  • Medical Spas
  • Tanning Facilities
  • Massage Therapy Establishments
  • Tattoos Establishments
  • Campgrounds
  • Places of Worship
  • Race Tracks
  • Libraries
  • Drive in Theaters
  • Movie theaters
  • Museums, aquariums, and zoos
  • Swimming pools-
    • lap swimming and swim lessons only
    • Waterslides, wading pools, splash pads, and wave pools closed

Businesses allowed to reopen on June 1, 2020

  • Outdoor performance venues
    • Any grandstand or performances with permanent seating is limited to 50% capacity
    • Groups must be 6 feet apart
    • Must make reasonable efforts to maintain social distance and increase hygiene practices
  • Casinos and gaming facilities
    • Limit customers to 50% capacity
    • All wagering and gaming positions must be 6 feet apart
    • No self-service food or beverages
    • Must make reasonable efforts to maintain social distance and increase hygiene practices
  • BINGO halls, bowling alleys, pool halls, arcades, and amusement parks
    • Limit customers to 50% capacity
    • Must make reasonable efforts to maintain social distance and increase hygiene practices
  • Skating rinks and skating parks
    • Limit customers to 50% capacity
    • Must make reasonable efforts to maintain social distance and increase hygiene practices
  • Outdoor playgrounds
  • Auctions – Number of attendees increased
    • Indoor auctions are limited to 50% capacity
    • Outside auctions with a grandstand or permanent seating is limited to 50%
    • All groups or individuals standing alone must be 6 feet apart

Mass Gatherings (effective June 1, 2020)

  • Social, community, recreational, leisure, or sporting gathering or events including parades, festivals, conventions, or fundraisers of more than ten people may take place with capacity limited to 50%, social distancing, and reasonable measures of increased hygiene practices.
  • Non-school sporting and recreational events, including practices, games, competitions for baseball, softball and individual sports are allowed even where the athletes may have contact within six feet.

Extension of Closures 

The following are too remained closed until 11:59pm on June 17, 2020

  • Theaters: all indoor and outdoor performance venues for live theater performances
  • Senior Citizens and adult daycare facilities
  • Indoor playgrounds

Primary Election June 2nd

Iowans who did not choose to vote from home will head to the polls on June 2nd to vote in their parties’ primary election. Voters will have to be a registered member of a political party to vote in the Primary but can register at the polls.

It is important that voters make plans to vote, as their location may have changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Polls are open from 7am to 9pm. Please remember social distance and wear a face mask to protect yourself, others, and poll workers.

Important Links:

To confirm their polling location voters should contact their county auditor, who’s information can be found here: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/auditors/auditor.asp?CountyID=00

If a voter wants to confirm their voter registration status they can check online here: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/voterreg/regtovote/search.aspx

If a voter has requested an absentee ballot they can track it here: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/absenteeballotstatus/absentee/search


Budget Yet to be Set for FY 2021

As Iowans continue to adjust their daily lives due to the coronavirus pandemic, state legislators are also anticipating a decline in state revenues.  In order to get a better picture of the impact of COVID-19 on the state budget, the state’s budget experts on the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) announced they will meet on May 29th via teleconference to make new projections on state revenue.

The Legislative Services Agency (LSA) released a report last week that for the time period between March 19th and May 5th net revenue loss was 36.1% While it is impossible to predict what the REC will project for revenue loss for the state, other states may provide an insight on what to expect. The Center of Budget Policy released a report that shows states across the country projecting losses well over $1 billion for the upcoming fiscal year.

When the Legislative session resumes on June 3rd and budget decisions will have to be made, House Democrats will continue to prioritize working families and those who have been negatively impacted both physically and financially by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Iowa Only State to Allow Summer High School Sports

As states start to open up their economy, Iowa currently will be the only state to allow summer high school sports.  Summer sports (including baseball and softball only) will be allowed starting June 1st.

Not every school district will elect to participate, but if they do, the following restrictions apply:

  • Post signage prominently indicating no one should attend or participate in practice (June 1) or a game (starting June 15) if they currently have symptoms or have been in contact with anyone with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis in the last 14 days.
  • No dugout may be used for practices. Game use only starting June 15.
  • Parents must remain in their cars or drop off and pick up players after practice. Parents and fans cannot attend games if they are showing symptoms and encouraged to bring chairs for games for social distancing.
  • Players should use their own gloves, helmets, and bats as much as possible.
  • Coaches are responsible for ensuring social distancing is maintained between players, and sanitizing equipment.
  • Players and coaches need to check temperatures before attending practices and games.
  • No concessions are allowed.
  • Players cannot have the popular sunflower seeds.

Enjoy Outside Activities, Iowa State Parks Open

Many Iowans are getting outdoors due to the nice weather and to find activities while social distancing.  Iowa’s state parks and many county and city parks are open for people to visit.  People need to follow park restrictions and maintain social distancing while in the parks.     

The Department of Natural Resources has opened all campgrounds, bathrooms, and shower buildings in state parks.  Shelter houses and lodges remain closed.  Campgrounds do have a few restrictions to help campers maintain social distancing.  The restrictions include:

  • In campgrounds, only campers with overnight reservations will be allowed; no visitors.
  • Only six overnight occupants per campsite will be allowed, unless immediate family contains more than six.
  • Check-in time has been moved to 5:00 p.m. and check-out time to 9:00 a.m. to allow for more cleaning time between rentals.
  • Communal picnic tables and grills are open for use at your own risk.
  • For cabin rentals, all kitchenware such as dishes, pots and pans, has been removed; renters will need to bring their own from home.
  • Beaches remain open, but will be monitored closely.
  • Some areas of parks and campgrounds may be closed due to construction or maintenance issues, so please check the specific closure information for each park before planning a camping trip.

Free Fishing Weekend

Free fishing weekend is June 5th, 6th, and 7th.  All Iowa residents can fish without a license during free fishing weekend.  For more information on free fishing weekend and to reserve a campsite visit, https://www.iowadnr.gov/


Workforce Housing Tax Credits Available 

Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) is accepting applications for the Workforce Housing Tax Credit program.  At this time only projects in Iowa’s least 88 populous counties are being considered as part of the small city set aside.  Developers must meet the following criteria to be considered for a tax credit:

  • Meet one of four criteria: housing development on a brownfield or grayfield or upper story housing or rehabilitation of dilapidated housing stock or new construction in greenfield space
  • Include construction or rehab of at least four single-family homes or at least one multi-family building containing three or more units or at least two upper story units
  • Total project costs for projects under the Small Cities set aside may not exceed $215,000 per unit or $250,000 for historic rehabilitation.
  • Be completed within three years of award
  • Be located in the 88 least populous Iowa counties

IEDA will be awarding up to $10 million in credits and individual projects can receive up to $1 million per project.  Developers need to apply by June 8th to be considered however developers are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.  For more information visit,  https://www.iowaeconomicdevelopment.com/WHTC


OTHER UPDATES IN IOWA 

HOME ENERGY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM EXTENDED: This spring, Congress provided funding for low-income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) under the Cares Act economic stimulus package. Due to the anticipated demand, the Iowa Department of Human Rights Community Action Agencies have extended LIHEAP application deadlines to June 30th, 2020.  Iowa families who are facing challenges to cope with COVID-19 virus can apply for the Energy Assistance program at their local community action agency. This program can help pay a portion of an eligible household’s utility bill. Eligibility is based on household size and income. Those households who have not already applied, or, who are facing disconnection, are encouraged to do so at this time at: https://humanrights.iowa.gov/dcaa/where-apply or by dialing 2-1-1.

JUDICIAL BRANCH TO RESUME JULY 13: The Iowa Supreme Court issued a new supervisory order delaying in person proceedings until July 13th and jury trials starting September 14th.  The courts have heard only emergency and essential hearings in person since March 14th in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  According to the Chief Justice, after consults with public health experts, court users, legal organizations, and members of the Jump Start Jury Trials Task Force it was near unanimous that face-to-face court proceedings should not restart on June 1st as initially planned. The State Court Administrator is currently working with county and public health officials to determine criteria for safely reopening courthouses.  The Supreme Court also issued guidance on priority cases and guidance for scheduling, hearing, and handling cases.  The Judicial Branch also created a Jumpstart Family Law Task Force to make recommendations to the courts on how to handle family law cases when these proceedings resume.  Information on the Judicial Branch’s response to COVID-19 can be found at https://www.iowacourts.gov/iowa-courts/covid-19-information-and-updates/.

HELP FOR IOWA MEAT PRODUCERS: State inspected Iowa producers are one step closer to being able to sell their products across state lines following agreements with the United States Department of Agriculture. State inspected producers are smaller than the federally inspected facilities but have equal safety and inspection standards.  To qualify the facility must have less than 25 employees and comply with all federal food sanitation, safety and facility regulations. To apply or get more information, visit https://iowaagriculture.gov/meat-poultry-inspections-bureau/cis

IMMUNIZATION EXEMPTIONS: Recently, there has been some confusion regarding immunization exemption requirements changing during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), school districts should continue, even during the COVID-19 outbreak, to recognize medical and religious exemptions if a student satisfies the requirements for the exemption. Public Health currently does not plan to delay or suspend immunization requirements for the 2020-2021 school year. In order to attend school or licensed child care for the 2020-2021 school year, the child needs one of the following; an Iowa Department of Public Health-Certificate of Immunization, Provisional Certificate of Immunization, or Certificate of Immunization Exemption. Now, more than ever, immunizations are very important to the health and well-being of all Iowans. Though there is not currently a vaccination for COVID-19, getting vaccinated for other viruses can impact the overall health of our state, keep people in the workplace, and positively impact our economy. For more information regarding vaccinations, please visit: https://idph.iowa.gov/immtb/immunization/vfc.

DOUBLE UP FOOD BUCKS: Buy $1 fruits & veggies with your EBT card and get $1 FREE fruits & veggies with Double Up Food Bucks! This is good for locally-grown fresh fruits and vegetables. If you spend $5, you get $5. If you spend $10, you get $10! They will match up to $10 every time you visit! Find a participating location in Iowa at: http://www.iowahealthieststate.com/resources/communities/double-up-food-bucks/how-it-works/


Iowa COVID-19 Resources 

CURRENT COVID-19 INFORMATION: For the latest updates from the Iowa Governor’s office on COVID-19: https://coronavirus.iowa.gov

GET TESTED FOR COVID-19:  Iowa is now offering drive through testing for those who qualify after taking an online assessment at www.testiowa.com.

COVID-19 PUBLIC HOTLINE: For Iowans with questions about COVID-19, a public hotline is open 24/7 by calling 2-1-1 or 1-800-244-7431 (Español disponible)

CRISIS TEXT LINE: To access the Crisis Text Line, text “TALK” to 741741

SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE:  Call 1-800-273-8255

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE: Call 1-800-799-7233 or text “LOVEIS” to 22522

FOOD PANTRIES: Find a food pantry near you go to: https://www.foodbankiowa.org/

CHILDCARE: Looking for childcare during COVID-19? Go to https://dhs.iowa.gov/childcare-covid-19 to find open spots or facilities.

FREE LEGAL HELP: https://www.iowalegalaid.org/resource/2020-coronavirus-outbreak-what-you-need-to-know

CARES ACT FEDERAL LEGISLATION: A new summary of recently passed federal legislation and its impact on Iowa will be continuously updated and is available here: https://tinyurl.com/sg2hluc

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH UPDATES: For the latest updates on coronavirus and to learn more about prevention efforts, go to the Iowa Dept. of Public Health at https://idph.iowa.gov/Emerging-Health-Issues/Novel-Coronavirus

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES: http://volunteeriowa.galaxydigital.com

May 14, 2020

Greetings to you all,

Hopefully you and your family are staying healthy during these difficult times we are facing. I heard yesterday that the Legislature plans to reconvene on Wednesday, June 3 at 9 am. The Legislature suspended the session on March 16 dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and to protect the health and safety of legislators, staff, and the public. Hopefully we can work together for what’s best for the people of Iowa.

On good a note May is still National Bike Month. With the current crisis we are facing getting out on your bike can help you to deal with the stress and anxiety you may be facing. I have been out riding and it’s great to see families out together riding and enjoying the outdoors.

The Iowa DOT is still working by appointment only at 50% capacity at the DOT driver’s service centers and have moved many services online, email or phone. Some services such as in person driving tests are not available at this time, but should be soon. If you need driver’s license services, go to https://iowadot.gov/mvd/driverslicense/service-selector

In the weeks ahead, I’ll be listening and working closely with local leaders, to make sure the state is partnering with those in our community who need help and assistance. I’ll be sharing information that I hear from you with the Governor and encouraging her to act on your ideas.

I’ll also be working with my colleagues, on issues that must be addressed in this crisis.While I will not be at the Capitol for the next month, I will be in the district full-time and available by email, phone, and social media, to answer questions and listen to your concerns. You can always reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!


New COVID-19 Updates in Iowa

Guide to Protecting Yourself and Others

While COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Iowa, Governor Reynolds began to loosen some public health measures again this week. Some businesses may now begin to reopen, even in counties with high cases of the virus.

What is Open in Iowa?

Below is the updated list of what is open and still remains closed:

Businesses that are allowed to re-open statewide on May 15, 2020:

  • Restaurants
    • Limits customers to 50% capacity
    • Groups of no more than 6 people
    • Tables must be at least 6 feet apart
    • No self-service food or beverages
    • Must make reasonable efforts to maintain social distance and increase hygiene practices
  • Fitness Centers
    • Limits customers to 50% capacity
    • Equipment must be spaced 6 feet apart
    • Group classes must be limited to no more than 10 people
    • Must make reasonable efforts to maintain social distance and increase hygiene practices
  • Malls
    • Limits customers to 50% capacity
    • All common seating, including food courts, need to remain closed
    • Play areas must remain closed
    • Must make reasonable efforts to maintain social distance and increase hygiene practices
  • Other Retail Stores
    • Limits customers to 50% capacity
    • Must make reasonable efforts to maintain social distance and increase hygiene practices
  • Salons & Barber shops
    • Limits customers to 50% capacity
    • Appointment only so people do not congregate in the waiting area
    • All customers must be 6 feet apart
    • Must make reasonable efforts to maintain social distance and increase hygiene practices
  • Medical Spas
    • Must make reasonable efforts to maintain social distance and increase hygiene practices
  • Tanning Facilities
    • Must make reasonable efforts to maintain social distance and increase hygiene practices
  • Massage Therapy Establishments
    • Must make reasonable efforts to maintain social distance and increase hygiene practices
  • Tattoos Establishments
    • Must make reasonable efforts to maintain social distance and increase hygiene practices
  • Campgrounds
    • Must make reasonable efforts to maintain social distance and increase hygiene practices
  • Race Tracks
    • Spectators are not allowed
  • Libraries
    • Limited to 50% capacity
    • Ensure social distancing with customers and employees
  • Drive in Theaters
    • Must ensure all cars are parked 6 feet apart
    • Ensure social distancing with customers and employees
  • Social and Fraternal Clubs
    • Make reasonable efforts to protect the vulnerable population
    • Limited to 50% capacity
    • Limit party size to 6 or less
    • Ensure 6 feet of space between parties
    • No self-service of food or drinks allowed

The following will remain closed until May 28, 2020.

  • Bars
  • Theaters – includes both live and motion pictures
  • Casino and gaming facilities- exceptions for race tracks that conduct pari-mutuel wagering and do not allow spectators
  • Senior citizens and adult daycare facilities
  • Amusements-includes bingo halls, bowling alleys, pool halls, arcades, and amusement parks
  • Museums, aquariums, and zoos
  • Skating Rinks and skate parks – indoor and outdoor roller- and ice-skating rinks.
  • Playgrounds – Indoor and outdoor, includes children play centers. Does not include a private residence or child care facility
  • Swimming Pools- includes spas, swimming pools, wading pools, water slides, wave pools, spray pads, and bathhouses
  • Door-to-Door Sales

Mass Gatherings– All mass gatherings with 10 or more people are still to be prohibited until May 28, 2020, with the following exceptions:

  • Spiritual and religious gatherings. A place of worship must take the proper protocol to ensure social distancing and be consistent with the guidance from the Iowa Department of Public Health
  • A gathering of people inside parked enclosed motor vehicles, so long as not more than 10 people in the motor vehicle

Farmers Markets- Farmers Markets will still be allowed operate with the following regulations:

  • Entertainment and activities prohibited
  • Common seating prohibited
  • Vendor spacing must be six feet apart with empty space
  • Social distancing, hygiene, and public health measures shall be implemented

Take Precautions in Public

Even though the state is starting to open, it’s important to remember the virus is still spreading so Iowans need to continue to take precautions.

SOCIAL DISTANCE: If you go out, try to avoid close contact with others and put 6 feet of distance between yourself and others as much as possible. Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus.

WASH YOUR HANDS: Be sure to wash your hands often, especially once you’ve been out of your home.

WEAR A MASK: In light of data about how COVID-19 spreads, the CDC recommends that people wear a cloth face covering to cover their nose and mouth in the community settings. This is to protect people around you if you are infected but do not have symptoms. Limiting contact with others is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones.

STAY HOME IF YOU ARE SICK: Stay home if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 including a fever, runny nose, or chest pain.

Returning to Work

Based on some projections, Iowa still has not hit the highest peak for this virus. Factories and long-term care facilities are still experiencing significant COVID-19 outbreaks. While workers are still being asked to do their jobs, there needs to be assurance of proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE’s), sick leave, and job security.

Many businesses are being asked to take strict precautions for workers returning to the job. Iowans should be sure to reach out to employers to ensure they are taking proper steps to slow the spread.  Safeguards may include;

  • Employees should wear PPE or face coverings when possible.
  • Practice sensible social distancing, maintaining six feet between co-workers.
  • When possible, open all doors to reduce the need for direct contact.
  • Employees who appear to have symptoms upon arrival at work or who become sick during the day should immediately be separated from others and sent home.
  • Employees should avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth — Do NOT shake hands.
  • Provide a place to wash hands or alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • Sanitize any high-traffic areas, such as doorknobs, counters, etc.
  • Limiting cash handling, instead try to use credit/debit cards, tap to pay, Venmo, PayPal or another form of contact-less payment.

Many Iowans are still risking their lives, spending long hours doing essential work.  Iowans owe them a debt of gratitude for the countless sacrifices they are making to keep Iowans safe.


Unemployment Help Still Available

The COVID-19 epidemic has led to job loss not seen since the Great Depression. Since March 17th over 285,000 Iowans have filed for unemployment benefits. Nationally, over the last seven weeks, 1 in 5 Americans have filed for unemployment.
In response to this unprecedented level of job loss changes were made to the unemployment system to offer more help to Iowans affected by the pandemic.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act expanded unemployment benefits to those who were previously ineligible such as self-employed Iowans or employees of nonprofits. The bill also extended benefits an additional 13-weeks and offered additional funds to help offset income.

However, if Iowans quit their jobs they are not eligible for benefits. Additionally, if Iowans receive benefits and get recalled to work and fail to return to work, they are likely to lose assistance, even if they fear their workplace is unsafe due to lack of testing or protective gear. Iowans should contact their employer if they are sick, taking care of someone with COVID-19, or have at-risk conditions to see what accommodations are available. Iowans should learn their rights prior to going back work. Learn more from the Iowa Labor Center at; https://laborcenter.uiowa.edu/sites/laborcenter.uiowa.edu/files/iowa_worker_rights_during_covid-19_4-24-20.pdf.

To apply for unemployment benefits, visit https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/file-claim-unemployment-insurance-benefits.

More information about eligibility please visit https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/sites/search.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/files/content-files/FAQs%20Workers%2005.01.20.pdf


New Resources Now Available for Child Care Providers

Child care providers are a critical component to keeping Iowa’s economy up and running. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, they have struggled to keep their doors open and have had trouble getting the necessary cleaning supplies to keep the children in their care safe.

Through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Iowa has received $39.1 million to help these providers. The Iowa Department of Human Resources (DHS), the agency responsible for distributing the funds, released a plan last week detailing how the money will be used. Here are the key points of the plan:

  • Provide a monthly stipend of $2,000 to open licensed centers and $500 to open registered homes
  • Provide an additional monthly stipend of $2,000 to licensed centers and $500 to registered homes providing a 25 percent discount to essential services personnel
  • Pay providers for unlimited absences and full-day care for school-age children
  • Provide hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies directly to providers
  • Cover the cost of background checks for employees at temporary emergency sites
  • Waive CCA family co-pays and provide full tuition amounts to providers serving CCA families
  • Provide a rejuvenation grant to providers who have closed to assist them in re-opening


To see the entire plan and instructions on how to apply for these funds, visit: https://dhs.iowa.gov/childcare/funding-opportunities

For the Frequently Asked Questions page, go to: https://dhs.iowa.gov/sites/default/files/DHS_FAQ_CARES_Funding.pdf?050520202312=&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

For additional childcare guidance, please visit: https://dhs.iowa.gov/sites/default/files/DHS_ChildCareGuidance.pdf?032120201912


How to Get Tested for COVID-19

If you are feeling any symptoms of COVID-19, including cough, fever, runny nose or shortness of breath, call your primary doctor.  Please be sure to make an appointment prior to visiting the health care facility.

Drive Thru Testing

Iowa is now offering drive through testing for those who qualify after taking an online assessment at www.testiowa.com. Various testing sites have been set up throughout Iowa (listed below). Only individuals who have qualified for testing and scheduled an appointment will be tested.

The Governor has released some data about the Test Iowa assessments Iowans have taken, but still has not said how many tests have actually been given through the new program. However, Iowans are still encouraged to take assessment at www.testiowa.com.


Prevent Domestic Violence and Child Abuse During COVID-19

COVID-19 is bringing many challenges for victims of domestic violence and child abuse. Iowans are all encouraged to stay home for the safety of ourselves and our communities, but this could be gravely impacting intimate partner violence and child abuse, as not everyone’s home is safe.

The COVID-19 epidemic has resulted in diminished community support and heightened levels of distress, which are factors that can worsen domestic abuse. Seeking safety, relying on the community, and attending support groups are more difficult during this quarantine.

Iowans in need of help should call the 24/7 hotline to report domestic violence at 800-770-1670 or to report child abuse go to call 800-362-2178.


Other COVID-19 Updates 

AFFORDABLE HOUSING: To expand affordable housing for working Iowa families, the Iowa Economic Development Authority is accepting applications through June 8 for the Workforce Housing Tax Credit program. This program offers tax benefits to developers who provide housing in smaller Iowa communities, focusing especially on projects that rehabilitate abandoned, empty or dilapidated properties. Get complete details at iowaeda.com/WHTC.

SMALL BUSINESS HELP: The Iowa Economic Development Authority is continuously updating their website for small business owners, www.iowabusinessrecovery.com. The Iowa Economic Development Authority has given out more grants to small businesses and  will continue to give out grants as funds become available.  Businesses that received grants can be found here, https://www.iowaeconomicdevelopment.com/aspx/general/dynamicpage.aspx?id=205. Due to Congressional action small businesses can again apply for relief through the Small Business Administration.  More information on the programs can be found here, https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options  

VOTE FROM HOME: With the outbreak of COVID-19, the Iowa Secretary of State is encouraging Iowans to vote from home for the primary election coming up in June. All registered voters were mailed an absentee ballot request form in the mail this week. The form must be mailed in by May 22nd to vote from home. If you didn’t get the request form, you can print one out here (https://bit.ly/2VJIzYu).  Click here to find out if you are registered to vote, https://bit.ly/2KJnNlu

FOOD ASSISTANCE:  Are you in need of food assistance? As the economy continues to struggle, Iowans know that COVID-19 is a financial strain for many families. Find a food dispensary: https://www.foodbankiowa.org/gethelp. If you are able to donate, please visit: https://www.foodbankiowa.org.


Iowa COVID-19 Resources 

CURRENT COVID-19 INFORMATION: For the latest updates from the Iowa Governor’s office on COVID-19: https://coronavirus.iowa.gov

GET TESTED FOR COVID-19:  Iowa is now offering drive through testing for those who qualify after taking an online assessment at www.testiowa.com.

COVID-19 PUBLIC HOTLINE: For Iowans with questions about COVID-19, a public hotline is open 24/7 by calling 2-1-1 or 1-800-244-7431 (Español disponible)

CRISIS TEXT LINE: To access the Crisis Text Line, text “TALK” to 741741

SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE:  Call 1-800-273-8255

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE: Call 1-800-799-7233 or text “LOVEIS” to 22522

FOOD PANTRIES: Find a food pantry near you go to: https://www.foodbankiowa.org/

CHILDCARE: Looking for childcare during COVID-19? Go to https://dhs.iowa.gov/childcare-covid-19 to find open spots or facilities.

FREE LEGAL HELP: https://www.iowalegalaid.org/resource/2020-coronavirus-outbreak-what-you-need-to-know

CARES ACT FEDERAL LEGISLATION: A new summary of recently passed federal legislation and its impact on Iowa will be continuously updated and is available here: https://tinyurl.com/sg2hluc

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH UPDATES: For the latest updates on coronavirus and to learn more about prevention efforts, go to the Iowa Dept. of Public Health at https://idph.iowa.gov/Emerging-Health-Issues/Novel-Coronavirus

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES: http://volunteeriowa.galaxydigital.com

May 5, 2020

Greetings to you all,

Hopefully you’re staying healthy and you’re able to do what you can, to get through the Coronavirus. Currently, the state is using a program called TestIowa, to help get more Iowans tested for the Covid-19 virus. The TestIowa https://www.testiowa.com/ program has been testing in Des Moines and Waterloo and also started testing recently in Sioux City. One of the major issues facing the individuals who were tested is the delays for getting the test results. I had an individual reach out to me to share what he experienced. He shared that he was the 10th person in line on Thursday to be tested and was told by the nurse that he would receive the results in 72 hours. He was later made known that he wouldn’t receive the results in another 72 hours. This is very frustrating for the folks who are waiting for the results from TestIowa. Hopefully, they will begin to give the people their test results in a more timely fashion.

During these difficult times, stress and anxiety can be overwhelming for everyone. The negative mental health effects of COVID-19 will far outlast the virus itself. Here are a couple of links that you can use to help deal with mental health issues you may be facing in your life, http://www.iowahealthieststate.com/. Iowa State University Extension is providing confidential access to stress counselors and other resources, 24/7, at no charge. Call 800-447-1985, or go to extension.iastate.edu/iowaconcern to live chat one-on-one, in a secure environment.

In the weeks ahead, I’ll be listening and working closely with local leaders, to make sure the state is partnering with those in our community who need help and assistance. I’ll be sharing information that I hear from you with the Governor and encouraging her to act on your ideas.  I’ll also be working with my colleagues, on issues that must be addressed in this crisis.

While I will not be at the Capitol for the next month, I will be in the district full-time and available by email, phone, and social media, to answer questions and listen to your concerns. You can always reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

How is COVID-19 Impacting You? 

It’s been nearly two months since the first coronavirus case was reported in Iowa. It’s changed a lot about the way we live.  I want to hear from you on how your family, business, and lives have been impacted so I can learn more about what I can do to help. I hope you can fill out this brief survey that will take less than two minutes of your time. Take the survey here.

Again, I encourage you to reach out with any questions or suggestions on what we need to do to keep Iowans safe, as well as plans to provide help and recovery to move forward during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Take Precautions as Iowa Begins to Re-open 

As we start to see parts of the state open up, it’s important to remember to continue to practice social distancing and stay home as much as possible.  If you go out, try to avoid close contact with others especially those that are sick. Put distance between yourself and others as much as possible, remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus.

In light of new data about how COVID-19 spreads, the CDC recommends that people wear a cloth face covering to cover their nose and mouth in the community settings. This is to protect people around you if you are infected but do not have symptoms. Limiting contact with others is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Restaurants in 77 counties can reopen to in-person dining.  Restaurants must follow these guidelines for in-person dining:

  • The restaurant must limit the number of customers present at indoor or outdoor spaces to 50% of its normal operating capacity to ensure adequate spacing of groups
  • Groups are limited to no more than 6 people
  • Distance of 6 feet must be maintained between separate groups
  • No self-service of food or drink allowed

The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals has additional recommendations for restaurants.  They can be found here, https://dia.iowa.gov/document/iowa-restaurant-reopening-criteriaoperation-restrictions-during-covid-19

The following counties still remain closed until May 15: Allamakee, Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Dallas, Des Moines, Dubuque, Fayette, Henry, Iowa, Jasper, Johnson, Linn, Louisa, Marshall, Muscatine, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Tama, Washington, and Woodbury.


Agriculture Hit Hard by COVID-19, Resources Available

After enduring the President’s trade wars over the last two years, farmers now face the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis. In response, state and federal officials have taken actions to help the agricultural industry.

  • Beginning Monday, April 27, farmers will be eligible to apply for up to $10,000 through the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). Apply here: sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options
  • The governor extended the increased trucking weight limits to 90,000 for medical and agricultural items until at least May 27.
  • Farmers markets will also now be open, allowing farm products and food only.

The President has invoked the Defense Production Act, seeking to ensure plants remain open and workers report for their shifts amid the outbreak. OHSA issued packing plant specific guidance at the end of April, following extensive outbreaks.

Packing plants have been the source of the biggest outbreaks in the state. Outbreaks at plants in Columbus Junction, Waterloo, Marshalltown, Tama, Perry, and Sioux City have led to thousands of infections and the temporary closure of several facilities.

The temporary closure of these plants has led to a crisis among producers. Iowa is the nation’s leading pork producer, with roughly 25 million hogs in confinements across the state. Extended closures may force farmers to euthanize animals.

Help and Guidance for Iowa Producers 

IOWA GUIDANCE: Guidance for Iowa producers can be found at https://iowaagriculture.gov/covid-19; including information on supply chain issues, guidance from the CDC, federal information and information on actions taken by the state.

FEDERAL GUIDANCE: The U.S. Department of Agriculture has assistance available for rural residents, businesses and communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Their resource guide of federal programs will help rural leaders — whether they are in agriculture, education, health care or any other field — find support for recovery efforts through technical, training and management assistance, financial assistance, partnership opportunities and more. Find additional help at usda.gov/coronavirus.

MENTAL HEALTH: During this difficult time, don’t sacrifice your well-being to stress and uncertainty. Iowa State University Extension provides confidential access to stress counselors and other resources, 24/7 at no charge. Call 800-447-1985, or go to extension.iastate.edu/iowaconcern to live chat one-on-one in a secure environment.


Tuition Freeze at State Universities 

The Iowa Board of Regents that represents Iowa’s public universities met virtually on May 4th to consider a proposal to not increase tuition for the upcoming Fall semester.  The tuition freeze is on the table even though there is an estimated loss in revenue combined at the Regent institutions of nearly $200 million.

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, fewer students are expected to enroll at the universities in the fall, particularly international students. There is also financial uncertainty because the Legislature is suspended and has not set the state budget for next year. The Regents indicated that they could increase tuition in the Spring.

Federal funds have been made available to Iowa Regent institutions.  Under the CARES Act the University of Iowa would receive $16.2 million, $21.7 million to Iowa State University, and $10.9 million to the University of Northern Iowa.  Approximately half of those funds need to go to emergency financial aid grants to students.

Student Financial Aid Help

Students will now be able to defer payments and waive interest on federally held student loans until September 30. Also, the collection of defaulted student loans has been suspended.  Students will not be required to pay back federal student loans and Pell Grants if they withdraw from courses due to the COVID-19 emergency. In addition, students who withdraw will not have this semester counted against their lifetime eligibility for federal financial aid. Students may continue collecting work-study pay, even if they are unable to work due to school and workplace closures. To learn more, go to: studentaid.gov/announcements-events/coronavirus


Other COVID-19 Updates 

HOW TO GET TESTED: Iowa is now offering drive through testing for those who qualify after taking an online assessment at www.testiowa.com. The goal of the program is to allow the state to administer 3,000 tests per day at the various drive through locations throughout the state. You can also get tested by calling your primary doctor.

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS: Another 28,827 Iowans filed initial claims for state unemployment benefits last week, up from the week before. That makes 260,000 new claims filed in the last six weeks, the most since the Great Depression. Nationally, another 3.8 million unemployment claims were filed. Go here to file a claim:  https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/file-claim-unemployment-insurance-benefits.

SMALL BUSINESS HELP: The Iowa Economic Development Authority is continuously updating their website for small business owners, www.iowabusinessrecovery.com. The Iowa Economic Development Authority has given out more grants to small businesses and  will continue to give out grants as funds become available.  Businesses that received grants can be found here, https://www.iowaeconomicdevelopment.com/aspx/general/dynamicpage.aspx?id=205. Due to Congressional action small businesses can again apply for relief through the Small Business Administration.  More information on the programs can be found here, https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options  

VOTE FROM HOME: With the outbreak of COVID-19, the Iowa Secretary of State is encouraging Iowans to vote from home for the primary election coming up in June. All registered voters were mailed an absentee ballot request form in the mail this week. The form must be mailed in by May 22nd to vote from home. If you didn’t get the request form, you can print one out here (https://bit.ly/2VJIzYu).  Click here to find out if you are registered to vote, https://bit.ly/2KJnNlu

STUDENT LUNCH LOCATIONS: The USDA’s Summer Food Service Program has 303 approved Grab and Go meal sites in Iowa to provide meals and snacks to children who might go without while schools are closed due to COVID-19. To find a location in your community go to: https://www.fns.usda.gov/meals4kids


Iowa COVID-19 Resources

CURRENT COVID-19 INFORMATION: For the latest updates from the Iowa Governor’s office on COVID-19: https://coronavirus.iowa.gov 

GET TESTED FOR COVID-19:  Iowa is now offering drive through testing for those who qualify after taking an online assessment at www.testiowa.com.

COVID-19 PUBLIC HOTLINE: For Iowans with questions about COVID-19, a public hotline is open 24/7 by calling 2-1-1 or 1-800-244-7431 (Español disponible)

CRISIS TEXT LINE: To access the Crisis Text Line, text “TALK” to 741741

SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE:  Call 1-800-273-8255

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE: Call 1-800-799-7233 or text “LOVEIS” to 22522

FOOD PANTRIES: Find a food pantry near you go to: https://www.foodbankiowa.org/

CHILDCARE: Looking for childcare during COVID-19? Go to https://dhs.iowa.gov/childcare-covid-19 to find open spots or facilities.

FREE LEGAL HELP: https://www.iowalegalaid.org/resource/2020-coronavirus-outbreak-what-you-need-to-know

HOME ENERGY ASSISTANCE: To apply for assistance visit: https://humanrights.iowa.gov/dcaa/liheap.

CARES ACT FEDERAL LEGISLATION: A new summary of recently passed federal legislation and its impact on Iowa will be continuously updated and is available here: https://tinyurl.com/sg2hluc

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH UPDATES: For the latest updates on coronavirus and to learn more about prevention efforts, go to the Iowa Dept. of Public Health at https://idph.iowa.gov/Emerging-Health-Issues/Novel-Coronavirus

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES: http://volunteeriowa.galaxydigital.com

April 29, 2020

Greetings to you all,

I hope everyone is staying healthy and that you are doing everything possible, to make it through this pandemic. What we are facing here in Black Hawk County is a significant increase in COVID-19 cases. Many of the cases are linked to the Tyson’s meat processing plant in Waterloo.  Currently, we have 1,346 confirmed cases and 11 deaths in Black Hawk County. As of April 25th we went from 784 confirmed cases, to April 27th with 1346 confirmed cases, which is an increase of 562 cases in just 2 days.

This Wednesday, we will have a soft opening of the Test Iowa virus test site https://www.testiowa.com at Crossroads Mall in Waterloo.  I want to thank all the healthcare professionals who are working tirelessly and sacrificing their time with family and friends, while protecting our communities. We have some significant challenges we’re facing ahead and we will make it through this together.

In the weeks ahead, I’ll be listening and working closely with local leaders, to make sure the state is partnering with those in our community who need help and assistance. I’ll be sharing information I hear from you with the Governor and encouraging her to act on your ideas.  I’ll also be working with my colleagues, on issues that must be addressed in this crisis..

While I will not be at the Capitol for the next month, I will be in the district full-time and available by email, phone, and social media, to answer questions and listen to your concerns. You can always reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!


COVID-19: Is Now the Right Time to Open the State? 

Governor Reynolds started to loosen the public health measures being used to stop the spread of COVID-19 this week. Even though we all want to re-open our economy and get life back to normal, I’m disappointed the Governor did not provide the information or data to demonstrate to Iowans that it is safe to loosen those measures designed to keep us safe and healthy.

According to Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, three criteria points need to be met prior to reopening a state:

  1. Downward trajectory of influenza-like illnesses and COVID-like syndromic cases reported within a 14-day period
  2. Downward trajectory of documented cases or positive cases as % of total tests within a 14-day period
  3. Treat all patients without crisis care and robust testing for at-risk healthcare workers


Last week we saw a record number of positive coronavirus cases and deaths. State officials also confirmed Iowa won’t reach its peak for another 2-3 weeks, one of the last in the nation. A new report out last weekend found Iowa had the fastest growing rate of positive coronavirus cases in the country.

In addition to those new record highs, Iowa is still under the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Shortage Order declared by the Governor as some front-line workers still struggle with shortages. Iowans are also seeing more outbreaks at long-term care facilities, manufacturing facilities, and meat processing facilities.

Iowa doesn’t even come close to meeting the criteria outlined by the CDC to begin re-opening either. Hospitalizations and positive cases are still going up and the new testing initiative isn’t up and running at full speed yet.

We all want to re-open our economy and get life back to normal as quickly as possible, however we may end up prolonging the pain and doing more damage to the health and welfare of Iowans.

77 Iowa Counties Can Start to Re-Open on Friday 

On Monday it was announced by the Governor that some businesses and establishments can reopen in 77 of Iowa’s 99 counties.

The following counties remain closed until May 15: Allamakee, Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Dallas, Des Moines, Dubuque, Fayette, Henry, Iowa, Jasper, Johnson, Linn, Louisa, Marshall, Muscatine, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Tama, Washington, and Woodbury.


In the other 77 counties, the below establishments may open beginning at 5:00 a.m. on Friday, May 1, 2020:

  • Restaurants with the following requirements:
    • The restaurant must limit the number of customers present at indoor or outdoor spaces to 50% of its normal operating capacity to ensure adequate spacing of groups
    • No groups of more than 6 people
    • Distance of 6 feet must be maintained between separate groups
    • No self-service of food or drink allowed
  • Fitness Centers with the following requirements:
    • Must limit the number of customers present to 50% of its maximum legal occupancy capacity
    • Must ensure all equipment is at least 6 feet apart
    • Any group activity is limited to 10 people or fewer, and all must be at least 6 feet apart
  • Malls with the following requirements:
    • Mall must limit the number of customers present to 50% of its maximum legal occupancy capacity
    • Common seating areas (food courts) are to remain closed
    • Play areas are to remain closed
  • Libraries with the following requirements:
    • Limits the number of patrons present to 50% of its maximum legal occupancy capacity
    • Ensure social distancing of employees and patrons
  • Racetracks (does not include horse or dog races) can only operate if there are no spectators at the event
  • Other retail establishments that were previously ordered closed may reopen as long as they limit the number of customers to 50% of their capacity and continues to implement social distancing

Continued Statewide Closures: The Governor’s proclamation also extends the statewide closures for the following until 11:59 pm on May 15th:

  • Bars- Carry out and drive through services still allowed
  • Theaters
  • Casino and Gaming Facilities
  • Social and Fraternal Clubs
  • Senior citizen centers and adult day care facilities
  • Bingo halls, bowling alleys, pool halls, arcades, and amusement parks
  • Museums, aquariums, and zoos
  • Skating rinks and skate parks
  • Playgrounds- indoor and outdoor and children’s playground centers
  • Campgrounds- does not include long term or permanent residents. Includes cabins and yurts
  • Swimming pools
  • Salons and barbershops
  • Medical spas
  • Tattoo establishments
  • Tanning facilities
  • Massage therapy
  • Door-to-door sales.

Statewide Mass Gatherings: The following mass gatherings can take place statewide, even if there are more than 10 people present:

  • Spiritual and religious gatherings. Must implement reasonable accommodations to ensure social distancing standards. Weddings and funerals are not covered under this.
  • Farmer’s Markets. Only vendors that are allowed to sell food or farm products are permitted. All entertainment activities such as musical performances are prohibited. All common seating is prohibited. All vendor spacing accommodations must be made to ensure social distancing requirements are met.

Continue to Practice Social Distance

As we see parts of the state open up, it’s important to remember to continue to practice social distancing and stay home as much as possible. Limiting contact with others, or wearing a mask when in public is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones. Again, I am very grateful to our essential workers, including health care workers, delivery drivers, grocery store workers, and emergency personnel for being on the front lines keeping Iowans safe and healthy.

 


New ‘Test Iowa’ Program Launches

The state of Iowa and Governor Reynolds announced a new public-private partnership with Utah based companies in an effort to increase Iowa’s test capacity as the COVID-19 pandemic peak is still estimated to be weeks away. Utah, Iowa, and Nebraska are all now running similar programs.

The $26 million contract will allow Iowa to offer drive through testing for those who qualify after taking an online assessment at www.testiowa.com. The goal of the program is to allow the state to administer 3,000 tests per day at the various drive through locations throughout the state. The soft launch for the program was on April 25 in Des Moines.

Iowans who have questions about the program can visit https://www.testiowa.com/faq and take the online assessment to see if they need to be tested at www.testiowa.com.


Relief for Small Businesses 

An additional $30 million in grants from the Small Business Relief Grant Program will be sent out to Iowa small businesses soon. Due to federal funds to Iowa from the CARES Act, the Iowa Economic Development Authority has announced additional businesses that applied for the program in March and did not receive funds will now be awarded.  Businesses that received grants can be found here, https://www.iowaeconomicdevelopment.com/aspx/general/dynamicpage.aspx?id=205

Small Business Relief Fund: Last week, the US Congress passed an additional $310 billion for the relief programs for small businesses through the Small Business Administration.  Small businesses will soon be able to apply for the programs again.  More information on the programs can be found at, https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options 

Cultural Affairs Grants: The Department of Cultural Affairs is accepting applications from arts and cultural nonprofits for their Iowa Arts & Culture Emergency Relief Fund grant program.  Organizations can receive grants ranging from $1,000 to $20,000.  For more information visit, https://www.iowaculture.gov/arts/grants/iowa-arts-emergency-relief-fund

Paycheck Protection Program: Applications for the Paycheck Protection Program are now open again. Last week, Congress voted overwhelmingly to add an additional $310 billion and $60 billion specifically for small community lenders to help Iowa small businesses. To apply go to: https://www.sba.gov/paycheckprotection

 Ways to Support Iowa Small Businesses without Leaving your Home 

As we continue to see some Iowa small businesses closed due to COVID-19, there are a few small things we can do to support them.


1.     Shop local – online. Online shopping is convenient and can be done right from the comfort of your couch! While going through mega-retailers like Amazon might be your go-to, for now, change it up and buy items online from shops in your local community. Most small businesses have websites offering their products.

2.     Order takeout.  Many restaurants and bars are offering meals and drinks to go, and some are even providing free delivery. Maybe, designate a day of the week to support a local restaurant. #takeouttuesday

3.     Purchase gift cards. Establishments like bars and restaurants who were forced to close will be suffering right now, so consider buying gift cards for the businesses you visit most often to use later when they are officially up and running again.

4.     Increase the tip amount. Don’t forget, servers and delivery people will also be feeling the decrease in business, and many of them survive on the tips they’re now missing. If you’re ordering takeout or delivery, consider giving a little more than usual when tipping.

5.     Rate a business you love. Give one of your favorite shops or restaurants a 5-stars rating on social media, yelp or other online resources.

6.     Buy now, pick up later. Give your favorite business a call and pay for a product now to be picked up at a later time.

7.     Practice patience. We’re all in this together. Don’t forget that many small businesses are most likely working with a skeleton staff, so you might have to wait a little longer for your delivery to arrive or your dinner to be done.


Tips for Parents Helping Kids Learn at Home

During this health crisis, schools are either providing required online courses to students with attendance and grades, or providing resources to learn from home.  For the schools that are offering programs to further students’ learning through resources, student participation is voluntary. Schools cannot give grades or take attendance.

Since 87% of Iowa school districts are providing students optional resources to learn, here are some tips and helpful information for your family:

  • Make a schedule.  Kids benefit from knowing what to expect throughout the day.  It should include plenty of sleep, without staying up too late.
  • Have a morning meeting to set out the plan for the day.  This would be a great time to go over the schedule of the day, talk about how the day before went, and remind kids of proper behavior.  Have logical consequences that enforce themselves, and positive praise.  Resources or suggested assignments provided by your kid’s teachers should be the focus, or a book at their reading level. The Department of Education also has resources: https://educateiowa.gov/pk-12/resources-support-learning-during-covid-19
  • Plenty of food and hydrate often.  Keep water and healthy snacks nearby.
  • It is ok to take breaks.  Take a break after finishing a math problem, or reading a chapter.  Set goals with rewards.
  • Enjoy time together.  This is a rare time that families can spend together.  You are doing a great job, and they’re lucky to have you!

Resources for Students Available

The large number of public schools are providing resources to their students.  However, parents can also provide educational resources to their kids through the following:


Vote from Home During June 2nd Primary Election

Iowans can now vote by mail for the June primary election. In an effort to make voting easier for Iowans who don’t want to leave their home, the state has expanded early voting by mail. Iowans now have 40 days to cast their vote at home for the upcoming primary election. 

The state will also be mailing out absentee ballot requests to all registered voters, Iowans should expect to see the requests in their mailbox on April 29.

Eligible voters can also print off absentee ballot requests from the Secretary of State and mail the filled-out form to their local county auditor. The request form can be found here: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/pdf/absenteeballotapp.pdf. To find information on your county auditor go here: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/auditors/auditorslist.html.


Other COVID-19 Updates 

STUDENT FINANCIAL AID HELP: Students will now be able to defer payments and waive interest on federally held student loans until September 30. Also, the collection of defaulted student loans has been suspended.  Students will not be required to pay back federal student loans and Pell Grants if they withdraw from courses due to the COVID-19 emergency. In addition, students who withdraw will not have this semester counted against their lifetime eligibility for federal financial aid. Students may continue collecting work-study pay, even if they are unable to work due to school and workplace closures. To learn more, go to:  studentaid.gov/announcements-events/coronavirus

FEDERAL RELIEF: The United States House and Senate have passed and the President has signed the fourth round of relief aimed to combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This stimulus package totals $484 billion dollars in relief.  The legislation provides no direct relief to state or local governments. The appropriation provides an additional $75 billion for health care providers through the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund, which was created under the CARES Act. There is also an additional $25 billion for COVID-19 testing and $1 billion to testing coverage to uninsured individuals. Both the House and the Senate have announced intentions to pass another stimulus package as states continue to battle the pandemic.

HELP FOR HOMEOWNERS: Iowans who have a federally backed mortgage have the right to request a maximum 180-day forbearance if they are experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. Those who would like more information should visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s website at https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/blog/guide-coronavirus-mortgage-relief-options/ to determine assistance eligibility. Attorney General Tom Miller joined 34 attorneys general in a bipartisan coalition recommending actions to prevent borrowers who have had mortgage disruptions due to COVID-19 to not have to pay back missed payments in a lump sum or enter into a permanent loss mitigation solution.

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS: Another 27,912 Iowans filed initial claims for state unemployment benefits in the last week. Unemployment payments for individuals who were self-employed also began to go out. Nationally 4.4 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits, bringing the five-week total to 26.5 million. To file a claim, go to:  https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/file-claim-unemployment-insurance-benefits.

STUDENT LUNCH LOCATIONS: The USDA’s Summer Food Service Program has 303 approved Grab and Go meal sites in Iowa to provide meals and snacks to children who might go without while schools are closed due to COVID-19. To find a location in your community go to: https://www.fns.usda.gov/meals4kids


Iowa COVID-19 Resources 

COVID-19 PUBLIC HOTLINE: For Iowans with questions about COVID-19, a public hotline is open 24/7 by calling 2-1-1 or 1-800-244-7431 (Español disponible)

CRISIS TEXT LINE: To access the Crisis Text Line, text “TALK” to 741741

SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE:  Call 1-800-273-8255

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE: Call 1-800-799-7233 or text “LOVEIS” to 22522

FOOD PANTRIES: Find a food pantry near you go to: https://www.foodbankiowa.org/

CHILDCARE: Looking for childcare during COVID-19? Go to https://dhs.iowa.gov/childcare-covid-19 to find open spots or facilities.

FREE LEGAL HELP: https://www.iowalegalaid.org/resource/2020-coronavirus-outbreak-what-you-need-to-know

HOME ENERGY ASSISTANCE: To apply for assistance visit: https://humanrights.iowa.gov/dcaa/liheap.

CARES ACT FEDERAL LEGISLATION: A new summary of recently passed federal legislation and its impact on Iowa will be continuously updated and is available here: https://tinyurl.com/sg2hluc

GOVERNOR’S OFFICE UPDATES: For the latest updates from the Iowa Governor’s office on COVID-19: https://coronavirus.iowa.gov 

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH UPDATES: For the latest updates on coronavirus and to learn more about prevention efforts, go to the Iowa Dept. of Public Health at https://idph.iowa.gov/Emerging-Health-Issues/Novel-Coronavirus

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES: http://volunteeriowa.galaxydigital.com

April 20, 2020

Greeting to you all,

I hope everyone is going ok and staying healthy and that you and your family are doing everything possible, to make it through this pandemic. As the outbreak of COVID-19 leaves much of the Iowa workforce wondering when they will be able to regain their lives back and there are so many unknowns with this virus, we cant say when it will end. I know one thing, that we will make it through this and will be a stronger country after it’s over.

We have seen some changes in Iowa, relative to the numbers of cases that have increased. Currently, as of April 19th  Iowa has 3,159 confirmed Covid-19 cases and am sad to say we have a total of 79 deaths. The recent outbreak at meat processing plants has raised concerns that more should be done to protect the workers there.  There have been effort made to ask the governor to temporarily close the plant, so that they can be cleaned and disinfected and make sure all employees are tested, before reopening. We have to make sure that our workers feel safe in the workplace.

In the weeks ahead, I’ll be listening and working closely with local leaders to make sure the state is partnering with those in our community who need help and assistance. I’ll be sharing information I hear from you with the Governor and encouraging her to act on your ideas.  I’ll also be working with my colleagues, on issues that must be addressed in this crisis like this.

While I will not be at the Capitol for the next month, I will be in the district full-time and available by email, phone, and social media, to answer questions and listen to your concerns. You can always reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!


A Special Thank You to Iowa Workers

As we continue to go through some tough days, I am still filled with hope. In our communities we’ve seen countless people step up to support one another, whether it’s delivering meals, preparing lunches for students, taking the time to donate blood, making masks for hospitals and neighbors, or even delivering messages of kindness. Please continue to reach out to those who may need the extra support right now. We are all in this together!

Remember to practice social distancing and stay home as much as possible. Limiting contact with others is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Many Iowans are still risking their lives by spending long hours doing essential work. We owe them a debt of gratitude for the countless sacrifices they are making to keep Iowans safe.

Based on projections, we still have at least two weeks before Iowa hits the high peak for this virus. Some factories and long-term care facilities are experiencing significant COVID-19 outbreaks. While workers are still being asked to do their jobs, there needs to be assurance of proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), sick leave, and job security.  In response to the growing outbreak of Coronavirus at these work facilities, Democratic lawmakers have filed an OSHA complaint to protect employees and their community.

Workers should contact their local or state officials if they feel the proper precautions aren’t being taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19.


New COVID-19 Social Restrictions for Northeast Iowa 

As COVID-19 cases continue to increase, Governor Reynolds has issued another emergency public health declaration for only parts of Northeast Iowa, including Allamakee, Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Clayton, Delaware, Dubuque, Fayette, Grundy, Howard, Jones, Linn, and Winneshiek counties. The new stricter stay-home policy for northeast Iowa limits gatherings to only members of the same household, however she still has NOT ordered a Shelter-in-Place.

Here are the key points in the new proclamation for those counties:

  • Prohibits social, community, recreational, leisure, and sporting gatherings to only people who live together in the same household
  • Continues to limit weddings, funerals, and other spiritual or religious gatherings to no more than 10 people
  • Does not include child care, medical care, or other necessary supports
  • Employers should but are not required to evaluate if employees can work from home and take reasonable steps to enable them to work from home
  • Businesses remaining open shall take reasonable precautions to protect the health of employees and the public
  • This proclamation DOES NOT close any businesses within the region
  • The order went into effect at 11:59 p.m. on April 16, 2020 and continues until 11:59 p.m. on April 30, 2020.

The Iowa National Guard set up six Regional Medical Coordination Centers to help gather real-time including health care facility status information to help health care providers make more informed treatment decisions based on immediately available resources like open hospital beds, available staffing, personal protective equipment, and other critical health care assets.


Governor Orders Schools Close for the School Year

Governor Reynolds has announced that all school districts and nonpublic schools will be closed for the remainder of the school year and will offer continuous learning to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This also includes the cancellation of spring sports activities.

The announcement included the following:

  • Waiving the instructional time requirements for the remainder of the 2019-2020 regularly scheduled academic year for schools that continue to provide continuous learning through one of two approved options, voluntary educational enrichment opportunities, required educational services, or a combination of the two.
  • Requiring schools to submit a Return to Learn Plan to the Iowa Department of Education by July 1 outlining ways they will address disruptions to learning as a result of COVID-19. This could include summer school, enrichment activities or other opportunities to address the needs of learners.
  • Waiving the school start date that schools start no earlier than Aug. 23, allowing school districts and nonpublic schools to make local decisions about the length of their 2020-2021 academic year.
  • Cancelling Spring sports activities.  An announcement on summer sports activities and when other school-sponsored activities can resume will be made by June 1.

Vast Majority of Public Schools Providing Resources to Students 

Even though schools are now closed for the rest of the school year, Iowa school districts and nonpublic schools were given two choices to provide continuous learning.  They could provide required on-line courses to students with attendance and grades, or provide resources that would be optional for students to learn at home.

The resources would not be required to be completed and would not be graded.  Some districts have laptops for students in some grades but not others, so they are allowed to provide a combination of required learning for some grades, but not all.

Of the 327 Iowa school districts, 87% chose to provide resources, leaving only 13% providing required courses on-line or a combination. Of the 179 accredited nonpublic schools that submitted plans, 41% will offer resources, and 59% will provide required educational services or offer a combination of the two.  However, schools can change their plan if their ability to provide required on-line learning changes.

Resources for Students Available

The large number of public schools are providing resources to their students.  However, parents can also provide educational resources to their kids through the following:


Need for More COVID-19 Testing in Iowa 

Iowans are still waiting for needed COVID-19 testing to ramp up. Being able to test faster and more efficiently for coronavirus is critical to reopening Iowa’s economy.

It was announced by the Governor last week, that the State is planning to launch “Test Iowa” which will conduct large-scale testing with capabilities for over 3,000 tests per day, as well as contract tracing. However, no details have been provided about the new initiative.

The Department of Public Health did however release additional data and demographics on COVID-19 cases. The new data shows COVID-19 is hitting minority communities at a much higher rate and that many outbreaks are impacting long-term care facilities including workers and residents, as well as workers at factories. To see more go to: https://coronavirus.iowa.gov.

How to Get Tested for COVID-19

To get tested for COVID-19, call your primary doctor. Currently, a doctor does not have to get approval from the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDhttps://coronavirus.iowa.govPH) if they are using a test from a national reference laboratory. However, if the doctor uses a test from the State Hygienic Lab, a person can only be tested if they meet the following criteria from the CDC:

  • All hospitalized patients (of any age) with fever and respiratory illness.
  • Older adults (>60 years of age) with fever and respiratory symptoms (cough, difficulty breathing) and chronic medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, heart disease, immunosuppressive medications, chronic lung disease, or chronic kidney disease).
  • Persons of any age with fever or respiratory illness who live in congregate setting (i.e., long term care facilities, dormitories, residential facilities, correctional facilities, treatment facilities)
  • Healthcare workers, essential services personnel, first responders and critical infrastructure workers with fever or respiratory illness (ex. healthcare workers, fire and EMS, law enforcement, residential facility staff)

Again, because there is a shortage of tests across the state and nation, there is no wide-spread testing, and you won’t be able to get tested without exhibiting symptoms or fit into any of the above categories. This continues to be a problem because a lot of Iowans who have the virus do not show any symptoms at all. Until everyone can be tested for the virus, it will keep circulating throughout the state.


Major COVID-19 Updates 

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS: 46,356 more workers filed for state unemployment benefits in the last week. While it dropped from last week’s record, it’s third highest weekly total in state history. Iowans will begin receiving an additional $600 weekly benefit starting this week. The federal CARES Act expanded unemployment benefits to the self-employed, independent contractors, nonprofit employees, gig economy workers, those who have exhausted other unemployment insurance and those who may not have sufficient work history to qualify for a regular state claim.  Go here to file a claim:  https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/file-claim-unemployment-insurance-benefits.

STIMULUS CHECK PAYMENTS: With millions of Americans still eagerly awaiting their federal stimulus checks to help them weather the coronavirus recession, people will soon be able to find out when they can expect to get their money after the government on Wednesday launches a tracking tool called “Get My Payment” link: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment

CULTURAL ARTS EMERGENCY GRANT PROGRAM: The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs has set up an emergency grant program for Iowans that work in the arts, cultural, and creative industries who have experienced a loss in revenue due to COVID-19.  People can apply for a grant through June 15.  More information and the application can be found here, https://iowaculture.gov/arts/grants/iowa-arts-emergency-relief-fund/program-guidelines

SMALL BUSINESS ASSISTANCE:  Small businesses can apply for a sales tax deferment through April 30th at www.iowabusinessrecovery.com. Iowa Economic Development Authority is in the process of awarding grants for the targeted small business sole operator fund. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has several programs to help businesses that have experienced loss of income due to COVID-19.  Details about all the programs can be found here, https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options  Over 22,000 Iowa businesses have received forgivable loans through the paycheck protection program.  Unfortunately, the program has exhausted all of the funds appropriated by Congress.  Congress is working on more funds for the program.

FACE COVERINGS RECOMMENDED: With new data from the CDC on how COVID-19 is spread, they are now recommending that people wear a cloth face covering to cover their nose and mouth in community settings. This is to protect people around you if you are infected but do not have symptoms. If you wish to help with the production of protective masks, please be sure to reach out to your local hospitals and health care facilities to ensure they are accepting donations. For more guidance go to: https://idph.iowa.gov/Portals/1/userfiles/7/Homemade%20Mask%20Design%20Guidance%203_28_20.pdf

STUDENT LUNCH LOCATIONS: The USDA’s Summer Food Service Program has 303 approved Grab and Go meal sites in Iowa to provide meals and snacks to children who might go without while schools are closed due to COVID-19. To find a location in your community go to: https://www.fns.usda.gov/meals4kids


IOWA COVID-19 RESOURCES

COVID-19 PUBLIC HOTLINE: For Iowans with questions about COVID-19, a public hotline is open 24/7 by calling 2-1-1 or 1-800-244-7431 (Español disponible)

CRISIS TEXT LINE: To access the Crisis Text Line, text “TALK” to 741741

SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE:  Call 1-800-273-8255

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE: Call 1-800-799-7233 or text “LOVEIS” to 22522

FOOD PANTRIES: Find a food pantry near you go to: https://www.foodbankiowa.org/

CHILDCARE: Looking for childcare during COVID-19? Go to https://dhs.iowa.gov/childcare-covid-19 to find open spots or facilities.

FREE LEGAL HELPhttps://www.iowalegalaid.org/resource/2020-coronavirus-outbreak-what-you-need-to-know

HOME ENERGY ASSISTANCE: To apply for assistance visit: https://humanrights.iowa.gov/dcaa/liheap.

CARES ACT FEDERAL LEGISLATION: A new summary of recently passed federal legislation and its impact on Iowa will be continuously updated and is available here: https://tinyurl.com/sg2hluc

GOVERNOR’S OFFICE UPDATES: For the latest updates from the Iowa Governor’s office on COVID-19: https://coronavirus.iowa.gov 

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH UPDATES: For the latest updates on coronavirus and to learn more about prevention efforts, go to the Iowa Dept. of Public Health at https://idph.iowa.gov/Emerging-Health-Issues/Novel-Coronavirus

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIEShttp://volunteeriowa.galaxydigital.com/

April 13, 2020

Greeting to you all,

The negative impacts that we all are facing with the Coronavirus, it’s important that we take care of ourselves and make sure our families and friends can deal with the stress caused by the disease. We have people that are dealing with having lost their jobs, business owners who are unable to stay open and children that are unable to go to school. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger. The outbreak of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about the disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you and the people you care about, and your community stronger.

Here are some helpful ways to help deal with stress,

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
  • Take care of your body.
    • Take deep breaths, and stretch
    • Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
    • Exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep.
    • Avoid excessive alcohol.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

Here is a good link to use when dealing with stress and anxiety.
https://health.clevelandclinic.org/5-ways-to-manage-stress-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/

In the weeks ahead, I’ll be listening and working closely with local leaders to make sure the state is partnering with those in our community who need help and assistance. I’ll be sharing information I hear from you with the Governor and encouraging her to act on your ideas.  I’ll also be working with my colleagues on issues that must be addressed in this crisis like.

While I will not be at the Capitol for the next month, I will be in the district full-time and available by email, phone, and social media to answer questions and listen to your concerns. You can always reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!


COVID-19: Prevent the Spread, Protect Iowans

As we continue to take precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, now more than ever it’s important to remember some of the guidelines that have been put in place.  Two main guidelines include practicing social distancing and staying home as much as possible. Limiting contact with others is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Here are a few more reminders:

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Avoid close contact with others including those that are sick. Put distance between yourself and others as much as possible, remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus.

Limit time outside the home and only go out for essential items such as food and prescriptions.

Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others. In light of new data about how COVID-19 spreads, along with evidence of widespread COVID-19 illness in communities across the country, the CDC recommends that people wear a cloth face covering to cover their nose and mouth in the community settings. This is to protect people around you if you are infected but do not have symptoms.

If you wish to help with the production of protective masks, please be sure to reach out to your local hospitals and health care facilities to ensure they are accepting donations. For more guidance go to: https://idph.iowa.gov/Portals/1/userfiles/7/Homemade%20Mask%20Design%20Guidance%203_28_20.pdf

Cover coughs and sneezes with the inside of your elbow or a tissue. Then immediately throw the tissue away and wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
Many lawmakers are continuing to urge Governor Reynolds to implement a statewide shelter-in-place order. State leaders believe it’s important to send a clearer message to Iowans to stay home and prevent the spread of COVID-19.  This is the right step to flatten the curve, save lives, and get Iowans back to work quickly.


Iowa Businesses Closed Until April 30

Another public health proclamation was announced last week to extend a variety of closures until April 30. New closures also now include: malls, entertainment stores, tobacco/vaping stores, race tracks, amusement parks, playgrounds, campgrounds, social/fraternal clubs, and door-to-door sales.
Here is a list of all businesses currently closed:

  • Restaurants and bars (carry-out and delivery only);
  • Fitness centers, health clubs, health spas, gyms, and aquatic centers;
  • Swimming pools and spas, wading pools, water slides, wave pools, spray pads, and bathhouses;
  • Salons, including all establishments providing the services of cosmetology, electrology, esthetics, nail technology, manicuring, and pedicuring;
  • Medical spas;
  • Barbershops;
  • Tattoo establishments;
  • Tanning facilities;
  • Massage therapy establishments;
  • Theaters at which live performances or motion pictures are shown;
  • Casinos and other facilities conducting pari-mutuel wagering or gaming operations;
  • Bookstores;
  • Clothing stores;
  • Shoe stores;
  • Jewelry stores;
  • Luggage stores;
  • Cosmetic, beauty, or perfume stores;
  • Florists;
  • Furniture and home furnishing stores;
  • Senior citizen centers and adult daycare facilities;
  • Tobacco, cigarette, cigar, or vaping stores;
  • Enclosed malls, including interior common areas and any retail establishment that only accessible to the public from the interior common areas;
  • Social and fraternal clubs, including but not limited to American Legion or VFW posts, elk clubs, country clubs, and golf course clubhouses;
  • Bingo halls, bowling alleys, pool halls, arcades, and amusement parks;
  • Museums, aquariums, and zoos;
  • Race tracks and speedways;
  • Indoor or outdoor roller- or ice-skating rinks and skate parks;
  • Outdoor or indoor playgrounds or children’s play centers, not including playgrounds in private residences or childcare facilities;
  • Public and private campgrounds; and
  • Door-to-door sales.

Social, community, spiritual, religious, recreational, leisure, and sporting gatherings and events of more than 10 people, including but not limited to parades, festivals, conventions, and fundraisers are being asked to be postponed or cancelled.


Help for Small Businesses

A new website has been set up with information for small businesses with helpful links on where to apply for assistance by the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA).  The website, www.iowabusinessrecovery.com has helpful links to both state and federal assistance.  Small businesses can apply for a sales tax deferment through April 30th.

In an effort to help small businesses in Iowa, IEDA awarded $24 million in grants to small businesses all across the state last week.  IEDA received 13,745 applications from restaurants, bars, retail stores, and other small businesses in every county in Iowa.  The grant program was meant to be a short term stop-gap measure while waiting for federal money for small businesses.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has several programs to help businesses that have experienced loss of income due to COVID-19.  Details about all the programs can be found here, https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options  One of the programs is the Paycheck Protection Program.  The program is a forgivable loan that gives eight weeks of payroll and overhead expenses to businesses.  The loan is only forgivable if employees continue to be paid.


Vote by Mail in June Primary Election

As Iowans are continually encouraged to stay at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, participating in the June 2 primary election is not only more difficult but also more dangerous.  In order to make sure voting is easier for everyone, the state of Iowa will mail all 2 million registered voters an vote by mail request.

The state will also expand the early voting period to what it was in previous elections to 40 days, giving Iowans more days to make plans to vote. This will allow Iowans to cast their vote as early as April 23 for the June 2 primary election.

Iowans can expect to receive their request for an absentee ballot in mid to late April. You can also request an absentee ballot on the Iowa Secretary of State’s website at: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/electioninfo/absenteeinfo.html.


Historic Number of Iowans Applying for Unemployment 

Another 67,334 workers filed for unemployment in Iowa last week, the largest number in state history. It’s the third straight week of record setting unemployment claims.

Nationally, 6.6 million people filed initial claims for unemployment last week. Over the last three weeks, 16.8 million American workers, roughly 10% of the workforce, have filed for unemployment benefits after losing their job. This level of job loss is unprecedented. During the previous economic recession in the late 2000’s, 8.6 million people lost their jobs over two years.

Unemployment benefits have been extended to individuals who are self-employed, independent contractors, non-profit employees or gig economy workers and gave an additional 13 weeks, helping those who had previously exhausted their benefits.

To file for unemployment, individuals should visit: https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/file-claim-unemployment-insurance-benefits


Iowa School Districts Set to Decide Continued Learning Plan

As schools continue to be closed, the Governor and the Iowa Department of Education are calling on Iowa School Districts and nonpublic schools to decide how to proceed during the COVID-19 crisis. Schools have three options with a deadline Friday, April 10 to indicate what they will do.  This is a local decision and they are able to change their decision later.

  1. Required Continuous Learning:  Attendance will be taken, lessons offered and grades administered. Exactly how the school will administer the required distance learning — whether online, paper packets, etc. — is up to them and will be based on the needs of the students in your school.  School hours/days requirement currently waived through April 30.  Application is required for this option.
  1. Provide Resources for Voluntary Learning: School will be offering programs that further students’ learning, but student participation is voluntary. Schools cannot give grades or take attendance.  School hours/days requirement currently waived through April 30.  No application is required for this option.
  1. Nothing – If a district chooses neither option, they will have to make up the hours/days.  No application is required for this option.

On Friday April 10th, the first of two surveys will be sent out to districts and nonpublic schools.  The first is an assessment of needs including how many computers do students have, WiFi capabilities, hot spots, private sector partners, etc.  The second is an assessment of needs on instructors capable of online learning instruction.  The Department of Education is planning on assisting school districts and nonpublic schools with either of these needs.

Look for announcements from your local school districts on how they plan to proceed. Contact your school should you have any questions.


Iowa National Guard to Help Combat COVID-19

Last week, the Iowa National Guard announced it is providing facilities and personnel to support six Regional Medical Coordination Centers across the state as part of an Iowa Department of Public Health and Iowa Health Care Coalition initiative to pool resources and aid in the sharing of critical information across multiple agencies to combat the spread of COVID-19. The Iowa National Guard is also helping with the distribution of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) across the state.


State Parks Open, Campgrounds Closed

Iowans are encouraged to take advantage of the outdoors to get exercise and many state park trails are still open. However, please be sure to abide by proper social distancing, including not gathering in groups larger than 10 and keeping 6 feet of distance between you and other individuals. Bathroom facilities are closed, so Iowans are asked to bring their own hand sanitizer.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is working to allow individuals currently staying in campgrounds to remain if they are there due to contract work in the area or because they are in the healthcare field and are distancing themselves from family at their primary residence.

Visit the state park announcement page and the wildlife management announcement page for specific information on services available at these locations during the health emergency.

        

COVID-19 and Your Mental Health

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations, and throughout this COVID-19 outbreak it’s required social distancing, quarantine, and some isolation. Feelings of anxiety, loneliness, and stress are completely normal. Here are a few strategies from the Iowa Department of Human Resources on how to cope with these emotions:

STAY CALM It’s important to not pass along or spread misinformation. Recognize when other people’s fears and anxieties are influencing your own emotional or mental health. Take a deep breath and reach out to your support system.

KEEP UP-TO-DATE For topics that cause significant anxiety, people find themselves better able to cope if they feel knowledgeable about the topic. Use trusted resources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov  or the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) at https://idph.iowa.gov/.

UNPLUG Information, real or rumor, is a constant in today’s society because of social media platforms. It’s important to have the facts and stay up-to-date, but when information creates a barrier to daily functioning, it can increase fear and anxiety.

CONNECT WITH OTHERS Reaching out is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety, depression, loneliness and boredom during social distancing, quarantine, and isolation. Use any resource that works for you such as the telephone, email, text, chat, video conferences, and social media.

PRACTICE SELF-CARE AND STICK TO A ROUTINE Self-care practices are personal and can include reading a book, listening to music, walking the dog, working on a project or eating healthy. During stressful times, try to stick to your routine to maintain a sense of normalcy and to manage stress. Wake up and eat meals at your regular time, and get dressed even while you are staying at home.

WHEN DO YOU NEED HELP? When symptoms associated with your anxiety have affected your ability to function in some part of your life, it’s time to reach out. Reach out to your healthcare provider and discuss your concerns. Many insurers are covering telehealth for mental health services at this time. To find a counselor to go: https://feelgoodiowa.com/ or https://yourlifeiowa.org/. You can also connect by live chat, text (855-895-8398) or call (855-581-8111).


Help for Iowans Facing Food Insecurity 

A task force has recently been created to help Iowans facing food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Feeding Iowans Taskforce is made up of various organizations including local food banks, the Iowa Department of Public Health, the Iowa Department of Education, and the Iowa Department of Human Resources (DHS). These organizations are working together to make sure food banks are full and that Iowans have access to quality, nutritious food.

Along with the Feeding Iowans Taskforce, Iowa is currently one of four states participating in a pilot project to allow online grocery shopping with an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. Currently the pilot project only allows for online shopping at Walmart and Amazon, but DHS is requesting an exemption from its federal partners to allow online grocery shopping from any grocery store that wishes to participate.

Finally, federal legislation increased SNAP benefits for current and newly eligible applicants. DHS will automatically increase these benefits to the maximum allowable amount based on the number of people in the household for both April and May. To see the increased amounts and other information related to food security, please visit: https://dhs.iowa.gov/COVID19/FoodSecurity.

To see what other agencies are doing to make sure Iowans have access to food, please visit: https://coronavirus.iowa.gov/. To apply for food assistance, please visit: https://dhs.iowa.gov/food-assistance.


Iowa COVID-19 Resources 

COVID-19 PUBLIC HOTLINE: For Iowans with questions about COVID-19, a public hotline is open 24/7 by calling 2-1-1 or 1-800-244-7431 (Español disponible)

CRISIS TEXT LINE: To access the Crisis Text Line, text “TALK” to 741741

SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE:  Call 1-800-273-8255

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE: Call 1-800-799-7233 or text “LOVEIS” to 22522

GRAB N’ GO SCHOOL LUNCH: To find a location in your community go to: https://www.fns.usda.gov/meals4kids

RECOVERY REBATE CALCULATOR: To see how much your recovery rebate will be, visit: https://taxfoundation.org/federal-coronavirus-relief-bill-cares-act/

FOOD PANTRIES: Find a food pantry near you at https://www.foodbankiowa.org/

CHILDCARE: Looking for childcare during COVID-19? Go to https://dhs.iowa.gov/childcare-covid-19 to find open spots or facilities.

FREE LEGAL HELP: https://www.iowalegalaid.org/resource/2020-coronavirus-outbreak-what-you-need-to-know

HOME ENERGY ASSISTANCE: To apply for assistance visit: https://humanrights.iowa.gov/dcaa/liheap.

GOVERNOR’S OFFICE UPDATES: For the latest updates from the Iowa Governor’s office on COVID-19: https://coronavirus.iowa.gov 

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH UPDATES: For the latest updates on coronavirus and to learn more about prevention efforts, go to the Iowa Dept. of Public Health at https://idph.iowa.gov/Emerging-Health-Issues/Novel-Coronavirus

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES: http://volunteeriowa.galaxydigital.com/

April 7, 2020

Greeting to you all,

With the Covid-19 pandemic impacting our everyday lives and many of challenges that we all will be facing in the future, will make it very difficult for us all. Governor Reynolds held an 11 o’clock press conference, to discuss some additional changes with the required closures of business. She did not establish a “shelter in place” order it does establish some additional closures to business. Gov. Reynolds signed a new proclamation today continuing the State Public Health Emergency Declaration, ordering additional closures and relaxing additional regulations to support the state’s efforts to combat COVID-19. The proclamation also calls on law enforcement to assist in the enforcement of these mitigation efforts. The proclamation includes:

  • Malls
  • Tobacco or vaping stores
  • Toy, gaming, music, instrument, movie, or adult entertainment stores
  • Social and fraternal clubs, including those at golf courses
  • Bingo halls, bowling alleys, pool halls, arcades, and amusement parks
  • Museums, libraries, aquariums, and zoos
  • Race tracks and speedway.
  • Roller or ice skating rinks and skate parks
  • Outdoor or indoor playgrounds or children’s play centers
  • Campgrounds

In the weeks ahead, I’ll be listening and working closely with local leaders to make sure the state is partnering with those in our community who need help and assistance. I’ll be sharing information I hear from you with the Governor and encouraging her to act on your ideas.  I’ll also be working with my colleagues on issues that must be addressed in this crisis like.

While I will not be at the Capitol for the next month, I will be in the district full-time and available by email, phone, and social media to answer questions and listen to your concerns. You can always reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!


Important COVID-19 Updates & Resources

As you may have already heard, there were some significant developments this week that may impact your family and neighbors.

First, the Governor extended school and businesses closures until April 30.  The extension is based on data predicting the peak of the infection in Iowa to happen later this month.

Second, weekly unemployment claims rose to 58,453, which is the highest number in Iowa history. It shows the economic pain coronavirus is having on our economy as well as the importance of slowing the spread of the virus as quickly as possible so Iowans can get back to work.

Third, a new hotline has been established to help Iowans experiencing legal issues due to COVID-19.  Free legal advice is available by calling (800) 332-0419.

Fourth, unemployment benefits are now available to more Iowans and include those who are self-employed, independent contractors, and nonprofit employees.

Finally, I joined the call urging Governor Reynolds to implement a statewide shelter-in-place order. As state leaders, I believe it’s important to send a clearer message to Iowans to stay home and prevent the spread of COVID-19.  I think it’s the right step to flatten the curve, save lives, and get Iowans back to work quickly.

Please continue to practice social distancing and stay home as much as possible. Limiting contact with others is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones. I am very grateful to our essential workers, including health care workers, delivery drivers, grocery store workers, and emergency personnel for being on the front lines keeping Iowans safe and healthy.

The Iowa Legislature has extended its 30 day suspension until April 30. However, we currently do not know when the Legislature will be in a position to return to Des Moines and conclude the session. In the meantime, I will continue to be at home answering your questions and listening to you.

State Public Health Emergency Declaration until April 30

The Governor has now extended her State Public Health Emergency Declaration until April 30. Restaurants, bars, fitness centers, swimming pools, salons, spas, barbershops, tattoo establishments, theaters, casinos and other non-essential retails establishments are being asked to stay closed until April 30. Many restaurants bars and retail establishments are offering carryout, delivery or curbside pick-up.

Iowa Schools Closed until April 30

Iowa schools will be closed until April 30.  Local school districts are developing plans now and parents will hear more from school leaders on local plans.


Help for Those with Job Loss Due to Coronavirus 

Iowans displaced from work because of COVID-19 are eligible for unemployment benefits after changes were made to help those affected by the outbreak.  If you are  laid off due to COVID-19 or have to stay home to self-isolate, care for family members or due to illness related to COVID-19, you can apply for unemployment benefits.

Normal work search requirements under unemployment insurance are waived during the disaster; if displaced you will not be required to try and interview or find work while the outbreak is ongoing.

Employees laid off due COVID-19 will no longer be required to use all paid leave prior to being eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. Prior to the change employees were required to exhaust all benefits before making a claim. The change is not retroactive and will apply to claims made after March 29, 2020.

To apply visit: https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/file-claim-unemployment-insurance-benefits


Help for Iowa Small Businesses 

Iowa small businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19 have many resources still available to them including tax deferrals, the targeted small business sole operator fund, the Federal Cares Act, and SBA disaster assistance loans. To learn more visit: www.iowabusinessrecovery.com


Stimulus Checks through Iowa Cares Act 

The United States Congress has now passed a Federal Coronavirus Relief Bill—also known as the CARES Act. The $2.2 trillion package includes help for individuals and small businesses.

Stimulus payments directly to Iowans will begin in April with $1,200 for individuals ($2,400 married couples) and $500 per child under 17.

There is an Iowa Cares Act rebate calculator so that you can see how much you’ll be receiving at https://taxfoundation.org/federal-coronavirus-relief-bill-cares-act/


Grab and Go Lunches for Students

The USDA’s Summer Food Service Program has 303 approved Grab and Go meal sites in Iowa to provide meals and snacks to children who might go without while schools are closed due to COVID-19. To find a pick up location go to: https://educateiowa.gov/documents/summer-food-service-program/2020/03/approved-sponsors-provide-meals-during-covid-19


Covid-19 Price Gouging and Scams 

Online scammers are taking advantage of Iowan’s fears surrounding the Coronavirus by setting up websites or social media posts for fake products, and using fake emails, texts, and social media posts. The Attorney General’s office has created a new form for Iowa consumers to report price gouging, as the number of reports rise during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Consumers can complete the form on the attorney general’s website, which can be found here: https://www.iowaattorneygeneral.gov/for-consumers/file-a-consumer-complaint/online-price-gouging-complaint-form

For complaints not involving price gouging, consumers can continue to use the Attorney General’s standard complaint form. Iowans can contact the Consumer Protection Division at consumer@ag.iowa.gov or by phone: 515-281-5926 (toll-free number outside of the Des Moines area: 888-777-4590) for more information.


Free Assistance with Legal Issues

A free hotline has been set up by Iowa Legal Aid to provide Iowans some support that may be facing legal issues during the COVID-19 outbreak, including eviction, denial of unemployment benefits, employment issues, identity theft and more. The COVID-19 Legal Information Hotline at 1-800-332-0419. Callers should leave a message, and Iowa Legal Aid staff will call them back to screen them for eligibility. Those who are eligible for Iowa Legal Aid’s free legal services will be connected with an attorney; those who are not eligible for free services will be referred to volunteer lawyers with the Iowa State Bar Association. For more information go to: https://www.iowalegalaid.org/resource/2020-coronavirus-outbreak-what-you-need-to-know


LIHEAP Application Period Extended to May 31, 2020

Due to the Covid-19 virus and the State of Iowa Public Health Disaster Emergency, the Iowa Department of Human Rights, Division of Community Action Agencies has extended the application period for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) through May 31, 2020. To apply for assistance visit: https://humanrights.iowa.gov/dcaa/liheap.


HELPFUL LINKS WITH MORE INFORMATION 

CARES ACT FEDERAL LEGISLATION: A new summary of recently passed federal legislation and its impact on Iowa will be continuously updated and is available here: https://tinyurl.com/sg2hluc

GOVERNOR’S OFFICE UPDATES: For the latest updates from the Iowa Governor’s office on COVID-19: https://coronavirus.iowa.gov

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH UPDATES: For the latest updates on coronavirus and to learn more about prevention efforts, go to the Iowa Dept. of Public Health at https://idph.iowa.gov/Emerging-Health-Issues/Novel-Coronavirus

COVID-19 PUBLIC HOTLINE: For Iowans with questions about COVID-19, a public hotline is open 24/7 by calling 2-1-1 or 1-800-244-7431

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES: State officials launched a new website to connect healthy Iowans who want to volunteer in their communities with nonprofits: http://volunteeriowa.galaxydigital.com/

March 26, 2020

Greeting to you all,

We are facing some very difficult times ahead dealing, with the Coronavirus (Covid-19 virus). Every state has declared a state of emergency or a public health emergency, in response to the Covid-19 outbreak. Nine states (including Iowa) have made requests or received approval for major disaster assistance. A statewide closure of schools has been implemented in 48 states, and the other two. (Maine and Nebraska) are allowing decisions to be made at the local level. The National Guard has been activated in 41 states (including Iowa).

I have been attending meetings, using Zoom, as a way to not be in personal contact with people.  Some the issues I’m hearing from people is that several small business are struggling to make ends meet. I want to thank everyone who is distancing themselves from others, as a way to prevent the spread of the virus.

Here is the latest information relating to the (COVID-19) in Iowa.

  • There were 21 additional positive cases of Iowans with COVID-19 reported on Wednesday, bringing the total to 145 positive cases today.
  • 41,890 Iowans applied for unemployment last week, up from 2,489 the week before, and represents the highest level of claims ever recorded in the state. Unemployment claims are still being accepted.
  • A Presidential Disaster Declaration was approved for Iowa, which allows for more federal emergency funds to flow to Iowa and opens up the Community Disaster Loan program.
  • The U.S. Senate came to agreement on another COVID-19 relief package that was approved late Wednesday and expected to be approved by the House soon.

As your Representative, I hope to reflect your interests and concerns in my work at the Capitol, so please reach out to me at any time. The Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can listen to or watch our debates live when the legislature reconvens.

Please check out other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts, forums, and Black Hawk County Representatives’ weekly video update, you can also reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Coronavirus (COVID-19): What Iowans Need to Know

FAQs: What Iowans Need to Know about the Coronavirus

What is the coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a type of virus and there are many different kinds, and some cause disease. A newly identified type has caused a recent outbreak of respiratory illness now called COVID-19 that started in China.

How is it spread? What is community spread?

Recent information indicates COVID-19 may be passed from person to person. Community spread is being seen, which means people have been infected with the virus in a particular area, including some people who are not sure how or where they became infected. COVID-19 has been detected in people in over 100 other countries, including over 50,000 cases in the United States.

What precautions should I take to stop the spread of the coronavirus?

Here are the simple steps to stop the spread of COVID-19

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If this is not available, use hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your elbow.
  • Stay at home as much as possible. This is especially important for people with underlying health conditions and those over 65 years old.
  • Regularly clean frequently used objects or surfaces.·Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.

What are the symptoms of the coronavirus?  

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Shortness of Breath

Should I go to my doctor’s office if I get sick?

If you are feeling sick, make sure you call your doctor’s office before going in. Tell them your symptoms, and they will give you directions.

How can I get tested for the coronavirus?

To get tested, call your primary doctor. Currently, a doctor does not have to get approval from the State Hygienic Lab to test a patient for COVID-19, if they meet the CDC criteria found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/hcp/clinical-criteria.html

FAQs: Coronavirus Insurance Coverage

How do I find out if my insurance will cover testing and treatment related to COVID-19?

Four of the major health insurance carriers in Iowa have all committed to waive cost-sharing and copayments for testing of COVID-19. Self-funded plans may differ in coverage. The Iowa Farm Bureau Health Plan has also agreed to waive cost sharing related to testing.

Will Medicare cover testing and treatment?

Medicare and the Medicare Advantage Plan covers the lab tests for COVID-19 with no out-of-pocket costs when the test is ordered by your doctor or other health care providers. Medicare also covers all medically necessary hospitalizations. This includes if you’re diagnosed with COVID-19 and might otherwise have been discharged from the hospital after an inpatient stay, but you need to stay in the hospital under quarantine.Medicare also covers “virtual check-ins” (also known as telemedicine), so you can connect with your doctor by phone, or video, or an online patient portal to see if you need to go in for a face-to-face visit. The Division encourages consumers to utilize telemedicine to seek treatment.To stay informed about Medicare coverage and coronavirus, along with tips to keep yourself safe, visit http://medicare.gov.

FAQs: Unemployment Benefits

If I lost my job due to the coronavirus, how can I get help?

Iowans displaced from work because of COVID-19 may be eligible for unemployment benefits after changes were made to help those affected by the outbreak.  If you are laid off due to COVID-19 or have to stay home to self-isolate, care for family members, or due to illness related to COVID-19, you can apply for unemployment benefits.

Normal work search requirements under unemployment insurance are waived for those affected. If displaced you will not be required to try and interview or find work while the outbreak is ongoing. If an individual does find work, they will still receive benefits if it pays less than their previous employment. In those cases, Iowa Workforce Development will subtract the money you’ve earned from your expected benefit amount and send you the remaining benefit.Those eligible will receive their first check in 7-10 days. To apply visit: https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/file-claim-unemployment-insurance-benefits

What if I’m self-employed, how can I get help?

In order for self-employed Iowans to collect unemployment, Disaster Unemployment Assistance must be implemented. These provisions are currently in the legislation before the United States Senate. Once approved, self-employed individuals will be able to file for unemployment through Iowa Workforce Development.

FAQs: Iowa Schools

Will schools have to make up the canceled days due to coronavirus?

In SF 2408 passed on Monday March 16, the legislature gave the Governor the ability to waive school date requirements if the days missed were due to COVID-19, which she has now done.

How long are schools expected to stay closed?

Schools across the state are expected to stay closed through April 12 to help slow the spread of the virus. School districts are encouraged to continue to pay school employees during the shutdown.

FAQs: Child Care

Where can I find child care during this crisis?

A website has been set up for Iowans looking for child care during this time. Please visit this link to find available child care spots across the state:https://iowa.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/cabe69b5e2494259ab6c820c249e0f19. For additional child care guidance, please visit: https://dhs.iowa.gov/childcare-covid-19

Are child care providers being asked to take special precautions?

Yes, the health and safety of children, family and childcare providers is of the utmost importance. The Department of Public Health and the Dept. of Human Services (DHS) recommends social distancing for all ages, as such DHS encourages parents who are working from home to keep their children home with them. DHS also encourages child care settings to limit rooms to 10 individuals per room when possible, increase space between children, increase sanitation practices and provide robust hygiene protocols, and prescreen children and staff before entering the building. For more guidance for child care providers visit https://dhs.iowa.gov/childcare-covid-19?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery.

FAQs: Small Business

What resources are available since my business closed due to coronavirus?

There are loans for small businesses and nonprofits available through the Small Business Administration. The application can be found at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/  For information about the loans visit, https://www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance/coronavirus-covid-19 

The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) also has grants available for small businesses with 2-25 employees who are experiencing a loss in business due to the coronavirus.  The application is on their website, www.iowabusinessrecovery.com. Small businesses, of any size, can apply for a sales tax deferment on the same application, www.iowabusinessrecovery.com 

Do I still have to pay my employees if my business is closed?

Businesses that are able to continue to pay staff should do so, and if the business is requiring employees to work from home, the employee must be paid. If a business cannot afford to pay employees then the employees can file for unemployment (see above).  

FAQs: Restaurants, Bars, & Breweries

Why were all bars, restaurants, and other businesses closed?

The CDC is currently recommending no group gatherings larger than 10 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Since restaurants are closed to the public, can they still provide meals by drive-up, carry-out, or delivery?

Yes, as of right now restaurants can continue have carry-out, drive-through, or delivery of food. The Governor also eased restrictions on alcohol delivery and pick up, that allows for bars and restaurants to deliver and offer curbside pickup for alcohol.

Can my local brewery still sell beer by carry-out or delivery? 

If a native brewer has a retail permit to operate a taproom, as a retailer it can deliver any beer sold in the original sealed container to a customer.  A growler could be considered an original container if it is filled at the manufacturing location.  However, beer that is poured into a growler at a taproom cannot be delivered because it is not in the original packaging.

FAQs: Utilities

What if I can’t pay for my utilities because of coronavirus?

The Iowa Utilities Board issued an emergency order directing all electric and natural gas utilities to cease residential service disconnection because of nonpayment until May 1st. The link to the emergency order and press release can be found here:  https://iub.iowa.gov/press-release/2020-03-13/iub-emergency-order-extends-utility-winter-moratorium

FAQs: Housing

What if I can’t pay my mortgage or rent because of coronavirus?

All evictions and foreclosure have been suspended through April 16.  Mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration or Fannie Mae and Freddie Mae are under a 60-day foreclosure suspension.  Contact your lender to see if it applies to your mortgage.

FAQs: Federal Relief

What is the federal government doing to provide relief to those impacted by Coronavirus?

The federal government is working on a variety of measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to declaring a Presidential Disaster Declaration for Iowa, federal lawmakers have approved two bills to address the crisis.  One bill provided supplemental assistance to key public health agencies and another provided free testing and expanded paid sick leave for 87 million workers. More information on that bill is available here.  Another bill is currently being considered by Congress that would provide assistance to citizens, businesses, and health care workers. If passed this would be the largest relief effort in United States history.

FAQs: Volunteering Opportunities  

I am healthy and would like to volunteer to help other Iowans. What social distancing volunteer opportunities are available?

Volunteer Iowa has launched a COVID-19 Response Initiative to help connect healthy individuals with urgent volunteer needs in their communities. The website will also serve as a portal for organizations to post their volunteer needs. Volunteer opportunities can be found and posted on Volunteer Iowa’s Get Connected site at http://volunteeriowa.galaxydigital.com/. Individuals can also help by donating to their local food bank, delivering meals, supporting nonprofits in their community, and donating blood.

March 17, 2020

Greetings to you all,

Important Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

This week we learned the Coronavirus (COVID-19) reached a new phase, called community spread. Community spread occurs when individuals have been infected with the virus and cannot specifically identify the source of the infection, or do not know how or where they became infected. Not knowing the source of the infection, means it could spread quickly if we do not take proper precautions. As of Monday, March 16, 2020 there are 23 cases of COVID-19 in Iowa, with three cases of community spread and more cases expected.

On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) revised their guidelines and now recommends Iowans should avoid gatherings of more than 10 people. Because of this, the Iowa Legislature will be suspended for the next 30 days and the Governor recommends schools be closed for the next four weeks.

On Tuesday, the Governor issued a Public Health Disaster Emergency that closed down all bars and restaurants to the general public, except for carry-out or drive through.  The disaster emergency also closes gyms, theaters, casinos, and adult/senior day care centers.

Before we suspended our work late Monday, we worked together to give the Governor more authority to handle the pandemic. This includes giving schools more flexibility when making up school days and providing additional dollars to the State Hygienic Lab for testing for COVID-19.

In the weeks ahead, I’ll be listening and working closely with local leaders to make sure the state is partnering with those in our community who need help and assistance. I’ll be sharing information I hear from you with the Governor and encouraging her to act on your ideas.  I’ll also be working with my colleagues on issues that must be addressed in this crisis like:

  • Making sure Iowans can get unemployment if they lose their job due to COVID-19
  • Stopping foreclosures and evictions during this public health emergency
  • Making sure health care providers can get paid for necessary telehealth services
  • Supporting small businesses that may be forced to close

While I will not be at the Capitol for the next month, I will be in the district full-time and available by email, phone, and social media to answer questions and listen to your concerns.

Prevent the Spread & Social Distancing

The most important thing for Iowans to know is they should take additional precautions right away to slow the spread of the virus:

  • Iowans 60+ with underlying conditions should stay home and avoid gatherings
  • Do not hold or attend large gatherings of more than 10 people
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Consider social distancing measures
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your upper arm/elbow
  • Clean your hands frequently with soap and water
  • Touch your face as little as possible

For more information on the coronavirus, call 2-1-1 or go to: https://idph.iowa.gov/Emerging-Health-Issues/Novel-Coronavirus

What the State of Iowa is Doing

Iowa Schools: While local school districts have the final say, the Governor has recommended that schools close for the next four weeks.   The state of Iowa is developing policies to ensure continued access to child care during this time of emergency, including meals for low income students. Iowa has received a USDA waiver to allow schools to continue serving meals upon closure. This means schools will be able to activate their summer meal programs and provide meals in non-group settings through such means as drive-through pickup or grab and go. Before suspending session, we also gave the Governor power to waive instructional time requirements for schools closing to halt the spread of the Coronavirus. For more guidance and school information go to: https://educateiowa.gov/sites/files/ed/documents/REVISED%20PK-12%20Guidance%203-16-20.pdf

Restaurants and Bars: Beginning at noon on March 17, a public health emergency disaster was declared with temporary measures that include moving restaurants to drive-through, carry-out, and delivery only.  Other closures due to the public health emergency include gyms, theaters, casinos, and adult/senior day care centers. The Restaurant Workers Relief Foundation has created as COVID-19 relief fund for workers impacted by COVID-19 information can be found here: https://www.restaurantworkerscf.org/news/2020/3/15/resources-for-restaurants-and-workers-coping-with-the-covid-19-emergency

Small Businesses: The Small Business Administration is offering loans to small businesses and nonprofits who have been impacted by COVID-19.  Businesses and nonprofits can receive up to $2 million in a low-interest loan.  For more information visit https://www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance/coronavirus-covid-19

Workers: If Iowans are laid off, have to stay home to self-isolate, care for family members, are ill due to COVID-19, you can receive unemployment benefits, provided you meet all other eligibility requirements.  More specific explanations of benefit eligibility can be found at https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov

Nursing Homes: The Iowa Department of Public Health has encouraged long term care facilities to limit non-essential visitors to long term care facilities. To learn more visit: https://www.iowahealthcare.org/member-resources/emergency-preparedness/infection-control-resources/

Iowa Veterans Home: The Iowa Veterans Home announced it is restricting all visitors to both residents and staff.

Childcare Centers: The Department of Human Services (DHS) is putting policies in place to ensure access to childcare during this time, including financial and operational assistance. These include paying child care providers based on enrollment rather than attendance, and expediting licensing to enable increasing capacity. More info can be found at: https://dhs.iowa.gov/childcare-covid-19

Health Care: State officials in the Dept. of Human Services are applying for emergency waivers that include extended eligibility for Family Investment Program (FIP), SNAP (food assistance) and Medicaid, and lifting any co-pays and cost sharing for Hawk-I and the Iowa Health and Wellness program.

Heating & Electricity: The Iowa Utilities Board issued an emergency order directing all electric and natural gas utilities to cease residential service disconnection because of nonpayment until May 1st.

Driver’s License Stations: All services available at Iowa DOT driver and identification service centers will be available by appointment beginning Tuesday, March 17.  Appointments can be made online at https://iowadot.gov/mvd/other-appointments or by calling 515-244-8725.

March 13, 2020

Greetings to you all,

Week nine has brought a lot of change to the Iowa Legislature. While we passed countless legislation this week, the developing situation around COVID-19 around Iowa and the nation has held our attention.

While there are very few diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in Iowa, social distancing is recommended by health officials to prevent the spread. This means avoiding large gatherings of people and cancelling or postponing events that are not immediately necessary. These measures will help slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep our medical system from being overwhelmed.

Iowans should be taking steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but that does not mean that they should begin hoarding supplies. It is hard for high traffic areas and doctors’ offices to keep people safe if there is no cleaning supplies, soap, or toilet paper available.

Steps outside of social distancing include staying home if you are feeling unwell, practicing good respiratory hygiene by coughing and sneezing into a tissue or the crook of your arm, washing your hands often, and minimizing the amount of times you touch your eyes, mouth, and nose.

For more information, the Iowa Department of Public Health is providing daily updates on COVID-19. These can be found at their website: idph.iowa.gov

This week I had the chance to meet with some local constituents. The first group I had the chance to chat with was UNI’s student government delegation. We had the chance to discuss additional funding for UNI as well as issues facing Cedar Falls.

03-11-2020_blackhawk_uni.jpg
I had the pleasure of meeting William Heathershaw, the founder of Iowa Love. Iowa Love is a brand of clothing that has Heathershaw’s logo that looks like the word “Iowa” and “love” simultaneously. Iowa Love is sold by local retailers in communities across the state. Fifty percent of Iowa Love’s quarterly earnings are donated to local Iowa-based nonprofits.

03-11-2020_kressig_iowalove.jpg
Members of the Alzheimer’s Association came to visit Wednesday afternoon to discuss how to best prepare Iowa for a future influx of patients with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

03-11-2020_kressig_alzheimers.jpg
I was disappointed that the House passed legislation this week to change the cap for THC limits in the Iowa Medical Cannabis Program. The restriction of 4.5 grams for a 90 day supply that was passed will prevent almost 50% of patients from receiving the dose they need. Many patients may be able to have a full dose for a few days, but will not be able to sustain it for the full 90 days. A cap of 15 grams that was suggested by House Democrats would allow 88% of patients to have their full dose and the 25 gram cap proposed by the Iowa Senate would allow all patients except for 0.2% from receiving their full dose.

We need to keep Iowans safe and give them a chance to manage their pain with a safer alternative to highly addictive opioids. The current plan as well as the proposed plan by House Republicans will only jeopardize the Medical Cannabis Program and force Iowans to either illegally obtain unsafe cannabis or return to using opioids to manage their pain.

As your Representative, I hope to reflect your interests and concerns in my work at the Capitol, so please reach out at any time. The Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can listen to or watch our debates live.

Please check out other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts, forums, and Black Hawk County Representatives’ weekly video update, you can also reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!
Bob

Upcoming Events:

13 Lunchtime Concert – UNI School of Music Voice and Opera students Hearst Center for the Arts, noon, 273-8641
13-14 Black Hawks Hockey vs Sioux Falls Young Arena, 7:05pm, 291-7680
13-15 Eastern Iowa Sportshow UNI-Dome, Fri 3pm; Sat 9:30am; Sun 10am, 240-3571
14 Mulligan Stew Lunch Cedar Falls Woman’s Club, 11am, 266-1431
16-20 R.J. McElroy Trust World’s Greatest Spring Break for Kids Downtown Waterloo, 287-9102
17 Black Hawks Hockey vs Des Moines Young Arena, 7:05pm, 291-7680
19 Harlem Globetrotters McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-2311
20-22 Antique Spectacular Vintage Market UNI-Dome, Fri 4pm; Sat & Sun 10am, 712-326-9964
20-22 Church Basement Ladies Hope Martin Theatre, Fri & Sat 7pm; Sun 2pm, 291-4494
21-22 Funky Junk-A-Loo 5 Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, 10am, 291-2038
26 CV Hospitality Partners Meeting Table 1912, 8:30am, 268-4266

State Officials Get Coronavirus Update: What You Need to Know

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) is recommending proactive measures to help delay the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Currently, there are 13 presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Iowa, as of March 10, 2020. Twelve of these cases are in Johnson County and one is in Pottawattamie County but more cases are expected to be discovered within the next few days.

How is the state responding?

Gov. Reynolds has proclaimed a disaster emergency. Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and its health care partners are working to protect Iowans and minimize the spread of COVID-19. Other details to note:

•    State Hygienic Laboratory is equipped to test for cases of 2019 novel coronavirus in Iowa residents.

•    State Emergency Operations Center is collaborating with state agencies to respond.

•    Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is prepared to step up response efforts as needed.

•    The Iowa Board of Regents has instructed the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa to use virtual instruction, and are asking students to not return to classes after spring break. Many private Iowa colleges and universities are expected to do the same.

According to IDPH, relevant information is being provided to schools, child care centers, businesses, health providers, long-term care providers, emergency medical personnel, law enforcement, and local public health partners.

coronavirusinfograph.jpg
What is COVID-19?

Like the flu, COVID-19 is spread when infected people cough or sneeze and tiny droplets land nearby to another individual.

If during those 14 days the person experiences symptoms, they should see their health care professional immediately.  Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. These symptoms can appear in as little as two days after exposure for up to 14 days after exposure. People with the virus can show few symptoms, or they can become severely ill.

Prevent the Spread

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the IDPH recommends doing the following:

•    Covering your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your upper arm/elbow.
•    Clean your hands frequently with soap and water.
•    Contain germs by staying home when you are sick.
•    Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
•    Disinfect and clean frequently used surfaces and objects.

The risk of the virus to the general public is low, so those simple precautions can make a big difference. In fact, Iowans are still far more likely to get the flu than COVID-19.  To curb the spread of this virus, the IDPH requests that Iowans returning from certain countries voluntarily self-isolate for 14 days. These countries include China, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Japan, and South Korea.

A mandatory disease reporting order is in place for COVID-19. All providers must report positive results to IDPH for public health surveillance and monitoring. Case numbers are updated regularly and IDPH will release those details to the public. For more information related to COVID-19 in Iowa, please visit https://idph.iowa.gov/Emerging-Health-Issues/Novel-Coronavirus.

Medical Cannabidiol Program Rolled Back in Iowa House

On a party line vote, majority party lawmakers passed legislation that replaces the THC cap from 3% to 4.5 grams over a 90-day period, which is significantly lower than most Iowans’ current dosage. As a result, some Iowans may return to increasing their opioid intake due to the inadequacy for pain relief. Additionally, the lawmakers added new language to the bill to allow employers to terminate employees who use medical cannabis for pain relief.

Last session, the Iowa House and Senate passed legislation that would have increased the THC cap from 3% to 25 grams over a 90-day period. Last year’s bill, House File 732 would have also allowed the mCBD Advisory Board to grant a waiver for terminally ill patients to receive more than the 25 grams dose if a health care practitioner determined the supply was inadequately alleviating the patient’s debilitating medical condition.  HF 732 passed the House 96-3 and Senate 40-7, but the Governor vetoed the bill.

This year’s bill, House File 2589, now goes to the Senate for further consideration.

Read More News from the Statehouse

A Bill to Help Decrease the Cost of Insulin Passes House
New Legislation Addresses Making Child Care More Affordable
House Increases Protections for Police and Firefighters
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Student Assistance Passes House
Prohibition on Use of “LGBTQ+ Panic Defense” Passes
Telehealth Continues to Make Healthcare More Accessible
Employment Leave for Adoptive Parents
Bills Address Health Care Professionals in Rural Iowa
Adult Changing Stations to be Installed at Iowa Rest Stops
Trump Administration Reverses Course Again on RFS Waiver
Helping Members of the Armed Forces Hunt and Fish in Iowa
Lake Water Quality Improvement Meetings Scheduled

continuereading2.jpg

March 6, 2020

Greetings to you all,

Week eight has been extremely busy. In addition to the normal stream of constituents and other visitors, many bills have come to the floor for debate and consideration.

I had the pleasure of meeting with union members from the UAW, IAMAW and AFSCME early this week to discuss workers rights.

03-02-2020_kressig_union.jpg
Representatives Kressig, Brown-Powers, and Williams meet with members from the UAW, IAMAW, and AFSCME on March 2, 2020.

Tuesday was Community College Day on the Hill which gave me the ability to meet with students from Hawkeye Community College. It was great to see all of the amazing things they are accomplishing and how they are contributing to our skilled workforce in the Cedar Valley.

03-03-2020_kressig_hcc2.jpg
From left to right: Rep. Kressig, Ethan Jaso, Rep. Brown-Powers, Todd Holcomb, Joan Webster-Vore, Pam Wright Chair: Evelyn Falck

I also enjoyed meeting Sophia Williams-Perez, a student at the University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine. She came to discuss a bill that would provide medical amnesty to college students.

03-04-2020_blackhawk_physicians.jpg
From left to right: Rep. Brown-Powers, Rep. Kressig, Rep. Williams, Rep. Smith
Chair: Sophia Williams-Perez

Advocates, Caitlyn Walte and Ben Brustkern from Friends of the Family and Gwen Bramlet-Hecker from Riverview Center, came to visit me and discuss domestic violence and housing on Wednesday afternoon.

03-04-2020_kressig_cvff.jpg
From left to right: Caitlyn Walte, Rep. Kressig, Gwen Bramlet-Hecker, Ben Brustkern, and Rep. Brown-Powers

One of my largest objectives this session has been to promote mental health instruction in schools across Iowa. One integral part of this goal is the services that Iowa AEAs provide. Meeting with Lindsey Kutcher and Emilie Souhrada from the AEA and Nicki Skaar from the UNI School of Education helped provide more insight to how the Iowa Legislature can help our schools help our children.

03-04-2020_kressig_schoolpsych.jpg
Left to Right: Lindsey Kutcher, Rep. Kressig, Nicki Skaar, Emilie Souhrada, and Rep. Williams.

On Thursday, I was able to welcome management from my former employer, John Deere, during their visit to the capitol. The work they do is vital to the legacy Iowa has worldwide. It was great to be able to bring them in to sit on some meetings and share their perspectives.

3-5-2020_johndeere.jpg
Reps. Smith, Kressig, James, Brown-Powers and Williams pose for a picture with John Deere employees during their visit to the Capitol on March 5, 2020.

As your Representative, I hope to reflect your interests and concerns in my work at the Capitol, so please reach out at any time. The Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can listen to or watch our debates live.

Please check out other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts, forums, and Black Hawk County Representatives’ weekly video update, you can also reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Bob

Upcoming Events:

5-7 Burnt City: A One-Persian Show about U.S.-Iran relations, UNI Interpreters Theatre, 7pm, 273-2311
6 Northern Iowa Bach Cantata Series Performance, *GBPAC, 12:15pm, 273-2024
6 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Drake, McLeod Center, 6:30pm, 273-4849
7 Sticky Stride Race, River Hills School, 8am, 277-2187
7 Heyday for Hope Barn Bash, Elks Club, 5-11pm, 232-3823
7 wcfsymphony concert: Honoring Our Own, *GBPAC, 7pm, 273-3373
7-8 Maple Syrup Festival Hartman Reserve, Nature Center, 7am-1pm, 433-7275
8 YAMATO the drummers of Japan, *GBPAC, 4pm, 273-7469
8 Celtic Concert, Oster Regent Theatre, 6:30pm, 277-5283
9 String Chamber Music Concert, *GBPAC, 8pm, 273-2024
10 Spotlight Series Concert: UNI Choirs Concert, *GBPAC, 7:30pm, 273-2024
12 Cedar Valley Taste of Achievement, Bien Venu Event Center, 6pm, 862-1100

Revitalizing Small Towns and Rural Areas in Iowa

Iowa’s small towns and rural communities are facing a number of challenges with shrinking population, fewer jobs, an aging housing stock, closing schools, and lack of access to basic health care services.  These factors have made it difficult to keep young people in rural communities or attract new business and workers. It’s essential that we work together this year to revitalize small towns and rural areas.

In Iowa, 23.4% of households are housing cost-burdened, which means they spend more than 30% of their income on housing. We need to make sure all Iowans have access to safe, affordable housing for their families. We also need to give Iowans the opportunity to fix up and rehab abandoned houses.

In order for rural Iowa to keep up with the rest of the state and the country, we must expand access to high speed internet to every community such as schools, homes, hospitals, and businesses.

Over the last decade, over 100 health care centers, clinics, and pharmacies have closed their doors, many in rural areas. Also, population decline has made it difficult for rural communities to recruit enough EMT’s to even provide basic emergency ambulance services. We need to make sure we are training and recruiting the best and brightest to Iowa to help rural communities.

Four bills were introduced this week to revitalize rural Iowa including:

Creating More Affordable Housing – Expanding workforce housing tax credit and directing a minimum of 20% to rural areas and small towns for new, affordable housing.

Fixing Up Old Housing – $2 million grant fund to partner with small towns to fix up and rehab abandoned buildings to develop more housing options.

Expanding Broadband – Make high speed internet access available to more Iowans by expanding the grant program to connect more Iowans.

Increase Emergency Services – Increase the tax credit for EMT, police, and fire volunteers in rural communities; create grant funding to help rural communities with infrastructure, volunteer training, and equipment for emergency personnel.

To find out more about these bills go to https://iowahouse.org/ruraliowa.

Iowa House Finds Compromise on Solar Energy

This week, the Iowa House passed a solar bill that could unleash solar growth in the state and create long-term certainty for Iowa solar customers.

The compromise bill grandfathers existing private solar customers and maintains net metering. Senate File 583 also calls for the Iowa Utilities Board to study the value of private solar in the state when Iowa is receiving 5% of its energy from solar or by 2027. Currently, less than 1% of Iowa’s energy comes from private solar.

Last session, the bill stalled due to concerns over job losses and disruption in the solar energy market.  During the interim, stakeholder groups met with MidAmerican Energy and came to a compromise that supports all forms of renewable energy, while fairly valuing customer-owned solar energy and keeping rates affordable.

SF 583 passed the House 98-0 and currently waits Senate consideration.

Read More News from the Statehouse

Supreme Court Considering Overturning the Affordable Care Act
Bill Helps High School Students to Take Community College Courses
Cracking Down on Human Trafficking
Legislation to Prevent Lawsuits to Silence First Amendment Passes
Iowa Seniors Have New Hunting & Fishing Options
House Takes New Steps to Protect Pets
Changes for Iowa Seniors Renewing Driver’s Licenses
Iowa Breweries Approved to Expand to Canned Cocktails

continuereading2.jpg

February 28, 2020

Greetings to you all,

Week seven brought debate to the floor of the Iowa House of Representatives. With the first funnel finished, it was time to debate bills and to decide if the bill is good for the people of Iowa.

Between debate, I had the pleasure of meeting with members of UNI’s student government and members of the Active Minds chapter at UNI to discuss funding suicide prevention work at their university. The additional funding would help continue training students and staff in suicide prevention methods as well as the development of educational materials for the campus.

2-26-2020_kressig_uni_activeminds.jpg
Rep. Kressig, Rep. Brown-Powers and Rep. Williams meet with members of UNI student government and UNI’s Active Minds chapter.

I also spoke with students from Cedar Falls High School who traveled to the capitol on Thursday afternoon as part of the Iowa School Counselor Association and Iowa Admissions Counseling Association prep sessions. They advocated for increased funding for public education and mental health initiatives in schools.

2-27-2020_kressig_cfhs (002).jpg
Rep. Kressig, Rep. Brown-Powers and Rep. Williams discuss school funding and mental health with students from Cedar Falls High School.

2-27-2020_kressig_cfhs_peet.jpg
Students from Cedar Falls High School and Peet Junior High visit the Iowa House of Representatives on Feb. 27.

A number of bills passed through committee with strong bi-partisan support. One I have been proud to support is HF 2375 which expands our current hands-free driving law. This expansion is critical to save lives all across Iowa and make our roads safer. Bills were also passed that make childcare more affordable for all Iowans. This is a critical step to expanding Iowa’s workforce.

According to the Iowa Dept. of Public Health, the risk is low that citizens in Iowa could contract the Coronavirus. Advice for decreasing the risk of exposure is very similar to that the common cold. Try to stay three feet or more away from someone coughing or sneezing and regularly wash your hands. Practice good respiratory etiquette by coughing or sneezing into the crook of your arm. If you are not feeling well, stay home and seek advice from a medical professional.

As your Representative, I hope to reflect your interests and concerns in my work at the Capitol, so please reach out at any time. The Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can listen to or watch our debates live.

Please check out other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts, forums, and Black Hawk County Representatives’ weekly video update, you can also reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Bob

Upcoming Events:

28-29 Frog Prince of Spamalot, Hope Martin Theatre, Fri 7pm; Sat 2pm, 291-4494
3/1 From the Heart: Piano Expressions by Jean & Kelly, Hearst Center, 1:30pm, 273-8641
3/3 Northern Iowa Band Invitational, *GBPAC, 273-2024
3/3-5 Hawkeye Farm Show, UNI-Dome, 9am-4pm, 800-873-1411
3/5 Gallery Talk with Artists Phillip Chen and Randy Hemminghaus, Hearst Center, 6pm, 273-8641
3/5 JigJam: From Tullamore, Hawkeye Community College, Tama Hall, 7pm, 296-4464
3/5 Spotlight Series Concert: Northern Iowa Symphony Orchestra, *GBPAC, 7:30pm, 273-2024
3/5-7 Burnt City: A One-Persian Show about U.S.-Iran relations, UNI Interpreters Theatre, 7pm, 273-2311

News from the Statehouse

Boosting Iowa’s Skilled Workforce & Creating Good Paying Jobs

While Iowa has low unemployment, too many Iowans aren’t making enough to keep up with the rising costs of health care, food, and housing.  Iowa also faces a significant skilled worker shortage that threatens the future growth of our economy.  By 2025, 68% of jobs in Iowa will require some training or education beyond high school but currently only 58% of our workforce has those skills.

Since small businesses represent 99% of all employers, lawmakers are working this year to target more state job creation incentives to help small businesses expand.  Other ideas being considered this year include encouraging more students to work in high demand jobs and supporting more parents who adopt children.

The three bills introduced this week to create good jobs and a skilled workforce include:

Expand Family Leave to Adoptive Parents – Give parents who are adopting the same access to family leave that other parents get

Forgivable Loans for High Demand Jobs – Iowans in high demand jobs would receive up to $12,000 in student loan forgiveness over two years

Loans for Small Businesses – In an effort to target more state job creating incentives to small business, Iowa small businesses with no more than 15 employees can receive a new low interest loan up to $50,000

To find out more about these bills go to https://iowahouse.org/jobs.

First Legislative Deadline Passes

Last week the legislature hit the first deadline, known as the “funnel”, which helps narrow down the number of bills eligible for debate as we approach adjournment in April.  This week, the Legislature spent more time on the House Floor sending bills over to the Senate as the next deadline looms in just a few weeks.

House Democrats are working on a number of bills this year that will improve the lives of everyday Iowans.  That means putting politics aside and working together on good-paying jobs, affordable and accessible health care, great schools, and revitalizing small towns and rural communities.

Here just a few highlights of other bi-partisan bills that lawmakers are working on this session:

•    Expanding hands free driving law to save lives (HF 2375/SF 2248)
•    Lifetime commercial driver’s license ban for individuals convicted of human trafficking (HF 2235/SF 2089)
•    Holding pharmacy benefit managers accountable (HSB 685)
•    Ending “cliff” effect for child care assistance program (HF 2424)
•    Capping insulin costs for Iowans at $100 per month (HF 2138)
•    Expanding access to tele-health care in rural areas (HF 2192)
•    Increasing Child Care Assistance rates (HF 2270)
•    Removing fees for veterans trying to claim benefits (HF 2236)
•    Raising minimum age for tobacco and vaping (SF 2268)
•    Protecting veterinarians who report animal abuse (HF 2374)
•    Extending renewable energy tax credits (HF 2279/SF 628)
•    Expanding firefighter/EMT/reserve police officer volunteer tax credit (HF 2280)
•    Restoring felon voting rights and improving security of elections (HSB 545)

The next legislative deadline is on March 20th.  The 2020 Legislative Session is scheduled to adjourn on April 21.

Read More News from the Statehouse

Bill Aims to Get More Iowa Students into Teaching Programs
Accurate Census Count Important for State Programs
House Committee Advances Bottle Bill Modernization
Memorial Day Camping in State Parks
Flu Rates Continue to Climb in Iowa

continuereading2.jpg

February 14, 2020

Greetings to you all,

The fifth week of the legislative session has wrapped up. We are quickly approaching the second funnel. The deadline to pass non-budget legislation out of its committee assignment is the end of next week.

On Monday, I had the honor of welcoming Waterloo civil and human rights activist and the first female African American elected Waterloo City Council, Willie Mae Wright to the Iowa House of Representatives. Her dedication to serving the community is second to none. She has spent her time advocating for the equal treatment of East and West Waterloo and working with the Black Hawk-Bremer league of Women Voters. Her list of accomplishments and service is long and for more information about this outstanding citizen of the Cedar Valley, you can view my address here.

2-10-2020_blackhawk_wmr1.jpg
Reps. Kressig, Smith and Brown-Powers pose for picture with Willie Mae Wright and her family on Feb. 10 after her recognition before the House for her civil rights work.

On Tuesday, I met with Christine Kemp and Rob Marko-Franks about the People’s Community Health Clinic in Waterloo. Since it’s beginning in 1976, the People’s Community Health Clinic has been providing high quality, accessible health care to insured and uninsured citizens of the Cedar Valley.

2-11-2020_kressig_pchc.jpg
L-R: Rob Marko-Franks, Christine Kemp and Rep. Kressig

I had the chance to meet with Sue Holm, Kristen Engelmann and Lon Kammeyer who were advocating for lower prescription costs with AARP. One of the best ways to increase the accessibility of healthcare is to make sure that everyone is able to afford the medication they are prescribed.

2-11-2020_kressig_aarp.jpg
L-R: Rep. Kressig, Sue Holm, Lon Kammeyer and Kristen Engelmann

One of my highlights of the week was meeting with Nancy and her mother, Chris Espersen. They were here at the capitol to advocate for higher funding for our schools in Iowa. An increase in state supplemental funding would benefit all students especially English Language Learner students and students in poverty.

2-10-2020_kressig_nancyedu.jpg
Representative Kressig meets with Nancy, a young student advocating for improved funding for Iowa schools with her mother.

As your Representative, I hope to reflect your interests and concerns in my work at the Capitol, so please reach out at any time. The Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can listen to or watch our debates live.

Please check out other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts, forums, and Black Hawk County Representatives’ weekly video update, you can also reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Bob

Upcoming Events:

13-15 Northern Festival of Bands, *GPAC, 273-2024
14 Lunchtime Concert – UNI Percussion, Hearst Center for the Arts, noon, 273-8641
14 Northern Iowa Bach Cantata Series Performance, *GPAC, 12:15pm, 273-2024
14 UNI Wrestling vs West Virginia, UNI West Gym, 7pm, 273-4849
14 Black Hawks Hockey vs Cedar Rapids, Young Arena, 7:05pm, 291- 7680
14-16 Eastern Iowa Home & Landscaping Show, Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, Fri 3pm; Sat 10am; Sun 11am, 232- 0218
14-16 Glitter Girls, Oster Regent Theatre, Fri & Sat 7:30pm; Sun 2pm, 277-5283
15 Winter Warrior Duathlon, Eagle Lodge, 12pm, 277-2187
15 wcfsymphony concert: Sibling Revelry, Brown Derby Club, 4pm & 7pm, 273-3373
20 Exhibit Open House, Victorian Home & Carriage House Museum, 4pm, 266-5149
20 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Illinois State, McLeod Center, 6:30pm, 273-4849

School Funding Bill Delayed, Conflicts with Senate

House and Senate lawmakers have yet to resolve their differences on school funding for the upcoming school year.  During debate on Tuesday, House Democrats offered a plan this week to invest $133 million in public schools next year, but majority party lawmakers want to provide less.

School leaders across the state have said low state funding over the last decade isn’t keeping up with rising costs and hampers their ability to train the next generation of Iowa workers.  The proposals offered by majority party lawmakers does not keep pace with rising costs at schools and will lead to more school closings, higher class sizes, and fewer opportunities for students.

Iowans have always had great pride in our public schools. However, the state’s new investment in public schools has been the lowest in Iowa history over the last decade leading to the closure of 126 schools in Iowa. The low funding means public schools have been forced to increase class sizes and raise property taxes to make up for the shortfall in state funding.

House majority party lawmakers prefer a 2.5% increase in basic funding for schools while Senate majority party lawmakers want just 2.1%.  The bill, Senate File 2142, is now back in the Iowa Senate as lawmakers try to resolve their differences.

By state law, the Legislature is required to enact school funding within 30 days to give school districts the time and ability to meet their required schedules for their budget decisions.  The leaders of the current House and Senate will not be able to deliver school funding on-time this year as per the law.

Iowa National Guard Members to be Deployed Overseas      

The Iowa Army National Guard Ironman Battalion will soon be deployed for Operation Spartan Shield, a United States Department of Defense operation in the Middle East. This Operation encompasses 27 countries including Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Qatar. Around 550 soldiers from armories in Charles City, Davenport, Dubuque, Iowa City, Iowa Falls, Oelwein, and Waterloo are included in the deployment.  The primary mission for this group will be area security and force protection operations.

This is just the first wave of deployments, and by this time next year, Major General Corell indicates the Iowa National Guard will have more than 2,000 soldiers, nearly 30% of its force structure, deployed overseas serving in such locations as Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. This is largest number of Iowa personnel deployed since 2011.  These mobilizations are expected to begin in May, and will be completed by early next year.

As Major General Corell stated in his Condition of the Guard speech, the Iowa National Guard is strong and ready to rise to any challenge the nation or state faces in the future.

Read More News from the Statehouse

Lawmakers Approve Transportation Funding for Schools
Iowa Energy Grants Opening Soon
Summer Internships Available for Future Ready Iowa
Livestock Master Matrix Adopted by 89 Counties

continuereading2.jpg

February 6, 2020

Greetings to you all,

We’re officially four weeks into the 2020 Legislative Session! Things are picking up as more bills every day are introduced. After having the pleasure to participate in the Iowa Presidential Caucuses on Monday evening, it was straight back to work at the capitol on Tuesday morning.

On Tuesday, I attended the African American History program here at the capitol. It’s theme this year was “Lighting the Torch,” symbolizing a commitment to developing and supporting young leadership. The celebration of Black History Month is one that is important to honoring the history of Iowans who are too often looked over.

Wednesday was comprised of meeting with many different constituents from the Cedar Valley. I was able to catch up with Bruce Meisinger, Cedar Valley United Way board member and Debbie Roth, Cedar Valley United Way Senior Director of Community Resources.

2-5-2020_kressig_brown-powers_unitedway.jpg
Rep. Bob Kressig, Bruce Meisinger, Debbie Roth and Rep. Brown-Powers

2-5-2020_kressig_unitedway.jpg
UNI students Elle Boeding, Rachel Greene, Alladin Dafalla, Zach Zippe, and Jacob Levang visited on Wednesday to discuss the renovations to the Industrial Technology Center on campus. The ITC Modernization project will work to update the facility to keep up with the development of an increasingly sophisticated workforce.

2-5-2020_kressig_uni.jpg
Rep. Kresssig, Rep. Brown-Powers, Kelly Angell, Rep. Kressigsig, Elle Boeding, Rachel Greene, Alladin Dafalla, Zach Zippe, Jacob Levang, Sen. Giddens, Rep. Smith

Also, on Wednesday, I chatted with Chris Hannan and Keri Kono. Both work for Hawkeye Community College at the IowaWorks Center. The IowaWorks Center connects Cedar Valley residents with services that Iowa Workforce Development provides. It is one of the best ways to connect Iowans looking for jobs with employers looking for workers.

2-5-2020_kressig_hccworkforce.jpg
Rep. Smith, Rep. Brown-Powers, Keri Kono, Rep. Kressig, Chris Hannan

Finally, I met with members from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. Kelly Angell, Amy Jardon, and Mike Johnson all presented information calling for parity in taxing e-cigarettes the same as tobacco.

2-5-20_brown-powers_kresssig_cancer.jpg
Rep. Brown-Powers, Kelly Angell, Rep. Kressig

2-5-2020_kressig_cancer.jpg
Rep. Kressig, Amy Jardon and Mike Johnson

As your Representative, I hope to reflect your interests and concerns in my work at the Capitol, so please reach out at any time. The Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can listen to or watch our debates live.

Please check out other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts, forums, and Black Hawk County Representatives’ weekly video update, you can also reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!
Bob

Upcoming Events:

2/7 Cedar Valley TTBB Invitational, *GPAC, 273-2024
2/7 UNI – SB (Doc Halverson Classic) vs South Dakota, UNI-Dome, 2:45pm, 273-4849
2/7 UNI – SB (Doc Halverson Classic) vs Murray State, UNI-Dome, 5pm, 273-4849
2/7 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Missouri State, McLeod Center, 6:30pm, 273-4849
2/7-8 Black Hawks Hockey vs Fargo, Young Arena, 7:05pm, 291-7680
2/8 UNI – SB (Doc Halverson Classic) vs Murray State, UNI-Dome, 12:30pm, 273-4849
2/8 2020 Iowa Games Fat Bike Race, George Wyth State Park, 1pm, 266-5979
2/8 Downtown Delights, Cedar Falls Downtown District, 1pm, 277-0213
8 UNI Men’s Basketball vs Drake, McLeod Center, 3pm, 273-4849
8 UNI – SB (Doc Halverson Classic) vs SDSU, UNI-Dome, 5pm, 273- 4849
8 The Pork Tornadoes, *GBPAC, 7pm, 273-7469
9 UNI – SB (Doc Halverson Classic) vs DePaul, UNI-Dome, 1:45pm, 273-4849
9 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Southern Illinois, McLeod Center, 2pm, 273-4849
9 UNI – SB (Doc Halverson Classic) vs South Dakota, UNI-Dome, 4:14pm, 273-4849
11 Black Hawks Hockey vs Dubuque, Young Arena, 7:05pm, 291-7680

Low Funding Plan Leaves Schools Short

Iowans have always had great pride in our public schools. However, the state’s new investment in public schools has been the lowest in Iowa history over the last decade leading to the closure of 126 schools in Iowa. The low funding means public schools have been forced to increase class sizes and raise property taxes to make up for the shortfall in state funding.

This year, the majority party has offered another low school funding plan that will lead to more school closings, higher class sizes, and fewer opportunities for students.  School leaders across the state have said the continued low funding isn’t keeping up with rising costs and hampers their ability to train the next generation of Iowa workers.

House Democrats are working on an alternative plan to invest $133 million more in public schools next year, which is a 3% increase.  With that funding increase, Iowa can become the national leader in education again and continue to build Iowa’s skilled workforce.

Resources Available to Help Iowans File Their Taxes

State officials have created a “Filing Made Easy” website to help Iowans through the process of filing their state income taxes.  Iowa Dept. of Revenue Director Kraig Paulson assured that continuing to improve the customer experience is a top priority for the Department of Revenue (DOR).  The website explaining the process of filing your taxes can be found at https://refunds.tax.iowa.gov/.

There are also a variety of services available to help many Iowans file their state income taxes for free through the “eFile for Free” program.  Many Iowans that earn less than $69,000 a year may qualify for free services to help file their taxes.  Additional information on eFile can be found at https://tax.iowa.gov/individual-income-tax-electronic-filing-options.

The DOR has also improved the experience of customer interactions.  Taxpayer specialists will be available for extended hours to assist customers during filing season.  The front desk at the Department will also be open longer to accommodate walk-in customers.  The phone system has been upgraded to include an automated service check on the status of your refund.  Refunds can also still be tracked online at https://tax.iowa.gov/wheres-my-refund.

This year the DOR is going to process returns in the same time frame as the federal taxes are processed.  Because of this, the state started processing returns on January 27th.  The state has established a procedure to process returns in 30-45 days.  Taxpayers are required to provide their federal return when filing their Iowa taxes.  Iowa income taxes are due on April 30th.

Read More News from the Statehouse

Additional Mental Health Funding
Farm Bankruptcies Double in Iowa
Dyslexia Taskforce Bill Introduced
House Committee Advances Flood Recovery Help

continuereading2.jpg

January 30, 2020

Greetings to you all,

This week was filled with meeting lots of different constituents as they traveled to the capitol! Meeting with people from the Cedar Valley is one of my favorite parts of this job!

On Monday, I got the chance to visit with Damien King, Debbie Fitkin, and Rachel Clark about Achieving Maximum Potential, a youth-driven group that encourages personal growth in Iowa’s adoptive and foster-care children to create the next generation of child welfare educators. They lobbied for transition training for children aging out of the foster care system and tax incentives for employers who hire foster youth.

1-29-2020_brownpowers_amp.jpg
I was able to meet with Cedar Falls Community School District Administration members on Tuesday. It was great to see Cedar Falls Superintendent, Andy Pattee, Cedar Falls School Board President, Jeff Hassman, Cedar Falls School Board Vice President, Sasha Wohlpart, Cedar Falls School Board Member Nate Gruber, Southdale Elementary Principal, Jacob Strub, and Aldritch Elementary Principal, Kim Cross. They were attending the Iowa Association of School Boards Day on the Hill lobbying for funding to provide access to the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program and improving the funding formula for schools to address inequity in funding.
1-29-2020_brownpowers_cedarfallsboard.jpg
Tim Dwight, Board President of the Iowa Solar Energy Trade Association and former University of Iowa football player, met with me on Wednesday to present ISETA’s Legislative Priorities this year. I’m excited to work with him to continue to make Iowa a leader in clean, renewable energy.

1-29-2020_kressig_timdwight.jpg
UNI students, Sam Wilkinson, Sydney Wagner, Isaak Espersen, and Alyssa Noe visited on Wednesday to ask for continued funding for a Suicide Prevention Educator on campus and for state legislation providing medical amnesty for students on our state university campuses.

1-29-2020_kressig_unistudents.jpg
Also, on Wednesday, I chatted with Kelly Richards, Mary Jo Kavalier, and Dr. Shawn Buhrow. They were attending the Iowa Organization of Nurse Leaders Day on the Hill. We got the chance to chat about the need to expand tele health in the state of Iowa to bring better quality and more accessible health care, especially mental health care, to rural Iowa.

1-29-2020_kressig_ionl.jpg
Finally, on Wednesday, Bob Greenwood, Robert Nichols, Wes Pilkington, and Brianna Hostart came to chat with me. All four of them are pharmacists in the Cedar Valley. They presented information about how pharmacists can help lower drug costs, increase healthcare access across the state, and prevent the abuse and misuse of opioids.

1-29-2020_kressig_ipa.jpg
As your Representative, I hope to reflect your interests and concerns in my work at the Capitol, so please reach out at any time. The Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can listen to or watch our debates live.

Please check out other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts, forums, and Black Hawk County Representatives’ weekly video update, you can also reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Bob

Upcoming Events:

1/30-2/2 Wait Until Dark, Hope Martin Theatre, Thu-Sat 7pm; Sun 2pm, 291-4494
31 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Loyola, McLeod Center, 6:30pm, 273-4849
2/1 Ice Harvest Festival, Big Woods Lake, 10am, 266-5149
2/1 ensemble 4.1, *GBPAC, 7pm, 273- 7469
2/2 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Valparaiso, McLeod Center, 2pm, 273-4849
2/4 Guest Author: David Connon, Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
2/7 Cedar Valley TTBB Invitational, *GPAC, 273-2024
2/7 UNI – SB (Doc Halverson Classic) vs South Dakota, UNI-Dome, 2:45pm, 273-4849
2/7 UNI – SB (Doc Halverson Classic) vs Murray State, UNI-Dome, 5pm, 273-4849
2/7 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Missouri State, McLeod Center, 6:30pm, 273-4849
2/7-8 Black Hawks Hockey vs Fargo, Young Arena, 7:05pm, 291-7680
2/8 UNI – SB (Doc Halverson Classic) vs Murray State, UNI-Dome, 12:30pm, 273-4849
2/8 2020 Iowa Games Fat Bike Race, George Wyth State Park, 1pm, 266-5979
2/8 Downtown Delights, Cedar Falls Downtown District, 1pm, 277-0213

Making Child Care Accessible & Affordable for Iowa Families

Iowa faces a child care crisis in both urban and rural areas. While it directly impacts families with small kids, it’s also a drag on Iowa’s economy and a huge barrier in recruiting and building a skilled workforce. House Democrats are proposing four ideas to reduce the cost of child care and make it more accessible here in Iowa.

As Iowa’s average cost of child care continues to rise, legislators plan to expand the Child Care and Dependent Care Tax Credit. It will provide twice as much relief to working families that make less than $45,000 and expand the tax credit to more Iowa families.

According to the Iowa Child Care Resource & Referral, Iowa has lost 40% of its child care providers since 2012. A new Child Care Center and Child Development Home Grant Fund would provide startup or expansion assistance to daycare providers to offset the costs of establishing a new licensed child care center.

In the last five years, the cost of licensed child care facilities has risen 28% and in-home care costs rose by 14%.  The proposal would expand the Child Care Assistance Program to include another 7,300 children by raising eligibility to 200% of the Federal Poverty Level.

Finally, there are 412 cities in Iowa that have no known childcare options. The plan offered by lawmakers this year encourages more small businesses to provide child care benefits to their employees through tax credits.

If you want more information about our proposal visit, https://iowahouse.org/childcare.

Bill to Decrease the Cost of Insulin Passes Committee   

Legislation designed to cap prescription insulin costs at $100 has passed the House Human Resources Committee unanimously this week. Currently, insulin prices for those who are insured vary, but some brands have reached up to $300 or more for one vial (or enough for one month). The cost of insulin has continually increased over the last decade. The list prices of common insulin types have almost tripled from 10 years ago. For one patient that spoke at the subcommittee meeting, they paid $20 out-of-pocket in 1997 per vial, and now they have to pay $294 for the exact same medication.

Though this bill is a good start, more work needs to be done to make sure people can afford this life-sustaining medication.  House File 2138 only caps prescription costs for those people with insurance. That means that many people will still need to decide if they pay for their insulin, or put food on the table for their families.  Not taking insulin or insulin-rationing is a life-or-death situation that can be avoided by keeping the cost low for everyone.

The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.

Read More News from the Statehouse

Mobile Salons and Barber Shops Approved by House Committee
Unemployment Rate Rises, Economy Lags
Public Input Wanted on Hunting Seasons
Reports on K-12 Schools and Community Colleges Available
Utilities Board Approves Alliant Energy Electric Rate Increase
Water Quality Monitoring Grants Available

continuereading2.jpg

January 28, 2020

Greetings to you all,

Another week has flown by here in the Iowa House of Representatives. We are all settling into the swing of things which means there is a large volume of new legislation being proposed every day.
On Wednesday, it was Veterans Day on the Hill which brought veterans from across the state of Iowa together to honor their service to our country. It was great to see them here at the capitol.

1-22-2020_kressig_veteransceremony.jpg
A look at the ceremony for Veterans Day on the Hill

I also got the chance to meet with activists with the Iowa Pet Alliance. They were here to lobby for House File 737 which passed with overwhelming support in the House, but has stalled in the Senate.

1-22-2020_kressig_petalliance.jpg
The members who visited on behalf of Iowa Pet Alliance about HF737

This week I also visited with Tavis Hall the Executive Director of Experience Waterloo. It was great to chat with him about everything we can do to increase tourism opportunities in Waterloo and continue to make it an amazing place to live.

1-22-20_brown-powers_kressig_tavis3.jpg
Representative Brown-Powers and I meeting with Tavis Hall, Executive Director of Experience Waterloo

There has been an increase in teen suicides across the nation that has prompted me to propose legislation to include the Suicide Prevention Hotline and the Crisis Text Line on either side of school issued ID cards for students in grades 6 – 12. The bill also adds mental health training for school educators. House File 2049 has been an ongoing project for me that I have collaborated with the Iowa School Mental Health Alliance on.

One of my top priorities for this legislative session is to ensure all Iowans have access to quality, affordable healthcare. Part of this mission is to protect the 1.3 million Iowans with pre-existing conditions. A lawsuit in Texas is currently threatening the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and if successful could lead to the ACA being overturned. This could mean that Iowans with pre-existing conditions could be denied services or have their rates severely increased. This is why I am working with my colleagues to put new protections into Iowa law that will make sure Iowans can’t be denied healthcare because of a pre-existing condition.

As your Representative, I hope to reflect your interests and concerns in my work at the Capitol, so please reach out at any time. The Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can listen to or watch our debates live.

Please check out other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts, forums, and Black Hawk County Representatives’ weekly video update, you can also reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!
Bob

Upcoming Events:

24 UNI Men’s & Women’s Track – Jack Jennett Invite, UNI-Dome, 10am, 273-4849
24 Proposition; Pressure; Proof The Prints Of William Kentridge and Phillip Chen Opening Reception, Hearst Center, 5pm, 273-8641
24 Black Hawks Hockey vs Muskegon, Young Arena, 7:05pm, 291-7680
24-26 Wait Until Dark, Hope Martin Theatre, Fri & Sat 7pm; Sun 2pm, 291-4494
25 UNI Swimming/Diving vs UNO, UNI Wellness and Recreation Center, 2pm, 273-4849
25 UNI Wrestling vs Oklahoma State, McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
25 Black Hawks Hockey vs USNTDP, Young Arena, 7:05pm, 291-7680
25-26 CVSC 3v3 Polar Ball Classic, Cedar Valley Sportsplex, Waterloo, 504-2825
26 Mozart, Verdi and Friends, *GBPAC, 2pm, 273-7469
26 UNI Men’s Basketball vs Loyola, McLeod Center, 3pm, 273-4849
29 UNI Men’s Basketball vs Missouri State, McLeod Center, 6pm, 273- 4849
29 The Office! A Musical Parody, *GBPAC, 7pm, 273-7469
1/30-2/2 Wait Until Dark, Hope Martin Theatre, Thu-Sat 7pm; Sun 2pm, 291-4494

1-22-20_brown-powers_kressig_tavis3.jpg
Representatives Timi Brown-Powers and Bob Kressig visited with Tavis Hall, Executive Director of Experience Waterloo, on Jan 22. 2020.

Providing Iowans with Accessible and Affordable Healthcare

Iowa’s health care system continues to be in crisis as the number of Iowans without health insurance increases, Medicaid privatization problems continue, and the cost of insurance premiums and prescription drugs continue to rise.

Over 100 health care facilities and providers have been closed over the last decade, many in rural areas.  While the state has recently reformed our mental health system, too many Iowans who need mental health services still can’t get them.

After listening to Iowans last summer and fall, House Democrats will be working this session to ensure access to quality, affordable health care for Iowans, especially those with pre-existing conditions.  Other bills they will be working on this year include expanding mental health services for kids and adults; lowering the cost of prescription drugs; and encouraging more Iowans to become first responders in rural communities so families can get help in an emergency.

Veterans Day at the Statehouse

Veterans and their families traveled to Des Moines for Veterans Day on the Hill on Wednesday.  Throughout the day, veterans met with legislators to discuss the priorities of the Veterans Commission.

For the 2020 Legislative session, the Veterans Commission will work to protect programs and agencies such as the Iowa Veterans Home, the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund, and the Military Home Ownership Program.

The Veterans Commission is a group of representatives from various veterans’ organizations across Iowa who work collectively to develop and advance policy ideas to assist veterans and their families.

Read More News from the Statehouse

Free Opioid Overdose Reversal Drug Program
Condition of the Iowa National Guard
Governor’s Proposed Ag and Natural Resources Budget Discussed
Chickadee Tax Check-Off for Fish & Wildlife Fund
School Public Safety Bureau Proposed
Program Helps Elementary Schools with Computer Science

continuereading2.jpg

January 17, 2020

Greetings to you all,

The 2020 session opened this week and it was great to see all of my colleagues from across Iowa. We heard the priorities for session from all of the legislative leaders on Monday and continued the week with three joint sessions to hear from the Governor, Acting Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court, and the General of the Iowa National Guard.

This session I’m focused on improving the lives of everyday Iowans. I’ve spent the last year listening to Iowans and learning what is important to them. We need to make genuine progress on good-paying jobs and affordable and accessible healthcare. I’m optimistic this year that we will make progress on expanding the use of medical cannabis and prioritizing the mental health of Iowans across the state.

1-16-20_kressig_bobjaelyn.jpg
Jaelyn Lentz is my new clerk for the 2020 legislative session and is a sophomore political communications major at Drake University. I look forward to working with her!

I had the pleasure of meeting with UNI Student Government President, Jacob Levang, Vice President Jacob Stites, and Government Relations Isaak Epersen as well as Board of Regents member Nancy Dunkel, and UNI President Mark Nook to discuss funding for UNI.

1-16-20_kressig_uniboardofregents.jpg
From left to right: Jacob Stites, Jacob Levang, Isaak Epersen, Nancy Dunkel, Rep. Bob Kressig, Sen. Eric Giddens, and President Mark Nook

Operation Threshold from Waterloo came and spoke with me and the other representatives from Black Hawk county about Family Development and Self Sufficiency an evidence-based program focused on creating positive long-term change for families receiving Family Investment Program (FIP) Benefits.

1-15-2020_kressig_operationthreshold_2.jpg
From left to right: Rep. Bob Kressig, Rep. Dave Williams, Michelle Kestron, Dianna Duitsman, Katherine Sager, Rep. Timi Brown-Powers, and Rep. Ras Smith)

As your Representative, I hope to reflect your interests and concerns in my work at the Capitol, so please reach out at any time. The Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can listen to or watch our debates live.

Please check out other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts, forums, and Black Hawk County Representatives’ weekly video update, you can also reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Bob

January Events:

17 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Evansville, McLeod Center, 6:30pm, 273-4849
17-19 Iowa Boat, RV & Vacation Show, UNI-Dome, Fri 3pm; Sat 10am; Sun 11am, 240-3571
19 Wedding Extravaganza, Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, 12pm, 404-0009
19 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Indiana State, McLeod Center, 2pm, 273-4849
20 Pack the Dome: Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service, UNI-Dome, 10:30am, 272-2087
20 Final Thursday Reading Series – North American Review issue launch, Hearst Center, 7pm, 273- 8641
24 UNI Men’s & Women’s Track – Jack Jennett Invite, UNI-Dome, 10am, 273-4849
24 Proposition; Pressure; Proof The Prints Of William Kentridge and Phillip Chen Opening Reception, Hearst Center, 5pm, 273-8641
24 Black Hawks Hockey vs Muskegon, Young Arena, 7:05pm, 291-7680
24-26 Wait Until Dark, Hope Martin Theatre, Fri & Sat 7pm; Sun 2pm, 291-4494

2020 Legislative Session Starts with Focus on Iowans

This week the 2020 Legislative Session began and lawmakers pledged to work together to keep focused on everyday Iowans, including creating good jobs, investing in public schools, and making health care both affordable and accessible.

Lawmakers intend to focus the 2020 Legislative Session on four key initiatives including;

•    bringing better jobs to the community through increased job training and decreasing the cost of childcare;

•    affordable healthcare by lowering the cost of prescription drugs and providing increased mental health access;

•    making Iowa schools #1 in the nation again through affordable higher education and increasing investments in K-12 education and early education;

•    and revitalizing small towns and rural areas by investing in small businesses and increasing access to affordable housing for families.

The 2020 Iowa State Legislature runs 100 days and is scheduled to adjourn on April 21, 2020.

2020 Legislative Survey

In an effort to learn about what’s important to Iowans, lawmakers are requesting Iowans participate in a brief survey. To complete the survey and share your views click here.

Governor Outlines Budget Priorities

As the legislative session begins, Governor Kim Reynolds outlined her budget priorities in the annual Condition of the State address to the Legislature. While the Governor laid out the main themes of her budget, the budget recommendations made will now be considered by the Legislature.

Along with budget recommendations, the Governor urged lawmakers to pass a constitutional amendment to allow felons the right to vote, but once again has refused to sign an executive order that could grant them their voting rights immediately.  Legislation to enact voter felon rights passed last session in the House but failed to make it through the Senate.

The Governor also introduced both a sales tax increase and an income tax plan, but left out many details leaving lawmakers with more questions than answers. Other ideas outlined by the Governor include a constitutional ban on abortion, growing Iowa’s skilled workforce, expanding high speed internet access, and making child care more affordable.

While there are a lot of areas that demand and can get bi-partisan agreement, House Democrats will be making sure the 2020 Legislative Session is focused on issues that are important to every day Iowans, including creating good-paying jobs, investing in education, affordable health care, and revitalizing our rural communities.

Read More News from the Statehouse

More Privatized Medicaid Problems; MCO Payment Withheld for Not Paying Providers
Legislators Look to Reform Manufactured Housing Laws
Governor Provides Minimal Funding Amounts for Education
Acting Chief Justice Wiggins Highlights Strengths of Iowa’s Court System
Felon Voting Database Controversy
Ice Fishing Safety Tips

continuereading2.jpg

January 8, 2020

Greetings to you all,
The 2020 Iowa Legislative Session starts on Monday, January 13th and I’m honored to serve you in the Iowa House.

My top priority is to listen to you and bring your ideas with me to the State House. I’d like to hear about what’s important to you. If you could take a few minutes and complete this brief survey below.

takethesurvey_2.jpg
Upcoming Community Events

9 More Music In Mae Latta – Songwriters Concert Hearst Center for the Arts, 7pm, 273-8641
10 Lunchtime Concert – James Aissen Hearst Center for the Arts, noon, 273-8641
10 UNI Wrestling vs. SDSU UNI West Gym, 7pm, 273-4849
11 Iowa Games Snow Shoe Race Hartman Reserve Nature Center, 9am, 277-2187
12 UNI Wrestling vs. Missouri UNI West Gym, 2pm, 273-4849
14 Volunteers on Tap SingleSpeed Brewing Co., Waterloo, 4pm, 272- 2087
14 Black Hawks Hockey vs. Tri-City Young Arena, 7:05pm, 291-7680
15 UNI Men’s Basketball vs. Valparaiso McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
16 Red Herring Readers Theatre Presents Daisy Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
17 UNI Women’s Basketball vs. Evansville McLeod Center, 6:30pm, 273-4849
17-19 Iowa Boat, RV & Vacation Show UNI-Dome, Fri 3pm; Sat 10am; Sun 11am, 240-3571
19 Wedding Extravaganza Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, 12pm, 404-0009
19 UNI Women’s Basketball vs. Indiana State McLeod Center, 2pm, 273-4849
20 Pack the Dome: Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service UNI-Dome, 10:30am, 272-2087

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live when we are in session. I currently serve on four committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety  and Ranking Member of the Transportation Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

I look forward to hearing from you and Happy New Year! Please Keep in touch!

State Representative Bob Kressig

December 12, 2019

Greeting to you all,

There are several new troubling signs that Iowa’s health care crisis is getting worse, not better.  First, two mental health centers are closing this month in eastern Iowa.  Hillcrest Family Services announced the closings after years of low Medicaid reimbursements and delayed payments from one of the out of state, for-profit companies (MCO) managing the state’s Medicaid program.

Second, the US Dept. of Justice launched an investigation into the Glenwood and Woodward Resource Centers, which serves Iowans with significant disabilities. The move comes after years of warnings from families and health care experts that budget and staffing cuts pushed by the majority party are impacting care of our most vulnerable citizens.  In a separate review, Iowa’s State Auditor found that one-third of staff at Glenwood had not completed the required training.

Citing the high cost of health care, data from Gallup found 25% of Americans have put off treatment for a serious medical condition which is the highest in thirty years. When session begins in January, we’re going to have to work together to make health care affordable and accessible for every Iowan.  That means expanding access to mental health care for kids and adults, holding MCO’s accountable to make sure Iowans get the care they need, and finding ways to lower health care and prescription drug costs for everyone.

According to an investigation by the Associated Press, the list of felons used by state auditors to determine who is eligible to vote is riddled with errors and likely disenfranchising many Iowans.  Iowa has one of the most punitive laws in the nation that makes restoring voting rights extremely difficult. Prior to session a committee was formed to study how we can make criminal justice reforms that work. Some of the early discussions are focused on restoration of voting rights and creating successful reentry programs. Hopefully we can make some progress this session.

After several deaths and cases of lung damage, lawmakers will likely consider a bill to crack down on vaping. Some health officials believe the highest risk comes from THC in vape cartridges.

The US Census Bureau will begin hiring Iowans in January to conduct the census in 2020. Applications are available at: 2020census.gov/jobs.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

12 Hoopla Cheer & Ugly Sweater Contest Cedar Falls Downtown District, 6pm, 277-0213
12 10-Minute Plays Strayer-Wood Theatre, UNI Campus, 7:30pm, 273-6381
13 Lunchtime Concert – UNI Bass Studio Hearst Center, noon, 273-8641
13 Ladies Night Out Cedar Falls Community Center, 6pm, 277-1868
13-15 Christmas Double Feature Hope Martin Theatre, Waterloo, Fri 7pm; Sat & Sun 2pm, 291-4494
13-15 Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn Oster Regent Theatre, Fri & Sat 7:30pm; Sun 2pm, 277-5283
14 Frosty 5K Fun Run Walk First United Methodist Church, 8am, 290-5279
14 UNI Wrestling Open Meet UNI West Gym, 9am, 273-4849
14 Jim McDonough’s Holiday Grande *GBPAC, 2:30pm, 273-7469
15 Holiday Concert with Bel Cantro of the Cedar Valley Hearst Center, noon, 273-8641
15 UNI Women’s Basketball vs. IUPUI McLeod Center, 2pm, 273- 4849
15 Bandstand *GBPAC, 7pm, 273-7469 16 UNI New Horizons Band Concert *GBPAC, 7:30pm, 273-2024
19 Baby It’s Cold Outside Cedar Falls Downtown District, 6pm, 277-0213

Iowa Seniors Impacted by Controversial Privatization Plan

After months of controversy, a plan to privatize the state office that protects seniors from abuse has been put on hold.

Last month, the Office of the State Long Term Care Ombudsman (SLTCO) put out a Request for Proposal (RFP) to privatize some of their work. However, no RFP’s were received by the deadline because many companies saw the devastating results when the state’s Medicaid program was privatized. The SLTCO investigates complaints at nursing facilities, residential facilities, assisted living programs, and group homes for seniors across the state.  This move would impact six state employees, who are the local long-term care ombudsman.

One potential reason for this change is that Majority Party lawmakers cut appropriations to the SLTCO over the last few years. In 2016, the Office was appropriated $1.6 million, and this fell to $1.26 million in FY 19.  During that same time, the number of employees went from 14.4 full-time positions to 9.6.

Due to these budget cuts, the SLTCO had to cut out travel to facilities and instead told the ombudsman to investigate complaints over the phone or through Skype, rather than investigating the facility in-person. According to the Institute of Medicine, the national recommendation on the number of ombudsman positions a state should have is one per 2,000 beds. For Iowa, that would mean about 26. Currently, there are only six regional LTCOs throughout that state.

With the disastrous results that privatization had on our Medicaid program, the move to privatize this office is very concerning. It is essential that an independent agency with proper resources and staffing are able to do their job to keep Iowans safe in long-term care facilities.

Iowa Chief Justice Cady Passes; Court Begins Selection Process

Last month, Chief Justice Mark Cady of the Iowa Supreme Court unexpectedly passed away.  Chief Justice Cady was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1998 and was selected as the Chief Justice in 2011.

Following this unfortunate news, the State Judicial Nominating Commission, which is responsible for helping to select Iowa Supreme Court Justices, announced it was starting the process of selecting a new justice for the court.  Applications for the vacancy on the court were opened last month.  The commission received notice of the vacancy from the Governor on November 20th and has 60 days from that date to send a slate of nominees to the Governor.  The Governor then makes an appointment to the Supreme Court from that slate of nominees.

The Supreme Court announced that it was taking the initial steps to create the Chief Justice Mark Cady Learning Center at the Judicial Branch Building.  According to the Judicial Branch, one of the goals of Chief Justice Cady was to create an interactive learning center for all Iowans to experience.  The announced learning center will have interactive exhibits on the process of Iowa’s court system, highlight important civil rights moments involving the court, and discuss the importance of fair and impartial courts.

Read More News from the Statehouse

Iowa to Start Hiring Census Workers
Department of Education Proposes a Sports “Dead Week”
Court Blocks Second Attempt at Ag-Gag Bill
Dyslexia Taskforce Releases Recommendations
First Day Hikes at Iowa State Parks

continuereading2.jpg

November 21, 2019

Greeting to you all,

Iowa Supreme Court Justice Mark Cady unexpectedly passed away last week.  He was an awesome person who worked to improve our justice system and he will be missed. The governor will have to start the process of selecting his replacement. A new justice will be appointed by the Governor early next year.

Trade wars and the Trump Administration’s recent push to lower demand for biofuels are leading to more closures of biofuel plants, job losses, and farmers struggling to pay bills.  A new report released by Iowa State University this week found 44% of Iowa farmers and producers are struggling to pay their bills last year. It also noted there were 24 farm bankruptcies in Iowa, which is a 140% increase over the previous year. Nationally, there were 580 farm bankruptcy filings in the month of September, a 24% increase from last year.

This week, another ethanol plant suspended production. The company said the closure was the direct result of a huge increase in waivers from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that undermine the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) and reduce demand for crops.  The latest closing comes on top of four other biofuels plants that shut down earlier this year and decreased demand for corn by 1.4 billion bushels.

Iowans are encouraged to lend their support to Iowa farmers and stop the Trump Administration from undermining the RFS by contacting the EPA at  https://ncga.com/public-policy/stand-up-for-corn/take-action?vvsrc=%2fCampaigns%2f69153%2fRespond. Comments are due November 29th.

Despite growing concern about significant health effects, more Iowa teenagers are using e-cigarettes than ever before. According to the Iowa Dept. of Public Health, 22% of Iowa 11th graders are using e-cigarettes.  I have been contacted by several people asking to pass a law that prevents teenagers having access to e-cigarettes. Please share your thoughts with me on the e-cigarettes and any other issues in the upcoming 2020 legislative session.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on four committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety  and Ranking Member of the Transportation Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

19 UNI Men’s Basketball vs. UT Martin McLeod Center, 7pm, 273- 4849
19-24 Festival of Trees *GBPAC, 268- 3161
20 UNI Men’s Basketball vs. Cornell College McLeod Center, 7pm, 273- 4849
20-22 Cabaret Strayer-Wood Theatre, UNI Campus, 7:30pm, 273-6381
21 Final Thursday Reading Series – Grant Tracey Hearst Center, Cedar Falls, 7pm, 273-8641
21-22 IHSAA Football Finals UNIDome, 515-432-2011
22 UNI Volleyball vs. Loyola McLeod Center, 6pm, 273-4849
22 Black Hawks Hockey vs. Dubuque Young Arena, 7:05pm, 291-7680
22-23 Iowa Winter Nationals Tractor Pull Hippodrome, Fri 4pm; Sat 8am, 641-660-3785
22-24 Minnesota Ballet Presents The Nutcracker *GBPAC, Fri 7pm; Sat & Sun 3pm, 273-7469
23 UNI Football vs. Western Illinois UNI-Dome, 1pm, 273-4849
23 UNI Volleyball vs. Valparaiso McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
23 Black Hawks Hockey vs. Cedar Rapids Young Arena, 7:05pm, 291- 7680
24 UNI Wrestling vs. Nebraska UNI West Gym, 1pm, 273-4849
24 UNI Women’s Basketball vs. NW Missouri State McLeod Center, 3pm, 273-4849
28 Black Hawks Hockey vs. Cedar Rapids Young Arena, 7:05pm, 291- 7680

News from the Statehouse

Lawmakers Push to Expand Medical Cannabis

Improved health care for tens of thousands of Iowans depends on passing major reforms of Iowa’s medical cannabis program during the 2020 legislative session.

For the last six years, legislators have debated various efforts to establish a working medical cannabis program. Last session, the House and Senate overwhelmingly passed HF 732, which would have eliminated the current 3% THC cap and replaced it with a 25 gram over 90-day period maximum disbursement.

However, the Governor vetoed the bill at the last minute saying the change was not recommended by the Iowa Medical Cannabidioal board and could lead to unintended consequences. All eight members of the board who approve the recommendations are appointed by the Governor.

Board Recommends Minimal Changes to Medical Cannabis Program

Last week, the Iowa Medical Cannabidioal Board submitted a proposal requesting state legislators remove the state’s current THC cap in favor of a purchase limit during the 2020 legislative session.

Current law prohibits medical cannabis products from containing more than 3% THC. The board’s proposal would remove this cap and replace it with a purchase limit of 4.5 grams of THC over a 90-day period.  The purchase limit would not apply to the terminally ill, and the limit could be increased by a certifying health care provider without the board’s approval.

The board also passed a proposal recommending PTSD and intellectual disability with aggression or self-injury to the list of eligible medical conditions for the state’s medical cannabis program. A petition to add PTSD to the list of eligible conditions was brought before the board in a previous meeting earlier this year, but was rejected. The Iowa Board of Medicine must now consider whether to approve these conditions in an upcoming meeting.

As of the beginning of 2019, there were 505 health care professionals in Iowa who have patients certified for medical cannabidiol.

In a poll released earlier this year, nearly 80% of Iowans support expanding access to the state’s Medical Cannabidiol program, according to the Des Moines Register.

REAP Assemblies Held Across Iowa

Local Iowans will be given the opportunity to shape how Iowa’s soil, water, and parks are managed through local REAP Assemblies.  Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP), is funded by the state’s Environment First Fund, receiving $12 million this year to help enhance and protect Iowa’s natural and cultural resources.

At the REAP Assemblies, Iowans can discuss the impact of the program on their local communities, as well as tell us what they want for their parks, trails, museums, and other amenities.  Each assembly represents a region of counties and is scheduled for 90 minutes.

Since the creation of the program in 1989, more than 15,000 projects have been funded across the state by the program.  These projects have been in every county and include water quality projects, preserving historical assets, and improving outdoor recreation.

Additional information on the program and the assemblies can be found at https://www.iowadnr.gov/Conservation/REAP.

Meetings are held from 6:30 pm – 8 pm at the following locations:
November 20th: Star’s Cave Natural Center, Burlington
November 20th: Briggs Woods Main Office, Webster City
November 20th: Pin Oak Lodge, Chariton
November 21st: Environmental Learning Center, Oskaloosa
November 21st: Kent Park Education Center, Oxford
December 2nd: Correctionville Community Center, Correctionville
December 2nd: Grimes Farm, Marshalltown
December 3rd: Clay County Regional Events Center, Spencer
December 3rd: Breezy Lodge at Arrowhead Park, Neola
December 4th: Hartman Reserve Nature Center, Cedar Falls
December 4th: Environmental Learning Center, Muscatine
December 5th: Ventura Community Center, Ventura
December 5th: Shenandoah Public Library, Shenandoah
December 5th: Raccoon River Park, West Des Moines

Read More News from the Statehouse

Iowans Continue to Spend Big on Sports Betting
Damage Continues to Mount for Farm Economy
Iowa Enters Second Year of Suicide Prevention Grant
Trump Administration Sides with Big Oil Over Iowa Farmers, Producers
Measles Outbreak Shows Need for Immunizations
DNR Seeks Input on Water Quality Standards

November 8, 2019

Greeting to you all,

A special tax credit review committee, comprised of state lawmakers, met last week.  However, the majority party refused to review any of the state’s corporate tax credits, to make sure that Iowa taxpayers are getting a return on their investment.  Over the last several years, the total dollar amount of state tax credits and tax breaks to corporations has more than doubled, growing from $153 million in 2005, to $373 million, in 2019.

As taxpayers continue to give millions more to big companies, investments in critical state services like health care and education, have flat-lined or declined. It’s created an on-going state budget mess that has resulted in Iowa families paying higher property taxes, public schools being shortchanged, fewer services for victims of domestic violence, and students are paying higher tuition. Instead of fixing the budget imbalance created by these corporate tax credits, the majority party has pushed through another massive tax bill, that includes tens of millions in corporate tax cuts and hundreds of millions in new tax breaks.  That bill has caused even more problems for the state budget, with more cuts and inadequate investments in schools and healthcare.

I believe it is time to get back to the basics and re-focus the legislature on doing what’s best for working families, not just corporations and the special interests. The Legislature needs to do a serious review of Iowa’s corporate tax credits and make sure Iowans know how their taxpayer dollars are being spent.

Iowans with PTSD and intellectual disability may soon be able to legally access medical cannabis, after it was approved by the Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Board. Iowa’s industrial hemp program is moving forward and  could see hemp production as early as next year, after the USDA released rules last week.

As the weather begins to get colder, Iowans concerned about the cost of their heating bills can sign up to receive assistance, through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), beginning November 1. To learn if you qualify go to https://humanrights.iowa.gov/dcaa/liheap.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on four committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety  and Ranking Member of the Transportation Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

7 Kat Perkins: Holiday Acoustic Trio Hawkeye Community College – Tama Hall, 1:30pm, 296-2320
7 James Hearst In Prose Public Discussion/Opening Reception Hearst Center, Cedar Falls, 3pm, 273- 8641
7 Jazz, Folk & the Blues: History of Music – The Fabulous Irregulars are Roger Bernard, Dave Morse & Kevin Paar Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
7 Kat Perkins: Home for the Holidays Hawkeye Community College – Tama Hall, 7pm, 296-2320
7 PMB Live! Panther Marching Band Concert *GPAC, 7:30pm, 273-2024
7-9 Holiday Shop Hop Cedar Falls Downtown District, 10am, 277-0213
8 Lunchtime Concert – UNI TetraCor Hearst Center, noon, 273-8641
8 Under the Harvest Moon Rotary Reserve, 6pm, 277-2187
9 UNI Football vs. Indiana State UNIDome, 4pm, 273-4849
13 UNI Men’s Basketball vs. Cal State McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
14 IHSAA Football Semifinals UNIDome, 515-432-2011
15 UNI Children’s Choir Concert *GPAC, 7pm, 273-2024
15-16 Black Hawks Hockey vs Omaha Young Arena, 7:05pm, 291-7680

News from the Statehouse

Veterans Day – Honoring Iowa Veterans

Veterans Day is Monday, November, 11 and there are several ceremonies being held across the state to honor those who have served our country.  First recognized in 1919, the date commemorates the end of fighting in World War I when an armistice took effect between the Allied nations and Germany at 11 am on November 11, 1918.

As part of the numerous events honoring veterans across Iowa, there will be an Iowa Veterans Day Observance at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery in Adel beginning at 8:00 am.  There will also be a ceremony at Iowa State University in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union to honor students who have served our country.

Last session, the Legislature passed various bills to help Iowa’s veterans, including expanding the number of families who are eligible to receive funds from the Injured Veterans Grants Program. This program provides funds to family members who have a loved one who was injured and allows them travel to be with their soldier.  The Legislature also voted to eliminate barriers that military spouses may face when trying to obtain an occupational license or have issues getting their work license expedited.

A full list of Veterans Day events statewide is available at: https://va.iowa.gov/.

Applications for Winter Home Heating Assistance Begin Nov. 1st

Beginning November 1st, Iowans may start filing applications for limited financial heating assistance through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

LIHEAP’s annual application period runs from November 1st through April 30th, and is based on household size and income. The LIHEAP program is designed to help low-income families meet the partial cost of home heating through a one-time payment made directly to the utility or heating fuel vendor.

Iowa law also protects qualified applicants who are head of a household under LIHEAP from being disconnected from natural gas or electric service during the annual winter moratorium (November 1st through April 30th).  Iowans should know, even if they do not ultimately qualify for LIHEAP, utility companies cannot disconnect natural gas or heating while a LIHEAP application is pending.

The Iowa Utilities Board urges all LIHEAP-certified customers and applicants to continue paying towards their energy bills through the winter to avoid accumulating high debt or face potential utility service disconnection in the spring. For additional information on eligibility requirements, please see: https://iub.iowa.gov/consumers/low-income-home-energy-assistance-program-liheap

Iowans interested in applying for LIHEAP should contact their local county office regarding application for services. The link to every local office’s contact information can be found here: https://humanrights.iowa.gov/dcaa/where-apply.

Read More News from the Statehouse

Iowans Overwhelmingly Vote to Keep Union Representation
Community Development Block Grants Available
Iowa Tied for #1 in ACT Scores
Industrial Hemp Program Moves Forward
Fall Leaves Can Improve Soil Health

October 11, 2019

Greeting to you all,

In today’s economy, broadband is a necessity for every community in Iowa. Broadband, which is high-speed internet above 25 megabits per second (mbps), allows local businesses to operate and sell products around the world; doctors to see patients in rural areas through video services without interruptions; and students to take advantage of research and learn about new technologies.

Broadband is also an essential component of revitalizing rural Iowa.  For entrepreneurs who want to start a new business, it is imperative that they have access to broadband services.  Current businesses need broadband to expand and create new jobs.  As more people work from home using computers, broadband can also be used to lure people to rural areas while keeping their job.

In schools, broadband services will help students be better prepared for college, trade school, and entering the workforce. In health care, increasing rural Iowa’s access to broadband allows hospitals and clinics to integrate telehealth services. Expanding broadband will also strengthen Iowa’s cybersecurity and protect the state’s digital infrastructure system from cyber-attacks, which has become one of the state’s top priorities.

Today, Iowa ranks 33rd as the most connected state.  While there are more than 420 broadband providers in Iowa, there are still too many communities that unserved or underserved. Currently, there are 343,000 Iowans without access to high speed-internet; 474,000 Iowans who have access to only one wired provider; and 109,000 Iowans without any wired internet providers available in their area.

However, Iowa lawmakers have been working together to expand broadband to more homes, schools, and businesses. In 2018, the state’s efforts to expand broadband resulted in 54 projects across 78 counties that reached 21,952 houses, 41 schools, and 4,659 businesses.  After awarding $1.3 million in grants earlier this year, the state is in the process of awarding another $5 million in grants to connect more Iowans.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on four committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety  and Ranking Member of the Transportation Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

10 Amadeus Oster Regent Theatre, 7:30pm, 277-5283
10-13 Wartburg College Homecoming & Family Weekend Wartburg College Campus, Waverly, 800-772-2085
11 Lunchtime Concert Hearst Center, noon, 273-8641
11 Spotlight Series Concert: UNI Jazz Band One and Jazz Band Two UNI Campus, Russell Hall, 7:30pm, 273- 2024
12 Happy Haunts 5K & Kids Fun Run Cedar Falls Downtown District, 10am, 277-0213 12 wcfsymphony concert: Wonderful Winds Brown Derby, Waterloo, 4 & 7pm, 273-3373, wcfsymphony.org
12 Hawkeye RedTail Women’s & Men’s Soccer vs. NIACC Cedar Valley Sports Complex, 5pm & 7pm, 296-4430
12 2019 Breast Cancer Gala Five Sullivan Brothers, 6pm, 233-7560
12 Legacy Five Riverview Conference Center, 6pm, 268-0787
12 Black Hawks Hockey vs Tri-City Young Arena, 7:05pm, 291-7680
12-13 Amadeus Oster Regent Theatre, Sat 7:30pm; Sun 2pm, 277-5283
16 Hawkeye RedTail Volleyball vs. DMACC Hawkeye Community College, 7pm, 296-4430
17 Jazz, Folk & the Blues: History of Music – The Blues with Adrian Miller Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
17-19 Panic Park Rotary Reserve, 7pm, 433- 7275
18 Faith’s Journey Riverview Conference Center, 7pm, 268-0787
18 Tonic Sol-fa Majestic Moon, 7pm, 234-2656

News from the Statehouse

Parts of Voter ID Law Struck Down by Iowa Courts

Parts of legislation that put substantial hurdles in front of voters trying to cast their vote have been deemed unconstitutional. A District Court judge ruled earlier this week that due to lack of training and potential for error, election officials are not allowed to throw ballots out due to a perceived difference in signature.

The judge also ruled that because there is now an identification requirement for those who wish to vote in person, everyone must be eligible for a voter identification card. Initially voter ID cards were only sent out to those who were not in the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) database.  The court also ruled that additional requirements on an absentee ballot request are no longer required to be put on by the voter.

While those looking to make it harder for people to vote and voting rights advocates can both point to victories in the ruling, the ruling confirms what House Democrats sought from the beginning which was to guarantee that everyone could get a voter identification card if requiring a voter’s ID became law.

At the moment, it is unclear if the state who defended the law or the League of United Latin American Citizens and an Iowa State student who brought the suit will appeal the decision of the court.

2020 ACA Health Insurance Open Enrollment Begins Next Month

Open enrollment begins November 1, 2019 and ends December 15, 2019 for Iowans purchasing or chancing their Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual health insurance coverage for 2020.

Iowans can preview sample premium amounts for individual ACA-compliant health insurance plans at https://data.iowa.gov/d/xd92-u8rq.  These sample premiums are NOT a substitute for healthcare.gov information, but will become official once they are posted to the official website. The sample premiums are based on geographical rating areas and do not account for the premium assistance tax credits available for many households.

Iowans who wish to purchase ACA-compliant coverage need to complete enrollment between November 1 and December 15, 2019 to have coverage effective by January 1, 2020. During open enrollment, Iowans may call 1-800-318-2596 or visit healthcare.gov for information regarding enrollment and to calculate applicable tax credits.

Local insurance agents, assisters, and Iowa’s navigator are available to help Iowans review which insurance plan may best fit their needs.  Iowans can find local help by visiting https://localhelp.HealthCare.gov/.

Medica, Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, and Wellmark Value Health Plan will be offering ACA-compliant individual health insurance plans to Iowans for plan year 2020.  Iowans in every county will have a choice of at least two carriers. Iowans who currently have coverage through the exchange and do not choose a plan for 2020 by the end of open enrollment will be re-enrolled into the same or similar plan.

Those considering changing insurance carriers should double-check to ensure preferred healthcare provider(s) are in-network and prescription drugs will continue to be covered.

Read More News from the Statehouse

FAFSA, Student Financial Aid Applications Can Now Be Filed
Trump Trade War Continues to Effect Farmers, Ag Industry
Weight Limit Exceptions for Harvest Season
Governor Blocks Attorney General’s Work
Time to Get Your Flu Shot
Importance of School Breakfast to Students

September 26, 2019

Greeting to you all,

I attended the Legislative Fiscal Committee meeting last week that took place at the Van Miller Adult Learning Center in Waterloo. One of the major issues discussed was for families that are trying to gain access to childcare in Iowa. Access to childcare and the significant costs families are facing and how that is preventing them from joining the workforce. There are 529,076 children ages 0-12 in the state of Iowa but only 167,399 child care spaces available, leaving a shortfall of 361,677 spaces.

Three-quarters of Iowa families with children under the age of six have all available parents working outside of the home, yet almost a quarter of Iowans live in an area undersupplied with licensed or registered child care options. The results paint a clear picture of how workforce development is hindered by a lack of child care of these families, 65% of parents are late to work or leave early because of child care issues. Employees also miss an average of nearly two weeks of work per year due to the same problems.

To address the childcare problems communities need to create partnerships that explore innovative ways to exchange ideas among business and community leaders, employees and organizations to promote child care investments that support children’s healthy development and a competitive business environment—both for the short and long term. The state can also play a role in supporting quality childcare for families in Iowa.

Tuesday, September 24 is National Voter Registration Day and Americans of all political persuasions are working together to encourage more participation in our democracy. While Iowa has a relatively high number of registered voters compared to the rest of the country, there are still approximately 260,000 Iowans who are eligible to vote that are not.  Nationally, there are 51 million Americans who are eligible but not registered to vote. (2012 Pew Study)

Iowans can register to vote through the Iowa Dept. of Transportation when applying for or renewing a driver’s license.  To register to vote online, Iowans can go to www.sos.iowa.gov.  Iowans can also register to vote in person at their local county auditor’s office. For more information on voter registration requirements, log on to www.sos.iowa.gov or call 888-767-8683.

Experts from Iowa released the Iowa Climate Statement 2019 this month and warned that time is running out to prevent extreme heat in Iowa.  The scientists are estimating that the number of days above 90 degrees will increase from 23 to 67 by the year 2050. After record flooding last spring, the Iowa Flood Mitigation Board approved $15 million to buyout homes, repair damage, and rebuild levees.

I recently attended the University of Northern Iowa’s Annual Town Hall for Community Engagement. Great conversations on how we can improve community engagement in the Cedar Valley. Thank you for all the work you do.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch and enjoy the weather!

Upcoming Community Events

24 Intrusion Hawkeye Community College – Tama Hall, 12pm, 296-2320
27 Coming Attractions! – the 38th Annual Scholarship Benefit Concert *GBPAC, 7:30pm, 273-2024
27-28 Waverly’s Oktoberfest Kohlmann Park, Waverly, 5pm, 352-4252
27-29 Korczak’s Children McElroy Theatre, Fri 7pm; Sat & Sun; 2pm, 235-0367
28 Bands of America Iowa Regional Championship UNI-Dome, 9:30am, 800- 848-2263
28 Pear Fair Municipal Lot G College Hill, 11am, 266-6077
28 College Hill Oktoberfest Municipal Lot G College Hill, 5:30pm, 273-6228
30 Vision to Vitality Community Forum Hawkeye Community College, 5pm, 515- 246-1700
10/3 Girls’ Night Out – Dig Out Your Pink Cedar Falls Downtown District, 5pm, 277-0213
10/3 Tour De’Loo Downtown Waterloo, 5:30pm, 291-2038
10/4 Spotlight Series Concert: Wind Ensemble & Symphonic Band UNI Campus, Russell Hall, 7:30pm, 273-2024
10/4-5 Korczak’s Children McElroy Theatre, Fri 7pm; Sat 2pm, 235-0367
10/4-6 Amadeus Oster Regent Theatre, Fri & Sat 7:30pm; Sun 2pm, 277-5283
10/5 13th Annual Pink Ribbon Run Cedar Falls Community Center, 8:15am, 292-2225
10/5 UNI Football vs. Youngstown State UNIDome, 4pm, 273-4849
10/8 Sip & Savor in Naked Spaces Cedar Falls Downtown District, 5pm, 277-0213
10/8 Maximilian Hornung *GBPAC, 7pm, 273- 7469
10/10 Amadeus Oster Regent Theatre, 7:30pm, 277-5283
10/11 Lunchtime Concert Hearst Center, noon, 273-8641

News from the Statehouse

Great Iowa Treasure Hunt; Do You Have Unclaimed Money?

Every year, there are millions of dollars turned into the State Treasurer’s office as lost or abandoned property.  This property comes in the form of safe deposit box items, dormant financial accounts, unclaimed utility refunds, uncashed checks, and stock certificates and dividends.

The State Treasurer’s office becomes the holder of these assets until the missing owner can be found.  Owners are located through mailings, publications, and listings that are displayed at the Iowa State Fair.  There is no time limit to file a claim, and there is no fee assessed once the property or money has been returned the owner.

To date, the Great Iowa Treasure Hunt program has returned over $267 million in unclaimed property to more than 592,000 people since Treasurer Fitzgerald created it in 1983.

To see if you have unclaimed property or money visit: https://greatiowatreasurehunt.gov/

Demand Remains High for New Blackout License Plates

With nearly 20,000 plates sold since first becoming available July 1, the demand for Iowa’s new blackout license plates still remains high. The black and white plates, approved during the 2019 Legislative Session, sold quickly with most counties running out or running low in the initial month after their release.

Iowans are able to exchange any plates for non-personalized blackout license plates at local county treasurer’s offices, which saves the two- to three-week order processing time if the plates are ordered online or by mail. The new blackout license plates will not have the same letter/number combination as your current plates.

If you currently have a personalized plate and would like to switch your personalized message from that plate to the new blackout plate design, you will need to complete the mail in form found at https://iowadot.gov/mvd/vehicleregistration/vehicleregistration/plates/blackout

The blackout plates are considered a specialty plate, so they are subject to an additional fee. The new plate will cost $35 for a non-personalized, alpha-numeric plate and an additional $25 (for a total of $60) for a personalized plate.  An additional fee of $10 for non-personalized and $15 for personalized plates will be added to renewal registration fees.

Funds collected for the blackout plate will go to the Road Use Tax Fund, which funds state, county, and city road and bridge projects throughout Iowa.

 

Read More News from the Statehouse

Iowa Moves Forward on School Bus Seat Belts
Grants Available to Expand Broadband Access
Flood Mitigation Board Approves New Assistance
Public Hearings Set on Use of Seclusion Rooms in Schools
Waterfowl Hunting Changes

September 13, 2019

Greeting to you all,

After months of turmoil and Medicaid privatization still failing Iowans, Governor Reynolds appointed yet another Director of the Dept. of Human Services. Pretty sad that the Branstad/Reynolds Medicaid privatization plan has caused so much financial harm to Iowa providers. Providers of Medicaid services in Iowa say they’re owed up to $1.4 million by insurance company that left the Iowa Medicaid program 2 years ago. Hopefully the legislature will address the provider’s problems and make sure they are paid for their services.

Iowa faces a significant skilled worker shortage that threatens the future growth of our economy.  Within the next five years, 68% of jobs in Iowa will require some training or education beyond high school. However, only 58% of Iowans in the workforce today have education or training after high school. If Iowa doesn’t have enough workers with the right skills, businesses will be forced to relocate or expand outside of Iowa. That means lawmakers need to focus on affordable job training and higher education to close that skills gap quickly.

Unfortunately, the majority party has done just the opposite. Over the last decade, they’ve raised tuition time after time and put higher education out of reach for too many Iowans.  And that’s true again this fall as students will be paying more to attend Iowa’s state universities and community colleges.

Since years of low state funding has not kept up with inflation and rising costs, the average tuition at Iowa’s community colleges increased by 3.4% this fall. The highest increase was a whopping 8.2% increase for students at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge. The rise in tuition means students will end with more debt and fewer students will be able to get the skills they need to land a good job. Undergraduate students from Iowa attending the University of Iowa and Iowa State will be paying 3.7% more this year.  While tuition at the University of Northern Iowa will remain flat this year, students will find cuts in course sections, increased class sizes, faculty reductions, and a decrease in student financial aid by $1.2 million.

Wednesday the Veterans Cookout Event recognized our veterans and our first responders for their work and remembering 9/11. Kevin Dill the former Executive Director of the Black Hawk County Veterans Affairs Office received the National AMVETS Riders Guardian Award at the Veterans Cookout tonight Thank you for all you do bringing our community together and protecting our veterans.



As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch and enjoy the weather!

Upcoming Community Events

12 Bill Engvall *GBPAC, 7pm, 273-7469
12 Jazz, Folk & the Blues: History of Music – Folk Music Grows Up Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
12-15 National Cattle Congress Fair National Cattle Congress Grounds, 9am, 234-7515
13 Lunchtime Concert Hearst Center, noon, 273-8641
13-15 The Prisoner of 2nd Avenue Oster Regent Theatre, Fri & Sat 7:30pm; Sun 2pm 277- 5283
14 Iowa vs. Iowa State Football Watch Party Riverfront Stadium, 3pm, 232-0500
14 Afternoon & Evening of Music at Riverview Riverview Conference Center, 4pm, 268-0787
15 Hawkeye RedTail Men’s Soccer vs. UNI Club Team Cedar Valley Sports Complex, 4pm, 296-4430
15 We Will Rock You – The Musical by Queen and Ben Elton *GBPAC, 7pm, 273- 7469
18-19 Not Fade Away: A Tribute to Buddy Holly and the Legends of Rock & Roll Hawkeye Community College – Tama Hall, Wed 1:30pm; Thu 7pm, 296-2320
20-29 Cedar Falls Downtown Restaurant Week Cedar Falls Downtown District, 277-0213
20-29 Restaurant Week Downtown Waterloo, 291-2038
21 Cedar Valley Walk to End Alzheimer’s Peet Junior High School, 9am, 238-7783
21 UNI Football vs. Idaho State UNI-Dome, 4pm, 273-4849
21 wcfsymphony concert: From Havana to the Arabian Nights *GBPAC, 7pm, 273- 3373
21-22 Fall Harvest Festival Cedar Valley Arboretum, 11am, 226-4966
22 Lewis Black *GBPAC, 7pm, 273-7469
24 Intrusion Hawkeye Community College – Tama Hall, 12pm, 296-2320

News from the Statehouse

Retirement Systems in Iowa Remain Strong; IPERS Outperforms Expectations

Protecting and maintaining a strong retirement plan for our teachers, police officers, and nurses is vital for a strong economy in Iowa. Making sure the plan is working and secure is not only important for the members of the plan, but also provides $3.3 billion in economic output in Iowa.

A higher than assumed end of the year return rate was recently announced by the Iowa Public Employees Retirement System (IPERS). The investments had a return rate of 8.35% for the previous fiscal year outperforming the assumed rate of 7%. The rate of return of 8.35% also surpassed last year’s rate of 7.97%.

The return on investments represents 70% of the payments of benefits made by IPERS. The payments are made by the IPERS trust fund, which can only be used for the sole benefit of IPERS members. In 2018, over 86% of retirement benefits made stayed in the state, and $1.8 billion was paid out to Iowans.  Public retirement systems have total economic impact of $3.3 billion in the state of Iowa.

IPERS has approximately 360,000 members with a trust fund balance of over $30 billion. It should be the priority of the legislature to protect and strengthen these plans and to ensure that all Iowans have access to a strong, secure retirement.

State Park Volunteer Day September 28th

Join the annual statewide volunteer day at Iowa’s state parks on September 28th at one of Iowa’s participating state parks. Hosted by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), 40 state parks will have projects ready for volunteers including picking up litter, painting, clearing trails, removing trees, planting trees, and building picnic tables.  People of all ages are encouraged to participate.

Next year, in 2020, the DNR will be celebrating 100 years of Iowa state parks.  This year’s volunteer day is in preparation of the celebratory anniversary.  To find a park near you to volunteer at, visit   www.iowadnr.gov/volunteer.

 

Read More News from the Statehouse

Property Taxes Due September 30th
Trump Trade Conflict Adding to Slow Economic Growth
High School Financial Literacy Requirements
Healthy Iowans Progress Report Sees Mixed Results
State Run, Iowa Online Learning will End in Spring 2020

August 29, 2019

Greeting to you all,

Monday, September 2nd is the 125th anniversary of Labor Day being celebrated as a national holiday.  While most will celebrate by attending one last barbeque or taking a camping trip, we should take a moment to thank the workers who make our nation so great.  The women and men who work hard every day in our factories, our hospitals, our restaurants, our cities, our schools, and everywhere else that a service or product is produced or sold.

It’s also important to remember the benefits secured by the labor movement that we all enjoy today. That includes better wages, the 40 hour work week, weekends, safe working conditions, health care, and compensation for workers injured on the job. While we’ve made progress improving the lives of workers over the years, we should also recognize the challenges our workforce faces today. Too many hard working Iowans make such a low wage that they can’t support their family. Despite recent attacks on worker’s rights, the labor movement works everyday to improve the lives of hard working Iowans.

Iowa farmers are pushing back against President Trump this week after he personally intervened to support big oil companies instead of biofuels made in Iowa.  Trump forced the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to grant 31 new waivers, called small refinery exemptions (SRE), and ignore the Renewable Fuels Standards (RFS) blending requirements already in law. The new waivers will reduce demand for corn and farmers will have $363 million less in their pockets. Trump’s move has also forced ethanol producers to scale back production and some Iowans will lose their jobs.

While President Trump claimed to support farmers and ethanol in a trip to Iowa earlier this summer, he’s now granted three times the SRE’s than were approved under the Obama Administration, dropping demand for corn by 1.4 billion bushels. With ongoing trade wars already reducing demand for crops, the latest move by the Trump Administration has Iowans deeply concerned about the future of rural Iowa.

I visited the Tall Grass Prairie Center (TGPC) at UNI today. The mission of the TGPC is restoring native vegetation for the benefit of society and the environment, with research, education and technology. The primary programs of the Center are Research and Restoration, Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management (IRVM), Plant Materials, and Prairie on Farms. It’s a beautiful place to see the Iowa native prairie and the wildlife that depends on the prairie. The numbers of monarch butterflies was amazing. Beautiful place!




As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch and enjoy the weather!

Upcoming Community Events

30 Friday’Loo – Wicked Liz & the Bellyswirls — Classic Car Night RiverLoop Expo Plaza, 5:30pm, 291-2038
31 Football Game Watch Party: UNI vs. Iowa State Riverfront Stadium, 232-0500
9/2 Labor Day Encore Concert Overman Park, 7pm, 266-1253
9/4 Cedar Valley Hospitality Partners Meeting Barn Happy, 8:30am, 268-4266
9/4 3 Heath Brothers Riverview Conference Center, 7pm, 268-0787
9/5 Bodies Of… Strayer-Wood Theatre, UNI Campus, 7:30pm, 273-6381
9/6 Friday’Loo – Tim & The Truetones — City Employee Appreciation Night RiverLoop Expo Plaza, 5:30pm, 291-2038
9/6 UNI Volleyball vs Creighton McLeod Center, 7:30pm, 273-4849
9/7 Scott Sterrett Memorial Half Marathon Overman Park, 7:30am, 231-2441
9/7 ARTapalooza Cedar Falls Downtown District, 9am, 277-0213
9/7 UNI Volleyball vs University of Southern California McLeod Center, 10:30am, 273-4849
9/7 UNI Football vs Southern Utah UNI-Dome, 4pm, 273-4849
9/7 UNI Volleyball vs University of Kentucky McLeod Center, 7:30pm, 273-4849
9/8 Stone Soul Picnic Gateway Park, 12:30pm, 277-0213
9/12 Bill Engvall *GBPAC, 7pm, 273-7469
9/12 Jazz, Folk & the Blues: History of Music – Folk Music Grows Up Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-864

News from the Statehouse

Students Paying Higher Tuition this Fall

After another year of low funding from the Iowa Legislature, students and families will be paying more this fall to attend one of Iowa’s state universities or community colleges.

The Regents requested a $7 million increase for Iowa State University (ISU) and the University of Iowa (U of I), and the University of North Iowa (UNI) requested $4 million ($18 million total).  Due to budget cuts by GOP leaders over the previous years, even at that amount the Regents indicated that tuition for UI and ISU would go up 3% and UNI’s tuition would remain flat.

After the Legislature approved the budget, all institutions received a mere $4 million increase.  This has resulted in an increase to undergraduate in-state tuition by 3.7% and 1.1% for out-of-state students at the U of I.  ISU will have a 3.7% increase for in-state undergraduates and a 4.8% increase for out-of-state students.  And UNI will have no tuition increase.

UNI has indicated that their tuition freeze will keep them competitive with their peer institutions, but will result in a cut of course sections, increased class sizes, faculty reductions, and a decrease in student financial aid by $1.2 million.  UNI is planning on a five-year tuition freeze.

The University of Northern Iowa (UNI) and Iowa State University (ISU) are also facing a decrease in student enrollment this fall.  The University of Iowa (U of I) predicts an increase in the number of students and even being over capacity for housing by about 100 students.  Last year, there was an overall drop of 2.8% to 77,860 students combined at the three universities.

Community Colleges Increase Tuition

Meanwhile, community college students in Iowa will also see their tuition go up for the upcoming school year.  Since low state funding has not kept up with inflation and rising costs, the average tuition at Iowa’s community colleges will increase by 3.4% for in-state students.  The highest increase will be Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge at 8.2%.

An increase in tuition could lead to more Iowa students looking at out-of-state schools in bordering states that offer lower tuition for Iowa students.  Last year, enrollment at Iowa’s 15 community colleges was 131,144.

Rising Costs, Reductions in Reproductive Health Care

A new federal rule means thousands of Iowa women and families will be facing higher costs for their reproductive health care, including cancer screenings.

Last week, the Trump Administration announced a new “gag” rule that prohibits any entity receiving Title X federal funding from discussing abortion. Currently, Title X funding goes towards access to birth control, cervical cancer screenings, and treatment for STDs.

In Iowa, Planned Parenthood received around $1 million from these funds every year to offset costs of providing routine reproductive health care to over 13,800 patients.  Because of this rule, Planned Parenthood, one of Iowa’s largest reproductive health providers, will no longer receive this federal funding.

The federal change will have severe consequences for Iowa, where there was a 73% decline in family planning services from 2017 to 2018. That drop came after Republicans in the Iowa Legislature decided to decline $3 million in federal funding to create their own state family program, which today is leaving women with far less access to healthcare services.

Last session, Republican lawmakers changed Iowa law to prohibit certain providers, like Planned Parenthood, from providing age-appropriate, medically accurate information on human growth and development to young people.  Studies show the key to preventing teen pregnancy and reducing the rates of STDs is the access to reproductive health services, as well as age-appropriate and medically accurate information.

This comes at a time when access to OB-GYN healthcare in Iowa is drastically low, and there has been an increase in maternal mortality rates. In 2018 alone, eight labor and delivery units have closed across the state and in the past three years, maternal mortality has more than doubled.

Iowa is also facing sharp increases in the rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea.  The rates of gonorrhea have increased in Iowa by 145% from four years ago.

Read More News from the Statehouse

125th Anniversary of Labor Day
Trump Renewable Fuel Waivers Hitting Farmers and Ag Economy Hard
State Retirement Plans Provide Economic Benefits to Iowa
Emerald Ash Borer Continues to Spread in Iowa

August 16, 2019

Greeting to you all,

The new school year is just a week away.  Iowa teachers are getting their classrooms set up for the new school year. Families are wrapping up summer activities and vacations.  Practices are starting up again for thousands of students. Many recent high school graduates are prepping to head to a college campus for the first time. Wishing the students success during the school year and thanking our teachers, para educators and school staff for their hard work and dedication.

The USDA notified the state of Iowa, in a letter sent to Gov. Kim Reynolds that Iowa made payment errors at a rate of 10.02 percent for the fiscal year 2018, which is “well above the national 2018 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program payment error rate of 6.80 percent.” In 2018, Iowa had an overpayment rate of 8.91%. The underpayment rate was 1.11%. In that letter dated July 30, 2019, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue asked Governor Reynolds “to take a leadership position in improving Iowa’s payment accuracy”. A $1.8 million fine is being handed down against the State of Iowa. State of Iowa was aware last year that they were in violation of U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations revolving the SNAP program and did nothing about it. We need leadership that is willing to address this issue.

After the Governor’s veto of the expansion of medical cannabis in Iowa, there was another setback when the Medical Cannabis Board denied anxiety disorders including PTSD, as well as Opioid dependence as qualifying conditions. New information released this month found that Iowa taxpayers are footing the legal bills for over $11.7 million in FY19 for workplace discrimination, harassment, and retaliation by state employees.

There is an opportunity for students who are interested in being a legislative page during the 2020 session. If you know any High School Juniors or Seniors interested in the page program please share the link and have them apply. Pages will begin work on January 13, 2020, and work the entire legislative session, which should be finished around the end of April 2020. Application period is open until October 4th, 2019. https://www.legis.iowa.gov/…/6EAB05A4-621B-4817-8A3D-50247F… 


As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch and enjoy the weather!

Upcoming Community Events

16 RiverLoop Rhythms – Avey/Grouws Band RiverLoop Amphitheater, 5:30-9:30pm, 291- 4490
16-17 North End Arts & Music Festival 2019 Fri East HS, 7pm; Sat Ferguson Fields Park, noon, 234-2560
16-18 55th Annual Old Time Power Show Antique Acres, 987-2380
17 Fondo Cedar Valley Overman Park, 10am, 493-5371
17 Triumphant Quartet Riverview Conference Center, 6pm, 268-0787
17 Cinema on the Cedar: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse RiverLoop Amphitheater, 8pm, 291-2038
20 CF Booster – Fall Sports Kick-off Cedar Falls High School, 6pm, 553-2500
20 August Ensembles Overman Park, 7pm, 266- 1253
21 USAF Band Concert Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum, 9:30am, 234-6357
23 Movies Under the Moon – Footloose Overman Park, 6:30pm, 277-0213
23 Cinema on the Cedar: Kinky Boots RiverLoop Amphitheater, 9pm, 291-2038
23-24 Cedar Valley Pridefest Downtown Waterloo, Fri 5:30pm; Sat noon, 291-4490
24 Mayor’s Entre-Tourism Bike Ride Cedar Falls City Hall, 9am, 268-4266
24 Tour of Classic Homes 2019 various locations in Waterloo, 1pm, 234-6357
27 August Ensembles Overman Park, 7pm, 266- 1253
28 Rally for the Valley Diamond Event Center, 11am-1pm, 235-6211
29 Final Thursday Reading Series – Vince Gotera Hearst Center, Cedar Falls, 7pm, 273- 8641

News from the Statehouse

Students Head Back to School with New Legislative Changes

For K-12 students, classes can begin on August 23rd.  Since this falls on a Friday this year, many are starting the following week.

However, nearly all local school districts will face another year of belt tightening as Republican lawmakers approved just a minor increase in state funding this year.  For the 9th time in the last decade, the funding increase is below the cost of inflation which means many school districts will reduce course offerings, put off technology or book purchases, increase class sizes, and reduce their education workforce.

Districts with highest transportation costs will receive some new assistance this year, but it is not a long-term solution.  Since some rural districts have a small number of students but geographically cover hundreds of square miles, they spend a large amount of their budget on transportation costs instead of in the classroom.

Some other educational requirements passed the Legislature in previous years, but take effect this school year.  This includes trainings and protocols on suicide prevention training, concussion protocols with coaching training, and school emergency operation plans to address school safety.

New legislation raises the passenger limit on school vehicles that are vans, minivans, SUV’s, or station wagons from the current Iowa law of eight to the federal limit of 10.  Rules would allow pickups for up to 9 passengers and able to carry less than 2,000 lbs. to be used as school buses.  The operator of the pickup must meet school bus driver qualifications.  This was mainly done to help 4-H programs in hauling supplies.

High School Students Encouraged to Serve as Iowa Legislative Pages

The Iowa Legislature is looking for high school students to learn more about the legislative process by applying to serve as a Legislative Page in the Iowa House of Representatives for the 2020 legislative session.

Legislative Pages provide invaluable assistance to representatives and staff by running errands, delivering messages, and distributing bills and amendments.  Pages will work with staff and representatives in the Iowa State Capitol building.

The Iowa House Chief Clerk’s office will be accepting applications until Friday, October 4, 2019. Guidelines to the program include:

•    Must be 16 years of age by January 13, 2020
•    Uniforms are provided
•    Living arrangements are unsupervised and must be found on their own
•    Students are responsible for transportation to and from the State Capitol
•    This is a paid position and excused absences are permitted
•    Students are expected to be able to handle any school responsibilities
•    Parental permission is required to participate in this program

For more details on the page program and how to apply go to, https://www.legis.iowa.gov/careers.

 

Read More News from the Statehouse

Resources Available for Consumer Restitution from Equifax Breach
Trump’s Trade Dispute Continues to Hurt Iowa Producers and Farmers
Suicide Rates Increasing in Iowa, Nationally
High-Demand Manufacturing Job Growth in Iowa
New Iowa Education Rules on School Buses, Seclusion Rooms Delayed

August 2, 2019

Greeting to you all,

I just finished up my 32nd RAGBRAI this year. We had some challenging days with heat and some big hills. The ride this year was a southern route from Council Bluffs to Keokuk. It was very enjoyable to see Iowa and all that it has to offer. Many of the towns small and large benefited from the numbers of people who purchased food and beverage on the ride. The crops looked good except with some areas that experienced flooding this past year. Hopefully I’m able to ride another RAGBRAI next year.

After being ousted from his position in June, former Director of the Dept. of Human Services Jerry Foxhoven said he is filing a whistleblower protection lawsuit against Governor Reynolds this week.  He claims he was dismissed from his job because he refused to comply with the Reynolds’ Administration “illegal” order to use state tax dollars dedicated to health care to pay for salaries in the Governor’s Office. According to reports, Governor Reynolds asked the former director to continue to pay the salary of two employees from the Department of Human Services after they had moved jobs into the governor’s office.  The Governor’s request came after Republican lawmakers gave Reynolds an additional $200,000 this year to fund her office.

While the Governor has disputed the claims, the Reynolds Administration has still refused to provide any details or reasons for pushing out Foxhoven.  Democratic lawmakers have made a formal request that the House Oversight Committee open an investigation into this latest health care scandal. With billions of tax dollars and the health care for hundreds of thousands of Iowans on the line, the Iowa Legislature should provide oversight and hold the executive branch accountable.

The latest controversy is just another sign of the turmoil Iowans are facing in our health care system, especially in Medicaid privatization. Last month, the Reynolds Administration signed new contracts and gave huge raises to the out-of-state, for-profit companies (MCO’s) managing the state’s Medicaid program. The new contracts include a raise of 8.6% and will cost Iowa taxpayers another $115 million this year without any guarantees the additional money will go to improve care for patients or pay Iowa providers what they are already owed by the MCO’s.

Iowa’s tax-free weekend falls on August 2 and 3 for back-to-school shopping. During that time, shoppers do not have to pay Iowa’s 6% sales tax on clothing and footwear less than $100. After a data breach last year by Equifax, the company has agreed to divvy out $700 million to consumers who may have been affected. Consumers should sign up at www.ftc.gov/Equifax or call 1-833-759-2982 for more information.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch and enjoy the weather!

Upcoming Community Events

8/2-4 Iowa Irish Fest Lincoln Park, 234-9029
8/3 CVSC/Irish Fest Leprechaun Cup Cedar Valley Soccer Complex, 9am, 830-4292
8/3-4 Waterloo Bucks vs. Mankato MoonDogs Riverfront Stadium, 232-0500
8/3-4 School of Rock Oster Regent Theatre, Sat 7:30pm; Sun 2pm, 277-5283
8/5 Waterloo Bucks vs. Thunder Bay Border Cats Riverfront Stadium, 232-0500
8/6 August Ensembles Overman Park, 7pm, 266- 1253
8/7 Waterloo Bucks vs. Thunder Bay Border Cats Riverfront Stadium, 232-0500
8/9 Friday’Loo – Laurie Morvan Band Lincoln Park, 5:30pm, 291-2038
8/9 Movies Under the Moon – Iron Man Overman Park, 6:30pm, 277-0213
8/9 Family Movie Night: Incredibles 2 Riverfront Stadium, 7pm, 232-0500
8/9-10 School of Rock Oster Regent Theatre, 7:30pm, 277-5283
8/10 Stem & Stein RiverLoop Expo Plaza, 4pm, 291-4490
8/10-11 Waterloo Bucks vs. Eau Claire Express Riverfront Stadium, 232-0500
8/13 August Ensembles Overman Park, 7pm, 266- 1253
8/14 Gladys Knight *GBPAC, 7pm, 273-7469
8/16 RiverLoop Rhythms – Avey/Grouws Band RiverLoop Amphitheater, 5:30-9:30pm, 291- 4490
8/16-18 55th Annual Old Time Power Show Antique Acres, 987-2380
8/17 Fondo Cedar Valley Overman Park, 10am, 493-5371

 

News from the Statehouse

Opioid Deaths in Iowa Down by 33%

Deaths due to opioids have sharply decreased in Iowa. In 2016, there were 180 opioid-related deaths in our state. This amount rose to 207 opioid-related deaths in 2017, but dropped to 133 people in 2018, which is a decrease of 33%.

Some of the success has been credited to legislation passed in 2018 that required pharmacies to use the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) which decreased the number of opioid prescriptions and the amount prescribed.  The PMP became operational in 2009 and allows authorized prescribers and pharmacists to view information about their patients’ use of controlled substances.  This is a tool used in determining appropriate prescribing and treatment of patients without fear of contributing to a patient’s abuse or dependence on addictive drugs or diversion to illegal drugs.

The bill also directed the Board of Pharmacy to issue a report to each prescribing practitioner that has the summary of the practitioner’s history of prescribing controlled substances; a comparison to other practitioner’s prescribing activities, and educational updates. This helps the Board identify patients who are at risk for potentially abusing or misusing prescription controlled substances and notify the practitioners of the risk.

Expanded access to Narcan, an overdose reversal drug, has also had an impact on the decreasing amount of opioid-related deaths in Iowa. When family members, friends, or emergency personnel have access to this reversal drug, it gives them time to take the overdose victim to the hospital to receive life-saving care.

Overall, Iowa has one of the lowest rates of opioid-related deaths in the country.  To learn more about opioid use in Iowa, please visit https://idph.iowa.gov/substance-abuse/opioid-update.

Sports Betting Coming to Iowa

As the summer winds down, the state of Iowa will be gearing up for the start of a favorite past time of many, college football season. On average more than 135,000 people each weekend pack the stands of the four division one schools in Iowa to cheer on their team and starting this year they may have more than bragging rights on the line for the game.

The Iowa Racing and Gaming commission will have sports betting available starting in the middle of August before the start of the football season. This will allow Iowans to make bets on sporting events across the country.  Legalized sports wagering was passed last legislative session, and now that the administrative rules have been adopted, there will be an option for Iowans who choose this form of entertainment.

Iowans will be allowed to bet on college and professional athletic events; however they will not be allowed to bet on an event where any of the participants are under the age of 18.  They are also are not allowed to place a wager on the individual performance of an athlete, where a college or university from Iowa is involved in the contest.

Participants will be allowed to place a wager from their phone but must first register an account with a licensed casino that offers sports betting.

 

Read More News from the Statehouse

Results of the 2018 Iowa Angler Survey
Iowa Schools Receive Computer Science Awards
Recent Fish Kills Attributed to Heat and Spills

July 20, 2019

Greetings to you all,

The weather is going to be very warm this week. The National Weather Service in Des Moines has issued an Excessive Heat Warning, which is in effect from 1 PM this afternoon to 7 PM CDT Saturday. Stay safe and stay cool.

I’m riding out to the start of Ragbrai this week and will be riding Ragbrai next week. The route starts in Council Bluffs and ends in Keokuk. Should be a great time to celebrate Iowa history with Ragbrai.

I was very disappointed that the majority party chose to not conduct a legislative study committee to come up with improvements to the medical cannabis program here in Iowa. Hopefully the legislature will move forward with much needed improvements to the medical cannabis program.

We learned there were new contracts signed with the out-of-state, for-profit companies (MCO’s) managing the state’s Medicaid program. The new contracts include a raise of 8.6% and will cost Iowa taxpayers another $115 million this year without any guarantees the additional money will go to improve care for patients or pay Iowa providers what they are already owed by the MCO’s.

For the last several years, the public and taxpayers have watched as privatized Medicaid has failed our state. On top of the huge raises for MCO’s this year, the companies received an 8.4% raise just last year.  Those two raises total $730 million in just the last two years and the increases in Iowa are over double the increases for Medicaid nationally.

The unexpected raise for out of state companies is just the latest sign that the GOP politicians in Des Moines have the wrong budget priorities.

I believe the state budget should be prioritized to work for everyday Iowan including expanding access to affordable health care for those most vulnerable Iowans.

In good news, according to the Iowa Dept. of Public Health, opioid related deaths in Iowa are the lowest in the last decade. I’m proud of the legislature record to increase access to treatment of opioid addiction.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

16-21 2019 Iowa State Shoot – Iowa State Trapshooting Association Cedar Falls Gun Club
17-21 Beauty and the Beast Hope Martin Theatre, Wed – Sat 7pm; Sun 2pm, 291-4494
18 Party on the Patio – Amelia and Melinda Hearst Center, 5pm, 273-8641
18 Waterloo Municipal Band Concert RiverLoop Amphitheater, 7:30pm, 273-2118
18-21 Waterloo Open Golf Classic Irv Warren Memorial Golf Course, 234-9271
18-21 Sturgis Youth Theatre Presents “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” Strayer-Wood Theatre, Thu 7pm; Fri 10:30am; Sat & Sun 2pm, 273-6381
19 Live to 9 – Snozzberries Sturgis Park, 6pm, 273-8636
19 Cinema on the Cedar: The Greatest Showman RiverLoop Amphitheater, 8pm, 291- 2038
19-20 BBQ’Loo & Blues Too Lincoln Park, Fri 5:30- 9:30pm; Sat 11am-9:30pm291-2038
20 Iowa Shrine Bowl All-Star Football Classic and Parade parade at 9:30am on Main St, football game at 4pm in the UNI-Dome, 493- 5371
20 Friends Presents Abby & Travis Turpin with the Dakota Street Band *GBPAC, 7pm, 273- 7469
20-21 Waterloo Bucks vs. La Crosse Loggers Riverfront Stadium, 232-0500
21 “Salon Romantique” Chamber Music Concert Diamond Event Center, 3pm, 215-5885
22-23 Waterloo Bucks vs. St. Cloud Rox Riverfront Stadium, 232-0500

News from the Statehouse

Republican Leaders Block Action on Medical Cannabis

After Governor Reynolds vetoed a bi-partisan bill to fix Iowa’s medical cannabis law to help more Iowans, Republican leaders in the House and Senate rejected a proposal from Democratic lawmakers last week to find a solution before the Legislature convenes again in January.

In June, Democrat lawmakers called to convene a special session to override the Governor’s veto, but it was rejected by Republican leaders.  In another attempt, a proposal was brought forward to form a special committee during the legislative interim to study potential expansion of Iowa’s medical cannabis program, hear directly from Iowa constituents, and find consensus on a bill that wouldn’t be vetoed.  The goal was to find a solution that would be ready the first week of session to help Iowans who are suffering from debilitating conditions like epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and cancer.  However, the proposal was rejected by Republican leadership.

Last session, the Iowa Legislature passed a bipartisan medical cannabis expansion bill that would have eliminated the current potency cap and instead limit the amount prescribed to Iowa patients. The Governor unexpectedly vetoed the bill at the last minute, claiming the cap removal was “too much”.

According to a recent Des Moines register poll, 78-percent of Iowans support medical marijuana expansion.

Reynolds Gives Large Raise to Medicaid Privatization Fiasco

Despite recent turmoil, the Reynolds Administration agreed to give two for-profit companies managing the state’s Medicaid program an 8.6% raise next year.  The latest raise, which totals $386 million, was approved without any guarantee the additional money will go to providers or patients.

Since Medicaid privatization began in 2016, Iowans have been systematically denied critical care and have had their services severely reduced or cut altogether. Providers have had to close their doors, or have stopped taking Medicaid patients altogether because the for-profit companies, called Managed Care Organizations (MCOs), are not paying them.

The 8.6% raise comes on top of a huge $344 million raise (8.4%) the MCO’s received last year.  Many Iowans have expressed concerns about Medicaid privatization since many members are still receiving worse care while the for-profit companies have received more money.  The huge raises are also significantly higher than increases given before privatization began and more than double the increases for Medicaid nationally.

Earlier this year, one of the MCO’s, UnitedHealthcare, announced they were leaving Iowa and left 425,000 Iowans scrambling to pick another MCO for their health care.  Just a few weeks ago, Governor Reynolds forced the Director of Human Services to resign without explanation.

Medicaid provides health care to 600,000 Iowans, including those in nursing homes.  According to recent estimates, about 70% of Medicaid dollars are used for the elderly, severely disabled, and poor. Because this affects our most vulnerable population, it is imperative we understand the true impact privatization is having on our state.

 

Read More News from the Statehouse

REAL ID Deadline Approaching
Conference Sheds Light on Concussions with Student Athletes
Stop the Spread of Zebra Mussels
Governor Appoints Empower Rural Iowa Program Manager
Work-Based Learning Projects Now Available to Schools

July 2, 2019

Greeting to you all,

The state fiscal year starts on July 1 and a host of new laws will take effect that could impact Iowans.  While the Legislature did some good bi-partisan work, most of the work this year fell drastically short of fixing many of the long-term challenges our state faces today. The Majority Party failed to make any long-term commitments to improve our public schools, keep health care affordable and accessible, or fix Iowa’s skilled worker shortage. Thousands of Iowans suffering from chronic diseases won’t have access to an improved medical cannabis program starting July 1 after Governor Kim Reynolds vetoed a bi-partisan bill.

Students in our K-12 public schools will miss out on new opportunities as the state continues to fund education well below the rate of inflation, which means cuts and more school closings next year. For students out of high school, tuition and job training at community colleges and universities will be more expensive again next year leaving them with even more debt. Instead of making a significant investment in Iowa’s skilled workforce, GOP lawmakers gave away $109 million in new tax breaks to the top 1%.

Iowans struggling with mental illness won’t find additional services available, while 425,000 Iowans on Medicaid are facing more health care uncertainty as they are forced to pick another private company to manage their care.  One of Iowa’s largest health care providers, UnityPoint Health, is in potential merger talks with Sanford Health based in South Dakota. Iowa Auditor Rob Sand is working to hold the private companies managing Medicaid accountable after they tried to force two paralyzed Iowans into nursing home care. After ousting the Director of Human Services last week, Governor Reynolds refuses to tell Iowans why she fired him or provide any records about the abrupt change.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!


I had the honor to meet with the Captain and crew of the USS The Sullivan DDG-68.They were in Waterloo visiting the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum and sharing how proud they were serving on the USS The Sullivan DDG-68.

Upcoming Community Events:

7/2 Cedar Falls Municipal Band “Twilight Serenade” Overman Park, 7:30pm, 233-5765
7/3&4 Waterloo Bucks vs. Rochester Honkers Riverfront Stadium, 232-0500
7/4 Waterloo Municipal Band Concert RiverLoop Amphitheater, 7:30pm, 273-2118
7/5 2019 Cedar Valley Invitational Riverfront Stadium, 6:35pm, 232-0500
7/5 Family Fun & Movie Night: Field of Dreams Riverfront Stadium, 6:35pm, 232-0500
7/5 RiverLoop Rhythms – Mollie B & The Busta Band RiverLoop Amphitheater, 5:30-9:30pm, 291-4490
7/6 Diamond Classic Riverfront Stadium, 11:30am, 232-0500
7/6 Mayor’s Downtown Fireworks Festival RiverLoop Amphitheater, 5:30-11pm, 291-4490
7/6&7 Cedar Valley Pedal Fest Gateway Park 268- 4266
7/6&7 wcfsymphony concert: Independence Day Weekend RiverLoop Amphitheater, Sat 6pm; Sun 7pm, 273-3373
7/7&8 Waterloo Bucks vs. La Crosse Loggers Riverfront Stadium, 232-0500
7/9 Cedar Falls Municipal Band “Twilight Serenade” Overman Park, 7:30pm, 233-5765

News from the Statehouse

New Laws Going into Effect July 1

A host of new laws will take effect on July 1, the start of the state’s new fiscal year.

A number of bi-partisan bills were passed during the 2019 Legislative Session designed to protect Iowans.  In an effort to curb the abuse of opioids in Iowa, a new law will make it easier for those seeking treatment to access medication.  Another law creates new tools to fight human trafficking in Iowa by protecting victims related to unlicensed massage therapy.

In education this year, the legislature extended the SAVE program to allow schools to invest in infrastructure and building repairs needed across Iowa.  Lawmakers also continued state law that encourages more cooperation between local school districts to give our kids the best education possible.

Other highlights of new laws that start July 1 include: “Logan’s Law” that puts an organ donation check box on hunting and fishing licenses; the “Iowa Care Givers Act” to provide more support to seniors transitioning out of hospitals; and a new program to prevent Iowans from losing their professional licenses if they are behind on their student loan repayments.

For a full list of bills going into effect July 1, log on to http://www.iowahouse.org.

More Turmoil in Medicaid Privatization & Health Care

Governor Reynolds ousted her own Director of the Department Human Services last week without explanation.  There was no plan in place to replace Director Jerry Foxhoven, and no reason was provided to the public as to why he was asked to resign.  The Governor’s Office has refused to provide any additional information to lawmakers or the press.

The news comes as 425,000 Iowans on Medicaid are being forced to switch to a different out of state company (MCO) to receive their health care beginning on July 1.  Director Foxhoven was in the middle of contract negotiations with the MCO’s for next year and no agreement has been reached.

Recent changes have highlighted the disastrous effect Medicaid privatization has had on hundreds of thousands of our most vulnerable citizens.  In late March, it was announced that UnitedHealthcare would be departing Iowa no later than June 30, leaving Amerigroup as the only original managed care organization (MCO) still serving in the state. This is the third MCO to discontinue services since privatization began in 2016.  A new MCO, Iowa Total Care is scheduled to come online on July 1.

To help fix the Medicaid mess, Democratic lawmakers have proposed several different solutions. However, House Republicans and the Reynolds Administration have refused to make any changes.  This mess will not fix itself, and until the GOP admits this privatization experiment is a complete failure, Iowa’s most vulnerable citizens will continue to suffer.

Here is the timeline of events that led to this latest unexpected change:

December 18, 2015– WellCare MCO contract terminated due to failure to disclose information to the state
April 1, 2016–  Medicaid privatization begins
June 16, 2017– Jerry Foxhoven appointed as new DHS Director
October 31, 2017– DHS announced AmeriHealth leaving Iowa
October 31, 2017– MCOs receive a 3.3% raise
August 2018– Governor Reynolds gives the MCOs a 7.5% increase, more than double that of the previous raise
December 2018– Republicans gave $141 million more to the MCOs through a supplemental appropriation- revised to $150 million in March
March 29, 2019– UnitedHealthcare announced they were leaving the state
March 2019– MCOs given another 0.5% raise in capitation payments
April 2019– Federal investigation of MCOs in Iowa and other states
June 17, 2019– Director Foxhoven forced to resign, effective immediately
June 26, 2019–  State Auditor Sand announces investigation into MCO compliance issues
June 30, 2019– Unitedhealthcare leaves Iowa
July 1, 2019– Iowa Total Care comes online

Read More News from the Statehouse

Attorney General Requests Records on Clergy Abuse from Diocese
New Safety Measures after 2017 School Bus Fatal Accident
ITT Tech Students Receive Debt Forgiveness Under Settlement
Stopping the Spread of Invasive Species in Iowa

June 21, 2019

Greeting to you all,

We recently found out that the Department of Human Services (DHS) Director Jerry Foxhoven resigned after the governor made the request for his resignation. Governor Reynolds appointed Gerd W. Clabaugh to serve as interim director of the Department of Human Services. The resignation of Mr. Foxhoven is another indication of the Branstad/Reynolds Medicaid mess they have created. The governor’s office did not respond to requests for more information as to why he was removed as director of the DHS. Under a 2017 law signed by then-Gov. Terry Branstad, when a state employee is fired or resigns in lieu of termination, the public is supposed to be told the reasons.

The unexpected news comes while the state is transitioning over 400,000 Iowans to a new managed care organization (MCO) and negotiating new contract rates with MCO’s for the services they provide.
The development means more turmoil in Iowa’s health care system, especially Medicaid privatization. For too long, our health care system has spiraled out of control at the expense of rural hospitals, care providers, and our most vulnerable citizens, including the elderly, disabled and children.

In addition to the change in leadership at DHS, the Governor said additional changes in health care are on the way. If the Governor plans to restore effective oversight and accurate accountability in the Medicaid system, there will be strong bi-partisan support in those efforts next session.  Instead of making health care less accessible and more expensive, it’s time for the Governor to change direction and work with us to keep health care affordable and accessible.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events:

20 Waterloo Municipal Band Concert RiverLoop Amphitheater, 7:30pm, 273-2118
20-23 Waterloo Bucks vs. Eau Claire Express Riverfront Stadium, 6:35pm, 232-0500
21 Cedar Valley United Way Golf Classic Southern Hills Golf Course, 1pm 235-6211
21 Friday’Loo – Flawd Logic Lincoln Park, 5:30pm, 291-2038
21 Live to 9 – Dry Run Creek Sturgis Park, 6pm, 273-8636
21 Movies Under the Moon – Moana Overman Park, 6:30pm, 277-0213
21-22 College Hill Arts Festival UNI Campus, Fri 12pm; Sat 10am, 240-5639
21-23 The Drowsy Chaperone Cedar Falls Community Theatre, Cedar Falls, Fri & Sat 7:30pm; Sun 2pm, 277-5283
22 Cedar Valley CourtKings vs. T.C. Elite Cedar Valley SportsPlex, 7:30pm, 269-5924
25 Waterloo Bucks vs. La Crosse Loggers Riverfront Stadium, 11:05am, 232-0500
25 Cedar Falls Municipal Band “Twilight Serenade” Overman Park, 7:30pm, 233-5765
27 20th Annual Pat Mitchell Golf Outing Pheasant Ridge Golf Course, 12pm, 553-2500
27 Film Screening: Run Hearst Center, 7pm, 273- 8641
27 Waterloo Municipal Band Concert RiverLoop Amphitheater, 7:30pm, 273-2118
28 Cinema on the Cedar: Black Panther RiverLoop Amphitheater, 8pm, 291-2038
28-30 44th Annual Sturgis Falls Celebration Gateway Park & Overman Park, Fri & Sun 11am; Sat 9am 268-4266
28-30 Cedar Basin Music Festival Sturgis Park Fri 4pm; Sat 12pm; Sun 9am 268-4266
29 2019 Waterloo Bucks Baseball Bash Riverfront Stadium, 10:30am, 232-0500

News from the Statehouse

Worker Training, Education Incentives for Iowa Businesses

In April, the Legislature appropriated $1.2 million for a new program called the Iowa Employer Innovation Fund.  The program is a grant opportunity for Iowa businesses to expand opportunities for education and training leading to high-demand jobs, the encouragement of leadership, and support for regional workforce talent pools throughout Iowa.

Employers who receive a grant can use the money to help students pay for books, equipment, childcare, and other expenses related to for-credit and non-credit postsecondary credentials, including short-term certificates.

The grant application process is open from June 21st through August 1st.  Businesses are encouraged to apply.  For more information about the program and to apply visit, https://www.futurereadyiowa.gov/innovation


Summer Food Programs Available for Iowa Families

Thousands of meals to Iowa children in low-income areas at no charge to their families are provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program. These meals are intended to replace school meal programs that are unavailable during the summer. The federally funded program is administered by the Iowa Department of Education and local sponsors.

The program will operate about 500 meal sites across Iowa from June through August. Each site is administered by a local sponsor, including schools, churches, local cities, and other private non-profit community organizations.  The sites are open to all children ages 18 and under at no charge. No identification or sign-in is required. Many sites offer learning and recreational activities for children.

To find a summer meal site near you, visit www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks or call 211 or 1-866-3-HUNGRY, or text “FOOD” or “COMIDA” to 877-877. Services are available in English and Spanish.
For more information about Iowa’s Summer Food Service Program, visit:  https://www.educateiowa.gov/pk-12/nutrition-programs-0

Read More News from the Statehouse

1st Time Home Buyer Assistance Available
Federal and State Disaster Relief Available for Iowans
Iowa’s Unique Redistricting Process
School Districts and Transit Authorities Receive Bus Improvement Assistance
June is PTSD Awareness Month
Iowa Transportation Commission Approves Project Plan
State Board Approves Davenport Action Plan
Rainy May Makes Last 12 Months Wettest Ever in State

June 6, 2019

Greeting to you all,

I sent in my request for the legislature to hold a special session to override Governor Reynolds veto of the Medical Cannabis Bill HF732. After years of work on this issue, I was thrilled we finally got a bipartisan bill passed this last session to help Iowans who are not getting relief from traditional medicines. I was stunned and very disappointed that Governor Reynolds vetoed the bill. Today, I’m joining my colleagues in calling for a special session to override the Governor’s veto. Iowans suffering from debilitating conditions like epilepsy, cancer, and MS have waited long enough for relief.
I am very disappointed to learn that the program called Teens Against Human Trafficking will not longer have funding to support trainings and outreach programming with middle and high school students. Human/sex trafficking is a big problem in our state and nation. The bottom line is state funding allocation often reflects and matches federal funding appropriation. In this case, Congress’ allocation to VOCA (Victims of Crime Act) has been substantially reduced, which means cuts in a competitive grant application cycle. This combined with the state’s (low) budget allocation, programs like TAHT are experiencing cuts due to the significant appropriation decrease.

Education funding this session fell well short of the investment needed to grow Iowa’s skilled workforce. Our K-12 schools will receive some additional resources, but not enough to keep up with rising costs. For students out of high school, tuition and job training at community colleges and universities will increase again next year leaving students with more debt.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

3 & 4 Waterloo Bucks vs. Mankato MoonDogs Riverfront Stadium, 6:35pm, 232-0500
4 Cedar Valley Hospitality Partners Meeting Grout Museum lobby, 10am, 233-8350
4 Cedar Falls Municipal Band “Twilight Serenade” Overman Park, 7:30pm, 233-5765
5 Shrek, the Musical Jr. *GBPAC, 10:30am & 7pm, 273-2028
5-9 My Waterloo Days Downtown Waterloo, 291- 2038
5-9 2019 Iowa SCTP State Trap Championships Iowa State Trap Shoot Association, 8am, 641- 231-1608
5 & 6 Waterloo Bucks vs. Duluth Huskies Riverfront Stadium, 6:35pm, 232-0500
6 Waterloo Municipal Band Concert RiverLoop Amphitheater, 7:30pm, 273-2118
6 Cinema on the Cedar: Ralph Breaks the Internet RiverLoop Amphitheater, 9pm, 291- 2038
7 2019 Waterloo Bucks Baseball Invitational Riverfront Stadium, 12pm, 232-0500
7 Movies Under the Moon – Wreck It Ralph Overman Park, 6:30pm, 277-0213
7 Tony Bennett *GBPAC, 7pm, 273-2028
8 John Cannon Memorial Tractor Ride Heartland Acres, Independence 8am, 332- 0123
8 Farm Fun Day John Deere Tractor Museum, 9am, 292-6126
8 2019 Diamond Dreams Classic Riverfront Stadium, 12pm, 232-0500
9 Waterloo Bucks vs. Rochester Honkers Riverfront Stadium, 2:05pm, 232-0500
9 Cedar Valley CourtKings vs. Egan Bulldogs Cedar Valley SportsPlex, 7:30pm, 269-5924
11 Cedar Falls Municipal Band “Twilight Serenade” Overman Park, 7:30pm, 233-5765
13 Waterloo Municipal Band Concert RiverLoop Amphitheater, 7:30pm, 273-2118
14 UNI PAWS 2019 Golf Outing Prairie Links Golf Course, 12pm, 242-7675
14 Live to 9 – Mike Staebell and Bruce Day Sturgis Park, 6pm, 273-8636

News from the Statehouse


Lawmakers Call for Special Session to Override Governor’s Veto of Medical Cannabis

More Iowans with severe health problems and chronic pain could have had access to medicine that would improve their lives after a bi-partisan bill to expand the state’s medical cannabis law was approved.

However, Governor Kim Reynolds unexpectedly vetoed the expansion at the last minute due to concerns over increasing the THC limit.  The bill, passed during the 2019 legislative session, would have eliminated the current 3% THC cap by replacing it with a 25 gram over 90-day period maximum disbursement. The measure passed 96-3 in the GOP controlled House and 40-7 in the GOP controlled Senate.

Democratic lawmakers are working this month to call for a special session to override the Governor’s veto.  Two-thirds of lawmakers in each chamber are needed to request a special legislative session.

Currently, Iowa is one of the lowest “THC” states in the country. Thirty-three other states have no limits on medical cannabis products, which have helped address opioid addiction and chronic ailment costs.

In a poll released earlier this year, nearly 80 percent of Iowans support expanding access to the state’s Medical Cannabidiol program, according to the Des Moines Register.

SAVE School Infrastructure Bill Signed into Law

A top priority of school leaders across Iowa for several years, the “SAVE” bill to extend the one cent local sales tax for school infrastructure was signed by the Governor.

The program will continue to provide funds for school infrastructure improvements, as well as increasing a portion of the funds for property tax relief.  A separate Career Academy competitive grant fund is established to help build job training facilities.

More transparency is provided in the plan by allowing voters to reapprove the district’s revenue purpose statement.  If SAVE funds are going to be obligated for 20 year bonds, school boards must hold a public hearing and give citizens an opportunity to petition for a direct vote of the people.

The program is now extended through 2051, instead of having it expire in 2031.

Read More News from the Statehouse

Iowa Measles Cases Show Need to Keep School Vaccinations
Grants Awarded to Communities to Help with Derelict Buildings
State Parks Day Camps
Protect Yourself from Ticks

Greeting to you all,

Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day was created to remember soldiers who had died in the Civil War.  While the northern states and southern states honored their Civil War fallen soldiers separately for many years, Memorial Day was changed after World War I to honor any American who had died in any war.  Congress made Memorial Day a national holiday in 1968.  Although Memorial Day is officially a time to remember those who died for our country, it is also a good time to remember those who served our nation and thank those still serving today.

Governor Reynolds has until next week to sign or veto all the bills from the legislative session.  She signed SF615, the justice system appropriations bill, but item vetoed sections 24 and 28, which would have amended the Iowa Attorney General’s statutory duties to require the approval of the Governor, Executive Council, or Legislature to prosecute any action or proceeding, including signing onto or authoring amicus briefs or letters of support, in any court or tribunal other than an Iowa state court. I want to thank Governor Reynolds for her veto and for allowing the Attorney General to do his job.

The League of Women Voters held a legislative forum recently at the Waterloo Public Library. Some of the issues that were brought forward during the forum included addressing the Medicaid problems that are taking place here in Iowa, improving the bottle bill and placing a moratorium on Confined Animal Feeding Operation’s in Iowa. We also discussed the Medical Cannabis bill HF732 which was passed overwhelmingly by the House 96-3 and the Senate 40-7. The bill is waiting for Governor Reynolds to sign the legislation.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!


I recently attended the 19th Amendment Celebration this past week at the Cedar Falls Women’s Club. The 19th Amendment guarantees all women the right to vote. #19thamendment


Recent event at The Gallagher Bluedorn honoring our Gold Star Teachers for their dedicated work making sure students receive a quality education. Congratulations to the 2019 Gold Star Teachers.

Upcoming Community Events:

23 Triflemore Concert Hearst Center, 7pm, 273- 8641
24 2019 Cedar Valley Classic Cost Cutters Field at Riverfront Stadium, 2pm, 232-0500
24 Friday’Loo – Sideshow Bob Lincoln Park, 5:30pm, 291-2038
24 Cinema on the Cedar: Bohemian Rhapsody RiverLoop Amphitheater, 8pm, 291-4490
24-26 The Understudy Waterloo Center for the Arts, Fri & Sat 7pm; Sun 2pm, 291-4494
25 2019 High School Showcase Cost Cutters Field at Riverfront Stadium, 10am, 232-0500
25 4th Street Cruise Downtown Waterloo, noon, 291-2038
25-27 Iowa Soccer Championship Series Cedar Valley Soccer Complex, 830-4292
26 Hearst Center 30th Anniversary Garden Pop Up Hearst Center, 1pm, 273-8641
28 Waterloo Bucks vs. La Crosse Loggers Cost Cutters Field at Riverfront Stadium, 6:35pm, 232-0500
29 2019 Bucks Home Plate Classic Cost Cutters Field at Riverfront Stadium, 2pm, 232-0500
30 & 31 Waterloo Bucks vs. St. Cloud Rox Cost Cutters Field at Riverfront Stadium, 6:35pm, 232-0500
30-6/2 The Understudy Waterloo Center for the Arts, Thu/Fri/Sat 7pm; Sun 2pm, 291-4494
31 RiverLoop Rhythms – Cedar Valley Big Band RiverLoop Amphitheater, 5:30-9:30pm, 291- 4490
31 Live to 9 Sturgis Park, 6pm, 273-8636
31-6/2 Cedar Valley Cup Cedar Valley Soccer Complex, 830-4292
6/1 Cedar Valley Heart Walk Mudd Advertising Company – Prairie Lakes Park, 8am, 815-541- 1945
6/1 Waterloo Bucks vs. Rochester Honkers Cost Cutters Field at Riverfront Stadium, 6:35pm, 232-0500
6/1 Cedar Valley CourtKings vs. Rochester Roadrunners Cedar Valley SportsPlex, 7:30pm, 269-5924

News from the Statehouse

Remembering Iowa Veterans this Memorial Day

As Memorial Day approaches, it is a good time to remember the sacrifices our veterans have made, and to thank them for their service.  This year, the Iowa Legislature continued to thank and support Iowa Veterans through legislation.

The Legislature expanded the number of families who are eligible to receive funds from the Injured Veterans Grant Program.  This program provides funds to family members who have a loved one that was injured in a combat zone or contingency operation overseas, by allowing families to visit their injured soldier. Eligible families are able to receive $2,500 for travel expenses and an additional $2,500 for every 30 days their loved one is hospitalized.

To celebrate and honor our veterans during Memorial Day weekend, there are several events being held across the state.  The main event is a celebration at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery at 8 a.m. in Adel, Iowa with keynote speaker Iowa National Guard Command Sergeant Major Rachel Fails.

To find Memorial Day events near you, please visit https://va.iowa.gov/events.

Sports Betting and Fantasy Sports Participation Now Allowed in Iowa

Iowans will soon be allowed to bet on their favorite sports teams after a bill was signed last week to legalize sports betting and fantasy sports in Iowa.   Beginning later this year, Iowans can now bet on any professional, collegiate, or international team as well as individual sporting events governed by the Olympic Committee.

In order to bet, the person must be age 21 or older and bet at “sports wagering area” in a casino or on a mobile device. To bet on a mobile device, an eligible bettor can establish an account at a casino and set up an “advance deposit” system for the first 18 months.

While, Iowans will be allowed to bet on Iowa colleges and universities, they will not be allowed to make in play bets on individual athletes in an event where an Iowa college or university is a participant.

Gaming issues rarely break down on party lines and the legislation had both Republicans and Democrats voting for and against the proposal.   Since the Supreme Court has made their ruling, eight states have currently legalized sports betting in their state.

Read More News from the Statehouse

Industrial Hemp Bill Signed into Law
Iowa Producers Stuck in Middle of Trump Trade War
Free Fishing Weekend in Iowa
Iowa Joins Lawsuit against Drug Manufacturers
Iowa High Schools Rank High Nationally on Report
Business Tax Return Deadline Extended for Disaster Areas
Davenport School District Placed on Conditional Accreditation

May 24, 2019

May 3, 2019

Greeting to you all,

The goals for the 2019 legislative session were to put politics aside, work together, and stay focused on putting Iowans first. While some progress was made this session, the Majority Party, who controls the House, Senate, and the Governors office have spent too much time listening to the special interests. The Majority Party could have spent more time working with us, to improve the lives of everyday Iowans. Here are some of the objectives we should have focused on this session.

•    Bringing better jobs to our communities
•    Making health care affordable & accessible for all Iowans
•    Making Iowa schools #1 again
•    Revitalizing small towns and rural areas

Health care is going in the wrong direction because we learned that more than 400,000 Iowans would be facing another health care disruption, when United Healthcare announced that they were leaving Iowa’s managed care program. Instead of working together to fix Governor Reynolds’s privatized Medicaid mess, the Republican lawmakers refused to do anything to keep health care accessible for Iowans or assist health care providers with the transition.  They also missed an opportunity to expand access to birth control. There was strong bipartisan support to protect kids in abusive situations, train more mental health professionals in rural areas, and keep seniors safe in nursing homes.  We took the first step in creating a mental health system for kids, and made it easier for Iowans to get substance abuse treatment.

In education, the Republicans fell short of the investment needed to grow Iowa’s skilled workforce. Our K-12 schools will receive some additional resources, but not enough to keep up with rising costs. For students out of high school, tuition and job training at community colleges and universities will increase again next year, leaving students with more debt. A few bi-partisan bills in education were approved this year to equalize transportation funding for school districts, upgrade school infrastructure, and help students refinance student loans.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events:

5/2 Girls’ Night Out Cedar Falls Downtown District, 5pm, 277-0213
5/3 11th Annual Harley Party Electric Park Ballroom, 5:30pm, 234-2839
5/3 UNI Children’s Choir Concert UNI Campus – Russell Hall, 7:30pm, 273-2142
5/3-4 Junie B Jones is Not a Crook Waterloo Center for the Arts, Fri 7pm; Sat 2pm, 291-4494
5/3-5 The Little Mermaid presented by Columbus Catholic HS Cedar Falls Community Theatre, Fri 7pm; Sat 2pm & 7pm; Sun 2pm, 233-3358
5/4 Bark for Life of Black Hawk County Gateway Park, 9am, 815-590-2961
5/4 Compagnia TPO – Panda’s Home *GBPAC, 10am & 1pm, 273-2028
5/4 Urbancross Grand Prix National Cattle Congress, 10am, 404-7589
5/4 Waverly’s Art Walk Kohlmann Park, Waverly, 10am, 352-4526
5/4 Proud Image Chorus 40th Anniversary Spring Show Central Middle School, 2pm & 6pm, 229-4291
5/4 Night at the Museum: Racing for the Veterans Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum, 6pm, 234-6357
5/5 Downtown Show and Shine Cedar Falls Downtown District, noon, 277-0213
5/5 “Lyra” Vocal Chamber Music Concert First Congregational Church, 7pm 215-588
5/5 Cedar Valley CourtKings vs. Minnesota Lakers Cedar Valley SportsPlex, 7:30pm, 269- 5924
5/6 New Horizons Band Concert *GBPAC, 7:30pm, 319-273-2142
5/7 Red Herring Readers Theatre Presents A Body of Water Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
5/10 2019 Leadercast – Leading Healthy Teams Hilton Garden Inn Cedar Falls, 7:30am, 232- 1156
5/10 Lunchtime Concert – James Aissen Hearst Center, noon, 273-8641
5/10 Friday’Loo – Tommy Bentz Band Lincoln Park, 5:30pm, 291-2038
5/10-11 UNI Spring Commencement McLeod Center, Fri 7pm; Sat. 10am & 2pm, 273-2241

News from the Statehouse

Throughout 2019 Session Democratic Lawmakers Push to Fix Medicaid Privatization

Ever since the Governor unilaterally privatized Medicaid in 2016, the results have been disastrous for the people of Iowa.  Since this time, people have been systematically denied critical care, essential medical equipment, and have had their services severely reduced or cut altogether.

This year, lawmakers learned the situation will continue to get worse after UnitedHealthcare announced it would be leaving Iowa’s managed care program this summer, which means 425,000 Iowans will be faced with another disruption to their health care.

UnitedHealthcare currently manages care for 70% of Iowans on Medicaid, taking on more members when AmeriHealth Caritas, another managed care organization (MCO), left the state in 2017. The departure of UnitedHealthCare leaves 425,000 Iowans facing another disruption in health care because many had just switched to UnitedHealthcare and have already had multiple case workers. This includes almost 237,000 children.

Iowa will only be left with two MCOs, Amerigroup and the newly contracted Iowa Total Care, to manage the Medicaid program. It has yet to be shown that these two MCOs will be able to handle the sudden influx of new members, and Iowa Total Care has not provided members with a list of providers that will be covered under their plan, further increasing the mass confusion.

In addition, other issues and concerns continue to plague Medicaid privatization.  Many lawmakers are concerned the for-profit MCO’s will get another $150.3 million this fiscal year from the Reynolds Administration, including a bonus of $109 million and incentives worth $9.6 million.  The MCO’s can keep up to 15% of taxpayer dollars to administer the program.  Before privatization, just 4% of Medicaid dollars were spent on administration.

It has also been reported that the cost per member has risen by an annual average of 4.4% under managed care, but only increased an average of 1.5% under state management. The Medicaid budget was passed this year, but it did not include any funding for the MCO rate increases, which have yet to be released.

House Democrats are not the only ones worried about the privatization mess. In April this year, the federal government announced plans to investigate private Medicaid management companies, including those in Iowa. They are specifically investigating whether these MCOs are denying services and cutting care to those members they served. Those that called for the investigation directly cited Iowa’s managed care mess as an example of why this in-depth examination was necessary.

To help fix the Medicaid mess, House Democrats proposed several different solutions. However, Republican lawmakers refused to take any of them, and in some cases, wouldn’t even allow the bills to come up for debate. This mess will not fix itself, and until the GOP admits this privatization experiment is a complete failure, Iowa’s most vulnerable citizens will continue to suffer.

Politicization of Judicial Selection Process Passes Legislature

On the last day of session, Republican lawmakers approved a proposal to injected politics into the selection of Iowa judges. While the plan was opposed by a bi-partisan group of House members, it was still added to one of the final bills.

The proposal allows the Governor to have a majority of the input on the selection of Supreme Court and Appeals Court judges in the state.  Currently, lawyers in the state and the Governor select an equal number of representatives to serve on the State Judicial Nominating Commission.

The Judicial Branch has one member on the commission.  The commission then narrows a pool of potential judicial nominees and the Governor makes an appointment to the highest courts in the state.  Under the new commission makeup, the Governor will always be able to appoint a majority of the commissioners that recommend potential nominees.  The Governor then also gets the final say on which judge gets appointed.

Under the changes, judges are still required to be retained through regular elections.  Judges in the state must face retention elections after regular intervals while serving.  In these retention elections judges do not have an opponent, but instead must receive a majority of “yes” votes to maintain his or her position as a judge.

Governor Reynolds recently appointed her second selection during her tenure to the Iowa Supreme Court, Supreme Court Justice Christopher McDonald.  Governor Reynolds appointed Justice Susan Christensen to the Iowa Supreme Court in 2018.  The Iowa Supreme Court is composed of seven justices.

The Iowa Supreme Court is currently composed of five justices that have been appointed by Republican governors and two justices that have been appointed by Democratic governors.

Read More News from the Statehouse

Bill Limiting Local Spending Threatens IPERS
Medical Cannabidiol Expansion Moves Forward
Lawmakers Throw Out 29 Legally Cast Ballots, Change Election Law
School Infrastructure Funding Extended
Children’s Mental Health System Created, Funding Still Unknown
Republican Lawmakers Show Budget Priorities, Rural Iowans Lose Out
Restoration of Felon Voting Rights Passes House
AARP Legislative Initiative Iowa Care Act Passes Legislature
School Transportation Investments Increased
Additional Help for Beginning Farmers
GOP Lawmakers Strip Powers from Iowa Attorney General
Supporting Iowa’s Veterans
2019 Natural Resources Update
Addressing Changing Transportation Technologies
Whole Grade Sharing in Schools Extended
Legislature Takes First Step Towards Hemp Cultivation

April 26, 2019

Greetings to you all,

Often, controversial bills are left until the end of the session, and as leadership is anxious to finish the session, legislators stay in the Statehouse as early as 7 AM to as late as 3 AM. We had a week of late nights, tense discussion, and back and forth with the Senate. While it’s hectic, there shouldn’t be any last minute surprises or backroom deals for special interest groups in closing hours. I’m going to keep focused on improving the lives of everyday Iowans right up until the end this session.

Late Monday, the Senate added language to the RIIF (Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund) budget, which means it will return to the House before the session ends. This affects all Regent university building projects, and it will require UNI to raise a 20% match to the state for any academic building project, including the Industrial Technology Center (ITC) renovation. When UNI asked for ITC funding, Pres. Nook said he’d like UNI to help raise 10% of the project, or $4 million, a significant amount of money for a regional comprehensive university. No recent UNI projects would meet this new 20% threshold, like the Schindler Education Center renovation. There are several aging academic buildings on UNI’s campus, and there are too many unanswered questions; when do dollars need to be raised? Are pledges acceptable? Hopefully we’ll have the opportunity to ask questions like these on the floor.

SF634 passed in the early hours of Thursday morning, a bill the majority claims will reduce property taxes. This bill represents the shortsightedness that can occur in the last few days on the session: while perhaps appealing in the short term, this bill hurts communities, as it forces local government to choose between funding critical city and county services and contributing to IPERS and Chapter 411, the Municipal Fire and Police Retirement System. Moreover, this bill will not reduce property taxes and may force a reduction of crucial services such as policing and fire fighters. We can do better.

If SF597 is signed into law, nonprofit blood donation centers will be exempt from sales tax. I have proposed an amendment to exempt food banks as well. While Iowans provide tax credits for airplane parts and grain bins, there are organizations that are struggling to provide vital community services. One in nine Iowans and one in six Iowa kids and seniors go to bed hungry, which adds up to more than 61 million meals missed annually. Food insecure households are not necessarily food insecure all the time. Many times, food insecurity may reflect a household’s need to make trade-offs between medical bills and other basic needs. With this many people in need, food banks are struggling to make ends meet, and it’s time for the state to provide essential support.

As your Representative, I hope to reflect your interests and concerns in my work at the Capitol, so please reach out at any time. The Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can listen to or watch our debates live.

Please check out other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts, forums, and Black Hawk County Representatives’ weekly video update, you can also reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for keeping updated this session!

Bob


4/23/19 House pages provide valuable support to legislative staff and Representatives; the page program is open to juniors and seniors in high school.


4/25/19 Thank you to my Clerk, Gabbie Ruggiero, for all your hard work. She is looking for employment in government, policy, and social justice in the Des Moines area; feel free to reach out with any leads!


4/25/19 Rep. Thede and Kressig with our Doormen. Thank you for all your work!

Community Events

25-26 Hawkeye Student Production: Ready Player One Hawkeye Community College, Thu

1:30pm; Fri 7pm, 296-4007

25-26 Rapture, Blister, Burn Cedar Falls Community Theatre, 7pm, 277-5283

26 OK Go GBPAC, 7pm, 273-2028

26-28 MVC Women’s Tennis Championships UNI Tennis Complex, 444-4300

26-28 Blue Suede Memories Electric Park Ballroom, 290-8097

26-28 Junie B Jones is Not a Crook Waterloo Center for the Arts, Fri 7pm; Sat & Sun 2pm, 291-4494

27 Walk For Wishes, A Superhero 5k and Family Fun Day Gateway Park, 8:30am, 515-334-2636

27 Tour De Falls Pfeiffer Springs Park, 10am, 515-327-9075

27 The Illusionists GBPAC, 2pm & 7pm, 273-2028

28 Symphony No. 9 “Choral” by Ludwig van Beethoven *GBPAC, 2pm, 273-2028

28 Cedar Valley CourtKings vs. Green Bay Area Titans Cedar Valley SportsPlex, 7:30pm, 269-5924

5/2 Girls’ Night Out Cedar Falls Downtown District, 5pm, 277-0213

5/3 UNI Children’s Choir Concert UNI Campus – Russell Hall, 7:30pm, 273-2142

5/3-4 Junie B Jones is Not a Crook Waterloo Center for the Arts, Fri 7pm; Sat 2pm, 291-4494

5/3-5 The Little Mermaid presented by Columbus Catholic HS Cedar Falls Community Theatre, Fri 7pm; Sat 2pm & 7pm; Sun 2pm, 233-3358

News from the Statehouse

Federal Government Investigating Iowa Medicaid Privatization

Just weeks after 420,000 Iowans on Medicaid learned they would be facing another health care disruption, the federal government announced plans to investigate the out of state private companies managing Medicaid in Iowa.

The U.S. Office of Inspector General said they will be investigating whether these managed care organizations (MCOs) are denying services and cutting care to the members they serve. Those that called for the investigation directly cited Iowa’s managed care disaster as an example of why this in-depth examination was necessary.

To help fix the Medicaid mess, House Democrats have proposed several different solutions to provide affordable, accessible health care to Iowans. However, House Republicans refused to take any of them, and in some cases, wouldn’t even allow the bills to come up for debate.

The investigative report is expected to be released sometime in 2020.

Legislature Takes First Step Towards Hemp Cultivation

Iowa farmers could have a new commodity to grow, process, and sell next year.  Passing on a bi-partisan vote, Iowa Hemp Act regulates the licensing and growing of industrial hemp. Hemp is defined as a species of cannabis that does not exceed three-tenths of 1% THC.

The legislation directs the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) to prepare a state plan and submit it to the United States Department of Agricultural (USDA).  Once approved, IDALS assumes primary regulatory authority over the production of hemp.

Senate File 599 comes as a result of changes contained in the 2018 Farm Bill. The bill removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act and allowed the USDA to issue regulations and guidance on the commercial production of industrial hemp. Under the law, states submit a plan to the USDA and must include certain requirements, such as keeping track of land, testing methods, and disposal of plants or products that exceed the allowed THC concentration.

IDALS will have oversight responsibility over industrial hemp and will establish and administer the hemp license applications. As a condition of licensure, consent is given to IDALS and the Department of Public Safety (DPS) or local law enforcement entering the crop site at any time. An individual can hold a number of licenses at one time but cannot cultivate more than 40 acres.

Currently, 41 states have enacted legislation to establish industrial hemp cultivation and production programs.  The bill now moves to the Governor for her approval.

Read More News from the Statehouse

Sports Betting and Fantasy Sports Pass the House
“Logan’s Law” Passes the Iowa House
GOP Lawmakers Strip Powers from Iowa Attorney General
Water Quality Education Grants Available
Vietnam Veterans Recognition Ceremony

April 5, 2019

Greetings to you all,

I kept busy this past weekend in Cedar Falls. I have enjoyed serving on the UNI College of Education Advisory Board, where we get updates from Dean Jean-Marie, including how the College is preparing teachers for their life after college, many of whom will stay and teach in the state. On Saturday, I was a celebrity server at Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley’s Appetite for Service. It was a great thing to be a part of, and I was able to see the many organizations whose volunteers make the Cedar Valley a better place.

This is the second funnel week, which means a bill must have passed out of one chamber and a committee in the other chamber in order to move forward this session. The public lands bill in the house was killed in subcommittee last month, but its similar companion bill, SF548, passed the Senate and made its way to the House Agriculture Committee despite public outcry. It passed on Wednesday. Similarly, last week the House passed HJR14, which is the first step toward a Constitutional amendment to restore felons’ voting rights after they have served their time. However, on Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee decided to take HJR14 off of their agenda, effectively killing the proposal this session. This is devastating news for thousands of Iowans. We are a better state when we are all represented.

Late Friday, Governor Reynolds announced UnitedHealth Care is leaving Iowa’s managed care program. Since they currently manage 70% of Iowans on Medicaid, it means 425,000 Iowans will have their health care disrupted again and that includes thousands of our most vulnerable who have long term disabilities or debilitating illnesses. I’ve heard from many Iowans—both patients and providers—who are fed up with Medicaid privatization. Three years ago the State run Medicaid program was described by the Branstad-Reynolds administration as unsustainable, now three years later the Branstad-Reynolds privatization program is unsustainable.

This is why my colleagues and I offered two amendments to Medicaid legislation on Monday. The first would have taken LTSS—Long Term Services and Support—patients out of the current system. This population is the most vulnerable on Medicaid and uses about 80% of Medicaid funding, so pulling them out of the system makes sense. The second amendment would have eliminated managed care organizations, and the Governor and lawmakers would have been forced to work together to develop a system that ends the disruptions and actually improves access to health care. While both were rejected, I’m going to keep working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to try and find a better way to make health care affordable and accessible. Rep. Brown-Powers spoke on this topic in our weekly video update, including the timeline United clients need to follow to find a new provider. This can provide more information on that timeline and contacts for questions on this issue.

As your Representative, I hope to reflect your interests and concerns in my work at the Capitol, so please reach out at any time. This session I serve as Ranking Member of the Transportation Committee and am a member of the Public Safety, Local Government, and Commerce Committees. This link will take you to my current subcommittee assignments. The Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. New this year are video tutorials on the website features, which are indicated by red YouTube video icons. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can listen to or watch our debates live.

Please check out other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts, forums, and Black Hawk County Representatives’ weekly video update, you can also reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Bob


4/1/19 Rep. Kressig read House Resolution 20, which he co-authored with Rep. Best, a resolution honoring UNI wrestler Drew Foster, who is the NCAA Division I wrestling national champion in the 184-pound class.


4/1/19 Reps. Kressig and Best met with members of UNI Athletics and UNI Wrestling.


4/1/19 Hannah Gregor, a UNI Political Communications major, presented at Research in the Capitol. Hannah researched how college evangelical ministries help students create their identity.


4/1/19 Nicole Baxter, a UNI Political Science and Philosophy major, presented at Research at the Capitol. Nicole took up the question of what the U.S. is obligated to do in the face of a mass migration of displaced persons due to the ramifications of climate change.


4/2/19 Reps. Kressig and Williams met with middle and high school student council members from Valley Lutheran Schools.

Upcoming Community Events

4-6 Love Rocks! Shop for a Cause Downtown Cedar Falls, 277-0213
5 Relay For Life UNI McLeod Center, 5pm, 815-590-2961
5 Black Hawks Hockey vs Chicago Young Arena, 7:05pm, 291-7680
5 Spotlight Series Concert: UNI Jazz Band One UNI Campus – Russell Hall, 7:30pm, 273-2142
6 An Evening with the Turpins Snowden House, Waterloo, 6pm, 234-6357
6 Ira Glass GBPAC, 7pm, 273-2028
6 Black Hawks Hockey vs Omaha Young Arena, 7:05pm, 291-7680
6 Stars of Wartburg Wartburg College, Nuemann Auditorium, Waverly, 7:30pm, 352-8691
7 Cedar Falls’ annual Student Art Exhibition Opening Reception Hearst Center for the Arts, 1-4pm, 273-8641
9 Women Sing GBPAC, 6:30pm, 273-2028
11 George Hinchliffe’s Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain GBPAC, 7pm, 273-2028
12 League of Women Voters Forum Central Middle School, 1350 Katoski Dr., Waterloo, 4:30-6:30pm, 266-9021
12 Lunchtime Concert – Rebecca Burkhardt Hearst Center, noon, 273-8641
12 Red Carpet Nights – Honoring 40 Years of Cedar Valley Hospice Diamond Event Center, 6pm, 272-1771
12 Black Hawks Hockey vs Dubuque Young Arena, 7:05pm, 291-7680
12-13 UNI Orchesis Dance Company Annual Gala Oster Regent Theatre, Fri 7pm; Sat 2pm, 273-2717
12-13 Serse – GF Handel UNI Campus – Russell Hall, 7:30, 273-2142
12-14 Antique Spectacular Vintage Market Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, Fri 4pm; Sat & Sun 10am, 712-326-9964

News from the Statehouse

Medicaid Mess Leaves 425,000 Iowans with Healthcare Disruption

On Friday, Governor Reynolds announced UnitedHealthcare was leaving Iowa’s managed care program.   Not only were all 425,000 of UnitedHealthcare’s members caught off-guard by this announcement, but the Governor did not offer a plan for transition, and left mass confusion and frustration for these Iowans.

Since another managed care organization (MCO) just left Iowa last year, UnitedHealthcare now manages care for 70% of Iowans on Medicaid.  The departure leaves 425,000 Iowans facing another disruption in health care because many had just switched to UnitedHealthcare and have already had multiple case workers.

In response, Democratic lawmakers offered a plan this week to finally end Medicaid privatization and put Iowans back in charge of health care instead of out-of-state companies. However, GOP lawmakers refused to take action to end the uncertainty for Iowans.

Though no details have been released, members with questions regarding this transition can contact the MCOs at:

Iowa Total Care: 1-833-404-1061
Amerigroup Iowa: 1-800-600-4441
UnitedHealthcare: 1-800-464-9484

Members can reach Medicaid Member Services at: 1-800-338-8366.

For more information about the withdrawal of UnitedHealthcare, please visit www.IAHealthLink.gov.

Restoration of Felon Voting Rights Passes House on Bipartisan Vote

An amendment to the Iowa Constitution that would restore the voting rights of certain people that have committed crimes passed the Iowa House recently.

House Joint Resolution 14 would allow anyone convicted of a felony that has discharged his or her sentence to have the right to vote restored.  Under current law, anyone convicted of an “infamous crime,” or essentially a felony, can never vote again in the state without a restoration person’s rights.

HJR 14 passed the Iowa House on a bipartisan vote of 95-2.  The bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, but it’s unclear if the committee will take up the bill this session. It will have to be voted out of that Committee by April 5th to remain eligible to be debated this legislative session.

The amendment will also have to pass during the current consecutive two-year General Assembly.  If the amendment then passed the next General Assembly, starting in January 2021, the amendment would be put before the voters on general election ballot in November 2022.  If a majority of the voters approved the change the Iowa Constitution would be amended.  The Constitutional amendment was proposed by Governor Reynolds.

Iowa and Kentucky are the only two states in the country that permanently prohibit felons from voting.  There are currently about 50,000 people in the state of Iowa that have lost the right to vote because of a criminal record.  The only way to restore the person’s rights under current Iowa law is for the Governor to do the restoration.

Read More News from the Statehouse

Iowa Care Act Passes Both House and Senate
Strengthening Animal Cruelty Laws Advances in House
Sports Wagering Bills Continue to Change
Paddling Safety Reminder

March 29, 2019

Greetings to you all,

We had many visitors this week at the Capitol. Physician Day on the Hill on Wednesday brought Cedar Falls native and University of Iowa medical student Sophia Williams-Perez. We talked about the faults of MCOs (managed care organizations) after the privatization of Medicare, including late or denied provider reimbursements. We also discussed child mental health and how Sophia thought telemedicine could alleviate the lack of services for kids. It’s important for young doctors, especially those interested in psychiatry, like Sophia, to stay in Iowa to help combat these issues.

I also met with members of the Iowa Music Therapy State Recognition Task Force on Wednesday, who were lobbying on behalf of HF419. This bill protects Iowa consumers and state agencies from fraudulently receiving service labeled “music therapy” when it is not provided by a credentialed board certified-music therapist. Music therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish therapy goals with a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program. Recognition of the existing music therapy certification program through American Music therapy Association and Certification Board of Music Therapy will ensure consumer protection. I was glad the Task Force made me aware of this issue.

I’ve received numerous emails about HF669, a bill proposed to increase electrical grid usage fees for customers that generate solar energy. A couple from Eastern Iowa emailed me this week explaining their current residential fees, and how others interested in installing solar panels would be effected:
When we installed our array for about $4000, the projected recovery period was 12 years, which meant that we could expect to save about $333 / year in total electricity costs. The neighbor who installs the same capacity for the same price under [the new legislation] could expect to save about $136 / year, resulting in a 29.4 year recovery period.  The projected life of the system is 25 years.

In other words, there is no cost saving incentive to install solar power. Solar power is a vital, largely untapped renewable energy that would greatly reduce the environmental cost of energy production. Solar generators already pay grid fees, and it’s important to keep solar accessible to all Iowans. If we are to face one of the most pressing issues of our time—climate change—we can’t afford to take this step backward.

On Tuesday, HF732 passed 96-3 allowing modest expansions to Iowa’s medical cannabis program. The original medical cannabis program benefited many Iowans, but it was far past time to expand access to those with chronic pain, including multiple sclerosis and cancer patients.  HF732 changes the requirements for treatment from someone who has “untreatable pain” to “severe or chronic pain”, which could allow for more treatable conditions. The bill also removes THC caps based on percentage and instead caps THC levels at 25g per 90 days. As with other medications, a gram cap makes more sense for dosage and ease for the patient. Lastly, the bill as amended allows for dosages exceeding 25g per 90 days for patients with less than a year to live with outlined chronic pain conditions and as approved by their physician. While the bill is a step forward, there are more suffering Iowans who could benefit from expanded access to medical cannabis. I was glad to be a part in this vital legislation, and hopefully in upcoming sessions we can work to make Iowa’s medical cannabis program accessible to more Iowans.

For Iowans who qualify, the process to access medical cannabis is easy. After a health care practitioner fills out a form to show they qualify, patients can register online at http://www.idph.iowa.gov/cbd/.  Once they have been approved by the Iowa Department of Public Health, Iowans can go to their local driver’s license station to pick up their cannabis registration card. Medical cannabis products can then be purchased at one of the dispensaries in Sioux City, Council Bluffs, Des Moines, Waterloo, or Davenport.

As your Representative, I hope to reflect your interests and concerns in my work at the Capitol, so please reach out at any time. This session I serve as Ranking Member of the Transportation Committee and am a member of the Public Safety, Local Government, and Commerce Committees. This link will take you to my current subcommittee assignments. The Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. New this year are video tutorials on the website features, which are indicated by red YouTube video icons. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can listen to or watch our debates live.

Please check out other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts, forums, and Black Hawk County Representatives’ weekly video update, you can also reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Bob


3/25/19 Rep. Kressig shakes the hand of Senator Eric Giddens after Sen. Giddens was sworn into office Monday.


3/25/19 Sen. Giddens, Rep. Brown-Powers and Rep. Kressig gathered in the Senate Chamber on Monday to celebrate Sen. Giddens’s election.


3/26/19 Andrew Peters of the Family YMCA of Black Hawk County visited the Capitol Tuesday to advocate for YMCA youth achievement programs.  Iowa YMCAs served almost 310,000 Iowans in 2017 and provide vital summer and after school programs for youth development.


3/27/19 Reps. Kressig and Williams met with Sophia Williams-Perez, a University of Iowa medical student from Cedar Falls, for Physicians Day on the Hill.


3/27/19 Rep. Kressig and his colleagues gathered with North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters and their family members.


3/27/19 Rep. Kressig and Sen. Giddens met with members of the Iowa Music Therapy State Recognition Task Force.

Community Events

28-31 Ring of Fire Waterloo Community Playhouse, Thu/Fri/Sat 7pm; Sun 2pm, 291-4494
29 Cedar Valley Taste of Achievement 2019 Hilton Garden Inn of Cedar Falls, 6:30pm, 274-0760
29-31 USAW Folkstyle Nationals UNI-Dome, 504-6991
30 The Righteous Brothers GBPAC, 7pm, 273-2028
31 Popovich Comedy Pet Theatre GBPAC, 2pm, 273-2028
4/2 Hawkeye Student Art Show Opening Reception Hawkeye Community College, Library, 6pm, 296-4007
4/2 Black Hawks Hockey vs Sioux City Young Arena, 7:05pm, 291-7680
4/3-4 Sail On: The Beach Boys Tribute Hawkeye Community College, Tama Hall, Wed 1:30pm; Thu 7pm, 296-4464
4/4 Hops Downtown Cedar Falls, 5:30pm, 277-0213
4/4-6 Love Rocks! Shop for a Cause Downtown Cedar Falls, 277-0213
4/5 Relay For Life UNI McLeod Center, 5pm, 815-590-2961
4/5 Black Hawks Hockey vs Chicago Young Arena, 7:05pm, 291-7680
4/5 Spotlight Series Concert: UNI Jazz Band One UNI Campus – Russell Hall, 7:30pm, 273-2142
4/6 An Evening with the Turpins Snowden House, Waterloo, 6pm, 234-6357
4/6 Ira Glass *GBPAC, 7pm, 273-2028
4/6 Black Hawks Hockey vs Omaha Young Arena, 7:05pm, 291-7680
4/6 Stars of Wartburg Wartburg College, Nuemann Auditorium, Waverly, 7:30pm, 352-8691
4/9 Women Sing GBPAC, 6:30pm, 273-2028

News from the Statehouse

Children’s Mental Health System Legislation Passed House  

Iowa does not currently have a mental health system specifically designed for children.

In April 2018, Gov. Reynolds signed an Executive Order creating the Children’s Mental Health System Board that was tasked with developing the system and laying out groundwork for future legislation. Last week, House File 690 passed the House and created an infrastructure for the system. The children’s system closely mirrors the adult mental health system that was created through legislation last year.

First, the bill identifies what core services would be part of the children’s system. These services include prevention, early identification, education, behavioral health outpatient therapy, mobile response, crisis stabilization residential and community-based services, and a statewide 24-hour crisis hotline. The bill also makes some changes to the Mental Health and Disability Services Regions Governing Board to help integrate the children’s system into the current adult system. Finally, the bill provides eligibility requirements for those who are able to receive these services.

The most important recommendation suggested by the Board was to find a stable funding source for this system. Unfortunately, the bill does not address this issue. Funding is especially important because the mental health regions will be asked to fund most of this system without receiving any sort of financial assistance from the state.

In fact, it is estimated that the regions will have to pay over $3.2 million in FY 2020 and $5 million in FY 2021 just for the children’s system alone. The regions are already required to fund the vast majority of the adult mental health system, and in order to truly make meaningful and lasting changes to children’s mental health, the services need to be fully-funded without depending entirely on one source.

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

House Approves Medical Cannabidiol Expansion

More Iowans with severe health problems and chronic pain will have access to medicine that could improve their lives after a bi-partisan bill to expand the state’s medical cannabis law was approved by the Iowa House.

In 2017, the Iowa Legislature expanded access to medical cannabis to Iowans suffering from the following medical conditions: cancer, multiple sclerosis, seizures; AIDS or HIV, Crohn’s disease; ALS, Parkinson’s disease; and other terminal diseases or untreatable pain. Currently, Iowa’s medical cannabis law is limited to the production of oils, capsules, and creams. Any production or sale of smokeable forms of marijuana is prohibited.

House File 732 was approved this week and would eliminate the current 3% THC cap and replace it with a 25 gram over 90-day period maximum disbursement.  If signed in to law, the bill becomes effective immediately.

Currently, Iowa Relief and MedPharm are the only cannibis manufacturers licensed to operate within the state. MedPharm products opened in December at five licensed dispensaries, in Waterloo, Davenport, Council Bluffs, Windsor Heights, and Sioux City. As of the beginning of 2019, there were 505 health care professionals in Iowa who have patients certified for medical cannabidiol.

In a poll released earlier this year, nearly 80 percent of Iowans support expanding access to the state’s Medical Cannabidiol program, according to the Des Moines Register.

HF 732 now goes to the Senate for further consideration.

Read More News from the Statehouse

Politicize Judicial Selection Process Bill Could be Debated Soon
State Budget Process Begins in the House
Another Small Step to Improve Water Quality
Iowa Awarded with $9.5 million to Help Homelessness
Educator Misconduct Loophole Closed

March 21, 2019

Greetings to you all,

It’s week ten of the legislative session, and Senate bills are making their way to the House floor. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Black Hawk Co. weekly House video updates. They’re short, to the point, and highlight what we’ve been working on and watching that week.

In a show of bipartisanship, HF 690, the children’s mental health bill, passed the House Thursday 83-14. Although not as robust as the minority would have liked, the bill enacts a framework for care. The bill, in part, covers the following:

•    Resident children under 18 that have been diagnosed with a serious emotional disturbance and whose family is at or less than 500% of the Federal Poverty Level are qualified for services

•    Establishes a Children’s Behavior Health System State Board to provide guidance on the implementation and management of the system; the Department of Human Services will adopt Board recommendations

•    Establishes core services, including treatment of a child’s serious emotional disturbance and comprehensive facility and community-based crisis services

•    Although no direct funding is appropriated, DHS has to ensure the defined core services are covered by Medicaid, and cost-sharing measures, such as copayments and a sliding fee scale, will be available for families between 150% and 500% of the poverty line

There is no specific funding allocated in the bill, but establishing a system is a good first step towards addressing this issue. Future funding would be allocated through the Health and Human Services budget. Unfortunately, the only plan we’ve seen from the Governor and the majority party is to take money from mental health services for adults and shift it to kids. We’ll be working in the weeks ahead to strengthen the bill to cover more kids through private insurance and by involving school systems for comprehensive prevention and care.

As we’ve passed the midway point of session, we’ve still got a lot of work ahead to make health care both more affordable and accessible for Iowans. There are several bills still working through the Legislature that should improve our health care system, including a bill to make insulin available to Iowans in emergency situations and another that will make it easier to get treatment for substance abuse disorders. Additionally, I’m also hopeful a bill to expand access to birth control for women will get signed in to law this year. It’s a good step in reaching our goal of making family planning services available to Iowans, regardless of where they live.

In the Senate, SF 548 passed yesterday despite public outcry, a bill that makes it more difficult for cities and counties to establish green space. The companion bill in the House did make it out of subcommittee two weeks ago, but now the House has the ability to consider the Senate version. The bill stops the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation from using a state revolving loan fund with low interest rates to purchase land for water quality projects. Through this fund, the Foundation acquires small parcels of land, usually wetlands and floodplains, and restores and maintains them. Maintaining vegetation around bodies of water helps prevent runoff and provides a natural barrier to mitigate flooding. I’ll keep you updated if the bill is considered in the House.

The SD30 Special Election had a great turnout, especially at UNI’s satellite voting location. 864 people voted at UNI’s satellite voting locations. When considering voter turnout amounted to 13,200, that’s a significant number, and it’s in large part due to get out the vote efforts by students. I’m looking forward to working with Senator-elect Giddens next week and the rest of the session after the election results are verified. Learn more about the election results from Des Moines Register coverage and Courier coverage. The Black Hawk Co. Auditor has provided a breakdown of numbers by ward and precinct. To keep in touch with our Senator-elect, you can follow him on Twitter at @ericgiddens4IA and on Facebook at @ericgiddensforiowa.

The Cedar Valley United Way is collaborating with UnityPoint, MercyOne, Black Hawk County Health Department, People’s Clinic and UNI to complete a community needs assessment in order to be sure they are providing the most essential services to meet our residents’ needs. Help make our community a healthier place by filling out a health survey on your experiences and needs: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/V3M593V 

As your Representative, I hope to reflect your interests and concerns in my work at the Capitol, so please reach out at any time. This session I serve as Ranking Member of the Transportation Committee and am a member of the Public Safety, Local Government, and Commerce Committees. This link will take you to my current subcommittee assignments. The Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. New this year are video tutorials on the website features, which are indicated by red YouTube video icons. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can listen to or watch our debates live.

Please check out other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Bob

Community Events

18-22 World’s Greatest Spring Break for Kids Downtown Waterloo, 287-9102
21 More Music in Mae Latta Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
21-23 FIRST Regional Robotics Competition McLeod Center, 273-3211
22-24 Ring of Fire Waterloo Community Playhouse, Fri & Sat 7pm; Sun 2pm, 291-4494
23 Blackhawks Hockey vs Cedar Rapids Young Arena, 7:05pm, 291-7680
23-24 Funky Junk-A-Loo Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, 10am, 291-2038
24 Artrageous GBPAC, 2pm, 273-2028
27 Black Hawk Co. GoSolar Informational Meeting Hawkeye Community College, Tama Hall Room 117 1501 E Orange Rd., Waterloo, 12:00 – 1:00pm and 5:30 – 6:30pm
26 Blackhawks Hockey vs Sioux Falls Young Arena, 7:05pm, 291-7680
26-29 Waverly Midwest Horse Sale Waverly Sale Barn, 8am, 352-2804
28 Final Thursday Reading Series – Paul Hedeen Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
28-31 Ring of Fire Waterloo Community Playhouse, Thu/Fri/Sat 7pm; Sun 2pm, 291-4494
29 Cedar Valley Taste of Achievement 2019 Hilton Garden Inn of Cedar Falls, 6:30pm, 274-0760
29-31 USAW Folkstyle Nationals UNI-Dome, 504-6991
30 The Righteous Brothers GBPAC, 7pm, 273-2028
31 Popovich Comedy Pet Theatre GBPAC, 2pm, 273-2028


The Northeast Iowa Agency on Aging was the Statehouse on March 19. Alexandria Diehl, Donna Harvey, Lisa Wetzel and Greg Zars met with Reps. Timi Brown-Powers and Kressig to discuss their programs for aging Iowans, including the need to provide hot meals for those who need them.


Waterloo and Cedar Falls credit unions were at the Statehouse on Wednesday, March 20 including Veridian Credit Union, Collins Community Credit Union, and Cedar Falls Community Credit Union and spoke with Reps. Timi Brown-Powers, Smith, Williams and Kressig.

News from the Statehouse

Assistance Available for Iowans Impacted by Severe Flooding

Assistance is now available to Iowans who are impacted by severe flooding.   Last week, the Governor issued a disaster proclamation for numerous counties across Iowa and also activated Iowa’s State Emergency Operations Center to coordinate flood emergency response.

The proclamation allows state resources to be utilized for response recovery and activates the Iowa Individual Assistance Grant Program for qualifying residents, along with Disaster Case Management Program for 41 counties, including: Adair, Bremer, Buena Vista, Butler, Cerro Gordo, Cherokee, Clay, Clayton, Crawford, Dallas, Delaware, Dickinson, Emmet, Fayette, Franklin, Fremont, Guthrie, Hancock, Hardin, Harrison, Humboldt, Ida, Iowa, Kossuth, Mills, Monona, Montgomery, O’Brien, Page, Palo Alto, Plymouth, Pottawattamie, Shelby, Sioux, Tama, Webster, Winnebago, Winneshiek, Woodbury, Worth, and Wright.

Individual Assistance Grants

The Individual Assistance Grant Program provides grants up to $5,000 for household incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level or a maximum annual income of $41,560 for household of three. These grants are available for home or car repairs, clothing or food and temporary housing expenses. Original receipts are required for those seeking reimbursement for actual expenses related to storm recovery.

The grant application and instructions are available on the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) website and potential applicants have 45 days from the date of the proclamation to submit a claim. The link to the application can be found here:  https://dhs.iowa.gov/disaster-assistance-programs?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery.

Disaster Case Management

The Disaster Case Management is a program designed to provide assistance for a disaster-related hardship, injury, or adverse conditions. Disaster case managers work with individuals to create a disaster recovery plan and provide guidance, advice, and referral to obtain a service or resource. There are no income eligibility requirements for this program and it closes 180 days from the Governor’s proclamation date. The Disaster Case Management Program is administered through local community action associations, which Pottawattamie’s local agency contact information can be found here: http://iowacommunityaction.org/agencies/west-central-community-action.

Extension on Income Taxes

The Iowa Department of Revenue has granted a 30-day extension and suspension of any penalty or interest for taxpayers whose principal residence or business is located in a disaster area and whose payment or return is due on or before March 31 as a response to the Governor’s disaster declaration.

Lifesaving Emergency Insulin Bill Passes the House  

A bill designed to allow patients to receive a 30-day emergency insulin supply with an expired prescription has passed the House.  The bill also includes lifesaving medications like Epi-Pens and rescue inhalers.

House File 700, is intended to prevent situations when a patient is unable to receive medications because they can’t reach their doctor and they have an expired prescription.  Lifesaving medication like insulin needs to be taken every day at regular intervals. Any deviation from this routine could be fatal to the patient.

HF 700 now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Read More News from the Statehouse

Projections Show Iowa’s Revenue Remains Stagnant
Reserve Memorial Day State Park Camping
New Student Assessment Implementation Begins
February Snowiest Month Ever on Record

March 14, 2019

Greetings to you all,

There is some good news for public schools this week as a bipartisan plan to extend funding for school infrastructure improvements was approved by the House. The program, called SAVE (Secure an Advanced Vision for Education), was created by Democrats a decade ago to help schools upgrade infrastructure and keep schools safe. Long a priority of school leaders, the plan will help keep class sizes low and make sure students have the equipment and facilities to prepare them for jobs in growing industries while reduce property taxes. There is more to be done to build upon this good work for schools. This session, we should expand access to preschool and increasing the state’s investment in public schools beyond the rate of inflation.

In other news this week, on a party line vote, House Republicans passed a bill this week to eliminate background checks before buying guns. The proposed change to Iowa’s constitution could also eliminate the permit Iowans must get to carry concealed handguns and overturn other Iowa laws that keep guns out of schools, hospital, and courthouses.

In the Senate, the bill to politicize how judges are selected was passed, allowing bias into the court system by letting politicians and campaign donors select Iowa judges. The bill is a power grab and threatens the checks and balances of our system of government.  Additionally, a Senate subcommittee passed out a bill that would limit satellite voting locations, including at college campuses. It would also allow polls to close early and require college students to indicate whether they are leaving the state after graduation, and if so, they would be removed from the voter registry.

Election Day is Tuesday for Senate District 30. There is still time to learn about the candidates now is the time to plan when and where you will be voting. Do your friends and family have a way to get to the polls?

Friday, March 15: early voting at the Black Hawk Co. Courthouse, 8 AM – 4:30 PM

Saturday, March 16: early voting at the Black Co. Courthouse 8:00 AM –  4:00 PM

Monday, March 18: early voting at the Black Co. Courthouse 8:00 AM –  4:00 PM

Tuesday, March 19: Election Day; polls open 7:00 AM – 9:00 PM

Find your polling place: https://www.co.black-hawk.ia.us/212/Polling-Locations-List

If you’re not sure what your precinct and ward is, you can find it on your voter registration card, or at:https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/voterreg/pollingplace/search.aspx. Please only use this link to find your ward and precinct, as polling places may differ for the special election. For example, University Book and Supply is closed for Spring Break, so Ward 3 Precinct 3 will vote at Gilchrist Hall with Ward 4 Precinct 3 for this election only.

The Cedar Valley United Way​ is collaborating with UnityPoint, MercyOne, Black Hawk County Health Department, People’s Clinic and UNI to complete a community needs assessment in order to be sure they are providing the most essential services to meet our residents’ needs. Help make our community a healthier place by filling out a health survey on your experiences and needs: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/V3M593V

As your Representative, I hope to reflect your interests and concerns in my work at the Capitol, so please reach out at any time. This session I serve as Ranking Member of the Transportation Committee and am a member of the Public Safety, Local Government, and Commerce Committees. This link will take you to my current subcommittee assignments. The Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. New this year are video tutorials on the website features, which are indicated by red YouTube video icons. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can listen to or watch our debates live.

Please check out other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Get out the vote!

Bob

Upcoming Community Events

15-17 Eastern Iowa Sportshow UNI-Dome, Fri 3pm; Sat 9:30am; Sun 10am, 232-0218
18-22 World’s Greatest Spring Break for Kids Downtown Waterloo, 287-9102
21 More Music in Mae Latta Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
21-23 FIRST Regional Robotics Competition McLeod Center, 273-3211
22-24 Ring of Fire Waterloo Community Playhouse, Fri & Sat 7pm; Sun 2pm, 291-4494
23 Blackhawks Hockey vs Cedar Rapids Young Arena, 7:05pm, 291-7680
23-24 Funky Junk-A-Loo Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, 10am, 291-2038
24 Artrageous *GBPAC, 2pm, 273-2028
26 Blackhawks Hockey vs Sioux Falls Young Arena, 7:05pm, 291-7680
26-29 Waverly Midwest Horse Sale Waverly Sale Barn, 8am, 352-2804
28 Final Thursday Reading Series – Paul Hedeen Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
28-31 Ring of Fire Waterloo Community Playhouse Thu/Fri/Sat 7pm; Sun 2pm, 291-4494
29 Cedar Valley Taste of Achievement 2019 Hilton Garden Inn of Cedar Falls, 6:30pm, 274- 0760
29-31 USAW Folkstyle Nationals UNI-Dome, 504- 6991
30 The Righteous Brothers *GBPAC, 7pm, 273- 2028
4/2 Hawkeye Student Art Show Opening Reception Hawkeye Community College, Library, 6pm, 296-4007
4/2 Black Hawks Hockey vs Sioux City Young Arena, 7:05pm, 291-7680
4/3-4 Sail On: The Beach Boys Tribute Hawkeye Community College, Tama Hall, Wed 1:30pm; Thu 7pm, 296-4464
4/4-6 Love Rocks! Shop for a Cause Downtown Cedar Falls, 277-0213
4/5 Relay For Life UNI McLeod Center, 5pm, 815- 590-2961


Reps. Williams and Kressig met with international students studying across Iowa, including from Cedar Falls and Hudson, and answered questions related to state government.

News from the Statehouse

Improvements to School Infrastructure Passes House

The Iowa House passed a bill this week to extend funding for school infrastructure improvements for another 20 years.

A top priority of school leaders across Iowa for several years, the plan under consideration would extend the one cent local sales tax for school infrastructure (SAVE) through 2051 instead of expiring in 2031.

The bill will continue to provide funds for school infrastructure improvements, as well as allocating a portion of the funds for property tax relief between two different funds, one to school districts with low valuations and one for property tax relief to all school districts. A separate Career Academy competitive grant fund is established to help build job training facilities.

More transparency is provided in the plan by allowing voters to reapprove the district’s revenue purpose statement. If SAVE funds are going to be obligated for 20 year bonds, school boards must hold a public hearing and give citizens an opportunity to petition for a direct vote of the people.

House and Senate Democrats created the SAVE fund in 2008 and have been working for years to continue to program to ensure the safety of Iowa students by improving school infrastructures.

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Working to Reduce Human Trafficking in Iowa

A bill passed out of the House could help reduce and better identify human trafficking in Iowa. The bill allows for better communication between many of the agencies that work to recognize victims of human trafficking. These agencies include the Department of Human Resources (DHS), law enforcement, victim services, juvenile probation, and county attorney offices.

Currently, information regarding a possible victim can only be shared in very narrow circumstances. This bill will widen these circumstances and allow for more sharing of information between the partners, and more effective collaboration. In many circumstances, the key to helping and identifying victims of human trafficking is inter-agency cooperation. House File 642 now goes to the Senate for consideration.

For more information regarding identifying and fighting human trafficking, please visit https://www.iowaattorneygeneral.gov/for-crime-victims/fighting-human-trafficking.

Read More News from the Statehouse

GOP Lawmakers Approve Bill to Eliminate Background Checks
Constitutional Amendment Restoring Felon Voting Rights Advances
State Pays Out Millions in Sexual Harassment Claims
Legislature Passes Agricultural Trespass Law
Urban Trout Stocking Schedule

March 8, 2019

Greetings to you all,

We reached an important deadline in the Legislature this week in order to move forward in the process, all bills have to pass out of committee by Friday, which meant many long meetings will take place. Based on the bipartisan bills coming out of committee, I’m hopeful we can find common ground to create a new children’s mental health system, help schools make infrastructure improvements, create new markets for farmers, and expand access to family planning. Learn more about funnel week in my weekly update video with Reps. Williams, Brown-Powers, and Smith.

Funnel week also brings strong citizen advocacy as leadership tries to push through last-minute legislation. On Monday morning, HF542 died in subcommittee after massive public organization and attendance to the meeting. I received several emails regarding the bill over the weekend from those opposed. The bill aimed to inhibit future public land acquisition and land and water quality projects. It also attacked property rights and would have made it harder for private landowners to do conservation on their own land. A version in the Senate, SSB1221, decreases access to land for water quality projects and eliminate tax credits for donating land for public use. Despite the outpour of disapproval, this bill advanced to the Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee and was passed out of committee. You can contact Senators, including Senator Charles Schneider, who as the President of the Senate has say on whether the bill will make it on the debate calendar.

Students continue to be a powerful lobby group at the Capitol. On Tuesday, Hawkeye students were visiting for Community College day on the hill and spoke to the importance of community colleges as accessible centers of learning. Additionally, UNI Students advocated for HSB175, which provides immunity from certain alcohol-related offences when seeking emergency services. A similar measure was passed by the Senate last year, and HSB175 passed out of the Public Safety Committee. Hopefully it will be put on the House debate calendar.

On Wednesday, a bill allowing modest increases to Iowa’s medical cannabis program passed out of subcommittee. Essentially, HSB244 changes the requirements for treatment from someone who has “untreatable pain” to “severe or chronic pain”, which could allow for more treatable conditions. It also allows physicians assistants to certify patient applications for medical cannabis registration cards. Lastly, the bill proposes to remove THC caps based on percentage and instead caps THC levels at 20mg per 90 days. As with over the counter medications, a milligram cap makes more sense for dosage and ease for the patient.

The Senate District 30 Special Election is approaching quickly, and now is the time to plan by what means and when you will be voting. You can request an absentee ballot to be sent to you by mail at the Black Hawk Co. Courthouse Election Office by 5 PM on Friday. Cedar Falls will have two satellite voting locations on March 12-14: the Diamond Event Center and the UNI Maucker Union. Democrats nominated Eric Giddens and of Cedar Falls, a program manager for the Center for Energy and Environmental Education at the University of Northern Iowa and a member of the Cedar Falls Board of Education, and the Republicans have nominated former Iowa Representative Walt Rodgers. Ask your family and friends about their plan to vote, including if they have the necessary transportation to get to the polls.  Learn more about the voting timeline and locations.

As your Representative, I hope to reflect your interests and concerns in my work at the Capitol, so please reach out at any time. This session I serve as Ranking Member of the Transportation Committee and am a member of the Public Safety, Local Government, and Commerce Committees. This link will take you to my current subcommittee assignments. The Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. New this year are video tutorials on the website features, which are indicated by red YouTube video icons. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can listen to or watch our debates live.

Please check out other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebookand Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Bob

Election timeline:
8: Last day to request an absentee ballot by mail by 5 PM at the Black Hawk County Courthouse
11: Absentee (early) voting begins at Black Hawk County Courthouse
12:  Satellite voting: Maucker Union, UNI, 10:00 am – 7:00 pm
13:  Satellite voting: Maucker Union, UNI, 10:00 am – 7:00 pm
13:  Satellite voting: Diamond Event Center, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
14:  Satellite voting: Diamond Event Center, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
16: Absentee voting at the Black Hawk County Courthouse 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM for absentee voting.
18: Last day to vote early at Courthouse
19: Election Day; polls open 7:00am – 9:00pm

Community Events
7 Matt Beilis: The Soul of Pop Hawkeye Community College, 7pm, 296-4464
7 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Bradley University McLeod Center, 273-4849
8 Lunchtime Concert – UNI Trombone Octet Hearst Center, noon, 273-8641
8 Black Hawks Hockey vs Des Moines Young Arena, 7:05pm, 291-7680
8-10 Godspell – Broadway Musical Cedar Falls Woman’s Club, Fri & Sat 7:30pm; Sun 2pm, 266-1431
9 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Illinois State University McLeod Center, 273-4849
9 Black Hawks Hockey vs Sioux Falls Young Arena, 7:05pm, 291-7680
9-10 CVSC Spring Spotlight Cedar Valley Sportsplex, 504-2825
11 Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center – Pianos/Pianists GBPAC, 7pm, 273-2028
13 Black Hawk Co. GoSolar Informational Meeting Cedar Falls Public Library Community Meeting Room, 12-1pm and 5:30-6:30pm 273-7499
15-17 Eastern Iowa Sportshow UNI-Dome, Fri 3pm; Sat 9:30am; Sun 10am, 232-0218


(Left to right) Reps. Brown-Powers, Kressig, Smith, and Williams met with Roger White of Cedar Falls (seated), a strong advocate for REAP, who came to the Capitol on Monday  to voice his opposition to HF542.


The Hawkeye Community College Student Leadership Council with their area Representatives
Picture


Rep. Kressig and (Left to right) Joshua Dausener, Jacob Levang, Jacob Madden, Ann Metz, and seated, Matt Johnson, all of which voiced support for HSB175.


Reps. Kressig and Forbes attend Reps. Klein, Paustian, and Breckenridge’s subcommittee meeting on HSB244, a bill that makes modest expansions in Iowa’s medical cannabis law.


(left to right) Tim Pillack of Waterloo, past President of the Iowa State Police Association, Rep. Williams, Rep. Brown-Powers, Rep. Kressig, and David McFarland, President of the Iowa State Police Association and Waterloo Police Officer, discussed issues facing Iowa police.

News from the Statehouse

Democrats Release New Plan to Put Iowans First

Democratic lawmakers outlined their agenda called Putting Iowans First at the State Capitol this week.  After hearing from Iowans frustrated by the growing influence of special interests in the Legislature, lawmakers developed the agenda for the legislative session to put everyday Iowans back at the front of the line again.

The agenda is centered around the idea that every Iowan deserves a decent paying job, affordable health care, and the chance to lead a good life.  The Putting Iowans First plan has four key priorities; bringing better jobs to your community; affordable, accessible health care for all Iowans; making Iowa schools #1 again; and revitalizing small towns and rural areas.  Lawmakers will be working on legislation throughout the year to enact the agenda.

In recent years, majority party lawmakers have imposed policies that don’t reflect Iowa values and aren’t in the best interest of everyday Iowans. At the same time, they have moved millionaires, corporations, and other special interests to the front of the line — at the expense of working Iowans. This includes stagnant wages, rising health care costs, and more Iowans living paycheck to paycheck.

For more information on the Putting Iowans First plan, go to http://www.IowansFirst.com.

Protect Conservation & Recreation in Iowa

Iowa has one of the lowest numbers of acres of land available for public use and currently is ranked 47th in the nation.  Two bills under consideration in the Legislature this year would put the future of Iowa’s state parks, recreational trails, conservation and wildlife areas in jeopardy.

House File 542 would prohibit the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and county conservation boards from using state money to acquire land which will severely limit conservation and new recreational opportunities in Iowa.  Land for bike trails and expanding land for public use would be difficult because state funds couldn’t be used.  The bill also eliminates tax credits for people and corporations that either donate land or use their land for public good, including water quality projects.

After hundreds of Iowans showed up to oppose the bill this week, HF 542 missed the deadline to advance in the House Natural Resources Committee.  However, a similar bill is also being considered in the Iowa Senate, Senate Study Bill 1221.  The bill prohibits the state from acquiring land for water pollution control projects and it limits what kinds of land the state can purchase. The bill passed out of the Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee this week and can be debated in the Senate.

Iowans concerned about protecting conservation and recreation in Iowa can visit https://bit.ly/2C5wsuMto learn more or leave a comment.

Read More News from the Statehouse

New MCO Joining Iowa’s Medicaid Network
Iowa Utilities Board Schedules Public Meetings for Alliant Energy’s Proposed Rate Increases
Schools Could Be Required to Test for Radon
Sports Betting and Fantasy Sports Pass Committee
Secretary Naig Stresses Need for Water Quality; Disease Protections

March 1, 2019

Greetings to you all,

Next Friday is the deadline for bills to leave committee, what we call funnel week. Hundreds of proposed bills this session will be narrowed down significantly to what has first passed through a subcommittee (usually three Reps.) and then through the full committee.  A lot is going to be happening in the next week as Committee Chairs determine what subcommittee meetings need to be held and as lobbying intensifies, so stay posted by following legislation and checking in through my weekly video.

This week both UNI undergraduate Social Work and Masters of Social majors visited the Capitol with the National Association of Social Workers to advocate for better mental health services. They were interested in current legislation and had thoughts on possible solutions to fix Iowa’s mental health crisis. Maria Bottino mentioned partial hospitalizations as way to alleviate the stress on full in-patient services and offer better care. Under this care, folks spend time as an inpatient during the day and can go home at night, which allows for greater access to their social support network.

This week the governor’s child mental health bill passed out of subcommittee with proposed amendments to follow. I’ve drafted two bills relating to children’s mental health that have a chance of passage in some form; HF556 provides provisions for third-party payments to schools, i.e., payments from private insurance companies, for mental health services provided in schools. Currently, schools are able to collect Medicaid payments, which in turn funds the provider. This bill would make this process applicable to private insurers, which helps alleviate cost burdens and barriers to care. HF427 requires high school and postsecondary institutions to provide students with information regarding suicide preventions and student mental health services. This information will be printed on the back of school ID cards.

The debate over education funding has continued this week over a voucher plan that would shift hundreds of millions of dollars out of public schools to private and home schools. Most Iowans are opposed vouchers, and the state already provides $52 million to private schools (with estimates up to $65 million) while continuing to underfund public schools. There is some good news for public schools this week as a bi-partisan plan to extend funding for school infrastructure improvements, called SAVE, cleared another hurdle and is ready for debate by the House.  It’s long been a priority of school leaders and I’m hopeful we can get it done this year.

The Senate District 30 Special Election is approaching quickly, and now is the time to plan by what means and when you will be voting. You can request an absentee ballot by mail now, and Cedar Falls will have two satellite voting locations on March 12-14: the Diamond Event Center and the UNI Maucker Union. Democrats nominated Eric Giddens and of Cedar Falls, a program manager for the Center for Energy and Environmental Education at the University of Northern Iowa and a member of the Cedar Falls Board of Education, and the Republicans have nominated former Iowa Representative Walt Rodgers. Ask your family and friends about their plan to vote, including if they have the necessary transportation to get to the polls.  Learn more about the voting timeline and locations.

As your Representative, I hope to reflect your interests and concerns in my work at the Capitol, so please reach out at any time. This session I serve as Ranking Member of the Transportation Committee and am a member of the Public Safety, Local Government, and Commerce Committees. This link will take you to my current subcommittee assignments. The Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. New this year are video tutorials on the website features, which are indicated by red YouTube video icons. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can listen to or watch our debates live.

Please check out other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebookand Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Bob

Community Events
26-28 Hawkeye Farm Show UNI-Dome, 9am, 507-437-4577
28 Final Thursday Reading Series – Timothy Fay Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
28-3/3 Theatre UNI: Legacy of Light Strayer-Wood Theatre, 7:30pm; Sun 2pm, 273-6381
3/1-3 Godspell – Broadway Musical Cedar Falls Woman’s Club, Fri & Sat 7:30pm; Sun 2pm, 266-1431
2: Canvassing Kick-Off Event for Eric Giddens with Elizabeth Warren Black Hawk County Democrats Office, 12:30 – 2:30pm
3/2 The Sticky Stride – Frosty Buns Race River Hills School, 8:15am, 277-2187
3/2 Cedar Valley Local Food & Film Festival Hearst Center, 10am, 273-8641
3/2-3 Maple Syrup Festival Hartman Reserve Nature Center, 7am, 277-2187
3/5 Scene D Presents: So I Could Be Macbeth Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
3/5 Spotlight Series Concert: UNI Choirs Concert GBPAC, 7:30pm, 273-2028
3/7 Matt Beilis: The Soul of Pop Hawkeye Community College, 7pm, 296-4464
3/7 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Bradley University McLeod Center, 273-4849
3/8 Lunchtime Concert – UNI Trombone Octet Hearst Center, noon, 273-8641
3/8 Black Hawks Hockey vs Des Moines Young Arena, 7:05pm, 291-7680
3/8-10 Godspell – Broadway Musical Cedar Falls Woman’s Club, Fri & Sat 7:30pm; Sun 2pm, 266-1431
11: Absentee (early) voting begins at Black Hawk County Courthouse
12:  Satellite voting: Maucker Union, UNI, 10:00 am – 7:00 pm
13:  Satellite voting: Maucker Union, UNI, 10:00 am – 7:00 pm
13:  Satellite voting: Diamond Event Center, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
14:  Satellite voting: Diamond Event Center, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
16: Absentee voting at the Black Hawk County Courthouse 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM for absentee voting.
18: Last day to vote early at Courthouse
19: Election Day; polls open 7:00am – 9:00pm


On Monday, Bob attended the Black History Month Celebration and heard from City Councilwoman Mazahir Salih of Iowa City, the first Sudanese American elected to a city council in the United States.
Blank Children’s Hospital was at the Statehouse on Wednesday and visited with Bob about the children’s health care services they provide.


Dave Welter, retired Cedar Falls principal, and kids from the Iowa Afterschool Alliance stopped by Tuesday to talk about the need for high quality before and after school programs, which have been shown to better education, behavior, and decrease juvenile arrests.


Bob with UNI Social Work majors for the National Association of Social Workers’ Elevate Social Work day, (left to right) Cassie Van Es, Hannah Storm Ciesielski, Maria Bottino, Ella Aldrich, and seated, Kourtney Ende-Braun.


Bob with UNI Masters of Social Work majors for the National Association of Social Workers’ Elevate Social Work day, (left to right) Annemarie Goldmann, Matt Hotek, Theresa Kramer, and Eric Eastman.


On Thursday, Bob attended a meeting of the Iowa Justice Action Network, a nonprofit organization aimed at ending mass incarceration led in part by Cedar Falls resident Al Hays.


Blank Children’s Hospital was at the Statehouse on Wednesday and visited with Bob about the children’s health care services they provide.

News from the Statehouse

Tax Credits, Free Tax Filing Assistance Available to Iowans

State and federal income taxes will be due soon.  Iowa state income tax returns are due on April 30, which is a Tuesday while federal income taxes still need to be filed by April 15th, which is a Monday.

The Department of Revenue offers several options for filing your taxes, including some free options for low and moderate income filers, elderly, and those with disabilities.  The options to “File for Free” for tax year 2018, which must be filed by April 2019, can be found at https://tax.iowa.gov/tax-year-2017-file-free.

In addition, the Department of Human Services works with partners to provide tax preparation services to eligible individuals.  The federal Internal Revenue Service provides a lookup for free tax preparation services available at http://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep.  AARP also offers free tax preparation to anyone over age 50.  Additional information on the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide can be found at https://www.aarp.org/money/taxes/aarp_taxaide/.

Iowans can track their refund online through the Department of Revenue.  Taxpayers will need their Social Security Number, the tax year they wish to track, and the refund amount.  Using this information, the status of a refund can be tracked at https://www.idr.iowa.gov/wheresmyrefund/.

Earned Income Tax Credit

Iowans that qualify are encouraged to apply for the Earned Income Tax Credit.  The credit is available for working individuals and families that meet certain income restrictions.  If you worked at any time in the last year you could be eligible for the credit.  If you file for the federal EITC, you likely qualify for a state credit as well.  The credit does not affect eligibility for public benefits such as Medicaid, FIP, Child Care Assistance, or subsidized housing.  Additional information on the Iowa Earned Income Tax Credit can be found at https://dhs.iowa.gov/EITC.

Plan for School Infrastructure Improvements Moves Ahead

The Iowa House is working on a proposal this year to extend funding for school infrastructure improvements for another 20 years.

A top priority of school leaders across Iowa for several years, the plan under consideration would extend the one cent local sales tax for school infrastructure (SAVE) through 2051 instead of expiring in 2031. The plan has advanced through two committees in the Iowa House.

The bill increases property tax relief to school districts with low valuations and creates a new fund for property tax relief to all school districts.  A separate Career Academy competitive grant fund is established to help build job training facilities.

More transparency is provided in the plan by allowing voters to reapprove the district’s revenue purpose statement.  If SAVE funds are going to be obligated for 20 years, boards must hold a public hearing and give citizens an opportunity to petition for a direct vote of the people.

Details still need to be addressed on the Career Academy fund and the percentage set for the property tax relief.

The House bill has advanced to the House floor, and a similar bill is in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Read More News from the Statehouse

GOP Lawmakers Try to End Health Education Funding
Iowans Support Expanding Use of Medical Cannabis
Legislation Advances to Benefit Beginning Farmers
House Expands Access to Eye Health
Chronic Wasting Disease Update

February 15, 2019

Greetings to you all,

Things continue to pick up at the Capitol. Early this week we heard about the snow that blanketed Cedar Falls. I’m sure there will still be some shoveling to do when I get home this weekend. I’m ready for spring!
After debate on Monday, the House voted to increase school funding by 2.06%, undercutting both the Governor’s proposal and the proposed 3% increase by Democrats. The three percent increase was proposed to cover the cost of inflation and would align with the proposed budget, making it both fiscally responsible and anticipatory of the next year’s needs. However, yet again this year, educators and kids were forced to make do with the little they have and find funding elsewhere, including in their own pockets and through raising property taxes. When schools struggle to cover daily operating costs, things like infrastructure to make schools safe and field trips unattainable, and innovative programing isn’t able to grow.

On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to meet with students from the Cedar Falls CAPS (Center for Advanced Professional Studies) which teaches students professional skills outside of the school environment. These opportunities shouldn’t been limited to a few students in a few schools. These programs make Iowa education nationally and internationally competitive, but without further funding increases, our students will continue to fall behind.

I’ve heard from several of you about the proposed plan to change Iowa’s judge selection process. Earlier this week, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill to let politicians and campaign donors pick Iowa judges instead of the impartial Iowa Bar Association. The House is considering the same bill next week. In today’s hyper-partisan times, the last thing we need is for politics to take over Iowa’s judicial system as well. The bill under consideration this year is a power grab that threatens the checks and balances of our system of government. It would mean that the party that controls the executive and legislative branches of government would also control the judicial branch. We’ve already heard from thousands of Iowans who are opposed to the GOP plan to take over the courts. If you believe our courts should remain fair, impartial, and non-partisan, please contact your lawmakers and sign this petition: https://bit.ly/2SBeolu.

Most of the news you’ll hear out of the Statehouse is about how political parties don’t get along, but much of the work we do here is noncontroversial—it involves modernizing the law and passing legislation for daily government operations. This week on the Transportation Committee we passed six bills out of committee, ranging in topic from following distance for vehicles to making CDL (commercial drivers license) training more accessible. While not glamorous, this legislation makes the lives of Iowans safer and easier, which is something we can all agree on doing. I look forward to carrying on this work in the coming months.

As your Representative, I hope to reflect your interests and concerns in my work at the Capitol, so please reach out at any time. This session I serve as Ranking Member of the Transportation Committee and am a member of the Public Safety, Local Government, and Commerce Committees. This link will take you to my current subcommittee assignments. The Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. New this year are video tutorials on the website features, which are indicated by red YouTube video icons. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can listen to or watch our debates live.

Please check out other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Keep in touch!

Bob

Upcoming Community Events

14-15 Tallcorn Jazz Festival UNI Russell Hall, 273-2028
15-16 Coors Bull Riding Classic Hippodrome, 7pm, 234-7515
15-17 Charlotte’s Web UNI Hope Martin Theatre, Fri 7pm; Sat & Sun 2pm, 291-4494
15-17 The Odd Couple Oster Regent Theatre, Fri & Sat 7:30pm; Sun 2pm, 277-5283
16 WCFsymphony Valentine Attraction GBPAC, 7pm, 273-3373
17 Black Hawks Hockey vs Tri-City Young Arena, 3:05pm, 291-7680
16 Black Hawk County GoSolar Informational Session UNI CEEE Auditorium & Atrium 10:00 – 11:00am, 273-7499
18 Black Hawk County GoSolar Informational Session Hartman Reserve Nature Center 12:00 – 1:00pm, 273-7499
18 Black Hawk County GoSolar Informational Session Hartman Reserve Nature Center 5:30 – 6:30pm, 273-7499
21 Parks and Recreation: Cedar Falls at Play Opening Reception Victorian Home & Carriage House Museum, 4pm, 266-5149
21 More Music In Mae Latta Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
21 UNI Wrestling vs Iowa State UNI West Gym, 7pm 273-4849
21-24 Theatre UNI: Legacy of Light UNI Strayer-Wood Theatre, 7:30pm; Sun 2pm, 273-6381
22 Shanghai Opera Symphony Orchestra GBPAC, 7pm, 273-2028
22 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Indiana State McLeod Center, 273-4849
22-23 Charlotte’s Web UNI Hope Martin Theatre, Fri 7pm; Sat 2pm, 291-4494
22-24 The Odd Couple Oster Regent Theatre Fri & Sat 7:30pm; Sun 2pm, 277-5283


Representative Timi Brown-Powers and Representative Bob Kressig donated toothbrushes to elementary schools of their choice. The donation was done by Delta Dental during Insurance Day on the Hill. Representative Brown-Powers donated to Lowell Elementary in Waterloo and Representative Kressig donated to North Cedar Elementary School in Cedar Falls.


State Representatives Brown-Powers, Kressig, Smith, and Williams met with Waterloo Chiropractor Lance Vanderloo on Wednesday, February 13 at the State Capitol.


State Representatives Bob Kressig and Dave Williams met with students from Cedar Falls High School who are part of the Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) program, which teaches students professional skills outside of the school environment.


Rep. Kressig with his friend Traci McBee, representing Wellmark. Traci and Bob serve on the Veridian Credit Union Board of Directors.

News from the Statehouse

Schools Get Record Low Funding, Again

This week, there was bi-partisan opposition to the PreK-12 school aid bill that passed the House at 2.06%, which was even lower than what Governor Kim Reynolds proposed.  Democratic lawmakers introduced an alternative plan to boost school funding by 3%, which would cover the cost of inflation and fit into the state budget, but that was rejected.

Called State Supplemental Aid (SSA), the low increase in school funding doesn’t keep up with the rate of inflation for schools.  Over the last decade, only once has SSA been greater than the cost of inflation and it’s been the lowest funding for schools in Iowa history.

With this inadequate funding amount, more schools will be forced to make cuts or even raise property taxes. In fact, the recent tax breaks to the wealthiest Iowans passed last year, will total more than the increase provided to schools. Also, there have been 118 school building closures since 2011, and lack of funding will increase the likelihood of more school closures.

Some Legislators advocated a recent Department of Education report that cited Iowa’s class size has a 13.5 student/teacher ratio, but that includes all school staff, many that are not in the classroom.  The reality is that teachers will be forced to do more with less and the plan will not reduce class sizes.  When the state short changes Iowa schools, many districts have to raise property taxes to make up the difference.

The bill was approved by the Senate and now goes to the Governor for approval. The Governor has indicated that she is expected to sign the bill.

STEM Day at the Statehouse; Education Assistance Provided to Schools

Advocates for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education were at the Capitol this week to demonstrate their positive results.  In addition, the STEM Advisory Council has awarded seed funding through the Iowa STEM Innovation Fund to four exemplary programs to scale their STEM efforts across the state.

The STEM Innovation Fund supports statewide STEM programming to develop programs to engage youth in STEM activities and careers.  Some of the programs need access to additional resources in order to expand local programs.

After completing the review process, four awardees were selected by the STEM council out of a pool of 20 applicants based on their innovation, scope of work, evaluation metrics, community collaborations, and financial sustainability. The 2019 Innovation Fund awardees are:

•    Iowa Conservation Education Coalition
•    Iowa Tech Chicks
•    St. Theresa Catholic School
•    University of Iowa Department of Computer Science

For more information about the STEM Innovation Fund, visit www.IowaSTEM.gov/innovation-fund.

Read More News from the Statehouse

Injured Veterans Grant Program Expanded
House Passes School Transportation Funding
Iowa House Bolsters its Ethics Rules to Prevent Harassment
Department of Natural Resources Public Meetings
Master Matrix Process Adopted by 89 Counties
Partisanship Puts the Protection of Iowans in Jeopardy

February 8, 2019

Greetings to you all,

Like for many of you, education continues to be a focal point in the Statehouse this week. On Tuesday, Central Rivers AEA (Area Education Agency) representatives were here and discussed their thoughts on the proposed education budget, including a $22 million cut in funding for their agency. Of the new revenue available this year, public school kids will get less than the wealthiest Iowans get in tax breaks—while the top one percent keeps $109 million, students will only get $78 million. Moreover, continuous funding shortfalls have forced school districts to raise property taxes this year while at the same time closing schools and forcing teachers to do more than less.

Several of you have reached out regarding the proposed plan to change the merit-based judge selection process, and I appreciate your thoughts and concerns. The way Iowa chooses judges has been a model for the nation for decades. A nonpartisan commission—which is required by the Iowa Constitution—nominates qualified individuals to fill each judicial seat. Nominees are then chosen to be appointed by the Governor. This process could be disrupted by House Study Bill 110, which changes how members of the nominating commission are selected. Currently, for state judge selection, the nonpartisan State Bar Association, the association of state lawyers, is responsible for electing eight members to the commission, while the Governor appoints eight members. The proposed plan would allow the House and Senate leadership to appoint members instead of the State Bar Association. These changes would inject politics into our current system, which has resulted in Iowa judges being the 9th most impartial in the country. Simply put, this is a power grab that would disrupt the checks and balances in place to make our government just for all Iowans. If you would like to fight to keep our courts impartial, I encourage you to sign this petition: https://bit.ly/2SBeolu

There’s been some good news this session that many of you have written to me about this week. Governor Reynolds has expressed interest in restoring felons’ voting rights. Iowa’s felon voting ban has been one of the harshest in the nation, as felons that have served their debt to society have to petition the governor on an individual basis in order restore their voting rights. Thirty-eight states and Washington D.C. automatically restore the rights of felons after they have served their time, and in Maine and Vermont, rights are never taken away. Iowa’s list of more than 69,000 felons has long contained inaccuracies, and it includes some Iowans that have never been convicted. Hopefully this session we are able to take the crucial first steps towards restoration of voting rights.

In other news, the University of Northern Iowa Center for Energy & Environmental Education (CEEE) is excited to announce the launch of the Black Hawk County – Go Solar Group Buy Program. The program is designed to provide businesses, farms and residents with educational seminars to inform and promote the cost-saving and sustainable benefits of solar technology and provide property owners the opportunity to invest in lower cost solar installations through a limited time county-wide volume-purchasing program. The CEEE is offering several free seminars to learn more about the program. Learn more here!

As your Representative, I hope to reflect your interests and concerns in my work at the Capitol, so please reach out at any time. This session I serve as Ranking Member of the Transportation Committee and am a member of the Public Safety, Local Government, and Commerce Committees. This link will take you to my current subcommittee assignments. The Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. New this year are video tutorials on the website features, which are indicated by red YouTube video icons. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can listen to or watch our debates live.

Please check out other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Bob

Upcoming Community Events

2/7-9 Northern Festival of Bands GBPAC, 273-2028
8-10 Eastern Iowa Home Improvement & Landscaping Show Five Sullivan Convention Center, Waterloo, Fri 3pm; Sat 10am; Sun 11am, 232-0218
8 Lunchtime Concert – Ross Winter & Vakhtang Kodanashvili Hearst Center, noon, 273-8641
9 Iowa Games Fat Bike Race George Wyth State Park, 1pm, 266-5979
9 Black Hawks Hockey vs Sioux Falls Young Arena, 7pm, 291-7680
9 Downtown Delights Downtown Cedar Falls, 1pm, 277-0213
13 UNI Men’s Basketball vs Illinois McLeod Center, 273-4849


On Monday, (left to right) Representatives Steckman, Smith, Brown-Powers, Kressig, and Williams welcomed Jerry Hagenay, Chuck Kacher, Blaine Luck, Herb Copley, Tom Kinn, and Rich Kurtenbach of the Federation of Labor to the State Capitol.


Jane Lindemann, Superintendent of Waterloo School District, visited with Bob during Central Rivers AEA Day on the Hill.


Sam Miller, Central Rivers AEA (Area Education Agency) Chief Administrator, spoke with Bob during Central Rivers AEA Day on the Hill.


(left to right) Mary Shileny, Executive Officer, Northeast Iowa Regional Board of Realtors; Rep. Bob Kressig; Gerald Sorensen, President, Northeast Iowa Regional Board of Realtors; Rep. Brown-Powers; Rep. Smith; Gordie Sorensen, Broker/Owner, RE/MAX Real Estate; and seated, Joanie Rollins, Board Member, Northeast Iowa Regional Board of Realtors on Wednesday.


Thursday (left to right) Ann Metz, Matthew Johnson, Jacob Madden, and Jacob Levang visited the Capitol to show support for a $4 million appropriation for UNI.


(left to right) Rep. Smith, Rep. Brown-Powers, Brian Williams, Black Hawk County Attorney, and Rep. Kressig met Thursday and discussed the Iowa County Attorneys Association’s legislative priorities, including protecting the rights of children and the elderly.

News from the Statehouse

Bill to Politicize Judicial Nominating Commissions Introduced

Legislative Republican Lawmakers unveiled a plan this week to inject politics into the process of selecting judges in the state.  Under current law, Iowa judges are selected through a merit based system nominated by a nonpartisan commission.  The Republican plan would give political parties additional influence over these commissions.

Under current law, commissioners to the state and district judicial nominating commissions are appointed half by the Governor with Senate approval and half from within the currently active lawyers in the state.  The bill under consideration would make the commissioners currently appointed by lawyers instead appointed by political leaders in the Iowa Legislature and also remove Senate approval.

Judges in the state will still be required to be retained through regular elections.  Judges must be retained under the current system in regular retention elections.  In these retention elections the judges do not have an opponent, but instead receive a majority of “Yes” votes to be retained and continue serving as a judge.

The Iowa Judicial Branch states that Iowa’s current process of selecting judges is designed to limit the influence of special interest groups and political parties.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform ranks Iowa’s judges, selected through the current merit based system, as the 9th most impartial in the country.  In addition, the group ranks Iowa’s courts overall 13th best in the country.  The Committee for Economic Development has guidelines for the best method of selecting judges and the procedure suggested by that nonpartisan, business-led policy organization is the process that is already used in the state.

School Aid Plan Leaves Schools Short Again

On a party line vote, the House Education Committee approved a bill to raise school funding by just 2% next year, which is lower than what Governor Kim Reynolds proposed.

Called State Supplemental Aid (SSA), the low increase in school funding doesn’t keep up with the rate of inflation for schools.  Over the last decade, only once has SSA been greater than the cost of inflation and it’s been the lowest funding for schools in Iowa history.

House Democrats introduced an alternative plan earlier this session to boost school funding by 3%, which would cover the cost of inflation.  Without at least that level, more schools will be forced to make cut backs or raise property taxes.

Because of low funding last year, several districts had to cut course offerings, reduce staffing, and hold off on new text books or computer purchases.  The Oelwein School Board had to cut $800,000 while Des Moines adjusted schedules and cut teachers to save money.  The Council Bluffs Community School District had to cut eight staff positions and skip two payments to its insurance fund to save the needed $2.1 million.  In Fairfield, the school board faced a $100,000 shortfall.

The bill is expected to be debated by the full Iowa House next week.

Read More News from the Statehouse

Sports Betting in Iowa Proposals Introduced
Consumer Tips to Reduce Winter Heating Costs
Flu Rates Increasing in Iowa
Eagle Watching in Iowa

January 26, 2019

Greetings to you all,

Things are picking up at the Capitol, after a short week. On Sunday, I attended the 40th Martin Luther King, Jr. Banquet at the Electric Park Ballroom  and then headed to the Capitol, on Monday. Early in the week, many constituents reached out to me about the proposed credit union tax increase. I support credit unions, as they provide affordable financial services and support in our local communities. Hopefully the tax increase proposal doesn’t move forward.  Also on Tuesday, I was pleased to hear that Representative Kaufmann, Chair of the House State Government Committee, make an announcement that there would be no IPERS legislation at all this year. Hopefully, they stay committed to protecting IPERS this session and in the future.

This session, one of my priorities is supporting affordable and  accessible healthcare for all, which includes fixing Iowa’s broken Medicaid system.  This session, Democrats are offering a plan to protect our most vulnerable citizens who need long-term services and support Long Term Services and Support (LTSS) because of chronic illness, aging, or a disability, all of whom are disproportionally impacted by Medicaid privatization and have been denied critical services. The bill we are filing will move these vulnerable Iowans out of managed care, to improve their access to health care and make it more affordable. Black Hawk County Representatives mentioned this in our legislative update.

Iowa’s medical cannabis program is a  growing part of comprehensive healthcare in Iowa. Iowa’s Medical Cannabis  board is considering another expansion of Iowa’s cannabidiol law to allow treatment for kids with severe, intractable autism. Black Hawk County Representatives visited MedPharm, Iowa’s medical cannabis facility on Wednesday, and learned more about their cutting-edge program that helps many Iowans who suffer from chronic pain conditions, including cancer and the effects of traumatic injury.

Last Thursday, I attended a public meeting on the House District 55 election contest. Republican lawmakers shut down a hearing this week, before hearing testimony from 29 Iowans who validly cast absentee ballots but still have not had their vote counted by the county auditor. If you are interested in what’s happening, KCRG had a three minute segment on the issue this week.

Lastly, January is Radon Action Month. Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that is produced from the decay of naturally occurring uranium in the soil. Five out of seven Iowa homes have a dangerous level of radon. Since radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer, we are urged to test our homes every two years and have them mitigated if necessary. You can get an inexpensive DIY test kit from the county health department, a hardware store, or by calling the Iowa Radon Hotline (800-383-5992), where you can order one for $15. You can also call the Hotline with any questions you might have about radon.

As your Representative, I hope to reflect your interests and concerns in my work at the Capitol, so please reach out at any time. This session, I serve as Ranking Member of the Transportation Committee and am a member of the Public Safety, Local Government, and Commerce Committees. Please check out other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email or call me at home, at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. New this year are video tutorials on the website features, which are indicated by red YouTube video icons. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can listen to or watch our debates live.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Community Events

24-27 Marjorie Prime McElroy Theatre, Waterloo, 7pm & Sun 2pm, 291-4494
24 Black Hawks Hockey vs Omaha Young Arena, Waterloo, 7pm, 291-7680
26 UNI Men’s Basketball vs Evansville McLeod Center, 273-4849
26 Black Hawks Hockey vs Cedar Rapids Young Arena, Waterloo, 7pm, 291-7680
26-27 CVSC Polar Ball 3v3 Classic Cedar Valley Sportsplex, Waterloo
27 Cedar Valley Winterfest South Prairie Lake, Noon
27 UNI Wrestling vs Oklahoma UNI West Gym, 2pm, 273-4849
27 Trey McLaughlin & The Sounds of Zamar GBPAC, 2pm, 273-4849
29 Red Herring Theatre presents The Boys in the Band Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
31 Final Thursday Reading Series – Anne Myles Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
31 History of Motorcycling in the Cedar Valley – Craig Bravendor Grout Museum, Waterloo, 6pm, 234-6357


On Thursday, January 17, 2019, Representative Bob Kressig spoke with members of the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners at the Statehouse.


On Wednesday Reps. Kressig, Brown-Powers, Williams, and Smith met with members of the Local UAW838 Veterans Committee during Veterans Day on the Hill and discussed their legislative priorities for the session.


Rep. Kressig’s view of the ceremonies at Veterans Day on the Hill on Wednesday.


Rep. Forbes and Kressig met with MedPharm staff after touring their facility to discuss expanding access to medical cannabis in Iowa.


Rep. Kressig with David Schmidt,  Nick Strohbehn, Vicki Daily, Larry Rohach, and Kevin Pruisner during the Welcome Back Reception hosted by the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives.

News from the Statehouse

Veterans Day on the Hill; Condition of the Iowa National Guard

This week, veterans and their families traveled to Des Moines for Veterans Day at the Capitol. Throughout the day, veterans met with legislators to discuss the priorities of the Veterans Commission.

The Veterans Commission is a group of representatives from various veterans’ organizations across Iowa who work collectively to develop and advance policy ideas to assist veterans and their families.

For the 2019 Legislative session, the Veterans Commission will work to protect programs and agencies such as the Iowa Veterans Home, the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund, and the Military Home Ownership Program.  The Commission is also interested in supporting any legislation regarding helping veterans with mental health issues and increasing the Military Property Tax Exemption from $1852 to $3700.

Condition of the Guard

As part of his annual Condition of the Guard, the Adjutant General, Major General Orr spoke of the continued work of the Iowa National Guard.  More than 19,000 soldiers and airmen from the Iowa National Guard have been mobilized around the globe since the start of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.  Currently, there are approximately 300 members of the Iowa National Guard deployed around the world.

Major General Orr reiterated the importance of young Americans choosing to serve in the National Guard. Right now, only three of ten 17 to 24 year-olds are eligible for military service. This low number could impact the readiness of military forces to defend the nation in the future. National Guard members are able to get leadership and training opportunities, learn occupational skills for future careers, and can graduate debt-free with a two-year, four-year or technical school degree, making the Guard a great option for some young adults.

The Iowa National Guard also worked to strengthen the Midwest Counter Drug Training Center and their Counterdrug program.  This federally-funded program began in 1989 and works to reduce the supply and demand of illegal substances in our state. The program also provides training to local law enforcement personnel and drug prevention and treatment professionals at no cost. This has been especially important in the fight against opioid abuse in Iowa. In partnership with Counterdrug specialists, the National Guard were able to seize one pound of fentanyl (or about 180,000 fatal doses), and almost fifteen pounds of heroin. More than $63 million in drugs were taken off the streets because of the men and women of the Iowa National Guard.

Finally, General Orr highlighted the Guard’s partnership with Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs. The Guard offers a variety of educational and career opportunities for those students interested in a STEM or CTE career.  This is funded by the Iowa National Guard Educational Assistance Program (NGEAP), which provides around 1,200 Iowa Guard members with an education at Iowa colleges, universities, and community colleges every year.

MG Orr concluded his condition with reiterating that the Iowa National Guard is ready to rise to any challenge the nation or state faces in the future.

Chief Justice Highlights Diversity of Court

Chief Justice Cady delivered his annual Condition of the Judiciary, where he took the opportunity to praise the diversity of Iowa’s Courts.  He noted that last year the number of female and male judges appointed was equal.  In addition, Justice Susan Christensen was the first woman appointed to the Iowa Supreme Court in nearly a decade.  The Chief Justice stressed that Iowa “has a strong, national reputation for fairness and impartiality.”

Iowa utilizes a merit selection process for selecting judges.  The merit selection process is required by the Iowa Constitution.  The judicial nominating commissions review each applicant for their background, education, and experience, and then nominate a slate of qualified candidates to be appointed.  The law requires judicial candidates to be chosen by the commissions based upon their qualifications without regard to party affiliation.  The goal of the merit selection process is to emphasize professional qualifications and minimize partisan politics.

Judicial appointees serve an initial term of office that is one year from the appointments.  Judges must then face a retention election.  If a judge is retained by the voters in the state, the judge then serves a term of 6 to 8 years before facing retention elections after each term.  A judge must retire by age 72.

Read More News from the Statehouse

Higher Education Budget Proposed by Governor
For-Profit College Agrees to Terms for Students
Significant Increase in Consumer Complaints During 2018
National Youth Science Camp Scholarship Available
Changes to State Park Camping Fees

January 17, 2019

Greetings to you all,

On Monday morning, I was sworn in for my 8th term as your State Representative. I’m honored to be elected to serve the greater Cedar Falls area. This week went quickly as I met new members, including Iowa House Democratic women, which now make up a majority of the House Democratic Caucus, the first time in Iowa history women make a majority of a House Caucus.

I currently serve on four committees: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, and as a Ranking Member on the Transportation Committee. After legislative leaders offered their agenda for session on Monday, we had three special joint sessions to hear the perspectives and priorities of the Governor, Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court, and the General of the Iowa National Guard. The Governor outlined her budget blueprint for us to consider as we start to work on the state budget. Black Hawk County Democratic Representatives responded to this address and look forward to working with the Governor on improving the lives of everyday Iowans.

Now that the election is over, it’s time to put politics aside, listen to Iowans, and do what is best for the people, including increasing access to skills and job training. On Wednesday I had the opportunity to speak with constituents at Family Development and Self-Sufficiency (FaDSS) Day at the Capitol. FaDSS provides work readiness assistance and education for families receiving Family Investment Program (FIP) benefits. The families helped by this organization are a great example of how, with the right resources, Iowans can lift themselves up.

We will also work to expand educational opportunities for all Iowans, whether they are in early childcare, the K-12 system, community colleges, universities, or advanced job training programs. On Tuesday, the Board of Regents met at the Statehouse, and I had the chance to meet with UNI President Mark Nook and UNI students, including Student Government Vice President Kristen Ahart, and discuss issues regarding our public university, and on Thursday I met with constituents from Black Hawk County during Early Childhood Day on the Hill.

This session, we will strive to expand access to health care for all Iowans, whether they are urban or rural, rich or poor. We will fight for the rights of workers to be safe and to be fairly compensated for their labor, including Iowa Professional Firefighters, of whom I had the chance to meet with this week.  We will demand access to domestic and foreign markets to improve our agricultural economy, while at the same time protecting our soil, water, and air. Let’s work together to improve the life of Iowans.

In other news, for the first time in 40 years, the Iowa House opened hearings on an election contest that could determine the results of an election for state representative in Northeast Iowa where 29 validly cast absentee ballots have still not been counted by the county auditor.

Additionally, the Majority Party is working on a plan to change Iowa’s merit based, non-partisan judge selection system that has been a model for the nation for decades. Many lawmakers and Iowans believe there’s no need to inject partisan politics into Iowa’s judicial system.

Lastly, a GOP plan to end background checks and permits for purchasing guns hit a snag this week after the Republican Secretary of State forgot to publish the required notification last year for constitutional amendments. The error means the GOP resolution can’t be voted on by Iowans until 2022 or later.

As your Representative, I hope to reflect your interests and concerns in my work at the Capitol, so please reach out at any time. Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebookand Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. New this year are video tutorials on the website features, which are indicated by red YouTube video icons. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can listen to or watch our debates live.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Bob

January Community Events

17 More Music Concert Series – Rick Vanderwall Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
18 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Drake McLeod Center, 273-4849
18-20 Iowa Boat, RV & Vacation Show UNI-Dome, Fri 3pm, Sat 10am, Sun 11am, 232-0218
18-20 BLAST Winter Swim Invite Holmes Jr High pool, 290-9299
18-20 Marjorie Prime McElroy Theatre, Waterloo, 7pm; Sun 2pm, 291-4494
19 Beatles vs Stones *GBPAC, 7pm, 273-4849
19 Black Hawks Hockey vs Dubuque Young Arena, 7pm, 291-7680
20 UNI Wrestling vs Air Force UNI West Gym, 2pm, 273-4849
24 Black Hawks Hockey vs Omaha Young Arena, Waterloo, 7pm, 291-7680


State Representative Bob Kressig getting sworn into office on the first day of the 2019 Legislative Session on Monday, January 14, 2019, at the State Capitol in Des Moines.


State Representative Bob Kressig signs the Oath of Office on the first day of the 2019 Legislative Session on Monday, January 14, 2019, at the State Capitol in Des Moines.


Black Hawk County Representatives were pleased to have family and friends at the Statehouse on the first day of the legislative session.


State Reprresentatives Ras Smith, Dave Williams, Bob Kressig and Timi Brown-Powers are ready to get to work for the people of Black Hawk County.


Representative Bob Kressig with UNI President Mark Nook and his new Clerk Gabbie Ruggiero, a proud UNI graduate before the Board of Regents meeting on Tuesday.


Representative Bob Kressig with his State Senator, Senator Jeff Danielson, thanking him for his service as a firefighter in Cedar Falls at the Iowa Professional Firefighters legislative reception.


Representative Bob Kressig with organization representatives at Family Development and Self-Sufficiency Day at the Capitol.


Representative Bob Kressig keeping informed on the work of the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners.


(left to right) Rep. Bob Kressig, Dawn Oliver of the Iowa Women’s Foundation, Sen. Jeff Danielson, Mary Janssen of Child Care Resource and Referral of Northeast Iowa, Rep. Ras Smith, Sherry Turner of Friendship Village, Rep. Timi Brown-Powers, and (seated) Lisa Gates of Friendship Village, visited the Capitol for Early Childhood Day on the Hill.

News from the Statehouse

2019 Session Gets Underway

The 2019 Legislative Session opened this week and lawmakers pledged to work together and keep focused on improving the lives of everyday Iowans.  Lawmakers said the Legislature needs to get back to the basics and create good jobs, invest in public schools, and make health care both affordable and accessible.

Some additional issues lawmakers may be working on this year include improving Iowa’s mental health system, fixing Medicaid privatization, making college education affordable, expanding job training opportunities, and improving the quality of Iowa’s water.

2019 Legislative Survey

In an effort to learn about what’s important to Iowans, lawmakers are requesting Iowans participate in a brief survey. To complete the survey and share your views go to:
http://interspire.iowahdc.info/surveys.php?id=62.

Governor Puts Forward Budget Plan

During her Condition of the State this week, the Governor outlined her budget priorities for the upcoming legislative session. While there are proposals in the budget that the minority party will be able to find common ground on, the budget also shortchanges many priorities that directly impact working families in the State.

After years of stagnant state funding that hasn’t kept up with rising costs, the Governor’s proposal for public schools falls short of what is needed. The Medicaid system continues to be in crisis and will need at least an additional $141 million for the current fiscal year, which ends on July 1.  The Governor also recommended funding Medicaid for the upcoming year at $7.7 million below the estimated need by Medicaid Forecasting experts.

House Democrats will continue to work to find common ground, balance the state budget, and improve the lives of everyday Iowans.

Read More News from the Statehouse

Proposal to Restore Felon Voting Rights
Food Assistance and the Federal Government Shutdown
Chief Justice Focuses on Continuing Improvement and New Opportunities
Federal Government Shutdown Effects FAFSA Filers
Ice Fishing Tips

December 19, 2018

Greetings to you all,

The opening of the 2019 Legislative session is just three weeks away.  Iowans can expect to hear and read a lot about issues that may come up next session.  While the Governor will outline her priorities the first week of session, it routinely takes the Legislature longer to develop and pass bills as 150 lawmakers work to build consensus on the key issues facing the state.

My goal when session starts is to keep focused on improving the lives of everyday Iowans.  Now that the election is over, it’s time to put politics aside, listen to Iowans, and do what is best for people again.  I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in January to get back to the basics in education, skills training, and affordable health care for Iowans.

The Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) met last week and set the budget parameters lawmakers will use to craft the state budget during the 2019 session.  The REC slightly lowered their estimates and means the Legislature will face significant challenges in next year to balance the budget.  Before lawmakers even begin session, Republicans last session spent over $261 million on new tax breaks that overwhelmingly benefit corporations and the wealthy.

I think it’s time to work together to restore fiscal discipline and balance the state budget.

Representative Elect Dave Williams and I will be holding a pre session legislative listening post at the Cedar Falls Public Library on January 7th from 6:30 to 8:30. We will be sharing some of our plans for the upcoming session and will ask for comments and Ideas from those attending the forum. Please follow the link to Facebook to share your interest in going. https://www.facebook.com/events/272181573490202/

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year

Upcoming Community Events

20 Baby It’s Cold Outside Downtown Cedar Falls, 6pm, 277-0213
20 Christmas Stories Cedar Falls Woman’s Club, 7pm, 515-991-2890
21 UNI Women’s Basketball vs. Nebraska McLeod Center, 273-4849
21-22 Brazilian 2wins ‘Sounds of the Season’ Holiday Concert Oster Regent Theatre, 7:30pm, 277-5283
22 Wrap It Up Downtown Cedar Falls, 11am, 277-0213
22 Downtown Saturday’s Downtown Waterloo, 11am, 291-2038
22 UNI Men’s Basketball vs. North Dakota McLeod Center, 273-4849
29 Black Hawks Hockey vs. Youngstown Young Arena, Waterloo, 7pm, 291-7680
29 UNI Men’s Basketball vs. Stony Brook McLeod Center, 273-48431
31 Noon Year’s Party Phelps Youth Pavilion, Waterloo, 11am, 291-4490
31 Black Hawks Hockey vs. Madison Young Arena, Waterloo, 7pm, 291-7680
31 New Year’s Eve Dance Cattle Congress Grounds, Waterloo, 7:30pm
1/4-6 Iowa Soccer Association Girl’s Indoor Championships UNI-Dome, 273-4849
1/5 UNI Men’s Basketball vs. Southern Illinois McLeod Center, 273-4849
1/5 Black Hawks Hockey vs. Lincoln Young Arena, Waterloo, 7pm, 291-7680
1/8 We’ve Got Stories To Tell Hearst Center, 6pm, 273-8641
1/11 UNI Women’s Basketball vs. Valparaiso McLeod Center, 273-4849
1/11 Lunchtime Concert – UNI Musicians Hearst Center, 12pm, 273-8641
1/12 2019 Iowa Games Snowshoe Race (Frosty Buns Race Series) Hartman Reserve, 7:45am, 277-2187

News from the Statehouse

State Revenue Continues to Limp Along

The 2019 Legislature could face significant budget challenges according to a committee responsible of projecting revenue growth.

Adding another layer of uncertainty, the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) lowered revenue projections for the current fiscal year and the REC is projecting only 1.8% growth for the next fiscal year, FY 2020. The FY 2020 projections leave the state in a tough situation to address rising health care costs and proper funding of our public schools.

The stagnant budget comes just one year after the Legislature approved tax cuts for the wealthiest Iowans, after a Republican lawmaker promised that the cuts were going to boost the economy. Revenue growth continues to not match the strong economy and the historic low unemployment of 2.4% in the state.

The REC expressed specific concern about Iowans skilled workforce shortage and slow wage growth. Iowa is still behind the national average in income growth.

The Governor will be setting her FY 2020 budget next session, with the December REC projections of revenue. The Legislature will use either the December or March REC revenue estimated number, whichever is lower.

First Day Hikes at Iowa State Parks

On New Year’s Day the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is participating in America’s State Parks First Day Hikes program.  Twenty-seven of Iowa’s state parks will have free guided hikes for everyone to enjoy.  The hikes allow people to get outside and enjoy the different landscapes Iowa has to offer.

Below are the parks with hikes on January 1st.  For more information visit https://www.iowadnr.gov/Things-to-Do/Hiking-Biking/First-Day-Hikes.

Northwest   
Gitchie Manitou State Preserve
Dolliver MemorialState Park
Stone State Park
Ledges State Park
Pilot Knob State Park
Big Creek State Park
Springbrook State Park
Prairie Rose State Park

Southwest
Waubonsie State Park
Lake Anita State park
Green Valley State Park

Northeast
Lake Macbride State Park
Maquoketa Caves State Park
Bellevue State Park
Mines of Spain State Rec Area
Cedar Rock
Pine Lake State Park
Pikes Peak State Park
Union Grove State Park
Volga River State Recreation Area
Yellow River State Forest

Southeast
Walnut Woods State Park
Lake Wapello State Park
Lacey-Keosauqua State Park
Lake Darling State Park
Elk Rock State Park
Wildcat Den

Read More News from the Statehouse

Children’s Mental Health System Recommendations Released
Webinar Assistance for Schools Developing Security Plans
Counties Must Sign Up to Be Able to Evaluate Animal Confinements

December 9, 2018

Greetings to you all,

Preparations are well under way for the opening of the 2019 session on Monday, January 14 at the State Capitol.  There are 22 new members of the Iowa House and women make up a majority of the House Democratic Caucus, the first legislative caucus to reach that milestone in Iowa history. This week, we are being assigned to House committees and budget subcommittees we will be serving on for the next two years. Next week is orientation for new members so they can hit the ground running in January.

While there are a host of issues that may come up during the 2019 legislative session, the only thing the Legislature must approve before adjourning in the spring is the state budget. State agencies have submitted their initial budget requests to the Governor and public budget hearings have already begun. Next week, the state budget numbers for next year will be set by a panel of non-partisan budget experts (REC).  The legislature is required to use those figures when crafting the budget and can spend no more 99% of available state revenues set by the REC.

I’m ready get to work in January to improve the lives of everyday Iowans.  We believe it’s time to put politics aside, listen to Iowans, and do what is best for people again.  It’s time to get the Legislature back to focusing on the basics like education, skills training, and affordable health care for Iowans.

With one Iowa House district election still undecided, a judge this week ordered the Iowa Secretary of State and the Winneshiek County Auditor to verify with the US Post Office that 29 uncounted absentee ballots were put in the mail in time to be counted.

A new audit done by the State Auditor found less than expected savings from Medicaid privatization  and said information provided to Iowans by the Reynolds Administration was misleading. The incomplete audit failed to account for non-payment or lower payments to providers and Iowans who were denied services.
Iowa’s first Medical cannabis manufacturer opened this month with an estimated 6,000 Iowans registering to buy products. Cannibidiol is available to Iowans with certain conditions including Parkinson’s, MS, seizures, AIDS, HIV and terminal illnesses.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

6-9 and 12-14 Annie Hope Martin Theatre, Waterloo, Dec 5-6 and 12-14 7pm; Dec 9, 15, 16 2pm, 291-4494
7-9 A Christmas Carol The Musical Oster Regent Theatre, Fri & Sat 7:30pm; Sun 2pm, 277-5283
7, 8 Slykhuis Memorial Basketball Showcase Cedar Falls High School, 553-2500
7, 8 Waterloo Black Hawks Hockey Young Arena, Waterloo, 291-7680
8, 15 Downtown Saturdays Downtown Waterloo, 11am, 291-2038
8-9 Winter Wonderland Hick’s Place, 12:30pm, 504-2883
8 wcfsympony A Baroque Holiday Brown Derby, Waterloo, 4 & 7pm, 273-3373
8 Frosty 5K Run Walk First United Methodist Church, 8am, 277-0313
8 Travel Drawings Opening Reception Hearst Center, 10:30am, 273-8641
8 UNI Men’s Basketball vs. Dubuque McLeod Center, 273-4849
9 A Charlie Brown Christmas Live on Stage *GBPAC, 1 & 5pm, 273-4849
9 Holiday Concert with Bel Canto Cedar Valley Hearst Center, 2pm, 273-8641
13 Big Bad Voo Doo Daddy *GBPAC, 7pm, 273-4849
13 Hoopla Cheer Downtown Cedar Falls, 6pm, 277-0213
13 Christmas Greetings on Main Downtown Waverly, 6pm, 352-4526
14 Lunchtime Concert – Jean Hilbert & James Aissen Hearst Center, noon, 273-8641
14-16 It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Drama Oster Regent, 7:30pm; Sun 2pm, 277-5283
14-15 Battle of Waterloo Wrestling Tournament Young Arena, Waterloo, 433-2400

News from the Statehouse

Medicaid Audit Incomplete; Still Shows Disappointing Results

A new audit on Medicaid completed by the State Auditor found misleading claims from state officials and less than expected savings from Medicaid privatization.

While the auditor said the report was complete, many Iowans expressed concern that the audit was incomplete because it failed to account for non-payment or lower payments to providers and Iowans who were denied services.  Lawmakers have heard from providers who are still not being paid, members that are getting their services severely cut, and some clinics have had to close their doors altogether. In fact, the most recent State Ombudsman report shows there has been a 157% increase in Medicaid-related problems reported to the agency in 2017.  There was also a big raise the for-profit Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) recently received-to the tune of $102.9 million or a 7.5% increase-to take into account.

While the audit showed some savings to the state, the final number was far below the estimated savings of $234 million that the Reynolds Administration released last year.  The audit also determined that the state officials did not establish a reliable method for calculating cost savings when they unilaterally decided to privatize Medicaid.  So, it is almost impossible to calculate true savings, if there are any.

This audit process was only initiated because a Democratic lawmaker requested a review of the Medicaid program due to all the inconsistent data being released by DHS.  Medicaid provides health care to 600,000 Iowans, including those in nursing homes.  According to recent estimates, about 70% of Medicaid dollars are used for the elderly, severely disabled, and poor. Because this affects our most vulnerable population, it is imperative we understand the true impact privatization is having on our state.

Utility Deregulation Slashes LIHEAP Funding

Now that the cold weather has arrived, many people are getting their furnaces tuned up for the winter months, and some are concerned with the rising cost of the heating bills.  Beginning November 1, residents can apply to receive assistance through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).  Households that qualify are protected from natural gas or electric service disconnection between November 1, 2018 and April 30, 2019.

To qualify for LIHEAP, the total household income must be at or below 175% of the federal poverty level.  Persons interested in applying should contact the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program in the Department of Human Services at 515-281-0859 or their local community action agency, which can be found online at https://humanrights.iowa.gov/dcaa/where-apply.

According to the Iowa Department of Human Rights, 1,200 homes were weatherized and 82,932 Iowa households, 192,919 individuals, received LIHEAP heating assistance benefits between 2017 and 2018 winter months. The program received additional $4.9 million from the Department of Energy and $6 million in aid from Iowa Investor-Owned Utility companies.

Last session, Iowa Republicans enacted legislation to deregulate Iowa investor-owned utilities.  Due to those changes, it is estimated that LIHEAP will receive a 50% decrease in aid from utility companies this year.

Read More News from the Statehouse

Iowa Universities Could See Tuition Increases Again
Internet Retailers Required to Collect Sales Tax Starting January 1
Grants Used for School Bus Upgrades
Iowa Deer Hunting Season Begins
Trade War Drags On, Hits Iowa Farmers
Iowa’s New Statewide Assessment Coming this Spring
Public Input Sought on PE and Health Standards

November 1, 2018

Greetings to you all,


Are you ready to vote? Election Day is Tuesday, November 6th and voting locations are open from 7a.m. to 9p.m. Find your polling location at: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/voterreg/pollingplace/search.aspx.

You can expect a few changes this year at the polls, including showing a valid form of identification. Those who do not have identification are allowed to sign an oath of identity to cast a ballot. Iowans can still vote early at their county auditor’s office or at a satellite voting location. To find out when your auditor’s office is open or to find a satellite location visit: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/auditors/AuditorsList.html.

Over the last week, Iowans have heard a lot about the future of IPERS, Iowa’s public retirement systems. IPERS ensures approximately 360,234 Iowans including teachers, public workers, and numerous other professions so they have a secure and reliable retirement system. I’ve heard from many Iowans concerned about IPERS and they have every right to be cautious. Governor Reynolds has said several times she was looking for an alternative to IPERS with a private company setting up a 401(k) style plan. Also, there is currently already a GOP bill drafted to end IPERS and the Republican Speaker of the House voted to end IPERS in the past.

I have been working to make sure Iowans have a strong retirement system. Today, IPERS pays out $1.6 billion to retirees every year in Iowa and it’s a huge part of Iowa’s economy. The promise of a secure retirement is used to attract and maintain a quality workforce to teach our kids and keep our communities safe.  I’ll work next session to strengthen IPERS and protect the retirement security of Iowans.

Despite new rules and regulations approved by Republican lawmakers in 2017 to shut down unions, Iowans stood strong and overwhelmingly voted to recertify local unions in schools, fire departments, court houses, and police departments. Recently released data showed that State family planning services in Iowa declined 73% after Republican leaders excluded Planned Parenthood clinics and other providers from receiving funding. For a third year in a row, Iowa high school students’ scores on the ACT have dropped and Iowa has now fallen behind number one South Dakota on average composite scores.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

2 Black Hawks Hockey Young Arena, Waterloo, 7pm, 291-7680
2 UNI Spotlight Series Due Gala: Dinner and Two Shows GBPAC*, 5:30pm, 273-4849
3-4 2018 Keepsake Quilters Guild Quilt Show Cedar Falls Community Center, Sat 9am, Sun 10am, 266-2047,
3 wcfsymphony Concert: Disney Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas GBPAC*, 7:30pm, 273-4849
3 Holiday Open House Barn Happy, 9am 266-0888
3 UNI Football vs. Illinois State (Family Weekend) UNI-Dome, 1pm, 273-4849
4 UNI Women’s Basketball vs. Upper Iowa University McLeod Center, 8:30pm, 273-4849
4 Metropolitan Chorale Fall Concert Nazareth Evangelical Lutheran Church, 3pm
7-10 Iowa High School Football Playoffs – Semi Final UNI-Dome, 273-4849
7 PMB Live! Panther Marching Band Concert 7:30pm, 273-4849
8 Branson Country Christmas Electric Park, noon, 877-461-4441
8 The Songbook Trio Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
8 Cedar Valley Family STEM Festival Waterloo Convention Center, 4pm
8-10 Downtown Ingredients Downtown Cedar Falls, 277-0213
9 Lunchtime Concerts-Julian Castillo and UNI Musicians Hearst Center, noon, 273-8641
9-10 The Giver McElroy Theatre, Waterloo, Fri 7pm, Sat 2pm, 291-4494
9 UNI Women’s Basketball vs. University of Delaware McLeod Center, 8:30pm, 273-4849
10 LitCon Cedar Falls Library, 9am, 273-8643
10-11 Holiday Arts Festival Waterloo Center for the Arts, 10am 291-4490
10-15 Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veteran’s Museum 10th Anniversary Waterloo, 234-6357

News from the Statehouse

What You Need to Know for Election Day

Election Day is Tuesday, November 6th and Iowans can expect a few changes at the polls this year.  Below is everything you need to know in order to make sure you ballot is counted and your voice is heard.

What You Need to Bring

If you are currently registered to vote in Iowa, you will be asked on Election Day to show a valid form of identification (ID) before casting a ballot.  If you do not have one of the five accepted forms of ID’s listed below, you will be allowed to sign an oath of identity and then cast your ballot.

The following types of ID are accepted:
–    Driver’s License or Non-operator ID
–    US Passport
–    Military or Veterans ID
–    State Issued voter ID card
–    Tribal Identification Card.

Polling Locations and Times

Precinct voting locations are open from 7a.m. to 9p.m. and, as long as voters are in line by 9p.m., they will be allowed to vote. Voters can find their polling locations by checking here: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/voterreg/pollingplace/search.aspx

It Isn’t Too Late to Register to Vote

Iowans who are not yet registered to vote can still register and vote on Election Day by taking advantage of Iowa’s Same Day Voter Registration process. A voter who wants to register on Election Day will need to show a proof of ID that is valid, current, and contains an expiration date. These include a driver’s license, out of state driver’s license or non-driver ID card, U.S. passport, U.S. military ID, Tribal ID, ID card issued by an employer, or student ID by an Iowa High School or college.

Along with proof of ID those wanting to register and vote on Election Day also have to show a proof of residence which include: a residential lease, utility or cell phone bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check, or government document.

If a voter does not have either of these, they can have a registered voter in their precinct attest for them by both signing an oath.

Voting Early

For Iowans who may be out of town on Election Day or simply want to cast their vote early, they can vote on the Saturday and Monday before the election at their local county auditor’s office. There may also be a satellite voting location set up in their area. To find satellite voting locations as well as the address of their county auditor voters can look it up here: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/auditors/AuditorsList.html

Tracking Absentee

If you have an absentee ballot that still needs to be mailed in, it must be postmarked by the Monday, November 5. It is a good idea to turn it as soon as possible. You may also hand deliver it to your county auditor. If you have requested an absentee ballot but have not yet received it or want to confirm it was received by the county auditor, you can track your absentee ballot by checking the following link:
https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/absenteeballotstatus/search.aspx

Healthcare Issues Continue in Iowa

Every Iowan deserves access to affordable health care. Unfortunately, over the last few years Iowa’s health care system has gotten worse, not better.

Since the GOP privatized Medicaid for 600,000 Iowans, too many Iowans have been denied care and Iowans with disabilities are struggling to get the care they need. Several Iowa health care providers are closing or reducing services due to low rates and denied payments from the for-profit private companies.

Uncertainty and inaction from federal and state leaders on health care the last two years has also left more Iowans without healthcare.  From 2016 to 2017, the number of uninsured Iowans nearly doubled from 3.9% to 7.2%, one of highest jumps in the country. Enrollment in Iowa’s health care marketplace dropped 38% from 75,000 in 2016 to just 46,000 this year.

Health care costs continue to rise for Iowans with private health insurance, typically through their employer. Private insurance costs went up annually 5% from 2001 to 2014 and the average annual family premium for employer-based health insurance rose 6% from 2013 to 2016.

Access to health care has also been reduced as GOP lawmakers closed down multiple family planning and health care clinics. The closures left over 14,600 Iowans without health care in their own community for services like, birth control, cancer screenings, and other women’s health services. In fact, a report released by the Department of Human Services (DHS) this month showed that there was a 73% decline of family planning usage due to the closing of these clinics.

Last session, the Governor and Legislature passed Senate File 2349, which allows Iowans to purchase health benefits through Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangement (MEWA) plans or health benefit plans.  However, many Iowans are concerned that the new benefit plans are allowed to deny coverage to Iowans with pre-existing conditions and charge higher premiums to Iowans who get sick.

Local insurance agents, assisters, and certified application counselors are available to assist Iowans review insurance plans and determine which plan may best fit their needs. Iowans can find local help by visiting http://localhelp.HealthCare.gov or contacting the Iowa Insurance Division at (515) 281-5705.

This healthcare crisis can only be solved by working together to develop bi-partisan solutions that makes Medicaid and health insurance accessible and reliable for all Iowans.  This means continuing to expand services in rural Iowa, reinstating the Medicaid Family Planning program, and ending Medicaid privatization.

Read More News from the Statehouse

Iowa Falls Below South Dakota in ACT Scores
Student Health Group Addressing Lead Testing
Fall and Winter Camping in State Parks
Thinking About a Health Sciences Job?

October 17, 2018

Greetings to you all,
The non-partisan group charged with estimating Iowa’s future state budget met this week projecting modest growth for FY 2019 at 4.9% but even slower growth of 1.7% for FY 2020. The tax cut passed last year by Iowa GOP leaders going to corporations and top income earners will add challenges to the state budget.


Early voting started last week with thousands of Iowans already casting their ballots. Iowans can vote by mail (https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/pdf/absenteeballotapp.pdf), vote at their local county auditor’s office, or find a satellite voting location in their area (https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/auditors/auditorslist.html). https://iwillvote.com

Iowa has long been a world leader in renewable energy, and we’ve just hit another major milestone – 37% of the electricity generated in Iowa comes from the wind; the best in the nation. This great news means our investment and focus on renewable energy over the last couple decades is paying off.  In 1990, wind energy was just less than 1% of the total energy produced in the state. But it isn’t just wind. Iowa is also a world leader in production of both biodiesel and ethanol.  A record 305 million gallons of biodiesel were produced last year at 12 facilities. The biodiesel industry supported about 3,800 full-time equivalent jobs in the state in 2017.

Last session, Republican leaders proposed the elimination of the Solar Energy System Tax Credits, which encourages the installation of solar energy on homes and businesses around the state.  Democrats stood firm to keep the solar tax credits because solar installed in the state has tripled since 2017, supporting 815 solar jobs and 76 companies in total. According to a report issued last year, Iowa has over 30,000 clean energy jobs and the most wind energy jobs of any state in the Midwest. Iowa needs to continue to set the standard of being a world leader in renewable energy, especially wind power and biofuels. We must also continue to put pressure on the federal government to continue incentives for installing new renewable energy.


To kick off UNI’s new Elevating Educators initiative, UNI is offering ALL educators who work with children from birth through grade 12 to receive two free football game tickets, two free tickets to a pregame tailgate and a t-shirt to the Missouri State vs. UNI football game and tailgate set for 4 p.m. Nov. 17 at the UNI-Dome. Registration for tailgate tickets and t-shirt is limited, and is offered on a first come, first served basis. After the maximum number of registrations has been met, educators will still be able to receive two free football game tickets. Additional tickets for the game and tailgate can be purchased for $10 per person. There is a registration link in the below press release and at this link: http://unipanthers.com/news/2018/10/9/football-uni-athletics-provides-free-tickets-tailgate-for-educators-on-nov-17.aspx.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

18 Tonic Sol-Fa: A Capella Group Hawkeye Comm. College, Waterloo, 296-4464
18 Red Herring Readers Theatre In the Next Room Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
18 U.S. Marine Band “The President’s Own” GBPAC*, 7:30pm, 273-4849
18,26 Black Hawks Hockey Young Arena, Waterloo, 7pm, 291-7680
19 Vertigo: Heidi Wiren Bartlett Waterloo Center for the Arts, 7pm, 291-4490
19 The Choir of Man GBPAC*, 7pm, 273-4849
20 Fun Day/Test & Tune CF Motorsports Park, 11am, 987-2537
20 Mark Dubell Family Concert Riverview Conference Center, 6pm, 268-0787
20 UNI Football vs South Dakota UNI-Dome, 4pm, 273-4849
20 Vivid Voices Wartburg – Neuman Auditorium, Waverly, 8pm, 352-8691
21 Cemetery Walk Greenwood Cemetery, 2pm, 266-5149
24 Trick, Treat & Museum Minion Madness Waterloo Center for the Arts, 5pm, 291-4490
25 Final Thursday Reading Series – Jeffery Copeland Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
26 Night of the Living Dead Hope Martin Theatre, Waterloo,7pm, 291-4494
26-28 Steel Guitar Show Electric Park Ballroom, Waterloo, 563-422-3293
26-28 The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee GBPAC*, 9/26 @ 7pm; 9/27, 28 @ 2pm, 273-4849
27 Halloween Town Downtown (formerly Witches Walk) Cedar Falls, 10am, 277-0213
27 Strolling with the Spirits Grout Museum District, 3:30 & 7pm, 234-6357
27 Friends of Western Home Craft Show & Sale Diamond Event Center, 9am, 222-2048
27 Sullivan Brothers Veterans Memorial 5K/10K Sullivan Brothers Museum, 9am, 234-6357
27 Saturday Fun Day & Hallowild CF Motorsports Park, 11am, 987-2537

News from the Statehouse

Early Voting Begins in Iowa

While Election Day is still a few weeks away, thousands of Iowans have already started casting ballots by mail or at early voting locations across the state.

Currently, local county auditor offices are open every week day for eligible voters to vote for the upcoming election on November 6. Voters can also cast an early vote at designated satellite voting locations.  Eligible voters will need to check with their county auditor to see if there is a satellite voting location in their community.

A person voting early in person at the auditor’s office or a satellite location will be asked to show identification requirements, however identification is not required to vote. Instead, voters without proper ID will sign an oath and then cast their ballot.

Voters can show the following types of ID:
1.    Valid Driver’s License
2.    Non-operator ID
3.    U.S. passport
4.    Veterans or Military ID
5.    Tribal ID
6.    State issued voter identification card

Voters can also request to have an absentee ballot mailed to their house and they can vote from the comfort of their kitchen table.  The deadline to request a vote by mail ballot is October 27th at 5 pm. A voter can print off an absentee ballot request and fill it out and mail to their local county auditor (SEE BELOW for a link to this application).

Once the absentee ballot is requested, Iowans can track their ballots online. Ballots need to be post marked by Monday, November 5 to be counted, but county auditors recommend returning the ballot as soon as possible in the postage paid envelope provided.

Iowa has a voter registration deadline up until 10 days before the Election but can still register to vote on Election Day, either online or at their county auditor’s office or print off a form and send into to county auditor, or simply visit their county auditor.

Important Links for Voters:
•    Print off an absentee ballot request: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/pdf/absenteeballotapp.pdf
•    Track an absentee ballot: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/absenteeballotstatus/search.aspx
•    Register to vote online: https://mymvd.iowadot.gov/Account/Login?ReturnUrl=%2fVoterRegistration
•    Print off a voter registration form: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/pdf/voteapp.pdf
•    Find your county auditor: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/auditors/auditorslist.html

2019 Health Insurance Enrollment Approaches 

Beginning November 1 through December 15, Iowans may purchase or change their Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual health coverage to become effective January 1, 2019.  During this open enrollment, Iowans may call 1-800-318-2596 or visit healthcare.gov for information regarding enrollment and calculating applicable tax credits.

Iowans can begin previewing sample premium amounts for individual ACA-complaint health insurance plans at https://data.iowa.gov/Health/Sample-2019-Iowa-Individual-Affordable-Care-Act-Co/smvn-ctjb/data?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery for each of Iowa’s seven rating areas. These premium amounts will become official once posted to healthcare.gov during open enrollment beginning November 1, 2018.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation and Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services data, Iowans received an average monthly advanced premium tax credit of $888 during 2017 under the ACA. The state’s estimated total annual premium tax credits received by marketplace enrollees were $444,241,000.  This information can be found at www.kff.org/health-reform/state

Local insurance agents, assisters, and certified application counselors are available to assist Iowans review insurance plans and determine which plan may best fit their needs.

Iowans can find local help by visiting http://localhelp.HealthCare.gov or contacting the Iowa Insurance Division at (515) 281-5705.

Read More News from the Statehouse

Iowa Receives Suicide Prevention Grant
Fall Trout Stocking
Iowa Judicial Branch Releases Judicial Directory Before Election
Iowa to Receive Federal Funds for School Safety
Report Underscores On-Line Schools Profit Before Student Achievement

October 3, 2018

Greetings to you all,

Over the last several years, the total dollar amount of state tax credits and tax cuts to corporations has increased substantially and put the state budget in the red.  As the state’s cost to pay for those benefits to corporations have grown significantly, investment in critical state services continues to decline.  It’s created an on-going state budget problem that has resulted in Iowa families paying higher property taxes, public schools being shortchanged, fewer services for victims of domestic violence, and college students paying higher tuition.

Instead of fixing the budget imbalance created by these corporate tax credits and breaks last session, Republican leaders pushed through a new $2.8 billion tax bill that will make the problem even worse.  The huge price tag – which includes another $500 million in corporate tax cuts — will cause even more problems for the state budget and virtually guarantee more cuts and anemic investments in schools and healthcare for the foreseeable future.

Last year, I worked with colleagues to develop three common sense principles to make sure any new tax breaks considered last session were responsible and actually benefit everyday Iowans. They are:
1.    Balance the state budget
2.    Be fair and simple for all Iowans
3.    Provide relief for the middle class

I believe it’s time to get back to the basics and re-focus the legislature on doing what’s best for working families, not just corporations and the special interests.

The Reynolds Administration’s shift to out-of-state for-profit companies managing Iowa’s Medicaid system continues to become increasingly unpopular. A new poll by the Des Moines Register found that 70 percent of Iowans think the state should end the privatization of Medicaid.

As the weather begins to cool off, Iowans concerned about the cost of their heating bills can sign up to receive assistance through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) beginning November 1st. To learn if you qualify go to https://humanrights.iowa.gov/dcaa/liheap.

The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) is seeking feedback on the creation of a children’s mental health system in Iowa. To attend a listening post in your area please visit the link.  https://bit.ly/2QqNqs6.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

I
Upcoming Community Events

2-5 Waverly Horse Sale Waverly Sales Inc., 352-2804
2 Whose Live Anyway GBPAC*, 7pm, 273-4849
4 Girl’s Night Out Downtown Cedar Falls, 5pm, 277-0213
4 Tour de’Loo Downtown Waterloo, 291-2038
5 UNI Jazz Band One & Jazz Panthers UNI Russell Hall, 7:30pm, 273-2028
5-7 Nana’s Naughty Knickers Oster Regent Theatre, Thursday-Saturday 7:30pm; Sun 2pm, 277-5283
5 Opening Reception for ASSEMBLY: The Work of Dazzle Camouflage Hearst Center, 2pm, 273-8641
5 Opening Reception for Resistance & Rescue Hearst Center, 5:30pm, 273-8641
5-6 Summerfoam Live Cattle Congress, Waterloo
6 Tunis Reunion Grout Museum, Waterloo, 10am, 234-6357
6 UNI Football vs. North Dakota State UNI-Dome, 1pm, 273-4849
6 12th Annual Pink Ribbon Run Cedar Falls Library, 8am, 277-0213
8 Opening Reception for The Reach & Richness of Design UNI Gallery of Art, 6pm, 273-6134
11 The Songbook Trio Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
11 Trio Con Brio Copenhagen GBPAC*, 7pm, 273-4849
12 Vertigo: Melissa Airy & Let’s Talk Waterloo Center for the Arts, 7pm, 291-4490
12 Lunchtime Concert – UNI Bass Studio & Bass Ensemble Hearst Center, noon, 273-8641
13 Runner’s Flat 50K, 25K, 10K Gateway Park, 277-1154
13 Twisted Cross Tondro Pray Bike Park
13-14 First Annual Iron Elite Fall Nationals Neilson Field House, 273-4849
13 Fun Day CF Motorsports Park, 987-2537

News from the Statehouse

Iowa Needs a Skilled Workforce, Higher Wages

According to a new report, wages in Iowa continue to slide for all but the wealthiest Iowans with real average hourly earnings decreasing 0.2 percent since last year.

Since Iowa remains a low wage state and also faces a skilled worker shortage, making additional job training available to Iowa workers is one way to give people more opportunities to land a good paying job.  In Iowa, three out of every five jobs require some training beyond high school but only a third of our workforce actually meets those requirements.

Over the last several years, new tax breaks for the wealthiest Iowans and corporations have made education after high school more expensive and limited job training opportunities for Iowans who need it the most.

Next session, House Democrats will work to get the Legislature back focused on the basics and make sure every Iowan can get some education or training after high school to land a good-paying job.

Last session, lawmakers worked together and took a small step to boost our skilled workforce. The Future Ready Iowa program was created to reach a goal of having 70% of Iowa’s workforce with education or training beyond high school by the year 2025.

The legislation creates a new apprenticeship program designed to incentivize small and medium sized programs to create new or more apprenticeships and creates a volunteer mentor program; a summer youth intern pilot program for at risk youth; an Iowa Employer Innovation Program focused on training for high demand jobs and a Future Ready Iowa Skilled Workforce Grant Program for state universities or accredited private colleges.

Great Iowa Treasure Hunt; Do You Have Unclaimed Money?

A Des Moines class-action fee lawsuit has required $11 million to be returned to Polk County residents. Thus far, only 10,000 of 60,000 Des Moines residents owed money have been collected, leaving $8 million unclaimed. These unclaimed funds are listed on the State Treasurer’s Great Iowa Treasure Hunt website.

Every year, millions of dollars gets turned into the State Treasurer’s office as lost or abandoned property.  This property comes in the form of safety deposit box items, dormant financial accounts, unclaimed utility refunds, uncashed checks, and stock certificates and dividends.  The State Treasurer’s office becomes the holder of these assets and keeps track of these items on the website.

The Treasurer must give away the remaining $8 million by April 2019, or the remaining funds are returned to the City of Des Moines.

To date, the State Treasurer’s office has returned $251,916,659 back to the rightful owners. To see if you have unclaimed property or money visit: https://greatiowatreasurehunt.gov.

Read More News from the Statehouse

Input Sought on Children’s Mental Health Services
Books Closed on Fiscal Year 2018 Budget
Iowans have Above Average Student Loan Default Rate
Tree Stand Hunting Safety
Work Group Addresses School Health Requirements

September 21, 2018

Greetings to you all,

In recent years, the total dollar amount of state tax credits to corporations has increased substantially and left the state with steep budget cuts, leaving more working families to pick up the tab.  Republican lawmakers passed a tax bill in 2018 with nearly $500 million in new tax cuts for corporations while reducing investments in job training, healthcare, and even public schools. Republican leaders have consistently put corporations and profits over Iowa’s working families.

I believe it’s time to get back to the basics and help Iowa families get ahead.  One thing the state can do is help families with the high cost of child care.  In Iowa, the average cost of child care is over $556 per month.  Compared to the medium income, that means some Iowa families spend around 11% of their income on child care costs. It’s a problem especially acute in Iowa as we are one of the top states in the U.S. where both parents are working and have children under six years old.

Last year, there were 40,900 Iowa children who came from families qualifying for state assistance to pay for the high cost of child care through the Child Care Assistance Program. Those families were working at least 28 hours per week while earning less than $30,132 (family of three).  In recent years, the Legislature took one small step to help more working families qualify for child care assistance that were both working and going to school to land a better-paying job.

While it was a good first step, there is more we can do to help working families succeed.  We should raise the eligibility so more families can get child care assistance, expand preschool to every four year old, and make sure Iowa’s child care tax credit is keeping pace with rising costs. It’s time to re-focus our efforts at the State Capitol on working families instead of special interests and corporations.


The Iowa Board of Regents announced this week that state tuition costs will again increase due to lack of state funding. GOP lawmakers continue to defend their budget cuts to the state’s university system. A recent agreement by Iowa GOP lawmakers to pay the out-of-state management companies 7.5% more, has now left the Iowa Department of Human Services seeing an 11% rise in Medicaid costs. This contradicts the Iowa GOP’s promise of additional savings to taxpayers when the move to Medicaid privatization was announced.

At the Education Service Center-Waterloo Schools Administration Building 1516 Washington Street Board Room from 7-8:30 pm the documentary Resilience will be presented. The documentary Resilience is about the science of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and treating and preventing toxic stress.  ACEs can alter brain development and have lifelong effects on health and behavior.  The film covers the science behind the issues and solutions to problems caused by trauma.  You can also click on this link-Resilience-to see the preview of the film.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

21 32 Car Shootout Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 11am, 987-2537
21-22 Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales Hope Martin Theatre, Waterloo, Fri 7pm; Sat 2pm, 291-4494
21 UNI School of Music 37th Annual Scholarship Benefit Concert “Brave New World” GBPAC*, 7:30pm, 273-4849
21-22 Waverly Oktoberfest Kohlman Park, Waverly, 5pm
22-23 Fall Harvest Festival CV Arboretum & Botanic Gardens, Waterloo, 11am, 226-4966
22-23 Terry Stumpf Memorial Race Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 987-2537
22 UNI Football vs. Hampton UNI-Dome, 4pm, 273-4849
22 The Night of the Horse Hippodrome, Waterloo, 7pm, 296-0964
22 David Spade GBPAC, 7pm, 273-4849
22 Walk to End Alzheimers Gateway Park, 9am, 277-4106
23 Amy Grant GBPAC, 7pm, 273-4849
27 Opening Reception for Cultural Expressions Exhibit UNI Museum, 7pm, 273-2188
27 UNI Spotlight Series: Wind Ensemble & Symphonic Band GBPAC, 7:30pm, 273-4849
27 Final Thursday Reading Series: Grant Tracey Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
28-30 Iowa High School Rodeo Cattle Congress Grounds, Waterloo
28 Rick Springfield GBPAC*, 7pm, 273-4849
28-29 Mopar Max Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 987-2537
29 wcfsymphony Concert: Gala Season Premiere GBPAC*, 7pm, 273-4849
10/2-5 Waverly Horse Sale Waverly Sales Inc.,352-2804
10/2 Whose Live Anyway GBPAC*, 7pm, 273-4849
10/3-4 Halloween Hikes Hartman Reserve, 6pm, 277-2187

News from the Statehouse

State Tax Credits Increase Dramatically

In recent years, the total dollar amount of state tax credits to corporations has increased substantially and left the state with steep budget cuts and more debt.  During the same time, investment in critical state services, like public schools and health care, has been low.

Even as corporate tax credits increased dramatically, Republican lawmakers passed a tax bill in 2018 with nearly $500 million in new tax cuts for corporations while leaving public schools with less than $40 million in new funding next year.

According to a 2010 Iowa Department of Revenue study, the state has over 373 tax credits, exclusions, and tax exemptions that cost the state over $12 billion annually.

Many Iowans have raised concerns specifically about the state’s refundable tax credits.  These credits allow some of the biggest companies in the state to not only reduce their taxes to nothing for the year, but require the state to give millions in state dollars back to the companies.  In 2017, a handful of companies not only paid no state income tax, but received checks for nearly $42 million from the state.

In addition to these state tax expenditures, some companies get even more in local taxes.  Property taxes are generally collected and used by local governments, so any property tax exemptions or credits created by the state typically reduce local government revenues.  This reduces revenues used by local cities and counties to provide services like police and fire, repair streets, and provide community resources like parks and community centers.

In 2017, leaders in central Iowa decided to give $213 million in state and local incentives to the world’s most profitable company, Apple, to build a data center.  With just 50 permanent jobs created, the incentives means taxpayers are giving $4.26 million per job. That deal has led to many questions from Iowans about the approval process for projects like these and if there is any state oversight of these agreements.

Regents Approve Funding Request & Labor Center Closure

The Iowa Board of Regents has given initial approval of plans to ask lawmakers for more state resources next year as well as close several centers due to state budget cuts.

For Fiscal Year 2020, the Regents are requesting a $20.5 million increase for student financial aid.  That includes a $7 million increase for both Iowa State University (ISU) and the University of Iowa (UI).  The University of Northern Iowa’s (UNI) request is for $4 million.

The requested increase comes on the heels of budget cuts to the institutions.  In 2017, the three public universities were cut $8.25 million followed by another cut of $10 million in 2018.  This resulted in a 3.8% tuition increase for ISU and the UI, and UNI rose 2.8%.  Earlier this year, Republican lawmakers made another mid-year cut of $11 million.  The budget cuts left students and families with higher tuitions and fees again this year.

Labor Center Closure Moves Forward

The Regents also approved a request for several center closures including five at ISU and five at UI, including the Labor Center.

The Labor Center offers continuing education programs that reach an average of 2,500 workers from more than 70 Iowa counties each year. The organization also conducts research, hosts events, and serves students as a career resource.  The Regents have said that they do not want to close the centers, but are left with no choice because of state budget cuts.  The closures have received harsh criticism from Iowans and resulted in several public forums.

The budget request and center closures will be finalized by the Regents at their board meeting in November.

Iowa Universities Dip in National Rankings

According to the Board of Regents, a new report out last week from US News & World Report showed Iowa universities are slipping in national rankings due to state budget cuts. Once ranked 31st, UI slipped seven spots among 132 peer institutions and are now ranked 38th.  In 2018, ISU ranked 53rd among public universities and this year slipped down to 56th.

The rankings show that Iowa’s universities slipped compared with peer institutions on measurements such as first-year student retention, class sizes, graduation rates, faculty salaries, and average spending on students.

Read More News from the Statehouse

Weight Limit Lifted on Roads for Iowa Farmers
State Park Volunteer Day September 22
Flu Vaccine Time of Year
Epi-Pen Law Working Well in Iowa

September 7, 2018

Greetings to you all,

The Medicaid privatization system is getting worse in Iowa with no sign of relief from the Governor or Republican lawmakers.  Many Iowans are being denied critical care, essential medical equipment, or having had their services severely reduced or cut altogether. In one case, the Iowa ombudsman found a Managed Care Organization (MCO) reduced a quadriplegic’s in-home care by 71% resulting in him being moved to a nursing home, which cost an additional $1,815 per month.

Even with all Medicaid-related problems reported, last week the Governor announced that the two private out-of- state for-profit companies in charge of running the state’s Medicaid system will be getting a 7.5% raise to the tune of $102.9 million.  These out of state MCO’s are doing everything they can to boost their profits by taking more money from taxpayers, all while denying care to Iowans and starving health care providers by refusing or delaying reimbursements. One MCO, AmeriHealth Caritas, terminated their contract in Iowa and has yet to pay as much as $14.6 million for medical care provided to disabled, poor, and elderly Iowans.

This crisis can only be solved by working together to develop bi-partisan solutions that makes Medicaid accessible and reliable for all Iowans.  Over the last two years, Republican lawmakers refused to work together to improve the situation and instead made it worse.  After promising to fix the system for years, Republicans have made health care more expensive and less accessible to Iowans. It’s time to work together to fix the Medicaid privatization problems.
The University of Northern Iowa Athletics is partnering with campus on Elevating Educators, a new initiative that seeks to recognize and elevate professional educators in Iowa, nationwide and throughout the world. To kick off the Elevating Educators initiative, UNI is offering all educators who work in a pre-K through 12 school district two free tickets to the UNI vs. Missouri State football game and tailgate set for 4 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 17, at the UNI-Dome. Details on how to obtain these tickets will be announced at a later date.

The documentary Resilience is about the science of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and treating and preventing toxic stress. ACEs can alter brain development and have lifelong effects on health and behavior. Learn about the science behind the issues and solutions to problems caused by trauma. A link to the trailer is at https://vimeo.com/137282528. The documentary Resilience will be shown on Wednesday, October 10, 7-8:30 pm at the Educational Service Center, 1516 Washington Street in Waterloo, Board Room.

This September during Veteran Suicide Prevention Month, the US Dept. of Veterans Affairs reminds Veterans who are struggling with mental health to contact the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

6 The Songbook Trio Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
6 Paul’s Journey Concert Riverview Conference Center, 7pm, 268-0787
7 Friday’Loo – Brass Transit Authority Lincoln Park, Waterloo, 5:30pm, 291-2038
8 ARTapalooza Downtown District, 9am, 277-0213
8 Fall Festival Prairie Lakes Church, 10am, 429-0147
8 Park to Park Half Marathon George Wyth State Park, 7:30am
8 Western Home Annual Breakfast and Family Fun Day Diamond Event Center, 222-2048
8 Saturday Fun Day & Battle of the High School Finals Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 2pm, 987-2537
8 Glow Stick 5K Prairie Lakes Park, 7pm
9 2018 Stone Soul Picnic Gateway Park, 12:30pm
9 Release & Remember RiverLoop Amphitheatre, Waterloo, 1pm, 272-2002
9 Closing Reception for 21 Etchings Hearst Center, 5:30pm, 273-8641
13 Cedar Valley Arts Summit 2.0 Waterloo Center for the Arts, 9am, 291-4490
13-16 National Cattle Congress Fair National Cattle Congress Grounds, Waterloo, 234-7515
13 Jack Wright: The Songs and Stories of Neil Diamond Hawkeye Community College, Waterloo, 7pm, 296-4464
14 National POW/MIA Recognition Day Sullivan Brothers Museum, Waterloo, 11am, 296-4464
14 Lunchtime Concerts Hearst Center, Noon
15 Mohair Pear Fair Mohair Pear, 11am, 266-6077
15 College Hill Oktoberfest 22nd & College St., 5pm, 273-6228
15 Fiesta: A Celebration of Latino Culture RiverLoop Amphitheatre, Waterloo, 11am, 291-4490
15 Lori King & Junction 63 Concert Riverview Conference Center, 6pm, 268-0787

News from the Statehouse

Failed Medicaid Privatization For-Profit Companies Get 7.5% Raise

Since the Governor unilaterally privatized Medicaid in 2016, people have been systematically denied critical care, essential medical equipment and have had their services severely reduced or cut altogether. Providers have had to close their doors, or like the University of Iowa Dental School, have stopped taking Medicaid patients altogether because the Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) are not paying them. In fact, the most recent report released by the State Ombudsman Office, the independent department responsible for investigating complaints against the state and local governments, found that there has been a 157% increase in Medicaid-related problems reported to the agency in 2017.  Even with all of these issues, the MCOs are still getting a big raise from the Republican Lawmakers to the tune of $102.9 million, or a 7.5% increase.

Every quarter, Governor Reynolds and Republican lawmakers continue to throw money at the MCOs without getting to the root of the problem.  Democrats are concerned the State is shirking its responsibility, when it turns over the care of Iowans to private companies who seem more interested in lining their pockets with taxpayer money, than helping those individuals on Medicaid receive the services they need.

Medicaid provides health care to 600,000 Iowans, including those in nursing homes.  According to recent estimates, about 70% of Medicaid dollars are used for the elderly, severely disabled, and poor. Because this affects our most vulnerable population, it is imperative we understand the true impact privatization is having on our state.

Legislature Seeking High School Students to Serve in the Page Program

The Iowa Legislature is looking for high school students to learn more about the legislative process by applying to serve as a Legislative Page in the Iowa House of Representatives for the 2019 Legislative Session.

Legislative Pages provide invaluable assistance to representatives and staff by running errands, delivering messages, and distributing bills and amendments.  Pages also assist legislative members at committee meetings and help the chairperson by handing out materials during the meetings.  Pages will work with staff and representatives in the Iowa State Capitol building.

The Iowa House Chief Clerk’s office will be accepting applications until Friday, October 5, 2018.
Guidelines to the program:

•    Must be 16 years of age
•    Applications are accepted for the Senate, House, or Legislative Services Agency
•    Uniforms are provided
•    Living arrangements are unsupervised and must be found on your own
•    Students are responsible for transportation to and from the State Capitol
•    This is a paid position and some excused absences are permitted
•    Students are expected to be able to handle any school responsibilities
•    Parental permission is required to participate in this program

For more details and how to apply go to www.legis.iowa.gov/agencies/careers.

Read More News from the Statehouse

Traffic Camera Fight Revived in Supreme Court
State Budget Cuts Bring Disadvantage to Iowa’s Public Safety
Board of Regents Solidify a Public Comment Period
Hunting Seasons Starting in September
Water Update Shows Drought Across Quarter of the State

August 24, 2018

Greetings to you all,

My heart goes out to the family of Mollie Tibbett’s as they grieve during this horrible tragedy.  Right now, it’s important for Iowans to remain united and support the Tibbetts family during this very difficult time for them.  As more details of this case come to light, there will be a time to listen and work together with local law enforcement officials to better protect Iowans and prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again.

Iowa families need access to affordable higher education because our economy is dependent on a skilled workforce.  A Georgetown University Center for Education and Workforce report shows that by 2025, 68% of jobs in Iowa will require some education and training beyond high school.  That means Iowa will need an estimated 127,700 more skilled workers than we have today.

Unfortunately, education beyond high school is becoming unaffordable for too many Iowans. Tuition at Iowa’s community colleges is the third highest in the Midwest and higher than the national average.  From 2010 to 2018, tuition and fees at Iowa’s 15 community colleges have increased by 37%.

State budget cuts from GOP lawmakers have also led to significant tuition and mandatory fees increases at Iowa’s three state universities.  Over the last eight years, tuition and fees rose by 25% at the University of Iowa and 28% at both Iowa State and the University of Northern Iowa.

According to a recent 2017 report, Iowa ranks 8th nationally in the number of students graduating with debt from college at 65%.  The debt problem for students is also getting worse as students today are paying more than $8,000 in additional tuition and fees at state universities compared to just a few years ago.

Iowa will never be able to close the skilled worker shortage we face if education after high school is increasingly unaffordable for most families.  Instead of handing out millions in corporate tax giveaways, it’s time for Iowa to invest in public education again and make sure higher education is affordable for every family.

If you know any students that would want to serve as a legislative page for the upcoming session please share this information.  Pages must be Iowa high school students in either their junior or senior year for the 2018-2019 school year and have reached the age of 16 by January 14, 2019.  To apply, students should go to the Legislature’s home page at www.legis.iowa.gov.  Under ‘Popular Links’, click on ‘Page Application’ to locate the application.  The deadline for applications to be received in the Chief Clerk’s office is Friday, October 5. Please contact Meghan Nelson at 515.281.5383 or Meghan.Nelson@legis.iowa.gov for assistance.

The Black Hawk County Solid Waste Management Commission and the City of Cedar Falls will be co-sponsoring the fall Household Hazardous Materials & Electronics Recycling Drop-off Event on Saturday, Sept. 22nd from 9 AM – 2 PM at the Cedar Falls Public Works Complex (2200 Technology Parkway, Cedar Falls) for Black Hawk County residents.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

24 Movies Under the Moon – Footloose (1984) Overman Park, CV Acoustic Guitar 6:30pm; movies at dusk, 277-0213
24 Friday’Loo – Wooden Nickel Lottery Lincoln Park, Waterloo, 5:30pm
24-25 Cedar Valley Pridefest Downtown Waterloo (300 block w4th St), Fri 5:30pm; Sat noon
24-26 Test & tune; High School Brackets #6, #11, #12 Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 987-2537
25 Booth Brothers Riverview Conference Center, 6pm, 268-0787
25 Romance Rendezvous Book Blast Hilton Garden Inn, 1pm, 283-0488
25 Tour of Classic Homes Grout Museum District, Waterloo, 1pm, 234-6357
25 Race for the Zoo 5K Run/Walk Sunrise Zoo, National Cattle Congress, 6:30am, 233-6363
26 Waterhawks Final Ski Show of 2018 Eagle Lake, Evansdale
28 Kenneth Lyftogt: Iowa and the Civil War Hearst Center, 6:30pm, 273-8641
28 August Ensemble CF Municipal Band Overman Park, 7pm
28 Opening Reception for Two Art Exhibitions: Drop Shadow & Visions UNI Gallery of Art, 6pm, 273-3095
30 Final Thursday Reading Series – Jocelyn Cullity Hearst Center, 2pm, 273-8641
31 RiverLoop Rhythms – The Uniphonics RiverLoop Amphitheatre, Waterloo, 5:30pm
9/3 CF Municipal Band Labor Day Encore Concert Overman Park, 7pm
9/5 Show & Shine National Cattle Congress, 4pm
9/6 The Songbook Trio Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
9/6 Paul’s Journey Concert Riverview Conference Center, 7pm, 268-0787
9/7 Friday’Loo – Brass Transit Authority Lincoln Park, Waterloo, 5:30pm, 291-2038
9/8 ARTapalooza Downtown District, 9am, 277-0213

News from the Statehouse


Labor Day Celebrations in Iowa

From better wages to the weekend to safe working conditions, all Iowans benefit today from the hard work of the labor movement over the years.  On Monday, September 3rd, we will again recognize the women and men who work in our factories, our hospitals, our restaurants, our cities, our schools, and everywhere that a service or product is produced or sold.

Labor Day has its roots in trade union celebrations in the 19th Century. Unions began choosing days to celebrate each year, and these celebrations grew until states began recognizing the days as state holidays.  These celebrations spread nationwide with many states adopting the holiday.  By the time congress passed Labor Day legislation, 23 states already had celebrations.

While we’ve made great progress in the last century improving the lives of workers, it’s important to recognize the new challenges Iowa workers face today.  Too many Iowa families are being squeezed by growing income inequality and wages that aren’t keeping up with the rising costs of raising a family. Too many hard working Iowans no longer have a say in their own workplace and don’t have health care or can’t afford to get sick or take care of a child who is sick because they won’t get paid.

Today, more than 80 countries worldwide celebrate Labor Day. To find Labor Day events near you visit: https://www.iowaaflcio.org/labor-day-events.

Supreme Court Strikes Down Voter Regulations    

The Iowa Supreme court upheld an injunction from a district court judge and put a hold on new controversial early voting restrictions and misleading advertising by the Iowa Secretary of State.

The Supreme Court blocked provisions of the legislation that included misleading advertising by the Secretary of State and increased regulations on absentee ballot requests. Voters will still be asked to  show an ID in the November election but are not required to have one in order to vote.

The Supreme Court agreed with the district court that ruled that the state’s argument of providing more integrity to Iowa’s election fell flat by failing to prove a threat that these new regulations would solve.  The case was brought to court by an Iowa State student and the League of United Latin American Citizens.

The Supreme Court did overturn one of the district court decisions by returning the early voting period to 29 days as the legislation had initially stated, meaning Iowans will have 11 less days to vote early than in previous years.

Read More News from the Statehouse

Presidential Disaster Declaration Requested for Tornadoes
Deer Hunting Licenses
Vaccines for College Students

August 9, 2018

Greetings to you all,

The new school year is just days away. Iowa teachers are writing lesson plans and getting their classrooms set up for the new school year. Families are wrapping up summer activities and vacations.  Practices are starting up again for thousands of high school kids. Many recent high school graduates are prepping to head to a college campus for the first time. Education has always been source of pride for Iowans and we’ve been a leader in public education for decades. We have high graduation rates, record numbers of kids preparing for college, and the best teachers in the world.

In the last several years, the Legislature hasn’t lived up to the state’s promise of opportunity for everyone through public education. Republican leaders in control of state government right now have provided record low state funding to public schools for seven of the last eight years. Teachers have less say in their own classrooms while being asked to do more with less. Tuition is climbing at our community colleges and state universities.

Instead of millions in tax giveaways to the wealthy and corporations, we should be investing in our public schools to grow our skilled workforce.  We need to reduce class size while empowering and respecting our teachers. We need to ensure all working families can afford to send their kids to community colleges, private colleges, and state universities.  We need to stop school closings, especially in rural areas, and help them expand opportunities for students instead.  I think it’s time for us to get back to the basics and make our education system the best in the nation again.

The new voter ID bill, passed during the 2017 Legislative Session, remains in limbo due to a district court judge putting a hold on the new controversial early voting restrictions and misleading advertising. The Secretary of State has appealed and the case and it will now move on to the Iowa Supreme Court.

An Iowan who co-chaired Iowa’s Medical Assistance Advisory Council and oversaw Medicaid privatization has been ousted from his position after speaking up about the failures of privatization for Iowans with disabilities. We need work together to address the health care issues facing the people who depend on Medicaid to live a quality life and providers who are struggling to meet the costs of their services because of denial of payments from Medicaid.

I was invited to speak recently at the 2018 Resilient Iowa Workshop at UNI. I shared the work we have done at the Capitol regarding the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study and how we need to be resilient when dealing with mental health in our children’s lives. We have plenty of work to do in the future to make sure our kids are safe.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

9 Waterloo Bucks Baseball Riverfront Stadium, 232-0500
9-12 13 The Musical Oster Regent Theatre, 7:30pm; Sun 2pm, 277-5283
10-12 32 Car & Big Bucks Shootout Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 987-2537
10 Movies Under the Moon – The Rookie Overman Park, CV Acoustic Guitar 6:30pm; movies at dusk, 277-0213
10 Friday’Loo – Milk and Honey Lincoln Park, Waterloo, 5:30pm, 291-2031
10-12 Stop Kiss Walker Building, Waterloo, Fri, Sat 7pm; Sun 2pm
11 North End Arts and Music Festival Sullivan Memorial Park, Waterloo, 11am, 234-2560
11 George Wyth Mountain Bike Race George Wyth State Park, 8am
11 Real Steel Resurgent Car Show & Swap Meet Cattle Congress Grounds, Waterloo, 830-9119
11 Stem & Stein – Food, Beer & Wine Fest RiverLoop Expo Center, 4pm, Waterloo, 291-4490
14, 21 August Ensemble CF Municipal Band Overman Park, 7pm
17 RiverLoop Rhythms – Sires & Special Guests RiverLoop Amphitheatre, Waterloo, 5:30pm
17 Panther Pawty Downtown District, 4pm, 277-0213
17-19 Old Time Power Show Antique Acres, 7am, 987-2380
18 Gran Fondo Cedar Valley & FondoFest Downtown District, 7am, 493-5371
18 Splash Bash 5K Run/Walk George Wyth State Park, 8am
18 Iowa/USA Softball State Tournaments Hoing-Rice Softball Complex, Waterloo
19 Waterhawks Ski Show Eagles Lake, Evansdale, 6pm
23 Opening Reception Dave Wieland Photography Hearst Center, 5:30pm
24 Doggie Dip The Falls, 6pm, 273-8468
24 Movies Under the Moon – Footloose (1984) Overman Park, CV Acoustic Guitar 6:30pm; movies at dusk, 277-0213

News from the Statehouse

Students Head Back to Classroom; Some Reforms Coming Next Year

As students return to the classroom starting on August 23rd this year, most local school budgets faced another year of belt tightening.  While state revenues grew by 4.9% over last year, Republican lawmakers increased state funding by just 1% this year, which is well below the cost of inflation.  This makes eight of the last nine years of record low K-12 funding approved by the current legislative leadership.

Districts this year with the highest transportation costs will be provided assistance, but not long-term funding.  Since some rural districts have a small number of students but geographically cover hundreds of square miles, they spend a large amount of their budget on transportation costs instead of in the classroom.  They will have to wait until next year for a possible long-term solution.

Many of the significant reforms passed this legislative session will also not be effective until next year as well.  This includes suicide prevention training, concussion protocols, and school emergency operation plans to address school safety.  Those trainings and protocols are not required to be in place until next school year.

Despite low performing online pilot programs, the current Legislative leadership chose to expand online learning.  The bill allows any school district to provide online courses through a private provider.  Students are allowed to open enroll with no cap on the number of students, however, students and parents have until March 1, 2019 to open enroll to a different district for next school year.

School Lunch Food Shaming

One bi-partisan piece of legislation going into effect this year was the elimination of school lunch “food shaming”.  Iowa became the ninth known state at the time to pass a law protecting children for being disciplined for not having sufficient funds in their school lunch accounts.

Under the bill, the following actions are no longer being allowed as these actions humiliate or “shame” a student because they cannot pay for the meal, including the following; 1) Requiring the student to consume the meal at a table set aside for students who owe a meal debt; 2) Having a student discard a meal after it has been served; 3) Requiring a student to wear a wrist band, hand stamp, or other identifying marks, or do chores or work to pay for their meal;  and 4) Denying participation in afterschool program or other extracurricular activities.

Voting Restrictions in Limbo after Court Ruling  

Saying it interferes with Iowans’ right to vote, a district court put a hold on new controversial early voting restrictions and misleading advertising by the Iowa Secretary of State.

The court blocked provisions of the legislation that included shortening the early voting period and increased regulations on absentee ballot requests. Voters will still be asked to show an ID in the November election but are not required to have one in order to vote.

The district court ruled that the state’s argument of providing more integrity to Iowa’s election fell flat because it failed to prove the “threat” that these new regulations would have solved.  The case was brought to court by an Iowa State student and the League of United Latin American Citizens. The ruling by the District Court has been appealed by the Secretary of State and will be heard by the Iowa Supreme Court on August 9th.

In 2016 there was one case of voter impersonation fraud in Iowa, when a woman voted twice at the polls for then candidate Donald Trump and was caught.

Read More News from the Statehouse

Trump Tariff Fight Escalates
College Tuition Rates Rise Again
Hunting and Fishing Licenses Increasing
Iowa Continues to Crack Down on Drunk Driving
First Iowan Dies from West Nile Virus in 2018
Iowa #1 in Passing the High School Equivalency Test
Supreme Court Suggests Reforms to Access to Courts

July 27, 2018

Greetings to you all,

Ragbrai is officially here! Last week was our annual bike ride out to the start of Ragbrai. We are enjoying the ride this year with the great weather, the hospitality of Iowans, and the beautiful countryside. Thank you to all who coordinate this fantastic ride every year.


The disastrous Medicaid privatization is only getting worse in Iowa with the Governor Reynolds Administration still has yet to provide any accurate data that privatization has saved Iowa taxpayers any money, all while out-of-state companies running Medicaid are getting millions more in administrative costs and cutting critical care that Iowans need.

Many local agencies providing care to Medicaid patients are still owed millions of dollars from the for-profit management companies.  Iowa hospitals are saying that the Reynolds Administration “cost savings” is only because the Medicaid insurance companies are not adequately reimbursing health care providers for their services. Many providers claim that besides not getting paid on time, Medicaid privatization has made care more expensive for providers statewide.

This crisis can only be solved by working together to develop bi-partisan solutions that makes Medicaid accessible and reliable for all Iowans.  It’s time to work together to fix the Medicaid privatization mess and our broken health care system.

According to a new study, Iowa counties are not achieving gender balance on boards and commissions with only 58.92 percent with gender balance. If you know someone interested in serving on a board or commission visit: https://openup.iowa.gov.

According to the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency, Iowa has spent nearly $500 million in public money on private schools and home school programs since 2008. Under Republican leadership nonpublic education funding grew 53% increasing from $34.3 million in 2008 to almost $53 million in 2018.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

24-28 Black Hawk County 4-H/FFA Fair Cattle Congress Grounds, Waterloo, 234-6811
25 Christmas in July Lost Island Waterpark, 10:30am, 233-8414
25 Kansas GBPAC, 7pm, 273-4849
26 Party on the Patio – Amelia and Melina Hearst Center, 5pm, 273-8641
27 Friday’Loo – Twins Lincoln Park, Waterloo, 5:30pm, 291-2038
27 Movies Under the Moon – Lego Batman Movie Overman Park, CV Acoustic Guitar 6:30pm; movies at dusk, 277-0213
27 Live to 9 – The Ice Breakers Sturgis Park, 5:30pm
27-29 Grease Hope Martin Theatre, Waterloo, Fri 7pm; Sun 2pm, 291-4494
28 – Cedar Falls Bible Conference Riverview Conference Center
28 Gifts and Crafts Show Majestic Moon, Waterloo, 9am, 229-6212
28 MotoCross Cattle Congress grounds
28-29 Iowa/USA Men’s C/D State Tournament Hoing-Rice Softball Complex, Waterloo
28-29 Cedar River Clean-up and Festival 7/28 Deerwood Park, 8am; 7/29 Spicoli’s 1pm
31 Timeless Tunes – CF Municipal Band Overman Park, 7:30pm
8/2,3 Waterloo Bucks Baseball Riverfront Stadium, 232-0500
8/3 Waterhawks Ski Show Eagle Lake, Evansdale, 7pm
8/3-5 Iowa Irish Fest Lincoln Park, Waterloo, 234-9029
8/4 Midnight Mania Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 2pm, 987-2537
8/7,14 August Ensemble CF Municipal Band Overman Park, 7pm
9-12 13 The Musical Oster Regent Theatre, 7:30pm; Sun 2pm, 277-5283
10-12 32 Car & Big Bucks Shootout Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 987-2537
10 Movies Under the Moon – The Rookie Overman Park, CV Acoustic Guitar 6:30pm; movies at dusk, 277-0213

News from the Statehouse

Annual Sales Tax Holiday Weekend of August 3-4

This year’s annual sales tax holiday is the first weekend in August, or Friday, August 3, and Saturday, August 4th.  The holiday does not include Sunday.  No sales tax (including local taxes) is collected on sales of any clothing or footwear that has a sales price of less than $100.  The holiday applies to each article that is priced at less than $100, no matter how many items are sold to any customer.  The holiday does not apply to any item that is sold for $100 or more.

Any business that is open during the sales tax holiday will participate.  Businesses do not have to do any special reporting because there is a line for the Sales Tax Holiday included on the regular sales tax form for sales during the holiday.

The sales tax holiday does not apply to watches, jewelry, sporting equipment, handbags, or wallets.  Store coupons and discounts can reduce the sales price below $100 to qualify for the Sales Tax Holiday, but manufacturer coupons cannot.  If items are usually sold as a unit, those items cannot be split up so that each piece qualifies for the $100 requirement.

Additional information on the Sales Tax Holiday can be found at https://tax.iowa.gov/iowas-annual-sales-tax-holiday.

“Move Over Law” Expanded to All Vehicles

Drivers traveling on Iowa’s roads will have to pay more attention to cars and other vehicles parked on the side of the road, or risk being fined.

Starting July 1, all drivers must move over or at least slow down for all vehicles with flashing emergency lights. This past session saw the state’s “Move Over” expanded to include a stationary construction vehicle and allows a stationary construction vehicle to display flashing amber lights. The law also now extends to any stationary motor vehicle that is continuously displays its emergency signal lamps flashing simultaneously.

The previous law only required a driver approaching an authorized emergency vehicle, utility vehicle, municipal maintenance vehicle, towing or recovery vehicle, highway maintenance vehicle, stationary solid waste or recycling vehicle, that are displaying flashing yellow to use due caution when approaching or make a lane change if possible.

Read More News from the Statehouse

Iowa Attorney General Warns Consumers to Beware of Flood-Damaged Vehicles
Stop the Spread of the Emerald Ash Borer
Childhood Health Campaign Expanding in Iowa
Anniversary of Americans with Disability Act
New Early Childhood Learning Standards Released

July 12, 2018

Greetings to you all,

The University of Iowa announced this week that they are closing several centers at the college and cutting 30 jobs because of the GOP’s budget cuts.  The closures will impact critical research on aging, technology that assists people with disabilities, and Iowa’s workforce. One of the closures, the Labor Center, is the only center that is dedicated to workplace and labor issues in Iowa. In today’s rapidly changing workplace, it’s critical for the Labor Center to provide policymakers with timely information about the economic and legal environment, how best to create and preserve quality jobs, and how to strengthen workers’ rights.

Over the last two years, Republican lawmakers have cut $16 million to the UI and raised tuition at Iowa’s three state universities and community colleges.  As Iowa faces a significant workforce shortage, lawmakers should be working together to make job training and higher education affordable for every Iowan.

Medicaid privatization is forcing the University of Iowa dental college to turn away Medicaid patients because they are not being paid fairly or timely by the for-profit companies. The new for-profit company picked by the Reynolds Administration to manage the state’s Medicaid program has been fined over $23 million in other states for things like failing to pay providers, refusing to pay overtime, and not meeting goals for improving care.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

10-14 Riverview Gospel Sing Riverview Conference Center, 268-0787
12 Happy Faces Entertainment CF public Library, 10:30am, 859-3282
12-14 BLAST Iowa Summer Sizzler The Falls, 290-6261
12 Party on the Patio – Zoot and Newt Hearst Center, 5pm, 273-8641
13 Live to 9 – Staebell Day Sturgis Park, 5:30pm
13 Movies Under the Moon – Trolls Overman Park, CV Acoustic Guitar 6:30pm; movie dusk
13 RiverLoop Rhythms – Brazilian 2wins RiverLoop Amphitheatre, 5:30pm
13 Waterhawks Ski Show Eagle Lake, Evansdale, 7pm
13-17 Grease Hope Martin Theatre, Waterloo, 7pm, Sun 2pm, 291-4494
14,15,19 Waterloo Bucks Baseball Riverfront Stadium, 232-0500
14 Feelin’ Sour: A Sour Beer & Cider Festival RiverLoop Expo Plaza, Waterloo, 4pm, 883-3604
14 ACCEL Triathlon George Wyth State Park, 8am, 319-596-1101
15 CV Chamber Music Fest – Raiders of the Lost Art Prairie Lakes Atrium, 3pm
16 ISU’s Insect Zoo Cedar Falls Public Library, 10am, 273-8643
17 Timeless Tunes – CF Municipal Band Overman Park, 7:30pm
17-22 142nd Annual Iowa State Trap Shoot Cedar Falls Gun Club, 8am
17 Red Herring Theatre Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
18 CV Chamber Music Fest – Raiders of the Lost Art UNI Gallery of Art, 7pm, 273-3095
19 Juggling Jeff CF Public Library, 10:30am, 273-8643
19 Party on the Patio – Karla Ruth Hearst Center, 5pm, 273-8641
19-22 Waterloo Open Golf Classic Irv Warren Memorial Golf Course at Byrnes Park

News from the Statehouse


More Privatized Medicaid Challenges; New Dental Plan Changes

Ever since the Governor unilaterally privatized Medicaid in 2016, the results have been disastrous for the people of Iowa. Iowa’s Medicaid Dental Wellness Plan (DWP) may have dentists across Iowa no longer accepting Medicaid patients because the state shifted management of the dental system to for-profit companies.

Because of these changes, the University of Iowa Dental School announced they will no longer be taking new Medicaid patients.  This new policy is due to the low payments and confusing rules from the Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) that took over Iowa’s Medicaid program.

The University of Iowa has the only dental school in the state, and they often take challenging cases. They currently serve 8,000 adult Medicaid patients, and those patients will still receive services. However, any new Medicaid patients will be turned away.  Patients are already having trouble accessing dental care, and this will add to that problem.

The State of Iowa also announced new changes to DWP plans. Beginning on September 1, 2018, DWP will include an Annual Benefit Maximum (ABM), or an amount that a member cannot exceed during a certain timeframe. The ABM will be $1,000 from September 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019 and applies to Medicaid members age 21 and older. Children are not affected by this change.

However, $1,000 ABM does not apply to the following services:
•    Preventative
•    Diagnostic
•    Emergent
•    Anesthesia in conjunction with oral surgery procedures

The DWP is part of Iowa’s Medicaid program, and helps Iowa’s most vulnerable population with oral hygiene and care.

If you have any questions regarding this change, please contact the Iowa Medicaid Enterprise Provider Services Unit at 1-800-338-7909, or email at imeproviderservices@dhs.state.ia.us.

Disaster Relief Assistance Available for Flooding

Many residents across Iowa have been affected by recent flooding and a Disaster Proclamation has now been issued for the severe weather that occurred June 14th and beyond.

The proclamation means Iowans are now eligible to apply for grants through Iowa’s Individual Disaster Assistance Grant Program (IIAGP) to assist with things such as replacing personal property and temporary housing. The additional counties eligible to receive financial disaster relief include Boone, Dallas, Franklin, Jasper, and Polk counties. Potential applicants have until August 15th to submit a claim.

Those who would like to apply for a grant cannot have an income above 200% of the Federal Poverty Level, or a maximum annual income of $41,560 for a family of three and are awarded up to $5,000. For more details, please visit http://dhs.iowa.gov/disaster-assistance-programs, or call 866-434-4692.
Thirty-one counties in Iowa have already been issued disaster proclamations from flooding and severe weather that occurred beginning June 7.  Below are the counties eligible for financial disaster relief assistance:

Hamilton County and O’Brien County
Application deadline is Aug. 2, 2018

Clay County, Dickinson County, Emmet County, Kossuth County, Lyon County, Osceola County, Palo Alto County, Scott County, and Story County
Application deadline is Aug. 6, 2018

Hancock County, Humboldt County, Plymouth County, Sioux County, and Winnebago County
Application deadline is Aug. 10, 2018

Cherokee County and Webster County
Application deadline is Aug. 13, 2018

Warren County
Application deadline is Aug. 13, 2018

To find more information go to https://www.homelandsecurity.iowa.gov. The Iowa Concern Hotline, 800-447-1985, is available 24/7 to assist anyone in need of counseling.

Protect Yourself from Flood Victim Fraud

With the recent floods come consumer scams and some contractors who tend to solicit victims of weather disasters. Flood victims should be aware of clean-up, home repair, and construction contractors, especially those who seek business door-to-door and ask for advance payment.

Below are a few tips for flood victims to prevent fraud:

•    Check out the contractor before you sign a contract or pay any money.
•    Get it in writing and seek several written estimates for the job you want done.
•    Avoid paying large sums in advance to a contractor.
•    Do not make a rushed decision or agree to a contract that you do not want just because the contractor tells you that he is busy.
•    In most cases, Iowa’s Door-to-Door Sales law gives you three business days to cancel a contract signed at your home.

Consumers should contact the Consumer Protection Division if they have consumer complaints about questionable contractors or about price-gouging at: www.iowaattorneygeneral.gov by phone at 515-281-5926 (toll-free number outside of the Des Moines area: 888-777-4590, or by email at consumer@iowa.gov.

Read More News from the Statehouse

New Budget Year Begins, Questions Remain
Trade War Begins; Iowa Products Hit Hard
Medical Cannabis Manufacturing in Iowa Update
HIV Diagnosis Rate Decreases in Iowa
Iowa Ranks 5th Nationally in “Child’s Well-Being”
Iowa Teacher Licensure Information New Website

June 28, 2018

Greetings to you all,

We have just concluded another great Sturgis Falls celebration, this past weekend in Cedar Falls. Thank you, to all of those who worked hard to make this event a continued success!  My wife, Liz, and her brother Geoff, attended their Cedar Falls High School class reunions and enjoyed the time spent reuniting with their classmates.


The Cedar Valleys Dancing with the Stars event will take place this Saturday at Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center in Cedar Falls. The event will help raise money for the Family and Children’s Council of Black Hawk County. The event starts at 6 pm with a cocktail hour and the curtain goes up at 7:30 pm. Tickets are available at the door for $50, with all proceeds going to keep kids safe. I will be one of the dancers at the event so if you want to have some fun, stop by tomorrow. For more information contact Amanda Goodman at 319-234-7600 or by email at Amanda@fccouncil.net.

The state fiscal year starts on July 1 and a host of new laws will take effect that could impact Iowans.  While the Legislature did some good bi-partisan work, most of the work this year fell short of fixing any of the long-term challenges our state faces today. Several proposals to make any long-term commitments to improve our public schools, keep health care affordable and accessible, clean up our waterways, or fix Iowa’s skilled worker shortage were not taken up during the legislative session.

At the beginning of session, the Legislature passed a bipartisan water quality bill. Since the bill provided little funding and virtually no accountability, the Majority Party promised it would be just the first step this session in cleaning up Iowa’s polluted waterways. They broke their promise and refused to work with Democrats to do anything else in the 2018 session.  When Iowans head to our state parks or enjoy one of the many lakes and rivers in Iowa, they’ll find no meaningful progress in water quality this summer or next.

The legislature worked together on a bill to re-shape Iowa’s failing mental health system. The proposal establishes critical regional core mental health services that will actually help improve the system. The bill does not address some of the funding issues which mean homeowners and farmers could be paying higher property taxes or Iowans will still be falling through the cracks. After 8 years of historic low and rising class sizes, Republican lawmakers insisted there was little money to invest in public schools. However, one of the last bills passed during session was a $2.7 billion tax giveaway to the wealthy and special interests that will continue to shortchange public schools for the next decade.

According to a new study by the United Way of Iowa, almost 40% of Iowans can’t afford to pay for the basics they need in life like clothing, food, shelter, and health care.  With stagnant wages, the problem is expected to get worse.  A separate non-profit study found one in seven Iowa children live in poverty today. As two adult day care centers that help seniors stay in their homes longer closed their doors, the Reynolds Administration is still scrambling to try and convince Iowans that Medicaid privatization has actually saved Iowa taxpayers any money.  Last week, state officials said the new savings estimate was triple what was previously reported, without much explanation.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

6/29 RiverLoop Rhythms – Bob Dorr”s Iowa Music Revue RiverLoop Amphitheatre, Waterloo, 291-4490
6/29 Waterhawks Ski Show Eagle Lake, Evansdale, 7pm
6/29 Movies Under the Moon – Little Mermaid Overman Park, CV Acoustic Guitar 6:30pm, movie at dusk, 277-0213
6/30 Bridge to Bridge Bike Ride– Gateway Park, 8am
6/30-7/1   Cedar Valley Pedal Fest– Gateway Park, 8am
6/30 Mayor’s Independence Day Festival– RiverLoop Amphitheatre, 291-2038
7/3 Timeless Tunes – CF Municipal Band Overman Park, 7:30pm
7/4 Independence Day Special– Lost Island Water Park, 10:30am
7/4 Waterloo Bucks Independence Day Fireworks Extravaganza– Riverfront Stadium
7/6 Friday’Loo – Funk Daddies Lincoln Park, Waterloo, 5:30pm
7/6, 13 Waterhawks Ski Show– Eagle Lake, Evansdale, 7pm
7/7 Korea: Armistice Without Peace Panel– Sullivan Brothers Museum, Waterloo, 10am
7/10-14 Riverview Gospel Sing– Riverview Conference Center, 268-0787
7/12 Happy Faces Entertainment– CF Public Library, 10:30am, 859-3282
7/12-14 BLAST Iowa Summer Sizzler- The Falls, 290-6261
7/12 Party on the Patio – Zoot and Newt Hearst Center, 5pm, 273-8641
7/13 Live to 9 – Staebell Day– Sturgis Park, 5:30pm
7/13 Movies Under the Moon – Trolls– Overman Park, CV Acoustic Guitar at 6:30pm; movie at dusk
7/13 RiverLoop Rhythms – Brazilian 2wins– RiverLoop Amphitheatre, 5:30pm

News from the Statehouse

New Laws Starting July 1

A host of new laws will take effect on July 1, the start of the state’s new fiscal year.

In education, lawmakers worked together this year to stop food shaming in Iowa’s schools. The new legislation will prevent students who have a meal debt from being punished.

Another bi-partisan bill will expand and reform Iowa’s mental health system. The new law will allow more Iowans to access mental health services and will also provide several new choices to patients and their physicians in determining what type of assistance they may need.  However, many Iowans are concerned implementation of the new law will fall short if the Legislature doesn’t authorize new resources in the near future.

The legislature also took the first steps in curbing the abuse of opioids in Iowa. The new law will create a system to allow authorized prescribers and pharmacists to view information about their patients’ use of controlled substances.

Another piece of legislation going into effect next month is a new workforce initiative, Future Ready Iowa. The program creates a volunteer mentoring program, a registered apprenticeship development program, employer innovation fund, summer youth intern program, and a skilled workforce scholarship.

A host of other bills also take effect July 1 that Iowans many notice, including: protections from fraud scanning devices at gas pumps and ATMs; expanding the state’s “move over” law to include everyone; the start of a new initiative to clean up Iowa’s waterways; and expanding support for veterans in need of housing and a variety of other services from the Veteran’s Trust Fund.

For more information and a full list of bills, log on to http://www.iowahouse.org.

Enjoy the Outdoors this 4th of July 

With the Fourth of July right around the corner, it is a good time to get outside and enjoy Iowa’s state parks.  Backbone State Park near Strawberry Point was recently recognized among the Top 50 Mom-Approved Places to Fish and Boat, according to the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation.  For a list of all of Iowa’s state parks go to http://www.iowadnr.gov/Places-to-Go/State-Parks/Iowa-State-Parks

Many state parks offer camping and cabin rentals.  This year 75% of campsites can be reserved online and 25% can be reserved at the park on a first-come first-serve basis.  Campsites are still available for the Fourth of July holiday.  To reserve a campsite go to https://iowastateparks.reserveamerica.com/welcome.do?tti=home

Read More News from the Statehouse

U.S. Supreme Court Decision Opens up Collection of Internet Sales Taxes
DOT Seeks Input for Rest Area Closures
Traffic Camera’s Going Back Up on State Roads
Dyslexia Task Force Anxious to Get Started
Public Forum Held to Discuss Health Insurance Rates
Protect Yourself from Ticks
Computer Science Standards Approved

June 14, 2018

Greetings to you all,

The Iowa Medicaid Director Mike Randol told an advisory council on Wednesday that the Medicaid privatization is saving the state money but could not give specifics to dollar savings. The Reynolds Administration still hasn’t proven that privatization has saved Iowa taxpayers any money, while the out of state companies running Medicaid are getting millions more in administrative costs and cutting critical care Iowans need. From what I have heard from people across the state is the savings that is occurring is from denial of services to patients and delaying payments to providers.

The health care crisis we face today can only be solved by working together to develop bi-partisan solutions that not only makes care affordable but also accessible for all Iowans.  Over the last two years, Republican lawmakers refused to work together to improve the situation and instead made it worse.

The College Hill Arts Festival will present its 40th festival June 15 and 16, on the beautifully shaded corner of College and 23rd Street on the UNI campus. Much has changed since the festival began in 1979 with 35 artists. The festival originated on the sidewalks of College Street with little to protect the artists and their fine-arts from the sun, heat and humidity. Children’s activities will take place throughout the festival, as well as live music, food vendors, a puppet show, and more. This year drawings will be held for $40 gift certificates. Learn more by reading our blog at cedarfallstourism.org.


I attended the Family and Children’s Council ribbon cutting today. The new office is located at 315 W 5th St. in Waterloo and is a great location. Thank you, Amanda Goodman Baldiviezo and your staff, for all the work you do for our children.


I also attended a meeting dealing with suicide and how we can work to prevent it from happening. The group had their first meeting and are planning to work on ways to educate the public on suicide prevention and eliminating the stigma with mental health issues. On average, one person dies by suicide every 20 hours in Iowa. Here is a link with more information.
https://idph.iowa.gov/Portals/1/userfiles/133/Iowa-Facts-2017.pdf

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

15-16 John Deere Waterloo Operations 100th Anniversary Celebration John Deere Tractor Museum & Waterloo Convention Center, Fri 3-8pm; Sat 10am-8pm, 292-6126
15-17 Test & Tune; High School Brackets #3, 5 & 6 Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 987-2537
15 Live to 9 – FRM Sturgis Park, 5:30pm
15-16 College Hill Arts Festival 23rd & College Sts, Fri noon-8pm; Sat 10am-5pm
15 RiverLoop Rhythms – Blake Shaw Quintet Lincoln Park, Waterloo, 291-4490
15-17 Bye Bye Birdie Oster Regent Theatre, 7:30pm; Sun 2pm, 277-5283
15,22 Waterhawks Ski Show Eagle Lake, Evansdale
16-17 Cedar Valley Soccer Moonlight Classic Cedar Valley Soccer Complex
19 Timeless Tunes – CF Municipal Band Overman Park, 7:30pm
20,21 Shakespeare in the Gardens Cedar Valley Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, 6:30pm, 226-4966
22-24 Sturgis Falls Celebration Overman & Gateway Parks, 268-4266
22-24 Cedar Basin Music Festival Sturgis Park
22-24 National Llama Show National Cattle Congress, Waterloo
22 Friday’Loo – Everette Smithson Band Lincoln Park, Waterloo, 5:30pm, 291-2038
23 32nd Annual Sturgis Falls Ride Cedar Falls Rec Center, 7:30am
23 Midnight Mania Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 987-2537
24 Air Supply GBPAC, 7pm, 273-4849
24 40th Annual Sturgis Falls Half Marathon Cedar Falls Rec Center, 7am, 404-5029

News from the Statehouse


Tuition Rises Again After Budget Cuts

Students who plan on attending one of the state’s three public universities next year will be paying more money and taking on more debt to earn a degree. The Board of Regents made final approval of tuition increases for next fall after Republican lawmakers and Governor Reynolds cut the budgets for the three universities earlier this year.

The approved increases will be 3.8% for Iowa State University and the University of Iowa.  The University of Northern Iowa will see a 2.8% increase.  While the Regents sought a $12 million increase that would be targeted to student financial aid, the General Assembly approved a budget that was $2.6 million less than the previous year, and $12.4 million less than two years ago.

The increase in tuition could lead to more Iowa students looking at out-of-state schools in bordering states that offer lower tuition for Iowa students.

Board of Regent and former Republican State Senator Larry McKibben even called out Republican lawmakers and the Governor for the tuition hikes again this year. “Iowans need to understand that this is probably the low side of tuition in the future, in the next years to come, if we do not get any more government support from the state of Iowa. I view it that way when we are taking three great universities downhill.” McKibben said Iowa’s universities are losing talented faculty and researchers to states with more competitive salaries. He also said they don’t have enough money to properly fund scholarships.

State Auditor to Review Failing Iowa Medicaid Program

The State Auditor has launched a new investigation into Iowa’s Medicaid privatization fiasco as state officials can’t explain how much — or if — privatization has saved any tax dollars.

Ever since the Governor unilaterally privatized Medicaid in 2016, the results have been disastrous for the people of Iowa.  Iowans have been systematically denied critical care and essential medical equipment as services have severely been reduced or cut altogether. This was shown in the most recent State Ombudsman report, where there has been a 157% increase in Medicaid-related problems reported to the agency in 2017.

Since privatization began, questions have been raised about the supposed savings to that state.  Before the Branstad/Reynolds Administration unilaterally privatized Medicaid, they estimated it would save the state $232 million by this budget year. In December, the Department of Human Services (DHS) indicated in a report that the cost savings was only around $47.1 million.

In a letter recently released by DHS, the amount of savings changed again but Reynolds Administration officials were unable to explain how this number was calculated.  After this latest unverified savings, the State Auditor launched her investigation into Medicaid.

Even more troubling, Iowa’s Medicaid Director Mike Randol, previously held the same position for five years in Kansas. In the past month, it was found through an independent audit of the Kansas Medicaid program that there was insufficient and unreliable data to determine the actual savings to the state.

This audit process was only initiated because a Democratic lawmaker requested a review of the Medicaid program due to all the inconsistent data being released by DHS.

Medicaid provides health care to 600,000 Iowans, including those in nursing homes.  According to recent estimates, about 70% of Medicaid dollars are used for the elderly, severely disabled, and poor. Because this affects our most vulnerable population, it is imperative we understand the true impact privatization is having on our state.

Read More News from the Statehouse

Counties Affected by Severe Flooding Eligible for Financial Assistance
Tariff Threats Hit Iowa Producers
Sports Betting Could Happen in all 50 States
Iowa Finance Authority Costly Move
School Security Plans Update
Suicide Rates Increasing in Iowa, Nationally
Tips to Reduce Summer Energy Bills

June 1, 2018

Greetings to you all,

The annual Guy W. Iversen AMVET Post 49 Memorial Day celebration was held last Monday May 29th. Some of the activities that took place included a presentation of patriotic music, performed by a unit of the Cedar Falls Municipal Band. Following the music was a ceremony that placed memorial bouquets honoring each of the five branches of the armed forces, followed by an address by U. S. Marine and Director of Veteran Affairs for Black Hawk County, Kevin Dill. Kevin gave a passionate speech that focused on how we need to do more to help our veterans deal with health issues they are facing.


This Tuesday May 29th I was able to attend the Aging out of Foster Care Event this week at Hawkeye Community College. The event recognizes students who have graduated from High School while living in the Foster Care System. It was powerful to hear the students share their future plans and that they are continuing to focus on furthering their education. I talked with a few students who plan to become nurses and doctors. Congratulations!


The legislature adjourned for the year on May 5th. I have been busy meeting with constituents and groups to discuss their legislative issues for the upcoming session starting in January 2019. Please let me know if you are having concerns regarding the legislature and what we need to do to correct that. Don’t forget to take time to vote June 5th for the primary elections. Primary elections allow registered voters to select a candidate whom they believe should be a political party’s candidate to run in the general election. General Election is held on Tuesday November 6th 2018.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

29, 31 Waterloo Bucks Baseball Riverfront Stadium, check website for times, 232-0500
31 Daniel O’Donnell GBPAC*, 7:30pm, 273-4849
1-3 Cedar Valley Cup Cedar Valley Soccer Complex, cedarvalleysoccerclub.org
1 RiverLoop Rhythms RiverLoop Amphitheatre, Waterloo, 5:30pm, 291-4490
1 Live to 9 – Snozzberries Sturgis Park, 5:30pm, liveto9.com
1, 10 Waterhawks Ski Show Eagle Lake, Evansdale, waterhawks.org
2 No Prep No Problem Cedar Falls Motosports Park, 987-2537
2-3 Iowa/USA Softball National Qualifier Hoing-Rice Softball Complex, waterloosoftball.org
5, 12 Timeless Tunes – CF Municipal Band Overman Park, 7:30pm
5 Summerfest Cedar Falls Library, 6pm, 268-5543
6-10 My Waterloo Days Downtown Waterloo, 291-2038
6-10 Iowa State High School Trapshoot Cedar Falls Gun Club
8 Friday Fun Night Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 6pm, 987-2537
8-10 Bye Bye Birdie Oster Regent Theatre, 7:30pm; Sun 2pm, 277-5283
8 Live to 9 – Stackhouse Sturgis Park, 5:30pm, liveto9.com
8 Movies Under the Moon – Back to the Future Overman Park, CV Acoustic Guitar 6:30pm; movie at dusk, 277-0213
9 Run for the Wally Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 6pm, 987-2537
9 Going to the Woods: Ruth Suckow and the Early 20th Century Midwest – Kenneth Lyftogt Cedar Falls Library, 2pm, cfauthorsfestival.org
12 Dino O’Dell – Children’s Musician Cedar Falls Library, 10:30am, 859-3282
14 Wild Times Exotics Cedar Falls Library, 10 & 11am, 859-3283
14 William Feasley Concert Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641

News from the Statehouse

Bi-Partisan Opioid Legislation Becomes Law

In an effort to combat the national opioid crisis hitting Iowa, a bill relating to opioid abuse was signed into law this month.

With opioid related overdose deaths reaching all time high this year, the bill expands the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP), which allows authorized prescribers and pharmacists to view information about their patients’ use of controlled substances.  This is a tool used in determining appropriate prescribing and treatment of patients without fear of contributing to a patient’s abuse of or dependence on addictive drugs or diversion to illegal drugs.

The bill, House File 2377, also mandates that prescribing practitioners and first responders utilize the PMP.  Practitioners are to use the PMP when they prescribe controlled substances and first responders when they administer opioid antagonists, like naloxone, to patients.

It also directs the Board of Pharmacy to issue a report to each prescribing practitioner that includes a summary of the practitioner’s history of prescribing controlled substances; a comparison to other practitioner’s prescribing activities, and educational updates. The Board will also identify patients who are at risk for potentially abusing or misusing prescription controlled substances and notifying the practitioners of the risk.

Finally, the bill includes Good Samaritan language that provides certain protections to those who seek treatment for a drug-related overdose or a person who seeks treatment for another person who is experiencing a drug-related overdose. This provision gives these individuals certain protections against being prosecuted or arrested, with some exceptions.

This bill will go into effect on July 1, 2018.

State Treasurer’s College Savings Iowa Scholarship

In an effort to encourage more families and individuals to start saving for college, state officials are reminding Iowans to sign up for College Savings Iowa.

Often called a 529-College Savings Plan, Iowans can start saving with a minimum investment of $25. These accounts are tax-deferred, and participants are able to put in up to $3,319 per account per year.

529-College Savings Day will be celebrated on May 29th. During the month of May Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald is encouraging people to go to the College Savings Iowa website at https://www.collegesavingsiowa.com to learn more. If you watch a three-minute video, you will be automatically enrolled for a drawing to win a $529 scholarship.

The 529-College Savings Plan offers families a tax-advantaged way to save money for their children’s higher education. This money does not need to be used at Iowa schools, but can be used at any eligible educational institution in the United States including technical, vocational, and graduate schools.  It can even be used at schools abroad.  Finally, an account can be transferred from one eligible family member to another if the original beneficiary chooses not to attend college.

For more information regarding College Savings Iowa, please visit https://www.collegesavingsiowa.com or call 888-672-9116.

Read More News from the Statehouse

Free Dental Care for Veterans on June 9
Public Forums Held to Discuss Alliant Energy Request for Rate Hike
Transportation Board Recommends Seat Belts for School Buses
Boating Safety Tips and Free Fishing Weekend
Air Quality Permits Open for Public Comment

May 9, 2018

Greetings to you all,

The legislature finished the 2018 legislative session late Saturday afternoon after a very busy week. The session was scheduled for 100 days but lasted for 118 days. The majority party who is in complete control could not agree on issues and that’s what caused the extended session. We had a few bills that were voted on in a bi-partisan manner but there were several opportunities for bi partisanship to take place on legislation and that didn’t occur.

During the session, I heard from thousands of Iowans who are working hard, but still struggling to get by because of stagnant wages, higher health care costs, and fewer dollars going to job training, public education and public safety. Iowans don’t ask for much, but we are all tired of politics as usual. We just want a decent paying job and the chance to lead a happy, healthy life.  Our job in the Legislature is to listen and then work to improve the lives of everyday Iowans.

I believe it’s time to get back to the basics and create new opportunities for all of us to get ahead.  Instead of focusing on special interests, I will continue to focus on:

1. Better-Paying Jobs
2. A Revitalization of Small Towns and Rural Areas
3. The Best Education in the Country
4. A Quality of Life that Makes Iowa the #1 Best Place to Live

I’ll keep listening to you and work on ideas for the upcoming 2019 session.  I’m committed to working together and building an economy that works for all Iowa families.


Liz and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary this past weekend. We had our daughters Molly and Laura back home for the celebration. We had an awesome time with family and friends.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

10 The Songbook Trio, Steph, Tom and Al Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
11 Lunchtime Concerts Hearst Center, 12pm, 273-8641
11 Friday’Loo – Flawd Logic Lincoln Park, Waterloo, 5:30pm, 291-2038
11 Grand Finale Cedar Falls Authors Festival Hearst Center, 5:30pm
11-13 Weekend Comedy Hope Martin Theatre, Waterloo, 7pm, Sun 2pm, 291-4494
12 Belgian Waffle Breakfast Cedar Falls Woman’s Club, 8am, 304 Clay St., 266-1431
12 Lynn & Mary Nielsen’s I’ll Be Seeing You: The Letters and Diaries of a WAC in WWII New Aldaya, 2pm
12 Enough. You Are Enough Because God Is Enough GBPAC*, 6pm
12 Proud Image Spring Show “God and Country” First Presbyterian Church, 2 & 7pm, 641-680-1073
12-13 2018 Iowa Regional Trap Championships Cedar Falls Gun Club
12 wcfsymphony Concert: The Hungarian Project GBPAC*, 7:30pm, 273-4849
12 Green Scene & Cedar Valley Arboretum Plant Sale Cattle Congress, Waterloo, 9am
12 Midnight Mania Cedar Falls Motorsports Park,
18 RiverLoop Rhythms RiverLoop Amphitheatre, 5:30pm
18-20 Test & Tune Cedar Falls Motorsports Park
20 Stories From Cedar Falls History: Faces, Places, & Cases Dr. David Whitsett 2pm, Cedar Falls Library
20 Follow the Wild Brick Road Carriage House Museum, 2pm, 266-5149
20 Furry 5K Run/Walk Big Woods Lake South Shelter, 7:30am
23 Reception with Artists Fred Burton and Steve Gererich Waterloo Center for the Arts, 6pm
24 Opening Reception Prints & Paintings John Page Hearst Center, 5:30pm

News from the Statehouse

Budget Mismanagement Leaves State with Cuts, Deficit

Earlier in the year, Governor Reynolds signed $35 million of budget cuts in to law. These cuts to the services Iowans depend on and the state’s on-going budget crisis were the main reason that lawmakers went into overtime to close out the 2018 legislative session. In the end, a $7.48 billion budget was approved for fiscal year 2019.

Since the state budget has been in deficit for two years in a row, Republican leaders at the Statehouse struggled to balance the state budget while paying back the $144 million in debt they had to borrow last year.

The impact of the latest round of budget cuts will be felt hardest by Iowa’s most vulnerable citizens, as well as students at community colleges and state universities.  Lawmakers knew the cuts would be needed since last fall, but waited until the final months of the state’s fiscal year to approve them.

As the final budget for the upcoming fiscal year was approved, many of the discussions happened with little to no public comment and review.  Many of the budgets funded programs less than they did in the past, and while there were some positives, much of the funding was simply just trying to get back to levels before the budget cuts.

Many Iowans expressed concern that public schools will receive another historically low increase in state funding next year while GOP lawmakers approved a massive new tax giveaway to corporations and wealthy.  In addition to budget cuts, homeowners and farmers will be paying higher property taxes and a new sales tax for online purchases next year to pay for the new tax breaks approved this year.

Hard working Iowans who craft a budget every month for their family know and expect lawmakers to use the same principles that they do every month. Republican lawmakers have failed to live up to the expectations of Iowans, by running the state’s budget on a credit card and putting corporate tax cuts before everyday Iowans.

GOP Tax Giveaways Favor Wealthy, Corporations

On the last day of session, Republican lawmakers pushed through a $2.7 billion tax proposal that disproportionately benefits the wealthy and special interests. The bill came in spite of the fact the Governor and legislative leaders were forced to put $144 million on the state’s credit card last year to balance the state budget and made millions in budget cuts just weeks earlier in session.

The bill implements several new taxes, including taxes on streaming services like Netflix, digital products like phone apps, and an internet sales tax on purchases from places like eBay.  The revenue reductions will likely mean that Iowa families will also have to pay more in property taxes, tuition, and fees for government services to make up for the loss of revenue.  The budget mess already means Iowans are being shortchanged with fewer services for victims of domestic violence, fewer nursing home inspections, and little for public schools.

The Republican tax changes also do nothing to rein in corporate tax giveaways.  The bill also has nearly $500 million in new tax breaks for corporations in the state.  The bill heavily favors millionaires who will get a tax cut of $8,774 while everyday Iowans get just $56 on average in income tax reductions while having to pay for new taxes on things like Hulu, Spotify, ebooks, Uber, and online purchases.

Read More News from the Statehouse

K-12 School Aid Falls Short Again
Iowa Republicans Pass Utility Legislation to Scale Back Energy Efficiency, Solar
Beginning Steps Made Towards Improving Mental Health in Iowa
Legislature Passes Water Quality Measures; More Work Needed
Unconstitutional Six Week Abortion Ban Signed by Governor
Bi-Partisan Opioid Legislation Completed this Session
Preventing Food Shaming Becomes Law
Skills Training a Focus for Iowa Democrats
Gun Rights Amendment Passes Legislature; Must Pass Again Next Session
REAP Funded at Lowest Level in Over a Decade
Lawmakers Continue the Push to End Medicaid Privatization
2018 Natural Resources Legislative Update
Retirement Systems in Iowa Remain Strong
Law Aims to Protect Students from Concussions
Iowa House Majority Enacts Anti-Immigration Legislation
Continuing to Support Iowa’s Veterans
Transportation Costs and School Aid Formula Issues Addressed
Legislature Creates More Protections for Consumers
School Security and Suicide Prevention

April 20, 2018

Greetings to you all,

The 2018 session officially went into overtime this week.  Our last scheduled day for adjournment was on Tuesday, but Republican leaders and the Governor still can’t agree on the state budget or taxes. The House did start work on a five different budget bills this week, but the bills were not agreed to by the Senate or Governor.  Republican leaders in the Senate did finally release an outline of their budget targets but took no action to start moving budget bills that would get us a closer to adjournment.

With no agreement reached, Republican leaders sent lawmakers home early this week while they try to hammer out a deal behind closed doors.  It’s a troubling sign when duly elected lawmakers from both parties are sent home while a handful of leaders work in secret to make all the decisions on the budget and taxes. It’s even more troubling when there are more corporate lobbyists and special interest groups trying to influence the secret negotiations without lawmakers around.

It’s unclear as of today when we will be called back to State Capitol to complete our work.  It could be next week or it could take months.  The only certainty is the longer the GOP gridlock continues, the worse it is for everyday Iowans. I think it’s time for lawmakers of all parties to work together to balance the state budget and restore fiscal discipline again. The biggest decisions the Legislature makes should include all of us, not just a select few GOP leaders and lobbyists.


My Legislative Clerk Katie Jerome last day of working with me at the Capitol. Thanks for all the work you did during the session. You will be missed.


On Wednesday, the Iowa House recognized the 2018 legislative pages for their work in the Iowa House. Thank you for all your hard work. I really enjoyed the conversations I had with you all. Good luck in your future plans.


I attended the Community Engagement Celebration Day at UNI-Maucker Union ballroom today. Great crowd and interesting to see all the work students are doing for the community we live in.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

19 Taste of ’Loo Downtown Waterloo, 5:30pm, 291-2038
19 10th Birthday Party Celebration! Phelps Youth Pavilion, Waterloo, 5:30pm, 291-4490
19 Northern Iowa Symphony Orchestra, UNI Opera & Wind Ensemble, with Guest Michael DaughertyGBPAC, 7:30pm, 273-4849
20-22 Blue Suede Memories VIII Electric Park Ballroom, Waterloo, bluesuedememories.net
20 Justin Moore – Hell on a Highway Tour McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
20-21 Winnie the Pooh Hope Martin Theatre, Waterloo, Fri 7pm; Sat 2pm, 291-4494
21 Cedar Valley Garage Tour Bill Colwell Ford, Hudson, 8am, cvgaragetour.com
21 Saturday Fun Day & Test and Tune Cedar Falls Raceway, 2pm, 987-2537
21 Tour de Falls Pfeiffer Park, 8am
23 BFA Group Exhibition Opening Reception UNI Gallery of Art, 7pm, 273-6134
24 Red Herring Theatre Presents Kimberly Akimbo Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
26 Final Thursday Reading Series – Marc Nieson Hearst Center, 7:15pm, 273-8641
26-27 Musical Theatre: A Long Way Home Hawkeye Community College, Waterloo, April 26 @ 1:30pm; April 27 @ 7pm, 296-4464
27 The Kite Runner GBPAC*, 7pm, 273-4849
28 Cedar Valley Make-A-Wish Walk-For-Wishes Gateway Park, 515-334-2636
29 The Tunis Speedway Chronicals – Jim Volgarino Cedar Falls Public Library, 2pm, 268-4266
5/2 Black Violin GBPAC, 7pm, 273-4849
5/2 Local Author Showcase – Dorothy A. Winsor Cedar Falls Public Library, 7pm, cfauthorsfestival.org
5/3 Girl’s Night Out Downtown Cedar Falls, 5pm, 277-0213
5/3 Data Stream Concert Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641

News from the Statehouse

State Budget Remains Uncertain

The scheduled date of adjournment has come and gone for the Iowa Legislature, but there is still a lot of work that remains on the state’s budget. The Iowa House took the first step in getting the budget completed by passing five budgets out of the House Appropriations Committee this week.

While the sign of moving budgets out of committee is a positive first step, uncertainty remains as Republican leaders in the Capitol have not agreed to a budget or tax plan this year.  Whatever ultimately happens in closed door negotiations among the leaders, it is clear that working Iowans will be left out of the process.

While five of the ten budgets have been started in the House, Senate leaders just released their budget outline this week and have yet to start work on any budget bills.

As the session winds down, House Democrats will work to keep the state budget balanced, restore fiscal discipline, and support a budget that puts the needs of everyday Iowans first.

Additional Protections for Consumer Data Breaches Becomes Law

A bill that provides more protections for consumers that have their credit stolen became law recently.  Senate File 2177 expanded options for consumers to get a security freeze, which is a notice placed in the consumer’s credit report that prohibits releasing the consumer credit report or score for the opening of new credit.

The new law comes after hundreds of thousands of Iowans had their private financial information compromised in security breaches at Equifax, Home Depot, Target, and more. The bill prohibits fees for placing, removing, suspending, or reinstating any security freeze.  The bill also requires any consumer reporting agency that receives a request for a security freeze to do their best to inform the consumer of the contact information and method to receive a similar freeze from any other consumer reporting agency.  There are also procedures to expedite the receipt and processing of security freezes.

The bill was supported by the Attorney General’s Department of Justice, AARP Iowa, League of Women Voters of Iowa, Iowa Organization of Victim Assistance, and the Iowa Credit Union League.

More News from the Statehouse

Protecting Iowa’s Veterans from Fraud
Free Fishing Weekend in June
Governor Privately Signs Anti-Immigration “Sanctuary Cities” into Law
Prevention of School Lunch Food Shaming Becomes Law

April 13, 2018

Greetings to you all,

Another week passed and not much is happening to bring the legislative session to an end for the year. The GOP leaders in the House and Senate are meeting behind closed doors trying to reach an agreement on the 2019 budget and tax cuts. The Legislative session is scheduled to end on Tuesday April 17th and It’s clear that we won’t be adjourning on time this year, which means it will cost taxpayers thousands of dollars every day we continue the session after the scheduled 100 days.  We haven’t even had committee discussions regarding what will happen to 2019 budget year.

The latest House Republican tax plan doesn’t balance the state budget and will make the state’s budget crisis even worse. After Republicans just raised tuition at our Regents Schools and Community Colleges, made millions in budget cuts, and put $144 million on the state’s credit card, Iowans should be skeptical of any GOP tax plan that costs $1.3 billion.  We’ve seen the devastating reality of similar large-scale tax cut plans passed in other states like Kansas and Oklahoma that bankrupted the state, slashed basic services, and then had to raise taxes again because it didn’t work.

Here are some of the key pieces to watch for in the closing days of session:

>>    Ending the Backfill, Raising Property Taxes: GOP lawmakers are poised to break a promise this year to raise property taxes on homeowners and farmers. That’s what will happen if they pass their plan to end the property tax “backfill” to schools, counties, cities, and other local governments. Since the state budget has been in the red, The GOP wants to end the backfill to balance the budget and free up money for more tax giveaways to the special interests.

>>    Corporate & Special Interest Tax Giveaways: Right now, Republicans leaders have two competing tax cuts plans on the table. The cost of each plan tops $1 billion and 1/3 of Iowans get nothing or even end up with a tax increase. One version even has $790 million in new tax giveaways for the special interests and corporations.

>>     Ignoring Credit Card Payments: In the last two years, Republican lawmakers have put over $144 million on the state’s credit card because they spent more than the state took in.  Governor Reynolds proposed those credit card payments be ignored next year and paid another time.  Leaving money on the state’s credit card to pay for another round of tax breaks is a terrible way to budget and is fiscally irresponsible.

I believe it’s time to work together to balance the state budget and restore fiscal discipline again. The Legislature must repay the debt borrowed by Republicans and balance the budget without shifting the burden to property tax payers before any new tax breaks are approved.


On Thursday April 12th The House presented a resolution in honor of Peggy Whitson, and her work as an Astronaut. Peggy Whitson was born in a county hospital at Mount Ayr, Iowa, and grew up on a farm outside the nearby town of Beaconsfield, Iowa. Peggy Whitson was the first woman to command the space station and also the first woman and first non-pilot to serve as chief of the NASA Astronaut Corps.  Peggy Whitson returned from her latest space mission on September 3, 2017 having accrued a total of 665 days in space over the course of her career. This total was more time in space than any other woman worldwide and any other American.

The Black Hawk County Solid Waste Management Commission and the City of Waterloo will be co-sponsoring the spring Household Hazardous Materials & Electronics Recycling Drop-off Event on Saturday, April 14th from 9 AM – 2 PM at the Waterloo Waste Water Treatment Plant (3505 Easton Ave, Waterloo) for Black Hawk County residents.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

13 UNI’s 50th Elementary Conference Schindler Education Center, 8am, 273-2540
13-14 Winnie the Pooh Hope Martin Theatre, Waterloo, Fri 7pm; Sat 2pm, 291-4494
14 Black Hawks Hockey Young Arena, 7pm, 291-7680
14 Trout Stocking & Family Fun Day North Prairie Lake, 10am, 277-3033
14-15 10K Spring Bling! Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, 987-2537
14 Tutors to Panthers – Jim Kelly UNI Rod Library, 2pm, cfauthorsfestival.org 
15 Developing Expressions Opening Reception Hearst Center, 1pm, 273-8641
15 CONCERT: Berntsein @ 100 GBPAC, 4pm, 273-4849
18 UNI Spotlight Series: Symphonic & Concert Bands GBPAC, 7:30pm, 273-4849
19 Taste of ’Loo Downtown Waterloo, 5:30pm, 291-2038
19 10th Birthday Party Celebration! Phelps Youth Pavilion, Waterloo, 5:30pm, 291-4490
19 Northern Iowa Symphony Orchestra, UNI Opera & Wind Ensemble, with Guest Michael DaughertyGBPAC, 7:30pm, 273-4849
20-22 Blue Suede Memories VIII Electric Park Ballroom, Waterloo, bluesuedememories.net
20 Justin Moore – Hell on a Highway Tour McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
21 Cedar Valley Garage Tour Bill Colwell Ford, Hudson, 8am, cvgaragetour.com
21 Saturday Fun Day & Test and Tune Cedar Falls Raceway, 2pm, 987-2537

News from the Statehouse

SAVE Fund Extended for School Infrastructure

For at least three years, schools in Iowa have been concerned about the extension of the 1 cent sales tax for infrastructure known as “SAVE.”  This week, the House reached a bi-partisan agreement and sent a bill to the Senate that would extend the SAVE program until 2050.

As part of the plan, additional funds would be used to provide greater property tax relief for property poor districts and greater property tax relief to all school districts.  Schools have used SAVE funding as a tool to pay for necessary repairs and upgrades to school properties.

The bill also addresses the revenue purpose statement of a SAVE project to the electors, and requires an additional public hearing with notice.  Using SAVE dollars for athletic infrastructure construction would be allowed for “replacement” or “upgrade,” but not include repair or maintenance of an existing facility.

Fund for Career Academies

The bill also creates a grant fund that could be used for building Career Academies.  Nearly 70% of all new jobs will require some form of training beyond high school.  Career Academies allow high school juniors and seniors to take advantage of college level courses in an advanced high school curriculum.

House File 2481 now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Public Hearing Held on Possible Tax Reform

A special public hearing on proposed tax changes was held by the House Ways and Means Committee this week.  The public hearing was called for House Study Bill 671 regarding proposed tax changes from GOP lawmakers. Members of the public spoke out on individual income and corporate taxes, increased taxes on credit unions, and the loss of revenue and the impact on the state from the proposed reforms.

Several concerns have been made as to why the legislature would be cutting taxes for corporations when the state was forced to make midyear budget cuts because of lagging state revenues.  One of the speakers noted that Iowa schools have received record low funding in recent years while the new tax proposals would reduce state revenues and leave schools shortchanged again.

Other speakers expressed concerns with provisions that are part of the Senate proposal on taxes.  Several representatives of credit unions spoke during the public hearing to express the potential impacts of raising taxes on their institutions and how that would negatively impact credit union customers.

Representatives of the solar energy trade association noted that the state tax credit for solar energy that is repealed in the Senate proposal has been very effective in expanding solar installations in the state.  The ride sharing company Uber, as well as taxi operators, noted that increased taxes on their service would be hardest on the elderly, senior, and disabled that often rely on their service for their basic transportation needs.

While final details haven’t been release by Republican leaders, the House Ways and Means Committee could consider the tax proposal as soon as this week.

More News from the Statehouse

Preventing Food Shaming in Schools
House Leaders Move Forward on Plan to Raise Property Taxes, Cut Local Services
More Funding to Help Veterans Signed into Law
Paddling Safety on Iowa’s Waters

April 6, 2018

Greetings to you all,

While session is scheduled to adjourn in less than two weeks, we haven’t even started working on the state budget yet this year.  The Majority Party has been working behind closed doors for months trying to find a way to balance the state budget without leaving the state in a deficit again. The budget delay may also be due to Republicans infighting over the size of another corporate tax break they want to hand out next year.

While there are few budget details available, we did learn this week that Republicans are working to free up more state money — by raising property taxes on homeowners and farmers — to balance the budget and pay for their new tax breaks. In a new survey out this week about their bill, local elected officials said that ending or phasing out the backfill will raise property taxes for homeowners and farmers. City and county officials also said they will be forced to cut public safety services, like police and fire, while school officials said ending the backfill will lead to higher class sizes and reducing pay for teachers. I believe it’s time to work together to balance the state budget and restore fiscal discipline again. The Legislature must repay the debt borrowed and balance the budget without shifting the burden to property tax payers before any new tax breaks are approved.

The State of Iowa’s Ombudsman issued a report this week that found a 157% increase in complaints related to Medicaid privatization. The report also confirmed that hundreds of disabled and elderly Iowans who need assistance are stuck in a maze of appeals because the for-profit companies try to deny their care. A new law to improve Iowa’s mental health system was signed in to law this week. However, many lawmakers have cautioned the new law won’t work if there is no money to implement the improvements.

After another round of state budget cuts last week, tuition is going up for students at Iowa’s three state universities again next year. The proposed tuition increase for resident undergraduate students is $284 per year (3.8 percent) at the University of Iowa and Iowa State University, and $209 per year (2.8 percent) at the University of Northern Iowa. For the 2018-19 academic year, this would make base tuition $7,770 at the University of Iowa, $7,740 at Iowa State University, and $7,665 at the University of Northern Iowa. The Board also will be asked to consider varying increases for nonresident and graduate rates, as well as varying differential tuition rates for certain higher-cost programs. Full detail on the proposed increases can be found at http://www.iowaregents.edu/media/cms/0418_ITEM12_Tuition_FINAL_E9D93C47DE7EF.pdf

2018 Days of Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony and Concert will be held on Wednesday,  April 11th at the Hearst Center for the Arts sponsored by the UNI Center for Holocaust and Genocide Education, the Hearst Center for the Arts, and the UNI School of Music. The ceremony will begin at 6:00pm, and the concert will begin at 7:00pm.

The Black Hawk County Solid Waste Management Commission and the City of Waterloo will be co-sponsoring the spring Household Hazardous Materials & Electronics Recycling Drop-off Event on Saturday, April 14th from 9 AM – 2 PM at the Waterloo Waste Water Treatment Plant (3505 Easton Ave, Waterloo) for Black Hawk County residents.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!


Tuesday, April 3rd was “Research Day on the Hill”. Representative Bob Kressig met with Megan Kennedy from UNI, while she was advocating for her research in gender differences in sexual assault and PTSD stigma


For “Research Day on The Hill” on Tuesday, April 3rd  at The Capitol, Representative Bob Kressig had the opportunity to meet with UNI Student Nina Jocic as she presented her research “Investigating Reactive Diruthenium Intermediates C-H bond Silylation reactions”.


On Wednesday, April 4, 2018, Representative Bob Kressig welcomed AJ Huelspeth, Kristen Ahart, Maggie Miller, and Jared Rider– the University of Northern Iowa Student Government– to the Iowa State Capitol.


Legislative Clerks at the Capitol. Thank you Katie Jerome for doing an awesome job for me during the legislative session!

Upcoming Community Events

3-8 Waverly Horse Sale Waverly Sales Barn, 352-2804, waverlysales.com
5-8 Little Women Cedar Falls Woman’s Club, Thur-Sat 7:30pm; Sun 2pm, 266-1431
5-7 Build Your Own Garden Spring Shop Hop Downtown Cedar Falls, 10am, 277-0213
5-8 Theatre UNI presents Doubt UNI Bertha Martin Theatre, Thus-Sat 7:30pm; Sun 2pm, UNItix
6 UNI Jazz Band One UNI Russell Hall, 7:30pm, 273-4849
6,7 Black Hawks Hockey Young Arena, Waterloo, 7pm, 291-7680
7 RodCon 2018 UNI Rod Library, 10am, 273-3610
7 Fool’s 5K George Wyth State Park, 9am, trekmanracing.com
7-8 Shriner’s Circus National Cattle Congress Grounds, 234-7515
7 Spring Sensations Cedar Falls Woman’s Club, noon, 266-1431
8 Feathers of Fire A Persian Epic GBPAC*, 3pm, 273-4849
8 Brother’s Blood Seven Years On – New Insights Scott Cawelti CF Public Library, 2pm, cfauthorsfestival.org
10 2017 Van Cliburn Silver Medalist GBPAC*, 7pm, 273-4849
11 Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony & Concert Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
12 Jazz with Steph & Tom Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8624
12 UNI’s 50th Elementary Conference Free Family Concert GBPAC, 6pm, 273-2540
13 UNI’s 50th Elementary Conference Schindler Education Center, 8am, 273-2540

News from the Statehouse

Local Officials Warn of Higher Property Taxes, Cuts in Services

According to a new survey of local officials released this week, Iowans could be facing steep hikes in property taxes, as well as cuts in local services like police and fire next year.  The survey was sent to gather input from local governments on a plan offered by Republican lawmakers to phase out or end the state’s property tax backfill.

Of the local officials who completed the survey, 93% said they will have to raise property taxes on homeowners and farmers if the state ends the backfill.  Here are some other key highlights from the on-line survey of local officials:

  • 90% said it will lead to cuts in services or programs they offer to Iowans.
  • 76% of city and county officials said they would have to make cuts to public safety, including police, fire, sheriff, or other law enforcement.
  • School officials said they would be forced to do the following if the backfill is phased out: raise class sizes (29%), reduce pay or benefits for teachers (24%), and delay technology upgrades (23%).

If approved, the bill would cut $50 million in payments next year to local governments. In 2013, these funds to local governments were promised by the legislature as property tax rates were reduced for commercial and industrial property.  House Study Bill 678 would scale back the backfill payments from $152 million this year down to $25 million over several years.  A similar bill in the Senate would end the backfill entirely in just two years.

The House held the first subcommittee meeting on the bill this week.

Anti-Immigration “Sanctuary Cities” Bill Passes Iowa House

Despite strong opposition, legislation passed the Iowa House that would ban and penalize any form of a so-called “Sanctuary City”, even though no such “Sanctuary Cities” exist in Iowa.  With only one Iowa organization supporting the legislation, the bill would crack-down on cities and counties who do not comply with federal immigration authorities seeking to deport immigrants who entered the country illegally or risk losing state funding.

Senate File 481, which was approved on a 55-45 vote, would ban local entities from crafting policies that prevent law enforcement officers and other local officials from inquiring about the immigration status of a person.  State funding will be restored to local governments after a 90 day lapse if it rescinds any “sanctuary” policies.

After reaching out to multiple law enforcement professionals, GOP lawmakers crafted this bill without input or feedback from them. The bill also does not take into account the misplaced fear, perceptions and instability it could cause within local communities and families.  Law enforcement are concerned that many crimes may now go unreported.

According to a new non-partisan fiscal analysis, the GOP bill could also jeopardize state funding to Iowa’s public schools.  It would put educators and our schools in the middle of immigration enforcement activities that are best handled by law enforcement. This may also lead to an increase in property taxes to supplement being penalized for not complying with the new legislation.

The bill has now been sent to the governor for a signature.

More News from the Statehouse

Medicaid Privatization Continues to Hurt Iowans, New Report Shows
Tuition Rises Again after Budget Cuts
Mental Health Bill Signed Into Law
Applications for Teacher of the Year
Controversial Gun Rights Constitutional Amendment Approved
Educators to Now Receive Suicide Prevention Training
Volunteers Needed for State Park Spring Clean-up
Greater Flexibility in School Funding

April 2, 2018

Greetings to you all,

On Thursday, March 29th Governor Reynolds signed SF2113, and HF2456 into law. SF2113 would require that Iowa schools implement employee training and protocols relating to suicide prevention for students in their classroom. I worked to have an amendment adopted, relating to childhood toxic stress and adverse childhood experiences (ACES). The goal of the amendment is to have teachers be trained in the ACES Study and how they can recognize students struggling with toxic stress. To learn more about this study, visit www.iowaaces360.org. HF2456 brings our mental health system to a level that would provide more services to Iowans statewide. Iowa’s ranking in mental health services was listed as some of the lowest in the country. Hopefully we can improve access to mental health services in Iowa. The challenge that we will face now is how the state will make sure funding is available for these services.

Thousands of Iowans joined students from around the globe for the March for our Lives rally last weekend.  The march was organized and led by students, to call for an end to the epidemic of gun violence across the country, especially in schools. Despite a statewide snowstorm, there were 12 marches in cities across Iowa and the one held at the State Capitol that drew roughly 4,000 people.  Local students in Iowa organized the event after 17 people were killed in a school mass shooting last month in Parkland, Florida.  The students are pushing politicians to act and finally address gun violence.

Iowa farmers and our economy face deep uncertainty this week after President Trump’s escalating trade war led China to slap huge tariffs on ag products like ethanol, soybeans, and pork.  The looming trade war means farmers could lose hundreds of millions as demand for ag products plummets and prices decrease. Just as Governor Reynolds signed a bill to cut millions from community colleges and state universities this year, Hawkeye Community College raised tuition and fees on students.  It’s likely just the first in a series of tuition increases for students across Iowa.

GOP lawmakers have revived their private school voucher plan again this week. This latest voucher proposal would shift over $250 million in taxpayer dollars from public schools to private schools. According to a recent Iowa Poll, 65% of Iowans do not want public funds to go to private education.  After eight years of historically low state funding for public schools, current state funding for public schools is now well below the national average. Even though 92% of Iowa students attend public schools, the state already provides $52 million for students who attend non-public schools.  I agree with most Iowans that don’t believe we should start a new voucher program. With the state budget in the red and years of anemic state investment for public schools catching up with us, we shouldn’t start a new voucher program that shifts money away from public schools.  We need to focus our efforts on investing in public schools again.

2018 Days of Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony and Concert will be held on Wednesday,  April 11th at the Hearst Center for the Arts sponsored by the UNI Center for Holocaust and Genocide Education, the Hearst Center for the Arts, and the UNI School of Music. The ceremony will begin at 6:00pm, and the concert will begin at 7:00pm.

The Black Hawk County Solid Waste Management Commission and the City of Waterloo will be co-sponsoring the spring Household Hazardous Materials & Electronics Recycling Drop-off Event on Saturday, April 14th from 9 AM – 2 PM at the Waterloo Waste Water Treatment Plant (3505 Easton Ave, Waterloo) for Black Hawk County residents.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!


Bob Dorr and Carolyn Dorr made it to the Capitol on Monday, March 26th to be recognized for Bob’s lifetime of work with music. Bob had several people at the Capitol thanking him for his work with music. I know my wife and I have truly enjoyed listening and dancing to the Blue Band. Check out the tie Bob has on!


Sally Timmer and guests of Cedar Falls visited The Capitol on Monday, March 26th  for ‘The Alzheimer’s Association’s Day on the Hill’.


On Tuesday, March 27th University of Iowa students visited The Capitol and met with Representative Smith, Representative Brown-Powers and Representative Kressig for University of Iowa Day on the Hill


Former State Representative Dan Muhlbauer and his wife Patti made a visit to the Iowa Capitol on Tuesday, March 27, 2018. Pictured with them are Representatives Rick Olson, Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, Bob Kressig, Sharon Steckman, Phyllis Thede, Ako Abdul-Samad, and Marti Anderson.

Upcoming Community Events

29-31 USA Kids and Cadets National Folkstyle Wrestling UNI-Dome, 273-4849
31,3 Black Hawks Hockey Young Arena, Waterloo, 7pm, 291-7680
3-8 Waverly Horse Sale Waverly Sales Barn, 352-2804, waverlysales.com
4 Local Author Showcase – Rick Hartzell CF Library, 7pm, cfauthorsfestival.org
5-8 Little Women Cedar Falls Woman’s Club, Thur-Sat 7:30pm; Sun 2pm, 266-1431
5 Culturefest Waterloo Center for the Arts, 5pm, 291-4490
5-7 Build Your Own Garden Spring Shop Hop Downtown Cedar Falls, 10am, 277-0213
5 Hops on Main Downtown Cedar Falls. 5:30pm, communitymainstreet.org

News from the Statehouse

Senate Begins Work on New Voucher Plan

The Iowa Senate has begun work on a new bill that would shift hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars from public schools to private schools.

The bill creates a new voucher program that would give $4,000 in state tax dollars for students to use at private schools.  When fully implemented, the total cost of the voucher bill would be over $250 million annually.

Many lawmakers are opposed to the bill and believe that public money should be used for public schools.  According to a recent Iowa Poll, 65% of Iowans do not want public funds to go to private education.

In Iowa, 92% of students attend public schools and current state funding for public schools is well below the national average.  The state already provides $52 million for students who attend non-public schools.

Senate Study Bill 3206 is currently being considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee.


Budget Cuts Signed into Law; Questions Remain at State House    

As Governor Reynolds signed $35 million of budget cuts in to law this week, it is looking more and more likely that lawmakers will be working overtime to close out the 2018 legislative session.

Since the budget has been in deficit for two years in a row, one of the major hold ups is Republican leaders at the Statehouse trying to balance next year’s state budget while paying back the $144 million in debt they had to borrow last year.

The impact of the latest round of budget cuts will be felt hardest by Iowa’s most vulnerable citizens as well as students at community colleges and state universities.  Lawmakers knew the cuts would be needed since last fall, but waited until the final months of the state’s fiscal year to approve them. If the same timeline is used for crafting the state’s budget for the upcoming year is any indication, Iowans who depend on vital services could be left in limbo in the coming months.

Hard working Iowans who craft a budget every month for their family know and expect lawmakers to use the same principles that they do every month. So far Republican lawmakers have failed to live up to the expectations of Iowans, by running the state’s budget on a credit card and putting corporate tax cuts before everyday Iowans.

Upcoming Events

No upcoming scheduled events at this time.

More News from the Statehouse

Bill Attempts to Improve School Security
Trade War Could Devastate Iowa’s Ag Economy
Deadliest Flu Season Subsiding in Iowa
Online Learning Could Be Greatly Expanded
Urban Trout Stocking Schedule
Winter Energy Bill Assistance Ends April 1

March 24, 2018

Greetings to you all,

I joined several of my colleagues this week on a letter to get more information on the long delays many Iowans are facing on their state income tax refunds.  It’s a problem that started last year when refunds were delayed without warning and has continued again this year. According to the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency (LSA), refunds are currently $41 million behind those of February 2017.  We asked the Reynolds Administration to answer nine key questions to not only get an explanation for the delays, but also to find out how long Iowans will have to wait to get their money back this year. Last year, the Department of Revenue claimed new fraud protections were slowing refunds, but lawmakers later found out the state didn’t have the money to pay refunds.

House Republicans approved another round of budget cuts to fix the state’s budget deficit this week. The budget deficit is largely the result of the GOP’s corporate tax giveaways that have increased exponentially and now cost hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Unfortunately, everyday Iowans are being forced to pay for the GOP’s budget mess. The Department of Aging has had to make cuts due to the de-appropriation bill to the “Meals on Wheels” program. This program is a safety net for senior citizens who live independently in their homes. With these cuts, 50,000 meals will be denied to vulnerable Iowans who depend on these services. Additional effects of these cuts are victims of domestic violence may not get the services or support they need, students will be paying higher tuition, nursing home inspections and elder abuse claims are going without investigation, and homeowners will be forced to pay higher property taxes.

Democrats believe it’s time to work together to balance the state budget and restore fiscal discipline again.  We need an ongoing review of the corporate tax giveaways that are on auto-pilot and caps on corporate tax breaks that have put the state budget in the red. The Legislature must repay the debt borrowed by Republicans and balance the budget without shifting the burden to property tax payers before any new tax breaks are approved.

In the wake of recent school shootings, the House approved a bill to make sure schools have up-to- date school emergency and security plans that includes active shooter scenarios as well as natural disasters.  While many schools are already doing this, there’s more we can do to protect kids in schools and the state should also provide some resources to enact these plans.  Democrats offered several common sense ideas to improve the bill including, creating a hotline for Iowans to report incidents; give teachers the tools to secure windows and doors in their classroom; and support a comprehensive mental health system for our kids. While Republicans rejected all of these ideas, they did work with us on a measure to improve coordination between schools and law enforcement.

This Friday, March 23rd an open public forum over the environment will take place at The Central Rivers AEA in Cedar Falls from 4:30-6:30 pm

The Hearst Lecture Series presents Frasier Seitel, a public relations analyst, who will be speaking on “Public Relations in the Age of Nationalism”.  Seitel has appeared on MSNBC, Larry King Live, Fortune Magazine, National Public Radio and many other platforms.  The event will be held on March 27th in UNI Rod Library’s Scholar’s Lounge beginning at 7pm. The public is encouraged to attend this free event.

The Black Hawk County Solid Waste Management Commission and the City of Waterloo will be co-sponsoring the spring Household Hazardous Materials & Electronics Recycling Drop-off Event on Saturday, April 14th from 9 AM – 2 PM at the Waterloo Waste Water Treatment Plant (3505 Easton Ave, Waterloo) for Black Hawk County residents.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!


Representative Timi Brown-Powers, Bob Kressig, and Sharon Steckman welcomed members from Child Care Resources to the Iowa State Capitol on March 19, 2018.


John Deere’s Leadership from 11 of 12 Iowa facilities visited the capitol on Wednesday, March 20th 2018. I was proud of introduce them on the floor of the House. John Deere plays a vital role in providing quality jobs to Iowans. I am proud to be a retiree of John Deere and appreciate all they do.


UNI students visited the Capitol on Wednesday, March 21st to communicate with legislators about all the great things that are happening on their campus.


On Wednesday, March 21 Representatives Brown-Powers and Kressig welcomed Iowa Federation of Labor members from Waterloo and Cedar Falls to the Capitol.

Upcoming Community Events

22-25 The Full Monty Hope Martin Theatre, Waterloo, 7pm; Sun 2pm, 291-4494
22-24 FIRST Regional Robotics Competition UNI-Dome & McLeod Centers, 273-7050, firstinspires.org
24 Cedar Valley Baconfest McElroy Auditorium, Waterloo, cedarvalleybaconfest.com
24 Mercy Killers GBPAC, 7pm, 273-4849
24 A Victorian Easter Tea Party Snowden House, Waterloo, 10am, 234-6357
24 Children’s Book Festival Cedar Falls Public Library, 10am, 859-3282
24 LOVE, LOSS, AND WHAT I WORE Oster Regent Theatre, 7pm, 277-5283
24-25 Funky Junk-a-loo Waterloo Convention Center, 291-2038
25 Newspapers: “We Can’t live Without Them” Jack Hovelson CF Public Library, 20m, cfauthorsfestival.org
29-31 USA Kids and Cadets National Folkstyle Wrestling UNI-Dome, 273-4849
31,3 Black Hawks Hockey Young Arena, Waterloo, 7pm, 291-7680
29 Final Thursday Reading Series: Adrianne Finlay Hearst Center, 7:15pm, 273-8641
3-8 Waverly Horse Sale Waverly Sales Barn, 352-2804, waverlysales.com
4 Local Author Showcase – Rick Hartzell CF Library, 7pm, cfauthorsfestival.org
5-8 Little Women Cedar Falls Woman’s Club, Thur-Sat 7:30pm; Sun 2pm, 266-1431
5 Culturefest Waterloo Center for the Arts, 5pm, 291-4490
5-7 Build Your Own Garden Spring Shop Hop Downtown Cedar Falls, 10am, 277-0213
5 Hops on Main Downtown Cedar Falls. 5:30pm, communitymainstreet.org

News from the Statehouse

Lawmakers Push for Answers on State Income Tax Refund Delays

Iowa lawmakers sent a letter to the Reynolds Administration and the Department of Revenue this week to get more information for Iowans who have had their state income tax refunds delayed this year.

After being contacted by many constituents who are frustrated by the long delay getting their state income tax refund this year, lawmakers sent a list of questions to the department asking why refunds have been delayed and to find out when Iowans can expect their refunds.

According to the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency (LSA), refunds are currently $41 million behind those of February 2017.  Last year, refunds were 40% behind the previous year and many Iowans were disappointed to have their income tax refunds delayed by months without notice or warning.  Last year, the Department of Revenue claimed new fraud protections were slowing refunds, but lawmakers later found out the state didn’t have the money to pay refunds.

Iowans deserve to know why the delays have increased even more this year and how long they will have to wait to get their money back.

House Approves Mid-Year Budget Cuts

On a straight party line vote, the House approved over $35 million in mid-year budget cuts this week.  Iowa State University, the University of Iowa, community colleges, and the Department of Human Services make up the biggest portion of the cuts with just a few months left in the state’s fiscal year.

Those budget reductions will result in rising tuition costs for Iowa students, as well as longer waiting lists for some health care services including mental health.

The budget cuts come after the Governor and Republican lawmakers were forced to borrow $144 million on the state’s credit card last year to keep the state budget out of deficit.  The state’s budget deficit is largely the result of hundreds of millions in new corporate tax giveaways that the state couldn’t afford.

The state budget has been out of balance since October but the Governor and Republican leaders could not agree on how to fix the state’s budget crisis.

The bill, SF 2117 now goes back to the Senate for reconsideration.

Upcoming Events

March 23— Legislative Public Forum, 4:30pm-6:30pm, @Cedar Falls Central Rivers AEA, 7031-7123 Hudson Rd

More News from the Statehouse

Public Hearing Held on Unconstitutional 6-Week Abortion Ban
Constitutional Amendment on Guns Goes to Senate
Utility Companies Move to Scale Back Energy Efficiency, Solar
Protections for Students that Seek Help for Alcohol Overdoses Advances

March 16, 2018

Greetings to you all,

The Legislature reached another important deadline this week which helps narrow down the number of bills eligible for debate as we approach adjournment in April.  There was some floor debate and a lot of committee meetings to get the final bills out of committee and ready for debate on the House Floor before most of our attention turning to the state budget and session ending. There are several good bills that have strong bi-partisan support that should become law this year.  There’s a bill to expand our “move over laws” on busy highways, expand Iowa’s Safe Haven law, stop the spread of diseases among wild animals, combat opioid addiction, and assist more Iowa veterans with medical issues.

There is also some good news after the funnel because a few of the GOP’s bills that would be bad for Iowans are dead for the year. Some of those bills include: changing how the Iowa Supreme Court votes, allowing discrimination, eliminating the Iowa Dept. of Public Health, and ending retirement security for Iowans.

Last week, the state’s non-partisan budget experts met and said the Governor and GOP lawmakers still need to make budget cuts to the current budget year (2018) before starting work on the 2019 budget.  After fixing the budget for 2018, it will likely be another difficult budget year as Republicans have put the state budget in the red four times by passing massive corporate tax giveaways that the state couldn’t afford.  The House overwhelmingly approved a bill to put new regulations on traffic cameras. Some lawmakers prefer a complete ban on the cameras, but there is not enough support. Some additional news from The Statehouse this week is that The Iowa Senate approved a bill this week to extend the statute of limitations for child sex abuse to 25 years after the victim turns 18.

A controversial plan sponsored by utility companies to scale back energy efficiency efforts for Iowans has an uncertain fate this year. Iowa’s consumer advocate calls it bad for customers and good for utility companies. The bill as drafted would have very negative impacts on energy efficient programs in Iowa. Energy efficient programs have been a tool that has allowed Iowans to save money on their energy costs.

Iowa Senate Republicans elected a new Majority Leader this week after Sen. Bill Dix resigned after a recent incident involving a lobbyist at a local Des Moines bar. Since Sen. Dix also resigned his Senate seat, there will be a special election replace him next month.  With just a month left in session, I’m going to keep working to improve the lives of everyday Iowans.  We should keep focused on the basics like great public schools, quality jobs and opportunities for Iowans, and making health care more affordable and accessible.

The Hearst Lecture Series presents Frasier Seitel, a public relations analyst, who will be speaking on “Public Relations in the Age of Nationalism”.  Seitel has appeared on MSNBC, Larry King Live, Fortune Magazine, National Public Radio and many other platforms.  The event will be held on March 27th in UNI Rod Library’s Scholar’s Lounge beginning at 7pm. The public is encouraged to attend this free event.

The Black Hawk County Solid Waste Management Commission and the City of Waterloo will be co-sponsoring the spring Household Hazardous Materials & Electronics Recycling Drop-off Event on Saturday, April 14th from 9 AM – 2 PM at the Waterloo Waste Water Treatment Plant (3505 Easton Ave, Waterloo) for Black Hawk County residents.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!


Members of ‘The Rolling Panthers’, an adapted sports team from UNI for players 13 years old and younger visited The Capitol on Monday, March 12th 2018.


Chief Operating Officer of the North East Iowa Area Agency on Aging, Greg Zars and his family joined Representative Bob Kressig at the Statehouse for a visit on Tuesday, March 13th 2018


For spring break young people from the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Black Hawk County joined Representative Bob Kressig and Representative Timi Brown-Powers at the Statehouse.

Upcoming Community Events

12-16 The World’s Greatest Spring Break for Kids Various Downtown Waterloo locations, worldsgreatestspringbreak.com
12-16 Spring Break at the John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum Waterloo, 9am, 292-6126
16 Annual Mulligan Stew Dinner Cedar Falls Woman’s Club, 5pm, cedarfallswomansclub.com
16,17 Black Hawks Hockey Young Arena, Waterloo, 7pm, 291-7680
16-18 The Full Monty Hope Martin Theatre, Waterloo, 7pm; Sun 2pm, 291-4494
16-18 UNI-Dome Antique and Vintage Market UNI-Dome, Fri 4-9pm; Sat 10am-6pm; Sun 10am-4pm, antiquespectacular.com
22-24 FIRST Regional Robotics Competition UNI-Dome & McLeod Centers, 273-7050, firstinspires.org
24 Cedar Valley Baconfest McElroy Auditorium, Waterloo, cedarvalleybaconfest.com
24 Mercy Killers GBPAC, 7pm, 273-4849
24 A Victorian Easter Tea Party Snowden House, Waterloo, 10am, 234-6357
24 LOVE, LOSS, AND WHAT I WORE Oster Regent Theatre, 7pm, 277-5283
24-25 Funky Junk-a-loo Waterloo Convention Center, 291-2038
25 Newspapers: “We Can’t live Without Them” Jack Hovelson CF Public Library, 20m, cfathorsfestival.org
29-31 USA Kids and Cadets National Folkstyle Wrestling UNI-Dome, 273-4849

News from the Statehouse

Workforce Training Legislation Passes Iowa House

Iowa currently faces a skills gap. That’s because there are not enough workers possessing the needed skills for the jobs available.  Right now, 55% of jobs available in Iowa are middle skill jobs. These jobs require more than a high school diploma but not a four-year degree; they require an associate’s degree, a training certificate, or an apprenticeship. However, only 32% of our workforce has this skill set.

Bi-partisan legislation approved this week seeks to remedy this problem. The Future Ready Iowa legislation brings forward the recommendations of the Future Ready Alliance with the goal of having 70% of Iowa’s workforce with education or training beyond high school by the year 2025.

The legislation creates a new apprenticeship program under the Economic Development Authority designed to incentivize small and medium sized apprenticeship programs to create new or more apprenticeships.  The bill also creates a volunteer mentor program; a summer youth intern pilot program for at-risk youth; an Iowa Employer Innovation Program focused on training for high demand jobs; and a Future Ready Iowa Skilled Workforce Grant Program for state universities or accredited private colleges. Additionally, the legislation directs the Department of Workforce Development and area community colleges to identify and create a list of high demand jobs for these programs.

While the bill is a good first step, many lawmakers are concerned there will be no money to implement the bill.  HF 2458 now moves on to the Senate for further consideration.

Prevention of Food Shaming in Schools

Under a bill passed by the Iowa House, Iowa schools are no longer allowed to do actions that humiliate or “shame” a student because they cannot pay for their meal. Those actions include:

•    Requiring the student to consume the meal at a table set aside for students who owe a meal debt.
•    Have a student discard a meal after it has been served.
•    Require a student to wear a wrist band, hand stamp, or other identifying marks, or do chores or work to pay for their meal.
•    Denying participation in afterschool program or other extracurricular activities.

Schools are currently required to offer assistance to parents or guardians once a year in filling out Free and Reduced Lunch forms.  Due to changing economic circumstances, this would now be required twice a year.

Some schools have set up a private account and accept donations to help pay for school lunch debt.  The bill prevents the school from using those funds for another purpose (which has also happened in Iowa).

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Upcoming Events

March 23— Legislative Public Forum, 4:30pm-6:30pm, @Cedar Falls Central Rivers AEA, 7031-7123 Hudson Rd

More News from the Statehouse

New Law to Protect Iowans at Gas Pumps and ATMS
State Budget Still Out of Balance
Prevention of Food Shaming in Schools
Small Steps Taken to Fix the Medicaid Mess
Voter Regulations Create Problems
Educators to Now Receive Suicide Prevention Training
House Advances Bill to Give Driver’s Licenses Back to Iowans
Sign Language Included as a World Language Offered in High School

March 9, 2018

Greetings to you all,

Iowa got a bit of good news last week when it was ranked the top state in the nation, according to US News & World Report.  However, the new ranking is based on data several years old and didn’t take in to account the dramatic changes that have made the last few years with the majority party in total control of Iowa Government. The majority party has turned the state’s surplus into a deficit, shortchanged public schools, raised tuition at state universities and community colleges, and cut access to health care. They’ve given away hundreds of millions in special interest tax giveaways instead of investing in public education, improving our quality of life, and keeping health care affordable.

Just last week, the Senate GOP passed a new six week abortion ban that doesn’t even allow for exceptions in cases of rape or incest.  The bill outlaws abortion before most women even know they are pregnant. I believe a woman has the right to make decisions about her own body and health care without government intrusion.  As written, the bill would affect important, personal decisions that are best made by a woman in consultation with her family and doctor.

Lawmakers are working together to take the first step in reforming the mental health system in Iowa and the House sent a bill over to the Senate last week. The bill expands services available to all Iowans including: Access Centers that provide immediate short-term assessments to people who do not need inpatient psychiatric treatment; Intensive Residential Service Homes that are comprehensive; 24-hour facilities that coordinate community living services for persons with serious mental illnesses; and Assertive Community Treatment Teams that provide flexible treatment for individuals that have transferred out of an inpatient program.

Regions will have more flexibility to transport patients under this bill and will free up law enforcement to do other important work.  Mental health professionals will also be able to disclose mental health information to a law enforcement agent to prevent a serious threat to the patient or to others.  While the bill is a good first step in improving the system, many Iowans are concerned it does not include any additional investment from the state, causing a bigger strain on existing services and resources.

Some of the bills that passed through the house this week were the Elimination of the Praxis, which is a teaching certification exam (HF2280), State Training School at Eldora which establishes a diagnosis and evaluation center and other units to provide juvenile delinquents a program which focuses upon appropriate developmental skills, treatment, placements, and rehabilitation (HF2399), Programming and Services under the Department on Aging including Meals on Wheels (HF2451), and Supervisor Redistricting Plans (HF2372).

A bill regarding suicide prevention is expected to be voted on in the Iowa House next week, alongside an amendment about the ACES Study that I helped create. This bill would require the Board of Directors of a School to integrate annual evidence-based training on suicide prevention for all school personnel who hold licensure. To learn more about the ACES study, visit www.Iowaaces360.org 

The Hearst Lecture Series presents Frasier Seitel, a public relations analyst, who will be speaking on “Public Relations in the Age of Nationalism”.  Seitel has appeared on MSNBC, Larry King Live, Fortune Magazine, National Public Radio and many other platforms.  The event will be held on March 27th in UNI Rod Library’s Scholar’s Lounge beginning at 7pm. The public is encouraged to attend this free event.

The Black Hawk County Solid Waste Management Commission and the City of Waterloo will be co-sponsoring the spring Household Hazardous Materials & Electronics Recycling Drop-off Event on Saturday, April 14th from 9 AM – 2 PM at the Waterloo Waste Water Treatment Plant (3505 Easton Ave, Waterloo) for Black Hawk County residents.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!


On Monday, March 5th Representatives Bob Kressig, Timi Brown-Powers, and Ras Smith met with Dr. Linda Allen, President of Hawkeye Community College, and staff on community college day at the Capital.


UAW members visited the Capitol on Tuesday, March 6th to talk to legislators about issues impacting them


American Council Exchange Students visited the Capitol on Tuesday, March 6th  to learn more about the legislative process in Iowa.


Wednesday, March 7, 2018, Representatives Kressig and Smith welcomed members of National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors to the Iowa State Capitol.


Over 600 members and employees of Iowas Credit Unions visited the Capitol on Wednesday, March 7 to discuss the services they provide to communities across the state, and advocate against the proposed legislation to increase taxes on credit unions.


Representative Kressig had the opportunity to speak at a credit union rally on March 7 at the State Historical building to help ignite the conversation about the proposed legislation that would increase taxes on credit unions.

Upcoming Community Events

9-11 Eastern Iowa Sportshow UNI-Dome, Fri 3-9pm; Sat 9:30am-8pm; Sun 10am-4pm, 232-0218
11 “Historical Fiction: Bringing the Story in History to Life” – Jocelyn Green CF Public Library, 2pm, cfauthorsfestival.org
12-16 The World’s Greatest Spring Break for Kids Various Downtown Waterloo locations, worldsgreatestspringbreak.com
12-16 Spring Break at the John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum Waterloo, 9am, 292-6126
16 Annual Mulligan Stew Dinner Cedar Falls Woman’s Club, 5pm, cedarfallswomansclub.com
16,17 Black Hawks Hockey Young Arena, Waterloo, 7pm, 291-7680
16-18 The Full Monty Hope Martin Theatre, Waterloo, 7pm; Sun 2pm, 291-4494
16-18 UNI-Dome Antique and Vintage Market UNI-Dome, Fri 4-9pm; Sat 10am-6pm; Sun 10am-4pm, antiquespectacular.com
22-24 FIRST Regional Robotics Competition UNI-Dome & McLeod Centers, 273-7050, firstinspires.org
24 Cedar Valley Baconfest McElroy Auditorium, Waterloo, cedarvalleybaconfest.com
24 Mercy Killers GBPAC, 7pm, 273-4849
24 A Victorian Easter Tea Party Snowden House, Waterloo, 10am, 234-6357
24 LOVE, LOSS, AND WHAT I WORE Oster Regent Theatre, 7pm, 277-5283
24-25 Funky Junk-a-loo Waterloo Convention Center, 291-2038
25 Newspapers: “We Can’t live Without Them” Jack Hovelson CF Public Library, 20m, cfathorsfestival.org
29-31 USA Kids and Cadets National Folkstyle Wrestling UNI-Dome, 273-4849

News from the Statehouse

Republican Tax Plans to be Debated

The Legislature is considering several tax proposals this year.  Last week, the Iowa Senate passed a $1 billion tax bill, Senate File 2383, and sent it to the House for consideration.  The bill was introduced and passed the Senate in less than a week.  The House held a meeting to discuss a different plan offered by the Governor.

House Democrats have developed three common sense principles that should be applied to all tax bills in the Legislature this year.  The first is that the state must balance the budget.  Considering the state’s current budget problems that include mid-year budget cuts, any new tax bill must not burden the state with more budget problems or debt.  Republicans were forced to put $144 million on the state’s credit card last year because of budget mismanagement and the state cannot afford to borrow more money to pay for a new round of tax breaks.

Second, any tax plan must be fair and simple for all Iowans.  Both of these bills favor the wealthy and special interests while providing very little actual relief for everyday Iowans.  The Senate bill goes so far as to end several tax credits for regular Iowans, including the $100 tax credit for volunteer fire fighters and emergency responders.

Finally, any tax reform must provide relief to the middle class.  These bills provide few incentives for working Iowans and, according to the nonpartisan fiscal analysis, the Senate proposal would actually increase taxes or provide no relief for one third of all Iowans.  In addition, the hundreds of millions in lost revenue under these bills would lead to increased property taxes, higher tuitions at state universities, and reduce services that many Iowans rely on.

These tax plans will remove hundreds of millions of dollars from the state budget each year.  In other states, such as Kansas, this has led to cuts in services and reversing parts of the tax cuts.  House Democrats have offered proposals to help reform the state’s corporate tax giveaways but none of the options have even been considered by Republicans.

Fallen Officers Children and Spouses Health Care   

Many men and women across Iowa who are sworn peace officers put their lives on the line every day for the protection of the citizens of this state. They are often called into situations that put them in grave danger and some pay the ultimate sacrifice, by giving their life for their community.

There are also sacrifices that a whole family makes, by being the spouse or child of a peace officer, and when the unthinkable happens the family is thrown into a chaotic situation. Dealing with the loss of a spouse or parent is incredibly difficult, especially when that loss happens in a tragic situation. A family of a peace officer should not have to worry if they can go to the doctor or how they are going to take care of a sick child, in the time of a tragedy.

The legislature recently took a huge step in providing some relief for a spouse or child of a peace officer who is killed in the line of duty by allowing them to maintain their health coverage of the peace officer. A child is allowed to maintain their coverage until the age of 26 and the surviving spouse until they become Medicare eligible or if they remarry and remain married.

Upcoming Events

March 10–Legislative Public Forum, 10:00am-12:00pm, @Cedar Falls Central Rivers AEA, 7031-7123 Hudson Rd

March 23— Legislative Public Forum, 4:30pm-6:30pm, @Cedar Falls Central Rivers AEA, 7031-7123 Hudson Rd

More News from the Statehouse

Working to Reduce Gun Violence
House Addresses Concussions in Student Sports
Changes to Teacher Preparation Requirements
Greater Flexibility in School Funding
Budget Group Gives Presentation to House Committee
Preventative Action Taken on Chronic Wasting Disease

March 4, 2018

Greetings to you all,

After last week’s tragic school shooting in Florida where 17 people died, Iowans expect lawmakers to find some common sense solutions and take action.  Here in Iowa, one of the things we can do is give new tools to families and law enforcement to intervene in a crisis and temporarily remove guns from individuals that pose a danger to themselves or others.  Called extreme protective orders, the new law would allow the courts to temporarily prohibit a person from having guns if law enforcement or a family member shows that the person poses a danger.

Unfortunately, debate on the bill was shut down twice this week when Republican leaders in the House refused to even discuss it.  After tragedies like these, instead of the usual partisan games, I think it’s time to work together and take action on some common sense solutions

On Tuesday, Iowa Natural Heritage visited The Capitol to advocate for environmental protective legislation, and discuss Conservation Education Programs.  The Resource Enhancement and Protection Conservation Education Program (REAP CEP)  is a grant program that serves a diverse audience with education programs, including K-12 educators, landowners, at risk youth, county naturalists and community volunteers. With a $350,000 budget for conservation education programming , roughly 20% will be devoted to county conservation for capital improvements and resource protection in all 99 counties.

Members from GREEN Iowa AmeriCorps, an AmeriCorps state program operated out of The University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Energy and Environmental Education visited The Statehouse this week on Wednesday to share how they are serving Iowa Communities. With over 900 energy efficiency projects completed, 70% of Iowa’s most vulnerable populations have been impacted by energy affordability measures. These projects that have been completed are able to save Iowans over $125,000 a year that can be put back into our local communities.

More details came out this week on the tax plan approved by the Senate this week. A non-partisan analysis found the bill will cost the state over $1.1 billion and it’s got $790 million in new tax giveaways for special interests and corporations. The Republican plan will not keep the state budget balanced and it will leave Iowans with mountains of debt. It will add to the state’s budget crisis and give an oversized tax break to millionaires while the rest of us are left paying for it.

We’ve seen the devastating reality of similar tax cut plans passed in other states like Kansas. In addition to leaving the state with deficits for the next decade, the scheme will force Iowa families to pay higher property taxes, shortchange public schools, and raise tuition at our community colleges and universities again. Instead of another tax giveaway to the special interests and rich, we should be working together to reform and rein in the state’s corporate tax giveaways.  I’m going to keep working to restore fiscal discipline and balance the state budget, but I know we can’t afford another tax plan that will make the state’s budget crisis even worse for Iowans.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!


On February 28, 2018, Representative Brown-Powers and Representative Kressig met with 4-H members from Bremer, Black Hawk, and Butler counties.


On February 28, 2018, Representative Brown-Powers and Representative Kressig met Carmen Finken and Ashley Craft who are members of Americorps working with Green Iowa.

On Thursday, March 1, 2018, Representative Brown-Powers and Representative Kressig met with Sandy, Katie, and Madysen from Allen Child Protection Center who were at the Capitol to present to the Health and Human Services Committee.

Upcoming Community Events

3/1-3/4 Theatre UNI Presents Hair Strayer Wood Theatre, Thurs-Sat 7pm; Sun 2pm, 273-6381
3/2-3/3 Riverdance 20 Years GBPAC, Fri 7pm; Sat 2&7pm, 273-4849
3/3 Local Food & Film Festival Hearst Center, 10am, uni.edu/ceee
3/3-3/4 Maple Syrup Festival Hartman Reserve, 7am, 277-2187
3/3 Sticky Stride River Hills School, 8:15, 277-2187
3/3-3/4 Indoor Spring Spotlight Soccer College Showcase Cedar Valley SportsPlex, 8am, cedarvalleysoccerclub.org/springspotlight
3/6 UNI Spotlight Series: UNI Choirs Concert GBPAC, 7:30p, 273-4849
3/7 Local Authors Showcase – Dave Hoing & Roger Hileman CF Library, 7pm, cfauthorsfestival.org
3/9-3/11 Eastern Iowa Sportshow UNI-Dome, Fri 3-9pm; Sat 9:30am-8pm; Sun 10am-4pm, 232-0218
3/11 “Historical Fiction: Bringing the Story in History to Life” – Jocelyn Green CF Public Library, 2pm, cfauthorsfestival.org
3/12-3/16 The World’s Greatest Spring Break for Kids Various Downtown Waterloo locations, worldsgreatestspringbreak.com
3/12-3/16 Spring Break at the John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum Waterloo, 9am, 292-6126
3/16 Annual Mulligan Stew Dinner Cedar Falls Woman’s Club, 5pm, cedarfallswomansclub.com
3/16-3/18 The Full Monty Hope Martin Theatre, Waterloo, 7pm; Sun 2pm, 291-4494
3/16-3/18 UNI-Dome Antique and Vintage Market UNI-Dome, Fri 4-9pm; Sat 10am-6pm; Sun 10am-4pm, antiquespectacular.com
3/19 Opening Reception for Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition

News from the Statehouse

House Passes Long Awaited Mental Health Bill

After years of bipartisan work, the Iowa House has passed a bill to begin reforming the mental health system in Iowa.

One of the most important provisions of the bill is the addition of more services to the list of core services that the Mental Health and Disability Services (MHDS) regions must provide for. These services include Access Centers that provide immediate short-term assessments to people who do not need inpatient psychiatric treatment, Intensive Residential Service Homes that are comprehensive, 24 hour facilities that coordinate community living services for persons with serious mental illnesses, and Assertive Community Treatment Teams that provide flexible treatment for individuals that have transferred out of an inpatient program.

The MHDS regions will now be able to contract with transportation service companies to transport patients under this bill. Currently, patients are transported by law enforcement or an ambulance service, and by contracting with an outside vendor, it will free up law enforcement to do other important work.  Mental health professionals will also be able to disclose mental health information to a law enforcement agent to prevent a serious threat to the patient or to others.

While the bill is a great first step in improving the system, many Iowans and lawmakers are concerned it does not include any additional investment from the state, causing a bigger strain on existing services and resources.  The regions are being asked to fund most of the bill without receiving any sort of financial assistance.  In order to truly make meaningful and lasting changes to the system, it needs to be fully-funded.

HF 2456 will now go to the Senate Human Resources Committee for consideration.


K-12 School Aid Falls Short Again

The Senate has passed the K-12 school funding bill and sent it to the Governor.  With another year of low funding on the way for public schools, students in K-12 schools will likely find higher class sizes and fewer opportunities next year.  When adjusted for inflation, public schools have received just a $33 per student increase over eight years, which is less than 1% each year.  Iowa’s per pupil funding is now $1,111 below the national average.

At the same time the Majority Party was approving the plan to underfund public schools, new data was released that found 105 public schools buildings have closed their doors over the last several years.  Iowans already know that closing public schools has a devastating impact on neighborhoods, small towns, and rural communities.

Last year, the Majority Party got rid of the law requirement that schools be provided funding a year in advance to give them time to plan their budgets.  Instead they established a 30-day deadline from when the Governor submitted her budget.

With feuding between the House and Senate on a transportation plan tied to school aid, the Majority Party missed their own 30-day deadline, and schools will not receive their school funding quickly like they wanted.  Legislators finally settled on a 1-year plan for transportation costs, instead of a long-term plan previously passed by the Senate.  Both bills have now been sent to the Governor for her signature.

Upcoming Events

March 10–Legislative Public Forum, 10:00am-12:00pm, @Cedar Falls Central Rivers AEA, 7031-7123 Hudson Rd

March 23— Legislative Public Forum, 4:30pm-6:30pm, @Cedar Falls Central Rivers AEA, 7031-7123 Hudson Rd

More News from the Statehouse

Opioid Legislation Passes House Unanimously
Regent Presidents Present to Legislators, Address Student Debt
Fair Goers Get the OK to Use Credit Cards
Derelict Building Grants Available to Help with Abandoned Buildings

February 23, 2018

Greetings to you all,

UNI Faculty, students and staff visited the Capitol on Monday, February 19th sharing the statewide benefits of the University of Northern Iowa. The UNI display at the capital in the rotunda  was awesome. Several legislators were able to listen to students, faculty and staff about the great things UNI does educating students.


On Wednesday, February 21st  UNI President Mark Nook, along with Iowa and ISU, made presentations to the House Appropriation Committee sharing their concerns for the proposed cuts to the Regents. Some of the UNI presentation that was shared  was UNI’s average debt at graduation has decreased.  It is now down to $22,372, which is $10,000 below the national average. That means students who borrow are taking out $10,000 less in student debt.   Much of this is due to UNI’s signature financial literacy and student loan counseling program—Live Like a Student. As a result of this program, we’ve seen total private student loan borrowing decline by 70%–from $15.3 million in ‘07-’08 to $4.6 million, today. For those who reduce their loans as a result of counseling, the average amount is $951—equating to a total loan reduction of $154,000 per year across all private student loan borrowers at UNI. In addition, we’ve seen the proportion of students who borrow at any point during their time at UNI decline by 10 percentage points—from 80% to 70%.

UNI is requesting that the legislature invest an additional $2 million in financial aid for Iowa students attending UNI. With the proposed  budget cuts that are coming, UNI should be held Harmless due to the number of in-state students that are attending UNI. Hopefully, the legislature will listen to the concerns of students and UNI President Mark Nook. UNI is proud to educate Iowans for Iowa and works to ensure that UNI’s high quality education is within reach for students.

After last week’s funnel deadline, there are lot of bills still alive and many that have strong, bi-partisan support.  While the controversial bills always make the headlines, Iowans should know there is good work we can do together even in these hyper-partisan times.

One of those bills will combat the opioid addiction too many Iowans face.  Each year, the number of deaths related to opioids has continued to increase and it’s become a huge problem in both urban and rural Iowa. We’re working together this year to prevent overdose deaths and identify those most at risk for abusing prescription drugs.

Some of the other bi-partisan bills we are working this year include protecting kids from sex offenders; guaranteeing health care coverage for spouses of officers killed in the line of duty; expanding consumer security freezes; expanding our safe haven law; and protecting the spread of diseases among wild animals like chronic wasting disease.


On Monday, February 19 TC visited the Statehouse for UNI Day at The Capitol! Go Panthers!


On February 21 members of The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) from Black Hawk County visited the Capitol to advocate for Mental Health awareness in Iowa

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

23 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Illinois State McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
23-25 John Loves Mary Oster Regent Theatre, 7:30pm; Sun 2pm, 277-5283
23-24 The Princess and the Pea Hope Martin Theatre, Waterloo, Fri 7pm; Sat 2pm, 291-4494
23-24 Jersey Boys GBPAC, Fri 7pm; Sat 2 & 7:30pm; 273-4849
24 Museum Madness Grout Museum & Imaginarium, Waterloo, 9am, 234-6357
24,27 Black Hawks Hockey Young Arena, Waterloo, 7pm, 291-7680
24 Craft and Vendor Show Cedar Falls Amvets, 10am, vendorshow22@gmail.com
24 UNI Men’s Basketball vs Missouri State McLeod Center, unipanthers.com
25 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Bradley University McLeod Center, 2pm, unipanthers.com
27-1 Hawkeye Farm Show UNI-Dome, 9am, 507-437-4577
3/1 UNI Spotlight Series – Northern Iowa Symphony GBPAC, 273-4849
3/2,3 Riverdance 20 Years GBPAC, Fri 7pm; Sat 2&7pm, 273-4849
3/3 Local Food & Film Festival Hearst Center, 10am, uni.edu/ceee
3/3,4 Maple Syrup Festival Hartman Reserve, 7am, 277-2187
3/3 Winter Warrior Duathlon George Wyth, noon, 277-2187
3/6 UNI Spotlight Series: UNI Choirs Concert GBPAC, 7:30p, 273-4849
3/7 Local Authors Showcase – Dave Hoing & Roger Hileman CF Library, 7pm

News from the Statehouse

House Holds Public Hearing on Budget Cuts

At the request of House Democrats, the House held a special public hearing on the proposed budget cuts from the Governor and Republican lawmakers.  The public hearing was a chance for lawmakers to hear from the public about how budget cuts would impact everyday Iowans.  Members of the public spoke out from a wide range of topics including cuts to higher education, the courts, the Department of Human Services, and the Department of Corrections.

Students from the University of Iowa and Iowa State University said tuition would go up if the budget cuts were approved and it would prevent students from working families from finishing or even starting college.

Other Iowans warned about longer waiting lists for those struggling with mental illnesses and how the cuts would negatively impact vulnerable Iowans.  The potential for more prison riots and court house closings were also brought up due to the proposed cuts to the Judicial Branch and the Department of Corrections.

Over 35 people signed up to speak at the hearing, with only 8 speaking in favor of the cuts and 100% of the submitted written comments online were against the proposal.

Opioid Legislation Passes House Committee

The opioid crisis has extended to Iowa. In 2015, there were 59 opioid overdose deaths and 163 opioid-related deaths in our state. These numbers rose to 86 overdose deaths and 180 opioid-related deaths in 2016. To help address this national problem, a bill relating to opioid abuse passed the House Human Resources Committee unanimously last week.

Included in the bill is an expansion of the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP), which allows authorized prescribers and pharmacists to view information about their patients’ use of controlled substances.  This is a tool used in determining appropriate prescribing and treatment of patients without fear of contributing to a patient’s abuse of or dependence on addictive drugs or diversion to illegal drugs.

The bill, House File 2377, mandates that prescribing practitioners and first responders also utilize the program.  Practitioners are to use the PMP when they prescribe controlled substances and first responders when they administer opioid antagonists, like naloxone, to patients.

The bill also directs the Board of Pharmacy to issue a report to each prescribing practitioner that has the summary of the practitioner’s history of prescribing controlled substances; a comparison to other practitioner’s prescribing activities, and educational updates. The Board will also identify patients who are at risk for potentially abusing or misusing prescription controlled substances and notify the practitioners of the risk.

Finally, the bill includes Good Samaritan language that provides certain protections to those who seek treatment for a drug-related overdose or a person who is seeking treatment for another person who is experiencing a drug-related overdose. This gives them certain protections against being prosecuted or arrested, with some exceptions.

The bill now goes to the full House for a vote.

Upcoming Events

February 23–Legislative Public Forum, 4:30pm-6:30pm, @Cedar Falls Central Rivers AEA, 7031-7123 Hudson Rd

March 10–Legislative Public Forum, 10:00am-12:00pm, @Cedar Falls Central Rivers AEA, 7031-7123 Hudson Rd

March 23— Legislative Public Forum, 4:30pm-6:30pm, @Cedar Falls Central Rivers AEA, 7031-7123 Hudson Rd

More News from the Statehouse

House Passes a 1-Year Plan to Assist Transportation Costs for Schools
House Moves to Protect Consumers Identity from Skimming Devices
Sports Betting Bill Passes the First Hurdle
Deadline to Comment on Water Quality Standards March 30th
Memorial Day Weekend Campsite Reservations Available Feb. 25th
Summer Food Programs, Partners Needed

February 2, 2018

Greetings to you all,

GOP lawmakers in the Senate released their plan to cut another $52 million from the state budget this year. The move comes after corporate tax giveaways have put the state budget in the red four times in the last year. Most of the mid-year cuts will cause tuition increases for students at Iowa’s 15 community colleges and 3 state universities.  The court system told lawmakers the budget cuts would mean closing 30 county courthouses and millions will also be cut from skilled worker initiatives.

Should the Senate proposal pass as written, budget cuts to Iowa’s public universities will total nearly $50 million in the past 12 months, a reduction of almost 10 percent. The Regents total general fund appropriation in FY2018 is less than it received in FY1998. Despite the Regents only representing approximately 7 percent of the state general fund, the Senate proposed de-appropriation bill puts over 38 percent of the proposed cut on the backs of the Regent universities. To put this in perspective, since FY1998, the state’s general fund budget has risen to $7.3 billion, an increase of $2.9 billion, or 67 percent. However, since FY1998, the Regents state general fund appropriation has dropped by $71.9 million. This is despite enrollment at Regent universities increasing 21 percent over that same time frame.

The state budget has grown significantly over the past 20 years, as has Regent enrollment.  And yet, remarkably, state appropriations to the public universities have been reduced by 11.2 percent. This makes absolutely no sense, as there has been no new support for an entire generation. This cut in state funding directly affects those attending Regents universities now, which includes the sons and daughters of those that attended in the late 1990s. We can do better by providing appropriate education funding!

Iowa’s 2018 precinct caucuses will be held on the evening of February 5.  While there isn’t a presidential election this year, it’s just the first step for Democrats and Republicans to gather with neighbors and organize for upcoming county, district and state conventions later this spring. Iowans can register to vote and attend the Democratic or Republican caucus on Monday evening. For more information on the caucuses or to find your caucus location, log on to: www.iowademocrats.org/caucus  or www.iowagop.org/caucus.

January was Radon Action Month. Radon is a natural, radio-active gas that can cause major health problems Radon seeps in through cracks in walls, basement foundations and other openings. The problem is you can’t see it, smell it or taste it. Five out of seven Iowa homes have elevated levels of radon, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and about 400 Iowans die from radon-induced lung cancer every year. Fortunately, detection is easy with an inexpensive test kit from your hardware store or the County Health Department. You can also order a kit from the Iowa Radon Hotline at 1-800-383-5992.

Learn more about radon and its risks in this video from the University of Iowa.

Democratic lawmakers are calling on Iowans to sign a petition and join the call to end Iowa’s failed Medicaid privatization experiment. Now more than ever, we know that privatized Medicaid is not working for Iowa. For the health and safety of so many, it’s time to put Iowans back in control of Medicaid. Watching our health care system collapse is not an option.  Click here to sign the petition.

On February 7th from 5-7 pm The Beyond PINK Team and The University of Northern Iowa will be hosting a free “Ignite The Cancer Conversation” book discussion of ‘The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer’ by Siddhartha Mukherjee at The Cedar Falls Public Library. RSVP at www.BEYONDPINKTEAM.ORG to attend.


On January 30, Representative Kressig welcomed Sheila Baird, President of Cedar Valley United Way, to the Capitol.  Sheila was visiting the Capitol as part of United Way’s Day on the Hill.


On January 30, Representatives Bob Kressig and Timi Brown-Powers welcomed Cedar Falls Community School District Board members and volunteers to The Capitol. They visited to advocate for Cedar Falls public schools.


On Tuesday, January 30, 2018, Representatives Timi Brown-Powers, Ras Smith, and Bob Kressig welcomed members from Waterloo Public Schools to the Iowa State Capitol.


Tuesday January 30, Representative Bob Kressig joined Tavis Hall, Kim Manning and Samantha Steffensmeier with the Cedar Falls Tourism Bureau at the “This is Iowa” Iowa Tourism Night at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.


On Wednesday, January 31 Representative Bob Kressig visited with Sam Miller and Karl Kurt from The Central Rivers AEA, who were advocating for public education at the Capitol.


On Wednesday, January 31 College and Young Democrats of Iowa visited The Capitol for the first annual College Democrat Day on the Hill.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

2/2 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Missouri State McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
2/2-4 UNI Overseas Recruitment Fair Waterloo Convention Center, 273-2083
2/2-4 Iowa Soccer Association Boy’s Indoor Championships UNI-Dome, iowasoccer.org
2/3 Winter Warrior Duathlon George Wyth, frostybunsraceseries.weebly.com
2/3 UNI Men’s Basketball vs Indiana State McLeod Center, 3pm, 273-4849
2/3 Gobsmacked! GBPAC, 7pm, 273-4849
2/4 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Southern Illinois McLeod Center, 2pm, 273-4849
2/7 UNI Men’s Basketball vs Bradley

News from the Statehouse

GOP Lawmakers Plan Budget Cuts to Job Training

Republican lawmakers in the Senate have released their plan to cut $52 million from the state budget this year, with about half of the cuts in job training and higher education.  It’s the fourth time this year the state budget has been facing a deficit.

Called the deappropriations bill, Senate File 2117 would have a significant impact on families with kids in college, protections and services for Iowans in need, and close 30 county courthouses.

At a time when Iowans need additional job training beyond high school, the proposed bill cuts $7 million from the Skilled Worker Training Fund.  Iowa’s three state universities would be cut by $20 million this year and community colleges would lose $5.4 million which means tuition would go up for those students and families.  While Senate Republicans didn’t propose a specific $10 million cut to Medicaid as proposed by the Governor, they are recommending that the Department of Human Services find $10 million in unspecified cuts.

In response to the $4.8 million proposed cut to the Judicial Branch, the courts issued a letter stating they would be forced to close 30 courthouses indefinitely if the bill is approved.  The courts, just like all other state agencies were hit with a deappropriation in the previous fiscal year and have not yet recovered from that cut.

Senate File 2117 is awaiting debate by the full Senate.

House Proposes Even Lower School Aid than Last Year

Republican lawmakers are fast tracking a plan for yet another historically low increase in basic funding for public schools next year.  The level of funding proposed at 1% next year, is the lowest amount in seven years and lower than last year.  In fact, eight of the last nine years have been the lowest funding levels in the history of the school aid formula.

In recent years, low public school funding has led to higher class sizes, school closings, fewer technology upgrades, and pink slips for teachers.

Many Iowans are also concerned about the anemic investments in public schools while Republican lawmakers are also considering a new voucher plan to take $200 million from public schools and shift it to private schools and homeschools instead.

The bill, House Study Bill 586, may be voted by the House as early as next week.

Upcoming Events

February 10— Legislative Public Forum, 10:00am-12:00pm, @Cedar Falls Central Rivers AEA, 7031-7123 Hudson Rd

February 23–Legislative Public Forum, 4:30pm-6:30pm, @Cedar Falls Central Rivers AEA, 7031-7123 Hudson Rd

March 10–Legislative Public Forum, 10:00am-12:00pm, @Cedar Falls Central Rivers AEA, 7031-7123 Hudson Rd

March 23— Legislative Public Forum, 4:30pm-6:30pm, @Cedar Falls Central Rivers AEA, 7031-7123 Hudson Rd

More News from the Statehouse

State Income Tax Deadlines Approaching
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Extended Six Years
Expansion of Lights on Snowplows Passes Committee
Number of Deer Infected with Chronic Wasting Disease in Iowa Grows

January 26, 2018

Greetings to you all,

Over the last year, I’ve been listening and learning what’s important to Iowans.  I’ve learned that Iowans don’t ask for much and they are tired of politics as usual. They just want a decent paying job and the chance to lead a happy, healthy life. I also heard from too many Iowans who are working hard, but still struggling to get by because of stagnant wages, rising health care costs, and fewer dollars going to job training and public education.

I believe the most important part of my job is listening to you and then working together with my colleagues in the Iowa House to improve the lives of everyday Iowans. That’s why I joined my colleagues this week to unveil a new plan called Putting Iowans First. It’s a plan to get us back to the basics to not only help improve Iowans’ everyday lives but also create new opportunities for all of us to get ahead.  Our Putting Iowans First plan focuses on better paying jobs, a great education, and affordable health care.  Democrats believe that Iowa values include investing in Iowans.

The Putting Iowans First plan has four parts:
•    Better-Paying Jobs
•    A Revitalization of Small Towns and Rural Areas
•    The Best Education in the Country
•    A Quality of Life that Makes Iowa the #1 Best Place to Live

If you have an ideas or suggestions for our plan, I hope you will contact me.  The full plan can be found at www.PuttingIowansFirst.com.

On Wednesday, a bill regarding water quality management was  approved and sent on to the Governor, although It is only  a drop in the bucket and will do little to clean up our waterways. To make real progress on water quality, we need a truly bi-partisan bill. There is little accountability in this version and it does not use a watershed approach that gives local stakeholders a role in cleaning up their own waterways. We need a long-term, stable funding source with real accountability to monitor the clean-up of our waterways. Despite the bill, I’m going to keep working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to develop a long-term, stable funding source with real accountability to monitor the clean-up of our waterways.

On Wednesday, the film ‘Resilience: THE BIOLOGY OF STRESS AND THE SCIENCE OF HOPE’ was shown at the State Historical Building to showcase the ACE’s (Adverse Childhood Experiences) study in regards to childhood mental health across the United States, and discusses the promising beginnings of a national movement to prevent childhood trauma, treat Toxic Stress, and greatly improve the health of future generations. To learn more about Resilience visit https://kpjrfilms.co/resilience/about-the-film/


This Friday, January 26th from 4:30 – 6:30 pm a public forum will take place discussing mental health services and other issues in Iowa at Central Rivers AEA (1521 Technology Parkway, Cedar Falls)

Democratic lawmakers are calling on Iowans to sign a petition and join the call to end Iowa’s failed Medicaid privatization experiment. Now more than ever, we know that privatized Medicaid is not working for Iowa. For the health and safety of so many, it’s time to put Iowans back in control of Medicaid. Watching our health care system collapse is not an option.  Click here to sign the petition.


Tim Dwight from Integrated Power Corporation and Barry Shear, President of Eagle Point Solar visited the Capitol for ‘Solar Day’ to promote Solar Power initiatives.


Pharmacy students from Drake University and The University of Iowa visited on Wednesday to showcase the advancing role of pharmacists in improving health outcomes of Iowans.


On January 24, Representative Kressig welcomed Iowa Works of Cedar Valley to the Capitol.


On January 24, Representative Bob Kressig welcomed Annemarie Goldhorn, Missy Denning, Ellie Even, Nicole Powers, and Michelle Lackner to the Capitol.  They were at the Capitol to promote the film Resilience.


On January 24, Representative Kressig and Senator Dotzler welcomed Robbie Hadaway and Adam Fox with Iowa Work and UAW to the Capitol.


Representatives Bob Kressig, Timi Brown-Powers and Senator Dotzler and Senator Danielson welcomed Hawkeye Community College students to the Iowa State Capitol.

On February 7th from 5-7 pm The Beyond PINK Team and The University of Northern Iowa will be hosting a free “Ignite The Cancer Conversation” book discussion of ‘The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer’ by Siddhartha Mukherjee at The Cedar Falls Public Library. RSVP at www.BEYONDPINKTEAM.ORG to attend.


As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events for January 2018

25-28 The Library Hope Martin Theatre, Waterloo, 7pm; Sun 2pm, 291-4494
26,28 UNI Opera Presents Hansel & Gretel GBPAC, Jan 26 7:30pm, Jan 28 2pm, 273-4849
26 Boys & Girls Club Comedy Night Isle Casino, Waterloo, 7:30pm, 234-2839
27 TEACH-IN on: School Vouchers/Educational Savings Account/School Choice UNI CEEE, 10:00- 11:30am Location: UNI Center for Energy and Environmental Education Auditorium
27 Black Hawks Hockey Young Arena, 3pm, 291-7680
27-28 2018 CVSC Polar Ball 3v3 Classic Cedar Valley Sportsplex, 8am, 830-4292
28 Beers to You and Gourmet, Too Waterloo Convention Center, 3pm, 273-4849
28 The Spirit Lake Massacre in Words and Pictures – Gary Kelley CF Public Library, 2pm, 268-4266
29 Metropolitan Chorale Nazareth Lutheran Church, 6:30pm, met-chorale.com
30 Hearst Film Series: The Starfish Throwers Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641

Upcoming Community Events for February 2018

2/1 The Price is Right Live! GBPAC, 7pm, 273-4849
2/1 Red Herring Theatre – One in Chamber Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
2/2 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Missouri State McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
2/2-4 UNI Overseas Recruitment Fair Waterloo Convention Center, 273-2083
2/2-4 Iowa Soccer Association Boy’s Indoor Championships UNI-Dome, iowasoccer.org
2/3 Winter Warrior Duathlon George Wyth, frostybunsraceseries.weebly.com
2/3 UNI Men’s Basketball vs Indiana State McLeod Center, 3pm, 273-4849
2/3 Gobsmacked! GBPAC, 7pm, 273-4849
2/4 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Southern Illinois McLeod Center, 2pm, 273-4849

News from the Statehouse

Lawmakers Push to End Medicaid Privatization

A group of Iowa lawmakers are pushing a new bill to end Iowa’s Medicaid privatization experiment.  The move comes after another year of turmoil and confusion for Iowans on Medicaid.

Since it was privatized nearly two years ago, lawmakers have heard countless stories from Iowans who are still struggling to get the health care services they need from the out-of-state, for-profit companies now running Medicaid, called Managed Care Organizations (MCO).  Last fall, a man from Northwest Iowa died after the care he received in his home for 20 years was cut off by one of the MCO’s and he was forced into a facility.

Many Iowans have also raised concerns about the high cost of Medicaid privatization.  In addition to getting an additional $60 million this year from the Reynolds Administration, the for-profit MCO’s can keep up to 15% of taxpayer dollars to administer the program.  Before privatization, just 4% of Medicaid dollars were spent on administration.

Just last week, lawmakers learned from an investigative report that over 200 Iowa families have been denied critical health care from the private companies and are stuck trying to get the care they need in a long appeals process.  Privatization has also reduced care options for Iowans after one of the MCO’s left Iowa last fall and another stopped taking new patients.

Medicaid is a federal and state partnership that provides health care to 600,000 Iowans, including nursing homes.  According to recent estimates, about 70% of Medicaid dollars are used for the elderly, severely disabled, and poor.

The bill to end Medicaid privatization, Senate File 2058, is currently in the Senate Human Resources Committee. Another bill ending Medicaid privatization, HF 2104, has also been introduced in the House.

Sign the Petition

In an effort to work together, Democratic lawmakers are calling on Iowans to sign a petition to join them in pushing Governor Kim Reynolds and Republican lawmakers to end Iowa’s failed Medicaid privatization.

Water Quality Bill Headed to Governor

Legislation that directs existing money to the state’s ongoing water quality efforts will be heading to the Governor.

First approved by the Iowa Senate last year, the bill creates a new water excise tax. The new excise tax diverts funds from the state’s general fund, which currently pays for expenses such as schools and Medicaid, into a new Water Quality Financial Assistance Fund.   Additionally, $15 million from the state’s Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund will be used beginning in 2021.

Crafted behind closed doors last year without input from the Minority Party, many lawmakers believe the bill is inadequate.  The bill does not provide enough resources, has no accountability of taxpayer dollars, and does not use a watershed approach that involves local communities.  The bill also has no monitoring structure to measure if any progress is being made to improve water quality.

The money from the excise tax will flow to the Water Quality Assistance Fund and will help support drinking water and source water protection projects as well as create a new loan program designed to provide financial assistance to enhance surface and groundwater.  Money will also be used for conservation practices such as terraces, grass waterways, buffer strips and cover crops.

The legislation passed the Iowa House 59-41 and now awaits the Governor’s signature.

Upcoming Legislative Forums

January 26— Legislative Public Forum, 4:30pm-6:30pm, @Cedar Falls Central Rivers AEA, 7031-7123 Hudson Rd

February 10— Legislative Public Forum, 10:00am-12:00pm, @Cedar Falls Central Rivers AEA, 7031-7123 Hudson Rd

February 23–Legislative Public Forum, 4:30pm-6:30pm, @Cedar Falls Central Rivers AEA, 7031-7123 Hudson Rd

March 10–Legislative Public Forum, 10:00am-12:00pm, @Cedar Falls Central Rivers AEA, 7031-7123 Hudson Rd

March 23— Legislative Public Forum, 4:30pm-6:30pm, @Cedar Falls Central Rivers AEA, 7031-7123 Hudson Rd

More News from the Statehouse

Traffic Camera Ban Clears First Hurdle
“Bottle Bill” Recycling Return Rate Down
New Legislation to Protect Bald Eagles in Iowa
Medical Cannabidiol Adopts Forms and Quantity of Medicine
Child Abuse and Welfare in Iowa; Reynolds Recommends More Cuts
Iowa Chosen for Study to Improve Early Childhood Care Workforce

January 19, 2018

Greetings to you all,

This past Monday we paid tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. Martin Luther King Jr. became the predominant leader in the Civil Rights Movement to end racial segregation and discrimination in America and a leading spokesperson for nonviolent methods of achieving social change. Hopefully we can work as a country to follow Dr. Kings leadership and bring people together again.

As your state representative, my job is to listen to your ideas and concerns and take them with me to the State Capitol.  Thanks to all who took the legislative survey last week to tell me what’s important to you. An overwhelming 89% said public schools should be the top priority of the Legislature this year.  Other key priorities you picked in the survey include working to raise wages, creating jobs, ending Medicaid privatization, and investing in renewable energy.

One of the areas I think we can work together on this year is growing Iowa’s skilled workforce.  Iowans want to improve their skills to land a better paying job and businesses need better trained workers. Unfortunately, Iowa faces a significant workforce shortage. I’m ready to work with my colleagues this session to get back to the basics and focus on the issues that are important to you.  It’s our job here to make life better for Iowans and their families, not make it more difficult.  Today, three out of every five jobs in Iowa requires some training beyond high school.  We also know that 55% of jobs in Iowa are middle skill jobs, which requires more than a high school diploma but less than a four year degree.  These middle skill jobs require a two year degree, apprenticeship, or a training certificate after high school.

However, just 32% of Iowa’s workforce has this middle skill set while the largest percentage of Iowa workers (34%) have just a high school diploma or less.  If we don’t have workers with the right skills to fill these jobs, businesses will be forced to relocate or expand in another state. There are a lot things we can do this year to make progress this year, including creating new partnerships between businesses and community colleges; expanding apprenticeships; and making job training opportunities more affordable. However, it’s essential we keep an eye on the big picture.  We’ll never have enough skilled workers to meet demand if the majority party keeps shortchanging public schools and raising tuition on students at community colleges and universities.

On February 7th from 5-7 pm The Beyond PINK Team and The University of Northern Iowa will be hosting a free “Ignite The Cancer Conversation” book discussion of ‘The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer’ by Siddhartha Mukherjee at The Cedar Falls Public Library. RSVP at www.BEYONDPINKTEAM.ORG to attend.



Members of the local 838 Veterans group visited the Capitol on Wednesday for ‘Veterans Day on The Hill’ advocating for Veterans needs.


On Thursday, January 18, 2018, Representative Bob Kressig welcomed members of the Iowa Firefighters Association to the Iowa State Capitol.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events for January 2018

19-21 The Library Hope Martin Theatre, Waterloo, 7pm; Sun 2pm, 291-4494
19-21 Iowa Boat, RV and Vacation Show UNI-Dome, Fri 3-9pm; Sat 10am-8pm; Sun 11am-4pm, iowaboatandrvshow.com
20 Writing About Iowa’s Greatest Legal Case, Tinker vs Des Moines, John Johnson UNI Rod Library, 2pm, cfauthorsfestival.org
20 Hairball Cattle Congress Grounds, Waterloo, 7pm, 234-7515
21 Cedar Valley Wedding Extravaganza Waterloo Convention Center, noon, cvweddingextravaganza.com
23 Hearst Film Series: Strangers in Good Company Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
25 Final Thursday Reading – Timothy Fay Hearst Center, 7:15pm, 273-8641
26,28 UNI Opera Presents Hansel & Gretel GBPAC, Jan 26 7:30pm, Jan 28 2pm, 273-4849
27-28 2018 CVSC Polar Ball 3v3 Classic Cedar Valley Sportsplex, 8am, 830-4292

News from the Statehouse

2018 Legislative Survey Results: Invest in Education and Jobs

A survey released this week by legislators found that investing in education and working Iowa families are the top priorities of Iowans.

Of the Iowans who participated in the survey, an overwhelming 89% say public schools should be the top priority of lawmakers during the 2018 legislative session. They also agreed that Iowa should not divert $200 million from public schools to private schools and homeschools instead.

The survey also indicated there is overwhelming support to help Iowa’s working families. This includes having the legislature work to raise wages for Iowa workers, continue to invest in Iowa’s renewable energy, and keeping college affordable and limiting student loan interest rates so students aren’t faced with massive debt.

Other results from the survey include:

o    90% say the legislature should end the GOP’s Medicaid privatization.
o    92% said that lawmakers should not pass additional tax breaks for corporations in the 2018 session.
o    95% say the legislature should expand and improve access to mental health services.
o    94% dislike diverting funding from K-12 schools to help with water quality.
o    93% of Iowans support keeping IPERS safe and secure for Iowa’s retirees.

The survey was conducted to gather feedback from Iowans on their priorities for the 2018 legislative session.

Wages Stagnate Despite Healthy Economy

Despite Iowa’s healthy economy and low unemployment rate, wages for most working Iowans remain stagnant and have not kept up with rising costs in recent years.

In 2016, Iowa’s median hourly wage was $16.04. When adjusted for inflation, that number has barely moved since 1979, when the median wage was $15.91. That lack of wage growth means that a typical employee working 40 hours per week would have seen a real increase of $270.40 over 37 years.

While median wages are stagnant, Iowa’s income gap is widening. The bottom fifth of earners saw practically no growth in household income from 2006 to 2016. The poorest 20 percent saw household incomes increase less than one half of 1 percentage point.

While the middle class struggles, the top 20 percent of Iowa households saw their average income shoot up 12 percent in real terms over the same period. For the richest Iowans, the top 5 percent of households, inflation-adjusted household incomes improved by 16 percent.

Last session, Republican lawmakers passed legislation preventing local governments from raising wages and actually lowered wages for 65,000 working Iowans.

Upcoming Events

January 26— Legislative Public Forum, 4:30pm-6:30pm, @Cedar Falls Central Rivers AEA, 7031-7123 Hudson Rd

February 10— Legislative Public Forum, 10:00am-12:00pm, @Cedar Falls Central Rivers AEA, 7031-7123 Hudson Rd

February 23–Legislative Public Forum, 4:30pm-6:30pm, @Cedar Falls Central Rivers AEA, 7031-7123 Hudson Rd

March 10–Legislative Public Forum, 10:00am-12:00pm, @Cedar Falls Central Rivers AEA, 7031-7123 Hudson Rd

March 23— Legislative Public Forum, 4:30pm-6:30pm, @Cedar Falls Central Rivers AEA, 7031-7123 Hudson Rd

More News from the Statehouse

Condition of the Iowa National Guard
Flu Deaths Increasing in Iowa
Iowa Human Trafficking Summit

January 12, 2018

Greetings to you all,

The 2018 session opened this week and it was great to see my colleagues from all over Iowa. After legislative leaders offered their agenda for the session on Monday, we had three special joint sessions hearing from the Governor, Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court, and the General of the Iowa National Guard.

Im ready to work together and get back to the basics. That means:
o    Focusing on good jobs and boosting our skilled workforce
o    Renewing our commitment to public schools and keeping tuition affordable
o    Making health care both more affordable and accessible

It’s our job here to make life better for Iowans and their families, not make it more difficult.


Katie Jerome is my new legislative clerk for the 2018 legislative session and is a December 2017 graduate from UNI in Communications and Public Relations. I look forward to working with her!



Dr. Nook, University of Northern Iowa President and students in leadership visited the Capitol on Tuesday, January 9th for the Board of Regents meeting to advocate for adequate education funding for the University.

I’m optimistic we’ll work together this year to grow our skilled workforce.  Iowans want to improve their skills to land a better paying job and businesses need better trained workers. However,  we’ll never have enough skilled workers to meet demand if the legislature keeps shortchanging public schools and raising tuition at community colleges and universities.


Representative Kressig met with Supreme Court Justice Zager after Chief Justice Cady delivered the ‘Condition of the Judiciary’

Last year, Governor Reynolds and the Majority Party made health care both more expensive and less accessible.  For the first time this year, lawmakers of both parties have agreed that Medicaid privatization is a disaster. Unfortunately, Gov. Reynolds offered no plans to fix Medicaid this week and then announced plans to cut another $10 million from the program.  I am also hopeful that we can take steps this year to improve  our mental health system. We need two keys areas addressed with mental health in Iowa, critical care access and early intervention. Hopefully we can address these issues during the session.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.

Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events for January 2018

11 Jazz with Steph & Tom Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
12 UNI Women’s Basketball vs University of Evansville McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
13 2018 Iowa Games Snowshoe Race Eagle Lodge/Ingawanis Woodland, 7:45am, 277-2187
13 UNI Men’s Basketball vs Valparaiso McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
14 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Indiana State McLeod Center, 2pm, 273-4849
14,27 Black Hawks Hockey Young Arena, 3pm, 291-7680
16 Film Series: Heartwarming Movies – Rudy Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
16 UNI Men’s Basketball vs Drake McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
17 Lecture and Opening Reception UNI Gallery of Art, 6pm, 273-6134
19-21 The Library Hope Martin Theatre, Waterloo, 7pm; Sun 2pm, 291-4494
19-21 Iowa Boat, RV and Vacation Show UNI-Dome, Fri 3-9pm; Sat 10am-8pm; Sun 11am-4pm, iowaboatandrvshow.com
20 Writing About Iowa’s Greatest Legal Case, Tinker vs Des Moines, John Johnson UNI Rod Library, 2pm, cfauthorsfestival.org
20 Hairball Cattle Congress Grounds, Waterloo, 7pm, 234-7515
21 Cedar Valley Wedding Extravaganza Waterloo Convention Center, noon, cvweddingextravaganza.com
23 Hearst Film Series: Strangers in Good Company Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
25 Final Thursday Reading – Timothy Fay Hearst Center, 7:15pm, 273-8641
26,28 UNI Opera Presents Hansel & Gretel GBPAC, Jan 26 7:30pm, Jan 28 2pm, 273-4849
27-28 2018 CVSC Polar Ball 3v3 Classic Cedar Valley Sportsplex, 8am, 830-4292

News from the Statehouse

2018 Session Gets Underway

The 2018 Legislative Session opened this week and lawmakers pledged to work together and keep focused on improving lives for Iowa families.  Lawmakers said the Legislature needs to get back to the basics and create good jobs, invest in public schools, and make health care both affordable and accessible.

Some additional issues lawmakers may be working on this year include improving Iowa’s mental health system, ending Medicaid privatization, making college education affordable, expanding job training opportunities, and improving the quality of Iowa’s water.

2018 Legislative Survey

In an effort to learn about what’s important to Iowans, lawmakers are still requesting Iowans participate in a brief survey. To complete the survey and share your views go to: http://interspire.iowahdc.info/surveys.php?id=35.

Skilled Workforce Tops Priority List for 2018 Session

In the first week of session, Governor Reynolds and Iowa lawmakers pledged to work together to grow Iowa’s skilled workforce. Iowans want to improve their skills to land a better paying job and businesses need more skilled workers to be successful.

However, many lawmakers have raised concerns about efforts to fix Iowa’s skilled worker shortage without addressing the state’s anemic investment in public schools.  School leaders have warned lawmakers the state’s investment is not keeping up with rising costs and it limits their ability to train the next generation of Iowa workers.  For seven of the last eight years, the state’s new investment in public schools have been the lowest in Iowa history.

Lawmakers also expressed concern that the Governor’s budget recommendations released this week would again raise tuition at Iowa community colleges and state universities.  After millions were cut from those higher education institutions last session, the Governor has requested another $7 million cut this year.

The Legislature will also consider recommendations from the Future Ready Iowa task force, which brought together education and business leaders last year.  However, the Governor plans to invest less money in the new initiative than the cuts she outlined for higher education this year.

The need is there to allow high school students to earn dual high school and college credit during the summer time, and for a pilot project that would allow at-risk youth in danger of not graduating explore high demand careers.

The taskforce recommended increased student financial aid through a “Last Dollar Scholar program,” but the Governor has not funded it in her budget.  In addition, Certified Nurses Assistants or CNA’s who work in direct care of the elderly, have proposed to the task force the need for Iowa to develop a database to help employ direct care workers through housing demographics or credentials of the entirety of the direct care workforce.  This was not part of the Governor’s recommendations.

Upcoming Legislative Events

January 26— Legislative Public Forum, 4:30pm-6:30pm, @Cedar Falls Central Rivers AEA, 7031-7123 Hudson Rd

More News from the Statehouse

Governor Releases Budget Plans
Retirement Systems in Iowa Remain Strong
Chief Justice Address Focuses on Children
Ice Fishing Safety

January 5, 2018

Greeting to you all,

Hopefully everyone had a safe and joyous time over the Holidays with friends and family. We have had some rather difficult days recently with our weather here in Iowa. If you are doing any traveling please consider using the Iowa Department of Transportations 511 information. View up-to-date road conditions online at 511ia.org or download the Iowa 511 Smartphone app for iPhone and Android devices. You can also dial 511 (within Iowa) from your phone, or (800) 288-1047 if you’re calling from outside Iowa’s coverage area or if your provider does not yet participate in the 511 effort.

The 2018 Iowa Legislative Session starts on Monday, January 8th and I’m honored to serve you in the Iowa House. My top priority is to listen to you and bring your ideas with me to the State House. I hope you will take a few minutes and complete this brief survey below.

 

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session.

Please don’t forget to check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, like Facebook or Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

5-7 Iowa Soccer Association Girl’s Indoor Championships UNI-Dome, 273-4849
6 Black Hawks Hockey vs. Bloomington Young Arena, 7pm, 291-7680
7 Cedar Falls in the Civil War – Kenneth Lyftogt Cedar Falls Public Library, 2pm, cfauthorsfestival.org
7 UNI Men’s Basketball vs. Loyola McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
9 Film Series: Heartwarming Movies – Enchanted April Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
11 Jazz with Steph & Tom Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
12 UNI Women’s Basketball vs. University of Evansville McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
13 2018 Iowa Games Snowshoe Race Eagle Lodge/Ingawanis Woodland, 7:45am, 277-2187
13 UNI Men’s Basketball vs. Valparaiso McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
14 UNI Women’s Basketball vs. Indiana State McLeod Center, 2pm, 273-4849
14 Black Hawks Hockey vs. Omaha Young Arena, 3pm, 291-7680
16 Film Series: Heartwarming Movies – Rudy Hearst Center, 7pm, 273-8641
16 UNI Men’s Basketball vs. Drake McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
17 Lecture and Opening Reception UNI Gallery of Art, 6pm, 273-6134
19-21 The Library Hope Martin Theatre, Waterloo, 7pm; Sun 2pm, 291-4494
19-21 Iowa Boat, RV and Vacation Show UNI-Dome, Fri 3-9pm; Sat 10am-8pm; Sun 11am-4pm, iowaboatandrvshow.com
20 Writing About Iowa’s Greatest Legal Case, Tinker vs. Des Moines, John Johnson UNI Rod Library, 2pm, cfauthorsfestival.org
20 Hairball Cattle Congress Grounds, Waterloo, 7pm, 234-7515

December 15, 2017

Greetings to you all,

Congratulations to the University of Northern Iowa Fall graduates! It has been a pleasure to have you here in the Cedar Valley. Hopefully you have gained the knowledge necessary to have a productive career.  It would be great if the graduates would consider living and working in the Cedar Valley. Commencement ceremonies take place this Saturday, December 16 at 11am in the McLeod Center.

For the fourth time this year, the state budget is in deficit. When session starts in January 2018, the majority party will have to make $35 million in additional budget cuts to fix the budget and pay back the $144 million that was borrowed on the state’s credit card.  The budget troubles are largely the result of corporate tax giveaways that have increased exponentially the last few years and now cost taxpayers more than $500 million annually. Students are now paying higher tuition. Fewer at-risk kids will attend preschool this year. Nursing home inspections and elder abuse claims are going without investigation. Homeowners are paying higher property taxes. I think it’s time to work together to restore fiscal discipline and balance the state budget.

Democratic lawmakers joined together this week to send a letter to the Governor and GOP leaders requesting Iowa’s Medicaid be put back under the control of Iowans instead of out-of-state, for-profit companies. Since it began, constituents of all ages have been contacting me with real problems caused by Medicaid privatization and there is clear evidence that Iowans have suffered as a result of life-sustaining services being cut off to vulnerable individuals. I have also heard from the providers who are struggling to keep their businesses open because of payment delays from the MCO’s.

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller is joining a lawsuit with other law enforcement officials around the country to stop the Trump Administration’s repeal of net neutrality rules. New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says he’ll lead a multistate lawsuit to stop the Federal Communications Commission’s rollback of rules that guaranteed equal access to the internet. The state of Washington will act under their own authority to protect net neutrality for all of the citizens of Washington. Hopefully we can get this resolved to protect the citizens of Iowa and our country.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session.

Please don’t forget to check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, like Facebook or Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

15-17 Christmas Dessert Theatre – Toys in the Attic Lampost Theatre Co., Shows 7pm except Sun 2pm, 277-8034
15-17 The Best Christmas Pageant Ever Hope Martin Theatre, Fri 7pm; Sat, Sun 2pm, 291-4494
16 Breakfast with Santa and Rudolph Phelps Youth Pavilion, Waterloo, 8:30 or 9:30am, 291-4490
16 UNI Fall Commencement McLeod Center, 11am, 273-2112
16 Movie Magic – Elf Oster Regent Theatre, 10am, 277-5283
17 UNI Women’s Basketball vs. Iowa McLeod Center, 2pm, 273-4849
17 A Celtic Family Christmas Gallagher-Bluedorn, 2pm, 273-4849
18 UNI Wrestling vs. North Carolina UNI West Gym, 7pm, 273-4849
21 Baby It’s Cold Outside Downtown Cedar Falls, 6pm, 277-0213
26-29 Discovery Days: Christmas in the Trenches Sullivan Brothers Museum, 9am, 234-6357
28 UNI Men’s Basketball vs. Southern Illinois McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
29 Black Hawks Hockey vs. Lincoln Young Arena, Waterloo, 7pm, 291-7680
29 UNI Women’s Basketball vs. Loyola University McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
30 Winter Free Day Grout Museum District 9am, 234-6357
31 Noon Year’s Party Phelps Youth Pavilion, 11am, 291-4490
31 Black Hawks Hockey vs. Des Moines Young Arena, 6pm, 291-7680
31 UNI Women’s Basketball vs. Valparaiso McLeod Center, 2pm, 273-4849

News from the Statehouse

Legislature Forced to Make Budget Cuts Again

After Iowa’s nonpartisan budget experts met again this week, Iowa lawmakers will be forced to make another round of budget cuts like last session in addition to paying back $144 million in debt borrowed by the Governor and GOP last year.  The latest round of budget cuts will be the fourth time the state has had to make budget adjustments in the last 12 months.

At the December Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) meeting, the state’s budget experts didn’t change their revenue estimate for fiscal year 2018.  The budget estimate was downgraded earlier this year to $7.237 billion, which is $127 million lower than they set in March.  The change means the Legislature will need to make a $35 million budget adjustment to the existing fiscal year 2018 budget just to get to keep the state budget balanced.

The Legislature could make a larger adjustment if they wanted to account for the possibility that more revenue will be needed once the books close on June 30 in case the accruals don’t result in a revenue growth of $72 million, as they did for fiscal year 2017.

FY 2019 Revenue Growth

The Revenue Estimating Conference’s predictions for fiscal year 2019 show growth of 4% compared to FY 2018, for revenues totaling $7.527 billion. Governor Reynolds will use this estimate to create her budget recommendations for FY 2019. The Legislature will use this December estimate, or the upcoming estimate in March; whichever is lower.

Iowa Leads the Nation in High School Graduation Rate

In April, the Iowa Department of Education released data that showed 91.3% of students in Iowa’s Class of 2016 graduated within four years, up from 90.8% for the Class of 2015, which led the nation.

Now, a new National Center for Education Statistics report shows Iowa again leads the country in high school graduation rates when compared with other states.  Iowa’s 2016 graduation rate was the fifth year in a row to show an increase.

The NCES report has the nationwide graduation rate at an all-time high of 84.1%.  The only other state with a graduation rate higher than 90% was New Jersey, at 90.1%.

Upcoming Legislative Forums


No upcoming forums at this time.

More News from the Statehouse

Iowa’s Largest Retirement System is Strong
Medical Cannabidiol Board Not Recommending to Increase THC
Wreaths Across America Event
Deer Season in Iowa
University of Iowa Ends Summer School Grants

December 1, 2017

Greetings to you all,

Iowans struggling to get health care through Iowa’s privatized Medicaid system got another round of bad news this week when the Reynolds Administration announced that only one for-profit company is taking new patients. That means more confusion for 215,000 Iowans who were just informed last month they had to pick another private company to manage their care.  The chaos continued when Gov. Reynolds announced some Iowans could receive care under the old Medicaid system where they were guaranteed basic health care coverage and couldn’t be denied care by a for-profit company.

Iowans signing up for health insurance on the individual marketplace so far are double over last year.  In 2017, around 72,000 Iowans found health insurance coverage through the marketplace and majority of those were eligible for assistance to keep the coverage affordable.

Iowans below 400% of the federal poverty level, which is $48,240 for a single adult, are available for subsidies to reduce monthly premiums.  There are 15 days left for Iowans to sign up at www.healthcare.gov.  Iowans can also find a local expert to help complete the application and get coverage on the same website.

A Des Moines based company landed the first license to manufacture Medical Cannabidiol in Iowa. The company is called MedPharm and is owned by Kinman Industries President David Nelson. MedPharm is the world’s leading contract provider of topical and transdermal product design and development services. Cannabidiol is expected to be available to Iowans with certain conditions beginning in December 2018. I’m looking forward to making sure Iowans have access to safe and effective Cannabidiol medicine.

As the US Congress considers a huge tax plan, a new analysis out this week on the impact herein Iowa found middle class families are left behind. Nationwide, the bill actually raises taxes on 87 million working families while 13 million Americans would lose their health care.  The tax plan approved by the US House also scales back wind energy incentives that could mean a loss of 400 Iowa jobs.  Another provision in the bill would eliminate the historic preservation tax credit, which has generated thousands of construction jobs and nearly 11,000 permanent jobs across Iowa.

I had the opportunity to attend a Legislative Forum dealing with the Cedar Valley Nonprofit Association. We had great discussions about how nonprofits positively impact our community. The struggles the nonprofits are facing is the needs continue to grow and how the lack of funding is impacting our community. Hopefully we can work together in a bi-partisan way to make sure the system works better for all Iowans.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session.

Please don’t forget to check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, like Facebook or Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

29-3 Mother Courage and Her Children UNI Strayer-Wood Theatre, Nov 29,30, Dec 1, 2 7:30pm; Dec 3 2pm, 273-2149
1-2 UNI Varsity Men’s Glee Club Christmas Variety Show GBPAC*. Dec 1 7:30pm; Dec 2 2:30 & 7:30pm, 273-4849
1-3 Winter Wonderettes Oster Regent Theatre, 7:30pm, Sun 2pm, 277-5283
1-3 Christmas Dessert Theatre – Toys in the Attic Lampost Theatre Co., Shows 7pm except Sun 2pm, 277-8034
2 Breakfast with Santa Cedar Falls Community Center, 8am, 277-0213
2 North Pole Party East Bremer Ave., Waverly, 12:30pm, 352-4526
2-3 Christmas with Wartburg Wartburg College, Waverly, Dec 2 3 & 7:30pm; Dec3 3pm, 352-8691
2 Holiday Celebration John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum, 9am, 292-6126
3 Christmas Celebration with the UNI Woman’s Chorus Cedar Falls Woman’s Club, 2pm, 266-1431
3 Straight No Chaser Songs of Christmas GBPAC*, 7pm, 273-4849
5 Meet Santa & His Reindeer Scheels, 4pm, 277-3033
5 UNI Holiday Concert GBPAC*, 7:30pm, 273-4849
6 Local Author Showcase – James Kenyon Cedar Falls Public Library, 7pm, 273-8643
7 UNI Men’s Basketball vs. UT Arlington McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
7 Holiday Book Fair University Book & Supply, 5pm, 266-7581
7 Jingle and Mingle on Main Downtown Cedar Falls, 5pm, 277-0213

More Uncertainty in Medicaid Privatization

Over 200,000 Iowans learned last week that they now have just one option under the state’s Medicaid privatization system.  That comes after the Reynolds Administration announced that one of the two remaining for-profit companies managing the state’s Medicaid program refused to take any new members.

The announcement is just the latest in a string of bad news for Iowans and providers struggling under Medicaid privatization.  The change also means thousands of Iowans will likely be forced to find new health care providers because not all Iowa providers are covered under the last for-profit company taking new members.

Only three weeks ago, the Department of Human Services (DHS) announced that the managed care organization (MCO), AmeriHealth Caritas will pull out of Iowa on December 1st and at the time their members will be assigned to, or choose from, the remaining two MCOs.  This is after a month long delay by DHS after AmeriHealth notified them of their intentions.

After Medicaid members with AmeriHealth have been working quickly to determine which of the remaining two MCOs is best for them or their family member, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced that all of the Medicaid members on AmeriHealth Caritas will be forced to use UnitedHealthCare.  This change is because Amerigroup announced that they have reached maximum capacity and are unable to take on any new Medicaid members.

DHS is in contact with the federal government about the new change, which also includes new Medicaid enrollees.  Families and Medicaid members that are being forced to move to UnitedHealthCare must now determine if their providers are contracted with them.  If not, they may have to change providers, if one is available in their community.  Around 10,000 previous members with AmeriHealth that selected Amerigroup will now be covered by the original fee-for-service until a new MCO is contracted with the state of Iowa.

This change, along with the numerous previous changes, is harmful and confusing to some of the most vulnerable Iowans.  This change continues to show that Medicaid privatization is a failure and the privatization needs to end soon in a manner that is respectful of the needs of the Medicaid members.

Text-to-911 Now Available in 94 Counties

Iowa public safety officials have updated their equipment so they are now able to accept text messages to 911 in cases of emergencies. Both wireless providers and counties have now updated their technology and call centers to allow for this type of communication.

This update is not only about keeping up with technology, but also about offering 911 services to persons who need to text because they are hard of hearing, deaf, or in a situation where talking to a dispatcher would put them in further jeopardy.

To date, six wireless providers and 94 counties have completed those updates. The providers are: AT&T, i-Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon. The five counties that haven’t updated their call centers are: Henry, Lee, Monona, Pottawattamie and Scott. These counties are in the process of updating their equipment and working with their vendors so that text-to-911 will be available soon after January 1.

If you need more information about Iowa’s 911 program, including the 911 Communications Council, please visit http://www.homelandsecurity.iowa.gov/programs/E_911.html.

Marketplace Open Enrollment Begins

The federal open enrollment period for plans available on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace has begun.  Iowans looking for individual health insurance for 2018 have from November 1st until December 15th to find and select a plan.  Unfortunately, due to Wellmark and Aetna no longer offering plans, there is only one provider available, Medica.

In 2017, around 72,000 Iowans found health insurance coverage through the marketplace.  Iowans below 400% of the federal poverty level, which is $48,240 for a single adult, is available for subsidies to reduce monthly premiums. The majority of Iowans that selected plans on the marketplace were eligible for subsidies.

Iowans that currently have coverage through the exchange but do not choose a plan for 2018 by the end of open enrollment; they will be re-enrolled in a similar plan offered by Medica.  To review plan options and select an insurance plan, go to www.healthcare.gov.

Continue Reading the Statehouse News

Iowa’s Unemployment Rate Falls, but Economic Growth Stalls
Utility Scam Awareness
Community Colleges Partner to Provide Services to Young Parents
Historic Tax Credits Could Be Eliminated
State Infrastructure Investment Paying Off
New Fine Arts Standards Adopted for Iowa Schools

To read the rest of my Statehouse News go to:http://iowahouse.org/StatehouseNews/11-29-17

November 15, 2017

Greetings to you all,

Iowa continues to be in the middle of a mental health crisis. With over 600,000 Iowans suffering from some mental health issue combined with a lack of funding, services are unavailable or being denied to Iowans who need it the most.  Last year, Iowa had just 64 state beds for mental health patients, which translates to 2 beds for every 100,000 Iowans. That means too many Iowans have to wait for days, weeks or even months to get the mental health services they desperately need.  The non-profit Treatment Advocacy Center recommends at least 50 mental health beds per 100,000 people.

In 2016, the Reynolds-Branstad Administration gave no warning and unilaterally closed down 15 psychiatric beds for children at the mental health institute in Independence.  While officials said no patients were being treated in Independence, it’s actually because the Administration directed staff to stop taking patients.  Two years ago, the Reynolds-Branstad Administration shut down two mental health facilities in Mount Pleasant and Clarinda that cut services and reduced the number of beds available for Iowans with mental health issues.  That means the state now has just two mental health facilities open.

The current system is broken and it keeps getting worse. We have an obligation to help Iowans to get access to the mental health services they need.  We need to provide adequate dollars up front to increase the number of beds available to keep mental health patients from ending up in Iowa’s correctional facilities or in emergency rooms for days, which is extremely expensive. Currently the largest provider of mental health services in Iowa is our correction system. That is wrong and we need to make sure mental health programs are available to Iowans struggling with mental illness.

I have been working with the Cedar Valley United Way (CVUW) to identify critical mental health services needed in the Cedar Valley. Two areas that have been identified by the CVUW are critical care access for people with significant mental health needs and early intervention programs in our K-12 classrooms and other areas. We also need to recruit more mental health professionals to help solve the problem. We need to increase training for the mental health workforce and increase the number of individuals who can provide those services. We also need to equalize funding across the state so we have more services across rural Iowa, while increasing the number of beds available to all Iowans.

After it was announced earlier this month that AmeriHealth Caritas will be exiting Iowa’s privatized Medicaid program, they are now saying over 400 employees will be laid off starting December 31st. It was also announced Wednesday that UnityPoint Health Group notified approximately 54,000 patients of its intent to potentially end participation in the Amerigroup Medicaid Health Plan. Amerigroup is one of two remaining managed care organizations participating in the state’s Medicaid program, Iowa Health Link. What we are seeing is how much of a failure the Medicaid privatization has been for individuals who receive much needed care and how the providers of the services are being short changed.

As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session.

Please don’t forget to check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, like Facebook or Twitter. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!

Upcoming Community Events

14-19 Sartori Festival of Trees GBPAC*, 268-3161, wheatoniowa.org/festival-of-trees
16-18 Holiday Shop Hop & Downtown Ingredients Downtown Cedar Falls, 10am, 277-0213
16-17 Iowa High School Football Playoffs – Finals UNI-Dome, iahsaa.org
17, 18 Black Hawks Hockey Young Arena, 7pm, 291-7680
17-19 Minnesota Ballet Presents the Nutcracker GBPAC*, Fri 7pm, Sat & Sun 3pm, 273-4849
18, 19 Twisted Cross Tondro Pray Bicycle Park, 8:30am, www.usacycling.org/events
18 UNI Men’s Basketball vs. Chicago State McLeod Center, 11am, 273-4849
18 UNI Football vs. Indiana State (Senior Day) UNI-Dome, 4pm, 273-4849
23 1st Annual Family Turkey Trot Prairie Lakes Church, 8am, trekmanracing.com/turky-trot
24 Holiday Hoopla Kick-Off Downtown Cedar Falls, 6pm, 277-0213
25 Small Business Saturday Downtown Cedar Falls, 10am, 277-0213
25 Winter Wonder’Loo & Small Biz Saturday Downtown Waterloo, 3pm, 291-2038
27 Cedar Valley Christmas GBPAC*, 6:30pm, 234-2839
29 UNI Men’s Basketball vs UNLV McLeod Center, 7pm, 273-4849
29-3 Mother Courage and Her Children UNI Strayer-Wood Theatre, Nov 29,30, Dec 1, 2 7:30pm; Dec 3 2pm, 273-2149
30 Final Thursday Reading Series – Brooke Wonders Hearst Center, 7:15pm, 273-8641
1-2 UNI Varsity Men’s Glee Club Christmas Variety Show GBPAC*. Dec 1 7:30pm; Dec 2 2:30 & 7:30pm, 273-4849
1-3 Winter Wonderettes Oster Regent Theatre, 7:30pm, Sun 2pm, 277-5283

State Budget Out of Balance Again

For the fourth time in a year, the state budget is out of balance.

The state’s nonpartisan Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) created new revenue estimates for the current fiscal year (FY18) and next year (FY19).  According to their estimates, revenues for FY18 will be $7.237 billion. That is $127 million lower than their last estimate and represents 0% growth compared to last year.

This new estimate is approximately $30 million less than the Legislature’s FY 2018 appropriation, and that figures grows to $35 million after taking into account reversions and the Governor’s $13 million transfer from the Economic Emergency Fund to balance the FY 2017 budget.

The lower estimate means the FY18 budget approved by Gov. Reynolds and Republican lawmakers spends more than the state is taking in and is no longer balanced. At this point in time, the Legislature doesn’t need to come back for a special session, but it’s possible that budget adjustments or cuts will need to be made when the Legislature convenes in January.

FY 19 Revenues Show Growth

The REC’s estimate for FY 2019 was more positive as they estimated FY 2019 total revenue to grow by 4.1%, which equals $7.536 billion. The Governor and Legislature will be using the REC’s estimate from their upcoming December 11 meeting to create their respective FY 2019 budget proposals.

More Problems with Medicaid Privatization

Problems with Iowa’s Medicaid privatization system continue to grow as over 200,000 Iowans are being forced to switch companies that manage their health care in less than 30 days.

The huge change comes after AmeriHealth Caritas, one of the three for-profit companies managing Medicaid privatization, announced it was withdrawing from Iowa on December 1 after losing hundreds of millions in Iowa during the last year and a half.  Currently, AmeriHealth manages the health care of nearly 215,000 Iowans.

Many Iowans and health care providers are concerned that the change is occurring in a very short time period because AmeriHealth manages the most individuals who require long-term health care support and services, including some of Iowa’s most vulnerable citizens.

In addition, many members and providers are concerned about the timeline because not all providers have contracts with United Health Care or Amerigroup, the only two private companies that remain in Iowa.  This could result in additional delays or denial of services for patients and providers.  Even before this change, many providers expressed issues with timely payments and complete payments for provided services.

As a result of the change, Iowans have only 30 days to be transferred over to United Health Care.  They have agreed to take on all of the AmeriHealth members.  Members assigned to United Health Care can change to Amerigroup by March 1, 2018, for any reason.

The announcement came just days before the Legislative Health Policy Oversight Committee met. The Reynolds Administration told lawmakers AmeriHealth decided to leave Iowa at the end of September, but kept it secret until October 31, 2017.  Despite all the struggles Iowans are facing with privatization, lawmakers also learned the Reynolds Administration has agreed to increase rates for the remaining two out-of-state, for-profit managed care companies (MCO).

The Reynolds Administration plans to issue a request for proposal to contact with a new MCO beginning July 1, 2019.

For questions or more information on the change, members can call 1-800-338-8366, and providers can call 1-800-338-7909.  Updated information can also be found here: http://dhs.iowa.gov/ime/about.

Continue Reading the Statehouse News

Group Releases Computer Science Education Recommendations
Tree Stand Safety Tips for Hunters
Executive Branch Appointees under Investigation
Drought Conditions