Bob Kressig Newsletter February 23, 2023

Bob Kressig Newsletter
Greetings to you all,

It was a busy start to the week as the Government Oversight Committee met to discuss book banning in Iowa schools proposed by the majority party. Parents and students from all over Iowa came together in opposition to these book bans. Many students discussed the potential negative impacts these bans would have on young adults who are in the midst of discovering themselves. I am completely opposed to these book bans and how they will impact all of Iowa and its students, and I hope to see change soon.

Students and parents invited to speak on book banning

On a lighter note, there were multiple groups from UNI who were able to make it to the capital. Students from the social work program came to discuss the importance of what they are learning. They were here to advocate for the improvement of mental health services within the state. I am in complete support of this endeavor and loved to here from these incredible young minds.

UNI Social Work students with Rep. Kressig and Rep. Jacoby

Along with that group, UNI counseling students also took the time to visit with me. We discussed the extremely important issue of the privilege to practice. HF 90 & HF 127 which would allow Iowans get access to mental health services from a neighboring state. This would be especially necessary for those in areas who might not have access to those services within their state. This would be helpful for many Iowans across the state to improve this ever important issue.

From left to right: Rep. Kressig, Emily McLaughlin, Meleah Cue discussing mental health improvements

In the Statehouse Newsletter, you will find information about:

  • It’s Time to Legalize Marijuana in Iowa
  • Work Begins on State Government Realignment Bill
  • Action Needed to Counter Climbing Teen Suicide Rates
  • Soil Health and Water Quality Bill Passes House

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

Feb 26 UNI Men’s Basketball vs Belmont
McLeod Center, 11:30am, 319-273-4849

Feb 28 Kingdom Choir
Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, 7pm, 319-273-3660

Feb 28-Mar 2 Hawkeye Farm Show
UNI-Dome, 9am-4pm, 507-437-7969

Mar 2 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Southern Illinois
McLeod Center, 6pm, 319-273-4849

Mar 4 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Missouri State
McLeod Center, 6pm, 319-273-4849

Mar 4 Jazz at the Black Hawk: Bob Dunn & Paul Rider 
Black Hawk Hotel, 7:30pm, 319-277-1161

Mar 4 WCF Symphony Concert: Mahler, Shostakovich 5, and UNI Musicians
Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, 7pm, 319-273-3660

Mar 7-8 Bluey’s Big Play
Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, 6:30pm, 319-273-3660

Mar 9 Opening Reception with the Hearst Center Photo Club Presents: Out of Iowa Travel Images
Hearst Center for the Arts, 7-8:30pm, 319-273-8641

Mar 10 Midday Melodies
Hearst Center for the Arts, Noon-1pm, 319-273-8641
Mar 10-12 Maple Syrup Festival 
Hartman Reserve Nature Center, Fri 5-7:30pm, Sat 7am-12:30pm, Sun 7am-12:30pm, 319-277-2187

It’s Time to Legalize Marijuana in Iowa

This week, Iowa House Democrats proposed comprehensive marijuana legislation that expands the state’s medical marijuana program, while safely legalizing adult marijuana use.

majority of adult Iowans support legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Legalizing marijuana will keep Iowans safe through regulation, stop our tax dollars from going to neighboring states, improve the quality of life for Iowans suffering from chronic illnesses, and stop wasting state resources to unfairly punish Iowans.

The plan from lawmakers allows Iowans over the age of 21 to purchase marijuana for recreational use from a licensed retail store. There is a 10 percent excise tax and a 1 percent local option surcharge with the revenue going to public schools, mental health services, and local public safety.

Most importantly, the proposal would also regulate a safe product that many Iowans already use. According to the American Addiction Centers, unregulated marijuana can be laced with a multitude of psychoactive drugs with varied effects.

Other provisions include decreasing penalties for marijuana possession and expunging records for non-violent marijuana convictions. Iowa ranked 5th in the nation for having the largest racial disparities in arrests for marijuana possession in 2018 with black Iowans 7.3 times more likely than white Iowans to be arrested for possession. The bill also expands Iowa’s medical cannabis program to get relief to more Iowans with chronic pain.

Currently, Iowa is one of 10 states where the product law specifically requires cannabidiol and low THC. MedPharm and Iowa Cannabis Company are the only cannabis manufacturers licensed to operate within the state. According to the Department of Public Health, 31,757 patients and 3,053 caregivers were issued registration cards during 2022. Despite Iowa’s restrictive cannabis rules, four firms applied last year for a medical marijuana production permit.

Almost all states have passed some form of medical marijuana program, and 21 states have adopted both medical and adult recreational programs.

Work Begins on State Government Realignment Bill

Legislation that would realign how state government operates was introduced in early February in the Iowa Legislature. The bill was crafted by an out of state consulting company without taking input from Iowans.

The 1700-page bill, HSB 126, eliminates more than 20 cabinet positions and moves some departments under different umbrella agencies. While lawmakers are still reviewing the bill, some provisions have already drawn controversy and concern from Iowans.

One proposal allows for the Governor to give unlimited salary increases to high-ranking department heads, while at the same time eliminating certain workplace and retirement protections for other employees. Some Iowans have also raised concerns about giving the Iowa Attorney General expanded powers to pursue political lawsuits over the top of local county attorneys.

While the Governor says it will save the state money, most of the savings come from the federal government, and Iowans could see some of their tax dollars be put to use in other states. The massive bill has had multiple public hearings in the Iowa House of Representatives, and after listening to that testimony, the Legislature needs to work together to find ways to make state government work better.

Action Needed to Counter Climbing Teen Suicide Rates

new survey found that nationally, 57 percent of teen girls and 29 percent of teen boys had persistent feelings of sadness and suicidal thoughts.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently released their annual Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which also found that youth who identify as LGBTQ+ were three times more likely to experience suicidal thoughts than their counterparts.

Even with this alarming statistic, the Majority Party has continued to attack these kids by introducing hateful bills that make them feel unwelcome in this state, and this may very well contribute to a future increase in suicide rates.

According to the CDC, the best way to combat this trend is with early intervention. However, Majority party leaders have underfunded a comprehensive mental health system in Iowa, so many teens have little or no access to care.

For Iowans or families looking for help, the Your Life Iowa program has multiple resources for support. The Your Life Iowa website provides parents and their children with a tool kit on how to spot changes in mental health and how to get help. This website allows Iowans to text or call a support line or live chat with a qualified individual who will help during the crisis.

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

Soil Health and Water Quality Bill Passes House

Iowa lakes and streams have faced a crisis in recent years, with rising levels of nitrates and phosphates in the water causing cities and utilities to spend extra money to make the water drinkable, and increasing public beach closings due to unsafe conditions from toxic algae blooms and high levels of E. Coli. This week the Iowa House passed legislation aimed at increasing the tools available to improve water quality and soil health.

House File 282 expands the powers and duties of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) to include soil health and water quality.

Under the bill, SWCD is eligible to work with financial partners to fund projects. By adding a definition of soil health into law and expanding the duties of SWCD, Iowa could be eligible for federal funding dealing with soil health in the future. The bill also allows county boards of supervisors to establish districts within the county with the purpose of improving water quality. The bill now goes to the Senate for their consideration.

Other Iowa News

SUMMIT CARBON PIPELINE PUBLIC HEARING: Last week, the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) issued an order detailing a procedural schedule for Summit Carbon Solutions’ hazardous liquid pipeline permit. The procedural schedule sets October 2023 to January 2024 for the public hearing time frame. The order also sets a technical conference for 10 a.m. on March 15, 2023, in the IUB’s hearing room to discuss logistics for parties that have filed to intervene. The IUB will issue a further order providing information regarding county specific assigned days and detailing how commenters and objectors should pre-register to speak on those assigned days.

 The Iowa Supreme Court is creating a Remote Proceedings Task Force. The task force will work on policies for the court to standardize the use of remote proceedings. These recommendations will apply to criminal, civil, and family law cases. Chief Justice Susan Christensen said the policies were to promote “consistency, fairness, and transparency” while improving the efficiency and cutting costs for the courts. The task force will be created in March of this year, and Chief Justice Christensen will chair the group. The Supreme Court will review the recommendations from the task force and create statewide policies and procedures. The courts hope to implement these changes by the end of the year. Those interested in serving on the task force can register at Appointments to the task force will be announced when the order is filed in March.

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