The Iowa legislature will be starting on Monday, January 10th. I’m looking forward to getting started and working on issues impacting Iowans. Covid-19 has impacted our state and we need to come together and work to solve the problems we are facing. Some of the issues are mental health access, workforce shortages, adequate K-12 funding, teacher shortages, and many other important issues.
In the Statehouse Newsletter, you will find information about:
Legislative survey is available for Iowan’s to complete.
New program is available to help childcare facilities.
Federal Stimulus is helping Iowa’s economic forecasts.
Free mental health counseling is available for Iowans.
Please share your comments with me. 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 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! I hope everyone stays safe.
The 2022 Legislative Session is slated to start on January 10th, and House Democrats are focused on rebuilding our economy to reward work and put more money in the pockets of everyday Iowans. This means: accessible child care, raising wages, lowering costs for families, and affordable housing.
After years of inaction and the pandemic, it’s time for bold steps to fix the workforce crisis that has grown significantly under the watch of Governor Reynolds and GOP lawmakers.
Today, many businesses are struggling to find enough workers to keep their doors open. Many Iowans want to work but have to overcome barriers like finding child care, affordable housing, and good health care to take care of their families. Young and talented Iowans are also leaving the state in droves because of divisive bills pushed by Republican lawmakers that make Iowa unwelcoming.
Democrats have a plan to grow our workforce quickly and keep the next generation in Iowa including:
Returning to Iowa’s deep-rooted history in fully funded, strong public education;
Allowing students to learn, allowing educators to teach free of interference and threats, while keeping politicians out of the classroom;
Stopping divisive political bills that make Iowa look unwelcoming to prospective employees and employers;
Boosting wages and benefits for hardworking Iowans. Hard work deserves honest pay.
Iowans want us to listen, put aside the politics of division, and work together to make their lives better.
Child care providers who are struggling financially due to COVID-19 can now apply for assistance through the Childcare Stabilization Program.
This new program is administered by the Iowa Department of Human Services, and funds are available to licensed child care centers or registered child development homes. Eligible applicants must be able to show financial loss due to COVID-19 through tax documents, or have a total enrollment that is made up of 25% or more children on Child Care Assistance (CCA). For more information on the funding and how to apply, please visit, dhs.iowa.gov/childcare/funding-opportunities.
Will the Governor Act to Save Preschool?
Last year due to COVID-19, many parents opted to keep their kids at home instead of sending them to preschool. This caused a significant drop in the enrollment count statewide. In turn, preschool funding for the current school year passed during the 2021 Legislative Session, was significantly less based on that unusually large enrollment drop.
Anticipating a preschool funding shortfall, the Legislature passed a bill to enable school districts to seek relief through a budget review committee. However, to pay for it, it was contingent on the Governor releasing available federal COVID relief dollars to help school districts. Now, school enrollment numbers were released in early December and it showed a large increase in preschool enrollment for this year as kids went back to school.
Per the agreement, it was anticipated that the Governor would release the funds now that the shortfall is known. However, the Governor has yet to release the COVID relief dollars that are desperately needed to keep preschools open. As parents get back to work, preschools across the state are struggling to meet the increased need of additional children in slots and pay bills, while only receiving funding based on the prior year’s reduced enrollment.
If the Governor does not act to distribute the available funds soon, preschools will be forced to reduce programs or even permanently shut down.
President Biden’s Federal Stimulus Package Helping Iowa’s Economic Forecast
As the 2022 Legislative Session approaches, House Democrats are working together on plans to get our economy rolling again. A panel of Iowa’s budget experts, called the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC), met in December to update the state’s revenue projections, which will give lawmakers an idea of how much money is available for the upcoming state budget.
The REC mentioned several times how important the federal stimulus package was in keeping the economy afloat. Specifically, they mentioned the American Rescue Package signed into law by President Biden.
In October, REC had estimated 1.5% growth over FY 2021, they are now estimating 3.0% growth compared to FY 2021. The December estimate sets total state revenues at $9.060 billion. This is $126.4 million more than FY 2021.
The projections from the December REC show that working families and their communities are getting left behind. The non-partisan experts continued to express concern about the job numbers and the need for higher wages. They estimate it will take Iowa two years to get back to Iowa employment to pre-pandemic standards.
The December estimate is what the Governor will use to establish her budget as the legislative session begins.
Affordable Care Act Sees Record Interest as Coverage Prices Decrease
After big steps to make healthcare more affordable last year, more Americans are signing up for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange for 2022 healthcare enrollment. The interest is being spurred by additional investments in healthcare enacted last year under the American Rescue Plan. President Biden and Democrats are looking to extend premium assistance through 2025 as part of next year’s legislative agenda.
Nearly 4.6 million people have enrolled in 2022 health coverage, including 70,000 Iowans, during the Special Enrollment Period (SEP) thus far. SEP began November 1 and continues until January 15, a month longer than the Trump Administration.
Ninety-five percent of consumers signing up on the federal exchange for 2022 are receiving subsidies to lower their monthly premiums. The number of customers obtaining coverage for $10 or less a month, after assistance, has nearly doubled compared to the same period last year.
For 2022, enrollees pay no more than 8.5% of their income toward coverage, down from nearly 10%. Lower-income policy holders will receive subsidies that eliminate their premiums. Those earning more than 400% of the federal poverty level – $51,000 for an individual and $104,800 for a family of four during 2021 – are now eligible for assistance.
The Biden Administration continues to launch an extensive outreach and marketing campaign to inform Americans about the new options for affordable health insurance. This includes working with local groups and targeting communities with traditionally high uninsured rates. The Governor’s Iowa Insurance Commissioner, however, continues to prioritize marketing health plans that can deny health coverage because of a pre-existing condition over ACA’s comprehensive affordable health coverage.
Iowans may continue to purchase ACA-compliant coverage until January 15, 2022 and coverage will begin February 1, 2022. During enrollment, Iowans may call 1-800-318-2596 or visit healthcare.gov for information regarding enrollment and applicable tax credits.
More Iowa News
SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR HOUSING FOR ALL: Iowa is facing a housing shortage, especially affordable housing. This comes in lieu of wages not keeping up with the rising cost of housing. Forty percent of Iowans spend more than 30% of their income on housing, making them housing cost-burdened. People earning minimum wage cannot afford even a one-bedroom apartment anywhere in the state when working only 40 hours a week. By 2030, it is estimated that Iowa will need an additional 61,000 housing units. Despite 70% of Iowans supporting affordable housing, 30% of housing projects are blocked by opposition during the approval process. The Iowa Finance Authority is trying to end the stigma on affordable housing because every Iowan deserves housing. Iowans can show their support for housing for all by pledging their support online at, welcomehomeia.com. It is time to end the stigma on affordable housing and make sure every Iowan has housing.
HARVEST WEIGHT LIMIT EXTENDED UNTIL JANUARY 29: The Harvest Weight Limit Proclamation has been extended through January 29, 2022. During harvest season, highways tend to get busier and more agricultural products need to be moved. The special proclamation allows the transportation of overweight grain without the need for a permit. Typically, the permit free period for oversize/overweight transportation lasts for 60 days, however because of harvest delays, the proclamation has been extended.
FREE COUNSELING AVAILABLE FOR COVID-19 RECOVERY: COVID-19 has not only caused a physical and financial toll on Iowans, it has also affected mental health. Iowans have been isolated, lost loved ones to the virus, and have been sick themselves. To help with this ongoing crisis, the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) is offering free virtual counseling and assistance for all Iowans affected by COVID-19. The new program called COVID Recovery Iowa, has counseling sessions available by video, chat or phone. The program is funded with federal FEMA money, and counselors are available 24/7. If you or a loved one needs help, please call 1-800-447-1985 or 1-844-775-9276. You can also visit the website at covidrecoveryiowa.org. Spanish language services are also available.
PROPER DISPOSAL OF WASTE TIRES: The Environmental Protection Commission recently approved changes to requirements for waste tire collectors. The Commission increased the financial assurance required from waste tire collectors for each tire collected and increased the surety bond, or a financial assurance to properly handle the tires, required for waste tire haulers. Iowans dispose of approximately 3 million tires annually. According to the Department of Natural Resources there have been recent cases of unregistered haulers that have dumped tires in fields, lots, storage units, or even burned the tires. Costs to clean up illegally disposed tires can run into the tens of thousands of dollars and often falls to local governments if unregistered haulers cannot be found after abandoning stockpiled tires. Iowa law has prohibited land disposal of tires for three decades and no more than 500 waste tires can be stored in the state. The Department of Natural Resources received no public comments opposed to the rule change. The rule now must be approved by the full Administrative Rules Review Committee of the Iowa Legislature to go into effect. Additional information on the proper disposal of waste tires can be found at iowadnr.gov/portals/idnr/uploads/waste/tiredisposalfactsheet.pdf. To report an imroper disposal or a waste tire hauler, call your local DNR field office which can be found at iowadnr.gov/fieldoffice.