Greetings to you all,

I hope everyone is enjoying the warmer weather. Hopefully spring is here to stay!

On Monday, the House debated and passed 15 bills. You can find the full list of bills here, and review the highlights below:

  • HF 2471: An act which allows for the use of inventory checklists at the start and end of a lease period for the purposes of checking unit conditions. This is especially important for college students who may move in and out of units frequently.
  • HF 2496: An act which institutes rules for placing a law enforcement officer on a Brady-Giglio list, a list containing the names of officers who have had sustained instances of untruthfulness, criminal convictions, or other issues that would place their credibility into question
  • HF 2488: An act which makes the archives of Iowa Public Broadcasting subject to public record

The House also debated and passed nine bills on Tuesday, many of which focused on improving mental health resources in Iowa. Here is a full list of the bills debated on Tuesday, and below is an overview of the bills addressing mental health. Hopefully these bills will go a long way towards addressing the shortage of mental health professionals in Iowa.

  • HF 2529: An act which creates funding for twelve new psychiatry residencies at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
  • HF 2546: An act which implements a tiered rate reimbursement scheme for psychiatric intensive inpatient care under Medicaid
  • HF 2549: An act which establishes a mental health loan repayment program, providing loan repayments for mental health practitioners who pledge to practice in service commitment areas in Iowa for 5 years

On Wednesday, I met with the Transportation and Public Safety committees. The Public Safety committee reviewed SF 333, a bill which changes the privileges afforded to authorized emergency response vehicles. The Transportation committee reviewed SF 2346, a bill which prohibits vehicles other than emergency vehicles from having red and blue lights.

On Wednesday I was also visited by credit union representatives from the Cedar Valley on their Hike the Hill event at the Statehouse. It was great to get their perspectives on different issues facing credit unions, and I always appreciate seeing local community members at the Capitol!

On Thursday, I closed out the week by meeting with the Commerce committee to review SF 2310, a bill which allows certain cooperative organizations to organize under the LLC Code Chapter. The House then debated and passed three bills:

  • HF 2552: An act that provides for the electronic communication of records by the Department of Revenue
  • HF 2437: An act prohibiting the restriction of a person’s free exercise of religion by a government entity
  • HF 2532: An act that institutes rules related to the compensation of sanitary district board of trustees members

In the Statehouse Newsletter, you will find information about

  • Democrats’ commitment to Iowa values
  • Equal Pay Day at the Statehouse
  • Improvements to mental health care access passed by the legislature
  • Phasing out federal food assistance
  • Decreased funding for public safety

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 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 hope everyone stays safe.

Upcoming Events

Mar 12-20 World’s Greatest Spring Break Phelps Youth Pavilion, 319-291-4490

Mar 17 St. Patty’s Day Stroll Cedar Falls Downtown District, 5pm, 319-277-0213

Mar 17 Shades Of Green: The Screaming Orphans Oster Regent Theatre, 7pm, 319-277-5283

Mar 18 Waterloo Black Hawks Hockey vs. Tri-City Young Arena, 7pm, 319-232-3444

Mar 19-20 Funky Junk-a-Loo Waterloo Convention Center, 9am-3pm, 319-291-2038

Mar 22, 24-25 Elias String Quartet Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, 7pm, 319-273-7469

Mar 23-26 FIRST Robotics Competition Iowa Regional McLeod Center, 515-708-5186

Mar 27 Waterloo Black Hawks Hockey vs. Lincoln Young Arena, 3pm, 319-232-3444

Mar 31 Holy Rocka Rollaz Hawkeye Community College, 7pm, 319-296-2320

Apr 1 Carden Circus The Hippodrome, 4:30pm & 7:30pm, 319-234-7515


Listening and Leading with Iowa Values

The Iowa Legislature reached another milestone this week as it gets closer to adjournment for the year.

Lawmakers have heard from Iowans this session that they are exhausted and fed up with the status quo.

With about a month left in session, Democratic lawmakers remain committed to listening to Iowans and working hard to improve lives. That means putting aside politics, leading with Iowa values, and listening through our disagreements to do what’s best for Iowans.

Here are just a few priorities they’ll be working on as session nears adjournment:

  • Growing Iowa’s workforce and addressing the child care crisis
  • Putting more money in the pockets of working families
  • Keeping public money in public schools
  • Making sure no Iowan gets left behind

The 2022 Legislative Session is scheduled to end on April 19.


Same Pay for Same Work Benefits All Iowa Families

Fair pay for hard work should not be dependent on the sex or gender of the worker. The needs of working families, from the costs of healthcare, childcare, food, and shelter have changed, but the workplace has not.

This year, March 15th was Equal Pay Day, which symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. Women on average, earn just 83 cents for every dollar earned by men. Iowa is 37th worst in state-by-state comparisons of the pay gap, with the average woman earning $11,000 less than men on average.

For women in minority communities, the gap is even worse. Equal pay “day” for black women doesn’t happen until September 21 and Latina women have to wait until December 8, almost a full two years to get equal pay for equal work.

Today, two out of three women are equal or sole breadwinners in their household. 40 percent of the households with women as the sole breadwinners have children at home. This gap in pay makes it harder for families to pay bills and live comfortably.

Closing the gender pay gap could add billions of dollars in wage or salary income to Iowa’s economy and could decrease the number of Iowa women living in poverty by 13 percent.


Mental Health Care Access Improvements Pass House

Several bills passed the Iowa House this week that will address much needed access to mental health care services.

Currently, 57 percent of Iowans are living in a mental health professional shortage, and many have to wait months before being able to access any services. Iowa is ranked 44th in the nation for the number of psychiatrists per capita. Several bills are moving through the legislative process that work to address much needed access to mental health care services.

The following bills have passed the Iowa House and are currently in the Iowa Senate to help address access mental health care:

  • Expanding the psychiatric residency program at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics by funding 12 new residency positions (HF 2529)
  • Expanding the mental health professional loan repayment program (HF 2549)

These bills are good first steps to addressing access and attracting professionals to our state, but they are not going to solve the problem entirely. Iowa needs to be a state where people want to live, and must be welcoming for all types of families. This includes quality education for children, parks, and affordable childcare. Solving the mental health crisis in Iowa must take a holistic approach.


Federal Food Assistance Benefits Increase Being Phased-Out

It has been a tough few years for all of us and some families are still trying to get back on their feet after the pandemic. During the height of the COVID-19, the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits increased by $36.24 per person, per month (or $1.20 per day).  Beginning in April, those benefits will return to pre-pandemic levels.

SNAP is designed to help feed families that too often come up short on money to pay for groceries. Before the pandemic, Iowa SNAP recipients received about $1.40 per person per meal. While it may seem like a small amount, it is often the difference between a child going to bed hungry or not.

Unfortunately, Republican lawmakers and lobbyists are continually working on bills this session that will leave some Iowa kids without food and health care. Instead of working to remove hurdles families face in accessing affordable child care, health care, and housing, they’re proposing to add more government regulations and requirements that make it harder for kids to get the food and health care they need.

Lawmakers should be working together to protect Iowa kids this session, not punishing those who need food or health care.

For more information on the change in benefits, and how to find additional resources, please visit: dhs.iowa.gov/COVID19/FoodSecurity.


More Investments Needed to Prevent Future Tragedies

Republican lawmakers in the Iowa House unveiled a budget proposal that significantly underfunds the Iowa Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Iowa Department of Corrections (DOC) again next year.

Last March, two employees at the Anamosa State Penitentiary were murdered on the job by two inmates. For the last several years, the Reynolds Administration and Republican leaders have disregarded several warning signs leading up to the Anamosa tragedy, including: rising violence, prison overcrowding, staff reductions, and continued budget cuts.

Currently, Iowa’s prison system is 17 percent over capacity while 10 percent of staff positions remain vacant. Since 2009, staff levels have dropped by 17 percent throughout the state’s correctional facilities while offender assaults on staff have increased. As of this month, the Department of Corrections has 203 vacant full-time Correction Officer and Senior Correction Officer positions. Additionally, 41 full-time nurse positions remain open in the Dept. of Corrections.

Over the last several years, the Governor and Republican lawmakers have also continuously underfunded the Iowa Department of Public Safety. Today, there are 27 State Trooper vacancies which means fewer public safety officials on the roads.

For next year, the state budget proposed by Republicans will include a small increase in funding to cover some rising costs, but does not address the current worker shortages at DOC or DPS.


More Iowa News

NEW CHANGES TO ATV and UTV ROAD USE: Iowans who ride ATVs and UTVs could soon see more roadways open for use. House File 2130 passed by the Iowa House would create a statewide policy that would allow ATVs and UTVs to be ridden on secondary county roads and some non-interstate primary roads. Currently, individual counties determine their policy for ATV and UTV use within their jurisdiction. The change in the law is supported by a large number of the ATV groups across the state, who argue the restriction on certain roads is bad for the economy and sometimes inconvenient. Those who oppose the change worry that having ATVs and UTVs that were not built for normal road conditions and traveling at low speeds could create a danger for drivers. There would be some regulations on the riders of the ATVs and UTVs, such as a requirement to carry liability insurance as well having their headlights on at all times. The legislation now heads to the Iowa Senate for consideration.

RESERVE YOUR CAMPING SPOT FOR MEMORIAL DAY: It’s time to start thinking about reserving your camping spots for Memorial Day camping at Iowa’s state parks. Campers can start making reservations online starting March 1. Reservations for campsites can be made up to three months in advance. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has implemented dynamic pricing for campsites. To find a list of state parks and reservations available, check out iowadnr.gov/Places-to-Go.

PUSH FOR MORE YOUTH HUNTING: To encourage more youth to foster a relationship with our natural resources, the Iowa House passed a proposal that would allow a resident of Iowa who is under the age of 16 to accompany an adult (with an applicable license) while trapping, hunting, and fur harvest without being licensed. However, the minor would not be able to participate in the hunting or trapping, and cannot carry a firearm. Allowing minors to accompany an adult would be a great opportunity for them to learn how to do these activities safely. Currently for youth under the age of 16 to participate they need an applicable license. HF 2209 goes to the Senate for consideration.

MAKING IOWA ROADS SAFER: This week the House approved a proposal to increase the fine for not stopping at railroad crossings when the warning lights are flashing or the stop arms are down. The bill, HF 2537, increases fines from $260 to $520. In lieu of paying the fine, violators can take a driver improvement program offered by the Department of Transportation within 90 days of the violation. In an effort to reduce roadside fatalities, all drivers must move over or slow down for any vehicle stopped on the side of the road with flashing lights, including passenger cars with hazard lights flashing. The fine for not moving over is $100 plus court fees. Help make Iowa’s roads safer by slowing down in construction zones, following posted speed limits, and eliminate distracted driving.

By | 2022-03-17T22:25:00+00:00 March 17th, 2022|Newsletters|