I had a great start to my week when I met with Norman Johnson who is the Chief Executive Officer for the Family YMCA of Black Hawk County. We had an interesting discussion centered around the amazing work that the YMCA does in Black Hawk County. It helps a variety of forms of health including the prevention of diabetes, improving the health of children, and the overall physical health of its members. They go past just the physical and also provide mental health services to the members who need them, which I am personally passionate about. Along with all of these fantastic programs, they also provide childcare to their members at affordable prices offering breakfast, lunch, and snacks, a developmentally appropriate curriculum, and a playground and access to the Y’s gym. I enjoyed chatting with Norm and hope to continue to see this incredible work in Black Hawk County!
Rep Kressig and Sen Giddens discussing the Family YMCA of Black Hawk County programs with Chief Executive Officer Norman Johnson
I had a wonderful pleasure today to meet with staff and members from Veridian Credit Union! They were at the Capital for the Credit Union Hike the Hill Event. This event has been going on for longer than I can remember and has continued to bring attention some very important causes. I have served on the board at Veridian and it always brings me joy to see this incredible group come down to visit! Thank you all for coming Veridian Credit Union!
Rep Kressig and Sen Giddens meet with representatives from Veridian Credit Union for Hike the Hill, from left to right: Jennifer Reints, Gretchen Light, Vila Baccam, Angela Weekley, CEO Renee Christoffer, Whitney Zhinnel, Sylvia Hanson, Taika Dennill, Emrah Becirevic
Today, I was able to speak with two incredible individuals from Cedar Valley Reproductive Justice, Emily Sodergren, and Maddie Tomson. They were advocating for a woman’s right to reproductive freedom. I support this and hope to see some positive steps moving forward in the future. The way we should be addressing this issue is by understanding that this decision is only between a woman, her family, and her physician, not a legislator.
In the Statehouse Newsletter, you will find information about:
Protecting Reproductive Freedom.
Eminent Domain Changes Approved in the House.
Iowa House Passes Midwifery Regulations.
Suicide Prevention Hotline Number on Student ID Cards Passes.
Child Care Tax Incentives Discussed by Legislature.
Please share your comments!
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!
This week, Iowa House Democrats unveiled their reproductive freedom legislative package for Iowans. Everyone deserves the right to make their own healthcare decisions, especially when it comes to reproductive care and abortion. Lawmakers have no place interfering in someone else’s decisions about when or how to start a family.
Here is how we will protect the reproductive freedom of Iowans:
Make birth control accessible through a pharmacist without a prescription. With this, Iowans would allow Iowans to access birth control (including oral, vaginal ring, or patch) safely and easily with up to a 12-month supply via a pharmacist. Pharmacists, especially in rural Iowa, are an important resource and critical access point for care and could help mitigate barriers and expand access to contraception. Pharmacists in 20 states are already able to prescribe birth control without a prescription from a doctor.
Guarantee reproductive freedom by adding it to Iowa’s Constitution. House Democrats want to ensure Iowans have access to reproductive care, which includes abortion, by adding Roe v. Wade language to Iowa’s Constitution. Last year, GOP lawmakers voted to do the opposite by adding language in our constitution that does not recognize, grant, or secure a right to an abortion.
Extend Medicaid postpartum coverage to 12 months. Federal law requires states to provide pregnancy-related Medicaid coverage through 60 days postpartum. After that period, some postpartum individuals may qualify for Medicaid through another pathway, but many may lose coverage and aren’t able to access insurance through other means. To help improve maternal health and coverage stability, while addressing the racial disparities that exist in maternal health, a provision in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 gave states a new option to extend Medicaid postpartum coverage to 12 months via a state plan amendment (SPA). Maternal mortality continues to rise across the country and right here in Iowa. A 2021 report found that 53 percent of all maternal deaths in Iowa occurred within 12 months postpartum. Expanding Medicaid coverage would reduce barriers to accessing health care, mental health care, and substance use disorder treatment.
Restore family planning programs under Medicaid. Several years ago, the Governor and GOP lawmakers cut access to reproductive health care programs, resulting in a rise in the abortion and Sexually Transmitted Infections rates in Iowa. The bill offered by House Democrats will restore Iowa’s family planning programs to increase access to reproductive care.
Eminent Domain Changes Approved in the House
On a bi-partisan 73-21 vote, the Iowa House passed a bill to change Iowa’s eminent domain law related to carbon capture pipelines.
House File 565 prohibits the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) from granting eminent domain authority for a hazardous liquid pipeline project until the carbon dioxide company has obtained voluntary or preexisting easements on at least 90% of the affected route miles. Under Iowa law, the IUB can grant privately owned utilities the ability to condemn land for just compensation. Currently, four companies are proposing carbon dioxide to be placed in Iowa, and the three largest are Summit, Navigator, and Wolf. This language would apply to all permit applications filed with the IUB on or after July 1, 2021.
In addition, the bill requests that the Legislature establish an interim study to evaluate eminent domain practices and procedures under Iowa Law. If approved, this interim study would take place after the 2023 session is over and the interim committee must make recommendations that they believe will improve eminent domain policy.
Proponents of the bill believe that this legislation balances landowner rights and eminent domain use. Some opponents of the bill were concerned that the bill does not go far enough, while others are concerned that the bill still does not have sufficient protections for the environment. It would also create a host of good-paying jobs for Iowa’s workers.
The bill now goes to the Iowa Senate where its future is uncertain. The Governor and Senate Republican Leaders have said there will be no changes to Iowa’s current eminent domain laws this year.
Iowa House Passes Midwifery Regulations
In an attempt to address the lack of maternal care in the state, the Iowa House has passed legislation to license professional midwives in the state.
As of 2022, 37 states regulate Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs). All of Iowa’s border states license CPMs, except for Nebraska. Currently, in Iowa, midwives can operate free of oversight and regulation, and the licensure of the profession is supported by those currently practicing in the field.
House File 265 creates a Board of Midwifery that contains seven members, four of whom are professional midwives. The remaining members include one nurse midwife, one member of the public who has received care from a midwife, and a licensed and certified OB/GYN with experience collaborating with midwives.
To qualify for a license, a person must be at least 21 years old, have a high school or equivalent diploma, and have the current national certification. A person practicing in a state that does not have a CPM license must obtain a bridge certificate before practicing in Iowa.
Supporters of the legislation say this is a simple but vital step to have more safe and healthy pregnancies and births, especially in the rural part of the state. Opponents of the legislation argue there is not enough training for midwives, which could lead to poor outcomes.
The legislation now heads to the Senate.
Suicide Prevention Hotline Number on Student ID Cards Passes
Student suicide is a growing national problem. Iowa is no different. A way to combat growing suicide rates and hopefully save lives is to provide Iowa’s suicide hotline number on student ID cards. Advocates of the bill feel that if House File 602 saves just one life, it would be worth it.
A new survey found that nationally, 57 percent of teenage girls and 29 percent of teenage boys had persistent feelings of sadness and suicidal thoughts. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently released their annual Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which found that youth who identify as LGBTQ+ were three times more likely to experience suicidal thoughts than their counterparts.
According to the CDC and mental health professionals nationwide, early intervention is the best way to combat this trend. For individuals and their families looking for help in Iowa, 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 assist during or leading up to a crisis.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please visit YourLifeIowa.com for free and confidential help by online chat, text, or phone.
HF 602 gained bipartisan support through the Iowa House, and now awaits approval in the Iowa Senate.
Child Care Tax Incentives Discussed by Legislature
Nearly a quarter of the state’s residents are estimated to live in a childcare desert. In contrast, the annual cost has been estimated to be more than tuition at a public university.
Instead of addressing these rising costs head-on, Republican leaders have instead discussed potential property tax breaks for childcare centers in the state. While this is a helpful step forward theoretically, it’s not enough to address our childcare desert. House File 668 would tax commercial childcare facilities at a reduced property tax rate. Childcare facilities would be taxed at the same rate as residential property, currently about 54.6 percent of the assessed value of the property, instead of at the commercial rate, which bases taxes on 90 percent of the assessed value of the property. This change will reduce property taxes paid by childcare facilities by approximately $8.8 million annually.
To make a real impact on the cost of child care, House Democrats proposed additional legislation to help childcare providers in the state by increasing the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. This helps offset the annual costs of child care for families in the state, creates child care centers and child development home grants to establish new child care centers, offers a small business child care tax credit to encourage businesses to provide child care to employees, and increases the state Child Care Assistance to assure that low-income Iowans can find child care.
The House Democrats’ proposal would additionally have assured that any property tax savings would go to a child care provider, and not say the provider’s landlord. These Democratic proposals were all voted down on a party-line vote.
The issue of childcare affordability and accessibility will only be solved by big ideas and solutions.
Democrats Support Increasing Iowans’ Retirement Savings with Free-Market Investments
This week, the President vetoed federal legislation that would prohibit retirement fund managers from considering environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles in their investment decisions as this law would have placed individuals’ retirement savings at risk. Currently, private company fiduciaries are not required to consider ESG metrics when making investment decisions.
In today’s business environment, asset managers are applying non-financial factors to help identify material risks and substantial growth opportunities that would maximize Iowans’ retirement funds. Some ESG capital investment factors include:
Air and water pollution mitigation, energy efficiency, and water scarcity
Customer satisfaction, wages and benefits, supply-chain management, data protection, and privacy, employee engagement, and labor standards
Audit committee structure; executive bribery and corruption; oversight and compliance
This month, the House and Senate Majority Leaders passed state legislation that would restrict Iowa public agencies from investing in capital based on retirement investor preferences for ESG factors, which jeopardizes the hard-earned life savings of cops, firefighters, teachers, and other public workers because of partisan ideology.
A national study on limiting investment options estimated states could pay between an additional $264 and $708 million in interest payments. Additionally, the Wharton School of Business found that after passing legislation restricting the market, Texas’ interest rates drastically increased as banks were forced out of state; and lending competition drastically decreased, which increased state taxpayer costs. Since January 2021, out-of-state corporate special interest groups have been coordinating with state lawmakers to propose anti-ESG model legislation.
Iowa House Democrats will continue to trust Iowa public employees with their investment preferences for retirement planning and not interfere with the free market.
More Iowa News
APPLICATIONS OPEN FOR IOWA YOUTH CONGRESS & STATE YOUTH COUNCIL APPLICATIONS OPEN: Applications for the Iowa Youth Congress and the State of Iowa Youth Advisory Council are being accepted for the 2023-2024 term. Iowa Youth Congress (IYC) brings students from around Iowa to discuss issues that affect young people across the state. Youth of all backgrounds will learn about state and local government, advocacy, and civic engagement. The State of Iowa Youth Advisory Council is made up of 21 youth between the ages of 14-20 from across the state of Iowa who advocates for youth on important issues. The Council fosters communication with the Governor, General Assembly, and other leaders regarding programs, policies, and practices affecting students and families. There is no cost to participate and applications are due May 31, 2023. Students can learn more about the program at: humanrights.iowa.gov/iowa-youth-congress.
SOME IOWANS COULD LOSE MEDICAID BENEFITS: As part of the federal Public Health Emergency (PHE) that was instituted during the COVID-19 pandemic, states have been unable to disenroll members from their Medicaid programs, even if they no longer remain financially eligible. With the PHE ending soon, the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will begin to check if all Medicaid members are still eligible to receive these benefits. If a member is found to be ineligible for the program, DHHS will contact them via the mail, and they can be disenrolled beginning April 1, 2023. Letters to these individuals have started to be mailed out, and information will be included on how to find other affordable health insurance in Iowa. In February of this year, around 886,000 Iowans were enrolled in Medicaid, compared to 694,000 members in March of 2020 when Iowa had its first case of COVID-19. For more information on Medicaid disenrollment, please visit hhs.iowa.gov/ime/unwind-resources. To speak with someone regarding the status of your Medicaid enrollment, Iowans are encouraged to call: 1-800-338-8366.
MOVE OVER AND SLOW DOWN FOR STOPPED VEHICLES: Help make Iowa’s roads safer by moving over for any stopped vehicle on the side of the road with flashing lights. According to state law, a driver must move over unless they cannot move over for the stopped vehicle, they must slow down as they pass. The fine for not moving over is $100 plus court fees. Drivers are reminded to be alert, follow posted speed limits, avoid distractions, and look out for emergency and road construction vehicles. Stranded motorists should pull as far over on the shoulder as safely possible, turn on hazard lights, and remain in the vehicle as long as it is safe to do so. If a driver needs to get out of their vehicle: watch the oncoming traffic for a good time to exit, and remain alert and close to your vehicle. We can all work together to make Iowa’s roads safer.
AFFORDABLE CARE ACT CONTINUES TO LOWER IOWANS’ HEALTH CARE COSTS: This week marks the 13th anniversary of President Obama signing the Affordable Care Act into law. Since 2010, the ACA has extended insurance coverage to more than 30 million uninsured through Medicaid expansion and providing private affordable comprehensive insurance subsidies to lower-and-middle income Americans. To date, the ACA’s most popular provisions include pre-existing condition protections and allowing young adults 26 and younger to remain on their parent’s insurance plan. Currently, 1.3 million Iowans have a pre-existing condition and more than 227,000 Iowans could lose their health coverage if the ACA were overturned. During 2023, the majority of the ACA-compliant market share in Iowa decreased their average premiums. Iowa’s enrollment reached a record high for 2023, with nearly 83,000 people signing up for private plans during the open enrollment period for 2023 coverage. The ACA is here to stay, and Iowa House Democrats look forward to helping expand affordable healthcare access to every Iowan. Happy 13th Birthday, ACA!