Republican controlled legislatures are tearing down this country every bit as much as Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump and the national Republican party. Iowa currently has a trifecta of GOP control. Democrats in Des Moines are fighting hard for humane public policy but we simply need more Democrats. Find out of you live in a district where a Democrat could use your help getting elected. If not, donate to some other Democrat. Sign up for your legislator’s newsletter. Here’s some statehouse news from Rep. Mary Mascher of Iowa City.
Funnel week can be an extremely busy time at the capitol. Legislators are rushing from sub-committees to committees as bills either remain alive for the session or are deemed dead for the year. As a member of the education and state government committees in the House we do a great deal of heavy lifting. I enjoy the debates and the ability to defend our Democratic Priorities. As with any session we win some and we lose some. It is our commitment to our voters and the people of Iowa that motivates us. We are always seeking to improve the lives of all Iowans and to attract others who are looking to move here for our jobs, education, and quality of life.
The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
One of the bills that I am most proud of supporting this session is HF2434 The Emergency Medical Services Legislation (EMS) for our rural areas. In the past these services have not been deemed an essential service and therefore funding is not readily available. This bill identifies a dedicated source of funding and the services that will be provided in the rural areas. Where you live should not determine if you live.
The bill that I hope to support HSB 598. This is the education classroom management legislation but it still needs a great deal of work before it becomes law. This bill establishes a grant program that will provide $1.6 million dollars for districts who wish to set up therapeutic classrooms for their students who are experiencing behavioral problems. The funds will provide educational supports for around 150 students across the state with an additional $500,000 for transportation. This bill is intended to address concerns about student behaviors in schools across the state. We have been hearing of an increase in school violence, attacks on other students, and physical assaults on teachers. Classrooms are being cleared on a regular basis due to student outbursts and property is being destroyed and used as weapons. The lack of funding for our schools has exacerbated this problem. Class sizes do matter and the larger the class size the more difficult it is for the teacher to meet the needs of children. We have seen staff cuts for counselors, school nurses, and librarians. While funding may not be the cause of all of these problems it has contributed directly to this crisis.
The bills that have been the most discouraging to see passed are the anti-abortion bills in the Human Resources Committee and the anti-LGBTQ bills in numerous committees. All of these bills send the wrong message to our younger Iowans and make it more difficult for us to attract these young people when they are looking for a safe progressive state to begin their first jobs and raise their families.
We have one more funnel deadline when senate files must pass out of a House Committee and then it is on to floor debate, the budget bills, and adjournment.
Accessible & Affordable Health Care for Iowans
Iowa’s health care system continues to be in crisis. Not only are the number of Iowans without health insurance rising, but the cost of insurance premiums and co-pays continue to increase. Since July, over 3,400 prescription drugs have gone up an average of 10.5%. One type of insulin has increased 353% over the last 15 years causing patients to ration their insulin intake.
Access to health care has also declined, with over 100 health care facilities and providers closing over the last decade, many in rural areas. Iowans also lack access to quality mental health services as the Governor and majority party lawmakers have closed three facilities in Iowa and reduced services at two others who care for those struggling with mental illness.
This session, House Democrats are working on four bills to make health care more affordable and accessible, including:
Expanding Mental Health Services – Funding Iowa’s regional mental health system so kids and adults can get the services they need.
Lower Prescription Drug Costs – Taking steps to lower out of pocket drug costs by stopping pharmacy benefit managers (PBM) from overcharging the cost of prescriptions then reimbursing pharmacies at a lower rate to line their own pockets.
Protecting Iowans with Pre-Existing Conditions – Putting in new protections in Iowa law to guarantee that Iowans with pre-existing conditions can’t be denied health care.
Broadening Preventative Health Care for Children – Bring 1st Five Program to all 99 counties in Iowa, which is an early detection and support system for social-emotional and developmental delays in children from birth to 5 years old.
If you want more information about our plan visit, https://iowahouse.org/healthcare.
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