Early Saturday morning on April, 22th the 2017 session of the Iowa General Assembly came to a close. The last week included passing 9 of the 11 Appropriations bills. These bills set priorities on where the state spends it revenue. Two other bills that were passed in the closing days of the session are Senate File 504 and House File 524.
SF 504 deals with Regional Mental Health funding. This bill relates to the county funding by modifying the mental health property tax levy. Iowa has 14 mental health service regions, all of which are required to offer a basic level services.
Since 2013, Iowa law has limited how much each county is able to levy. The amounts can vary greatly amongst the counties within the region. When the law went into effect, counties were limited to the lesser of their levy rate in 1990 or up to$47.28. This bill equalizes the levy rates amongst the counties within the regions.
In the East Central Region which includes Delaware, Jones, Benton, Bremer, Buchanan, Dubuque, Iowa, Johnson, and Linn counties. The levy rates in these counties currently ranged from a high of $47.28 to a low of $21.76. This bill will even the levy out to an estimated rate of $36.51. This will lower both of Jones ($43.15) and Delaware ($47.28) levies with no change in services.
Another bill debated in the last week was HF 524 which addresses Medical Cannabis. Three years ago, we passed a very limited bill that allowed children with epilepsy to have and use cannabis oil with a THC of 3% or less. That legislation had a sunset of 3 years. There were some flaws in the bill, mostly being able to access the oil.
HF 524 expanded the disease list for Iowans who wish to have cannabidiol oil (CBD). The oil is still limited to 3% THC. The bill creates a process for regulating and licensing of CBD manufactures and dispensaries. It allows for reciprocity with other states that are also manufacturing CBD. Currently Minnesota has legislation that allows for manufacturing but there isn’t enough volume to be cost effective. Allowing us to team up with them makes sense to me.
It also sets up a Medical Cannabidiol Advisory Board under the Department of Public Health. The board will consist of Iowa doctors who are specialists in different areas of medicine, and a member from law enforcement community. They will review medical evidence and studies to determine what conditions should be added or removed from the debilitating medical conditions list.
If the Board determines a condition should be added to the list of conditions, they shall recommend the condition, and the level of CBD including form, quantity and dosages. If the recommended dosage is less than 3%THC, there is no legislative approval required and the condition can be allowed.
The session has adjourned for the year. I am looking forward to get back to the farm and spending more time with my wife Jacky. I hope everyone has a great summer and if our paths across, I would love to visit.