Capitol Update Week 7

Iowa faces a shortage of health care providers in many areas of the state. This includes primary care, specialty care, and mental health care. Easing this shortage and attracting health care providers, specifically to rural communities, has been one of House Republican’s top priorities over the last several sessions.

We can start to address a shortage of providers by keeping our best and brightest right here in the state. House File 2383 aims to do just that by requiring the University of Iowa Colleges of Medicine and Dentistry to prioritize Iowa students over out-of-state students. This legislation requires at least 75% of admitted students to be residents of Iowa or to have completed their undergrad here in the state.

House File 2383 will help Iowa retain health care professionals to practice here after graduation. Students with previous ties to the state are more likely to stay in Iowa, work in Iowa, pay taxes in Iowa, and raise their families in Iowa. There is no guarantee that students from New York or California will remain in the state following graduation.

In 2017, a small family-owned newspaper in western Iowa published a story about a local police officer’s inappropriate relationship with a teenager and other previous questionable actions. This story ultimately led to the resignation of the police officer, who was under threat of termination. The ex-officer then sued the paper for libel.

The newspaper ultimately won the lawsuit but was forced to incur thousands of dollars in legal fees, simply for exposing the truth.

These types of lawsuits, known as Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP), are intended to silence bad press and suppress free speech by dragging people through costly and lengthy court fights.

House File 2339 provides individuals with a new avenue to have frivolous SLAPP lawsuits reviewed by a judge in a timely manner, so they can be dismissed early in the legal process. This legislation ensures that freedom of speech is protected and that when someone’s bad actions or misdeeds are brought to light, they are held accountable.

On Thursday the Ways and Means committee passed 3 bills relating to childcare in Iowa. The goal of these bill is to help provide affordable childcare for our young families in Iowa. As session proceeds, the House will continue to work on policies that will help to provide quality and affordable childcare in the state of Iowa.

There has been a growing concern through Iowa, especially in rural counties and communities, about the access to emergency medical services.  A common misconception is that emergency medical services are considered an essential service under the Iowa Code.  They are not.  However, it is currently an option for counties to choose to make it an essential service.  Under current law, county supervisors may offer for voter approval a local option income surtax or an ad valorem property tax.  Additionally, if it is considered an essential service, it has to be re-approved every five years.

House Study Bill 631/HF 2434 makes significant changes to the emergency medical services chapter (IA Code 422D).  The first change that it makes allows the county board of supervisors to declare EMS an essential service without calling for an election to approve this decision.  EMS advocates believe that this will greatly reduce the burden and cost of declaring EMS an essential service.

This bill also gets rid of the five-year sunset that required the voters to re-approve emergency medical services.  This gives the voters the option to end EMS as an essential service only under a reverse referendum.  EMS advocates have complained that they are uncomfortable purchasing equipment if after only five years the service could not be renewed.

A new requirement under this bill is that a county that adopts EMS as an essential service shall create an EMS Advisory Council to develop how the EMS program will be structured and work throughout the county.  Current law only allows counties to enter into 28E agreements with other counties.  This bill removes that barrier and allows counties to enter into 28E agreements with other entities besides just counties.

Currently, in the Health and Human Services Budget there is $303,000 that is appropriated to the Emergency Medical Services Fund.  The money is divided equally amongst the counties. Also, Iowa Code 422D.6(3) lays out an enumerated list of items that these funds could be spent on. This bill changes that to include any operational cost.

In addition to the above-mentioned changes to emergency medical services, House Study Bill 508/House File 2224 appropriates the revenue from sports wagering (estimated between $2-3 million) to the Emergency Medical Services Trust Fund.

On Thursday the Ways and Means committee passed 3 bills relating to childcare in Iowa. The goal of these bill is to help provide affordable childcare for our young families in Iowa. As session proceeds, the House will continue to work on policies that will help to provide quality and affordable childcare in the state of Iowa.

 

Forum Schedule:

Friday February 28 @ 9am

Monticello Golf Club with Governor Reynolds

Friday February 28 @ Noon

Monticello City Chambers

Friday March 6 @ 10am

Manchester Farm Bureau Office

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