Capitol Update Week 9

House Overwhelmingly Supports Childcare Legislation
This week, the Iowa House overwhelmingly passed four bills to expand access to childcare in the state. These bills are part of a legislative package this session to increase childcare workforce, increase provider rates to maintain existing childcare facilities, provide incentives to develop new childcare facilities, and support hard-working families afford the high cost of childcare.

The Childcare bills that passed the House this week do the following:

• House File 2424 passed unanimously to establish a state funded off-ramp program from Childcare Assistance (CCA) that will gradually increase cost-sharing from families as they increase their income. This bill removes the ceiling on Iowan’s ability to be successful. You often hear about the cliff effect in government programs – where individuals are stuck in welfare dependency and the program is limiting their ability to take a raise or promotion. This bill addresses the cliff effect in Childcare Assistance.

• House File 2270 and House File 2271 provide significant rate increases to childcare providers accepting Childcare Assistance. The increase between the two bills amounts to $11 million annually directly to childcare providers covered with federal carryforward funds. Between 2018 and 2019, we saw a reduction of 18 licensed childcare centers, 140 child development homes, and 99 unregistered homes accepting CCA in Iowa. These bills will help maintain current childcare providers.

• House File 2600 establishes a public/private partnership to expand the childcare workforce in the state. This bill will help recruit and retain childcare providers in Iowa by providing matching funds to communities that match the state funds.

Schools and the Coronavirus: What you need to know
The headlines in the media on the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, have certainly gotten everyone’s attention. It’s important to be prepared – much like schools prepare for any respiratory illness such as the flu.
In fact, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that the same precautions used against the flu should be implemented to stem the potential spread of COVID-19.
Here’s a list of precautions:

Encourage students, parents and staff to take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.

• Encourage students and staff to stay home when sick.
• Educate students, parents and staff on the importance of staying home when sick until at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever or signs of a fever without the use of fever-reducing medicine.
• Advise respiratory etiquette among students and staff through education.
• Provide adequate supplies within easy reach, including tissues and no-touch trash cans.
• Encourage students and staff to wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, dry hands with a paper towel and use the paper towel to turn off the faucet. If soap and water are not available and hands are not visibly dirty, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol may be used.
• Create a routine surface cleaning.
To keep up to date on COVID-19, go to the Iowa Department of Public Health’s website.
Ben McDonald
This week I was visited by Ben McDonald from the Iowa Pork Producers to explain the benefits that pork producers are noticing as a result of recent legislation.

Hein Family
Also, on Thursday my family visited me at the capitol to help celebrate the last day of my 5th decade.

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