Minute with Mike, Week 16

By: 
Mike Sexton
State Representative, 10th District

From My Desk

Spring has sprung, and with it, new life. The sun is shining, the trees are leafed out, and the flowers and fruit trees are in full bloom. Tractors and planters are in constant motion and every farmer is in the field.

I love this time of year, yet it comes with its struggles. I feel the urgency to be in the field and to care for my sheep as lambing is in full swing, yet I’m commuting almost daily, splitting my time between the farm and the House Chamber.

It looks like we will still be meeting most of next week.

 

HF 848 – Broadband Expansion Bill signed into Law

This week, Gov. Reynolds signed House File 848 into law, creating a massive broadband expansion plan. This bill sets a framework for aggressively building out Iowa’s broadband infrastructure. The Legislature has also passed a bill allocating $100 million in funding for the program in Fiscal Year 2022.

As more people continue to work remotely and telehealth capabilities continues to expand, what was once seen as a luxury has now become a necessity. The Iowa House has made it a priority to not just increase broadband speeds, but make sure Iowans in “broadband deserts” get connected to broadband internet.

Much-needed broadband expansion has been a priority for Iowans all across the state and this session, Iowa House Republicans have delivered.

 

HF 889 – Iowa House passes ban on vaccine passports

This week, Iowa House Republicans passed House File 889, a bill to ban vaccine passports in Iowa. The bill prohibits state and local governments from issuing any sort of identification card that identifies a person’s COVID-19 vaccination status.

The bill also states that businesses that require proof of vaccination from customers, clients or others will become ineligible for state contracts or grants, while allowing exceptions for health and long-term care facilities.

Iowans have been loud and clear on this issue. They want their medical freedoms protected and their health care information to remain private. This legislation will help protect Iowans’ freedom to make the health care decision that is best for them.

 

Iowa House Health and Human Services Budget Bill

This week, the Iowa House Appropriations Committee passed our Health and Human Services Budget bill for Fiscal Year 2022. The budget prioritizes child care, mental health services, telehealth, nursing homes and more.

· Child Care – This budget increases child care rates by $13.4 million and includes language to fix the child care cliff effect by creating an “off ramp” from Child Care Assistance program. This will allow parents to grow in their career without losing their child care assistance entirely, all at once.

· Telehealth -The budget proposal also includes language previously passed by the House but stalled in the Senate to require health insurers to reimburse for mental health services provided through telehealth at the same rate as services provided in-person. This will be a huge help to all Iowans, especially those in our rural communities.

· Mental Health - The budget makes a significant investment into mental health services by including $33.5 million in rate increases for mental health providers and families through Medicaid, including significant increases for children’s mental health services, home-based habilitation, rural physiatrists and more. ·

Additional highlights include:

o $52.7 million nursing home increase – Iowa’s 444 nursing homes have worked tirelessly throughout the public health emergency to protect their vulnerable residents.

o Funds an additional 32 FTEs to DHS field operations in this current fiscal year and adds another 53 FTEs over the next two years to protect children when there is a suspicion of child abuse.

o Fund $425,000 to a health care entity in a rural area that is willing to collaborate with other local health care providers to provide a need health service in the area, like OB.

o Fully fund Glenwood Resource Center at the Governor’s recommendation.

 

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Please let me know what you are thinking! Feel free to contact me at my legislative email at mike.sexton@legis.iowa.gov.

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