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Rep. Linda Upmeyer says Legislature ready to work for Iowans


This news story was published on January 20, 2019.
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Linda Upmeyer

The following is a legislative update from Representative Linda Upmeyer of Clear Lake:

The 2019 legislative session has officially gaveled in for the year and members are ready to get to work on behalf of Iowans. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve those of you in Butler, Cerro Gordo, and Franklin counties in the Iowa House. It is privilege to represent you and a responsibility that I take seriously.

The first week of session was largely ceremonial and filled with speeches from legislative leaders, the Governor, the Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court, and the Adjutant General of the Iowa National Guard.

Among the priority issues that will be discussed this session include:

– Revitalizing Iowa’s rural communities
– Strengthening Iowa’s schools and workforce
– Addressing Iowa’s health care needs like mental health and Medicaid

I am really looking forward to getting to work on these bipartisan topics as the session gets underway which is why I spoke about them in my opening day speech. Below are the remarks I delivered to members of the Iowa House on the first day of session:
Good morning and welcome back to the Iowa House of Representatives. The first day of session is always something I look forward to. It is a day full of optimism and enthusiasm, surrounded by family and friends.

I am thankful to my husband, Doug, for being so supportive while I am away from home, serving in Des Moines. Sara and Chad… I also want to thank you for being here and for bringing Cooper and Claire to share in today’s events. It means so much to have my family’s support.

This year we are welcoming 22 brand new legislators. And with fresh faces come fresh ideas. I am excited to hear what you have learned from your districts as you met on doorsteps, at the local coffee shops, or at the grocery store.

I also hope you all had some time to catch your breath and relax in the time since the elections concluded. The legislative session will keep us very busy.

Over the summer, I had an opportunity to visit the Reagan Library and learn more about a man who I have always admired. President Reagan was a tremendous leader, and much of that could be attributed to the ways he was able to communicate the positive ideals and vision of America to its people. He believed in the limitless potential of the people of this great country.

As I walked through the halls of the library, I saw one of my favorite quotes from President Reagan… “There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.” This is something that would serve us well as we do our work.

During my time in the Iowa House, legislators have come and gone and issues have varied. I have been a part of divided government, as well as one-party control under both Republicans and Democrats. However, during all these changes, one thing has remained constant… After the election, no matter who is in charge, Iowans expect us to move beyond the partisan gamesmanship and govern.

We have listened to Iowans, heard their priorities, and now, it is time to act.

An issue that comes up consistently is the topic of health care.

Last session, I was proud to see Republicans and Democrats come together and pass a landmark mental health bill that will help Iowans access treatment in their home communities and near their loved ones. Now that we have made progress in the adult mental health system, let’s see what we can do for our young people.

I want to thank Governor Reynolds for bringing together mental health professionals and advocates to identify opportunities for improvement.

Representatives Lundgren and Fry have already begun reviewing these ideas and we look forward to working together to find solutions.

Additionally, we must continue to make the Medicaid system work better for the vulnerable Iowans served by the program as well as those who provide necessary services. Managed care is a strategy that more than 40 other states have used for years to improve health outcomes , create stability, and ensure sustainability of the program. There is no reason that we can’t be successful as well.

We passed strong oversight and accountability, and it is written into the contracts.

It is time we accept that we cannot go back to the old system, that managed care is here to stay, and we must move forward focused on improvement, outcomes, and success.

It must also be a priority to ensure Iowa’s kids are ready for college or a career after graduation. Iowa families want a first-class education system because they know that a great education is the key to a great life.

Funding for education has increased 765 million dollars since 2011. That is significant and we are proud of these historic investments in Iowa’s future. But we must be vigilant to ensure that those dollars are making their way into the classroom and being spent in a transparent and accountable way.

We must continue to provide flexibility to our schools, empowering them to make decisions that fit their communities and their schools.

And it’s not just families. Iowa’s employers are depending on our schools to prepare the next generation of skilled workers. We have already seen amazing buy-in from our K-12s, community colleges, and business community to provide students with first-hand, real-world job experience. Let’s continue building on these efforts.

I am also excited to focus on ways we can revitalize rural Iowa.

How many of you have had a conversation with a rural employer who says they can’t hire because there simply are not enough homes available for new employees?

How many of you have talked with a young Iowan who loves their small town but doesn’t see enough opportunity to stay?

How many of you have heard from entrepreneurs that they can’t start a business in our small towns because they lack access to the high-speed internet that is necessary in today’s economy?

Maybe it’s an employee who has the ability to telecommute and work from home but is hampered by unreliable internet speeds.

Development and growth should not be limited to Iowa’s largest cities and counties.

Whether it is expansion of broadband, more opportunities for affordable housing, or encouraging investment in small businesses, we must be intentional in our efforts to push more opportunities to rural Iowa.

Our rural communities are not merely a part of our past, they are the foundation of our future.

As we convene this 88th Iowa General Assembly, remember that you are here to make a difference and better our state for the people we serve.

As Speaker of this chamber, my commitment is to be fair, be honest with you, and ensure that this body functions efficiently and in a transparent manner.

In return, I expect the body to do its work in a respectful and civil way.

We will have our disagreements, but at the end of the day, we are all here to serve our constituents.

Representative Hagenow, Representative Prichard, members of the Iowa House… let’s get to work.

With the 2019 session underway, please feel free to reach out and share your thoughts on legislation or let me know if you need assistance dealing with a state agency or department. I can be reached by email at Linda.Upmeyer@legis.iowa.gov or by phone at (515) 281-3521.

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