The following is a Legislative update from Rep. Sharon Steckman of Mason City:
This has been a rather strange week, mostly due to weather conditions. The Legislature never meets on MLK Day, but luckily I had decided to drive back to Des Moines on Monday. Freezing rain kept many people from the Statehouse on Tuesday so it was a good day to play catch up. We were back to full strength on Wednesday although many groups cancelled their planned “Day on the Hill”. I was not able to meet very many constituents and groups; hence – not as many pictures in this newsletter.
I want to provide you with links to two speeches I heard last week:
Chief Justice Mark Cady , who said, “Some people need incarceration; many people just need help.” I think you would find his remarks informative and inspiring.
Major General Orr , who spoke about the Condition of Iowa’s National Guard. He highlighted the good work that many Guardsmen/women do on their own within their communities. I found his story about the “Etch-a-Sketch Man” who highlights the names of kids who have succumbed to cancer to be particularly touching.
I am extremely concerned by reports that some of our citizens are disproportionally impacted by Medicaid privatization. This population includes the chronically ill, aged and disabled. Many have been denied critical services and equipment; are being kicked out of their current living arrangements because of reimbursement issues; or have had to switch case managers with whom they had a history and who understood their complex needs best. I plan to support a bill that that will move these vulnerable Iowans out of managed care due to these problems and because the costs under privatization have risen dramatically. We will see if it will be advanced or will die in committee. I am hopeful that the Majority Party will see the urgent need for this bill.
Other news: A new report out this week found that fewer Iowans are attending community colleges as tuition continues to rise. This creates a danger to the state in striving to educate a skilled work force.
The Majority party shut down an election contest hearing this week without allowing testimony from 29 Iowans who validly cast absentee ballots on time, but still have not had their vote counted by the county auditor. These citizens followed all of the rules but are being disenfranchised. This will probably come to a vote in the House next week and I will report the outcome at that time.
An Iowa board is considering another expansion of the cannabinol law to allow treatment for severe Intractable autism in kids.
If you attended our forum last Saturday, Senator Ragan and I thank you for your comments and input.