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Senator Amanda Ragan touts help for college students, bipartisan bills

Senator Amanda Ragan

The following is a legislative update from State Senator Amanda Ragan, representing portions of Franklin, Butler and Cerro Gordo counties:

Students of all ages have had a challenging time the last 13 months, attempting to learn in new ways and under changing circumstances. Fortunately, the American Rescue Plan is sending help.

College students across Iowa will benefit from its financial support for higher education. The Plan includes $36 billion for public and private colleges and universities nationwide.

The funding will help implement safety protocols, distance learning programs and emergency financial assistance for students whose education was sidetracked when the pandemic hit. In addition, there is increased support for such student services as mental health and social and emotional learning. Colleges and universities can use remaining funds to replace lost revenue and cover emergency expenses.

Under the American Rescue Plan, Iowa is getting more than $363 million in higher education funding. Half of that—close to $182 million—will go directly to students. Students may use the money to cover their financial losses and unforeseen expenses due to the pandemic.

As the Legislature works on next year’s budget for our state universities, community colleges and private colleges, I hope we’ll show that Iowa is also committed to investing in students and their future.

I am encouraged that the Education Appropriations bill before the Senate (SF 596<>) meets the financial needs of our community colleges, which do so much to prepare a skilled workforce. However, I’m concerned that the budget provides no additional money for our state universities, which offer a world-class education to Iowa students and drive growth in every sector of our economy.

More bipartisan bills pass to protect Iowans

ABLE Trust Accounts
HF 835<> expands funding opportunities for ABLE Trust Accounts and ensures the resources are used according to the beneficiary’s wishes. ABLE stands for Achieving a Better Life Experience. Individuals and families can contribute to these tax-exempt savings accounts, which help Iowans living with disabilities pay for expenses that enhance their health, independence and quality of life.

Financial exploitation of vulnerable adults
HF 839<> aims to crack down on financial exploitation of Iowans 65 or older and dependent adults 18 or older who are unable to protect their own interests. Funding in the Administration and Regulation Budget (HF 867<>) will help identify, investigate and report financial exploitation, with the goal of better protecting the financial security of vulnerable Iowans.

Concealing a death
HF 282<> targets those who attempt to hide a death by increasing the criminal penalty for “abuse of a corpse” to a “C” felony. A “C” felony is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $1,375 to $13,660. Abuse of a corpse occurs when a person attempts to conceal a crime by disguising, hiding or burying a human corpse.

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