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Senator Ragan says this year’s Legislative session continues to drag on into overtime

Senator Amanda Ragan

The following is a legislative update from State Senator Amanda Ragan, representing Iowa Senate District 27 which includes portions of Cerro Gordo, Mitchell and Worth counties, as well as Rock Grove and Rockford townships in Floyd County:

As my final session in the state Senate winds down, I’m already starting to miss the wonderful people I work with and work for. My colleagues in the Legislature have my gratitude for the many times they’ve come together to do good things for North Iowa. Most of all, I have appreciated the people of North Iowa for allowing me to serve and represent you. Your visits to the Statehouse and invitations to local events have been a highlight of these last 20 years.


AROUND THE DISTRICT

Disaster assistance following storms

Cerro Gordo and other North Iowa counties are covered under a disaster proclamation following last week’s severe weather.

The proclamation activates the Iowa Individual Assistance Grant Program, which provides up to $5,000 for households with incomes up to 200% of the federal poverty level. Grants are available for home or car repairs, replacement of clothing or food, and temporary housing expenses. Original receipts are required for reimbursement. Find an application and instructions at https://dhs.iowa.gov/disaster-assistance-programs.

The Disaster Case Management Program helps with disaster-related hardship. Disaster case managers help Iowans create a disaster recovery plan and access needed services and resources. For more information, contact your local community action association or visit www.iowacommunityaction.org.

Clarksville receives tourism award

Congratulations to New Day Dairy Guest Barn in Clarksville, which was named Outstanding Rural Lodging Property at the 2022 Iowa Tourism Conference. As tourism recovers, innovative communities, attractions and lodgings are bringing folks back to our area to relax, have fun and learn. Places like the New Day Dairy Guest Barn will keep rural Iowa thriving. I have visited and had a wonderful experience.


SESSION IN OVERTIME WITH NO PROGRESS ON IOWA’S WORKFORCE CRISIS

The 2022 legislative session was officially slated to wrap up April 19. Unfortunately, there’s been no progress on issues Iowans care about most: fixing the Reynolds’ Workforce Crisis, a balanced state budget that invests in critical needs, and ensuring public money for public schools.

My goal is to give skilled workers every reason to make Iowa their home by:

·       Investing in our local public schools so that every student gets the opportunity to prepare for the college or career that’s right for them—not reducing funding to the point where they can’t even keep up with inflation.

·       Supporting workers’ rights and helping small businesses that respect and reward hard work in every field.

·       Approving a timely, balanced state budget that fully funds critical needs throughout the state—not tax breaks for wealthy donors and special interests.

Misplaced priorities cause Statehouse stalemate

Why is it so hard for Republican politicians—who control all branches of state government—to bring the 2022 session to a close?

One sticking point: Gov. Reynolds’ private school voucher bill.

Iowans have made it clear: They don’t want millions of their hard-earned tax dollars diverted from their local schools so 2% of Iowa kids can attend the private school of their choice—with no accountability for how those tax dollars are used.

Representatives in the Iowa House know this. That’s why they’ve refused to take up SF 2369, which Senate Republicans passed in spite of bipartisan opposition.

When it comes to helping all of our students succeed, Iowa already provides a variety of options, including financial support for non-public education. The private school voucher proposal simply goes too far.

If you believe public money is for public schools, please keep speaking up. Contact legislative leaders in the Iowa House and Senate and tell them to end discussion of school vouchers and wrap up the legislative session. You can find their contact information at legis.iowa.gov/legislators/leadership.

Some things get worse as session drags on

The longer session lasts, the more bad initiatives have a chance of becoming law. This week, Senate Republicans passed two bills that do not solve any problems.

Lowering child care standards

Part of Iowa’s workforce crisis is working families struggling with limited child care options. Some can’t find child care they can afford; others can’t find child care at all.

Lowering child care standards is not the answer, but that’s what HF 2198 would do. The bill would allow employees as young as 16 to care for school-aged children unsupervised. Two in three Iowans think that’s a bad idea that could risk the health and safety of our kids, according to a recent Iowa Poll.

HF 2198 would also increase the number of little ones that each child care worker is responsible for. If it becomes law, one child care worker could be responsible for up to seven 2-year-olds, or up to ten 3-year-olds. Packing more kids into a room won’t encourage more Iowans to enter the child care field, and it surely won’t assure parents their children are in a safe, nurturing environment when they leave for work each day.

This bill has returned to the Iowa House for further consideration.


Stripping homeowner rights

Iowa law should treat all homeowners with dignity and respect. Unfortunately, owners of manufactured houses—often known as “mobile homes”—don’t enjoy the same rights as other homeowners. In fact, they have fewer rights than renters in Iowa.

Two years ago, Senate Democrats and Republicans came together on a proposal to stand up for Iowans who’ve worked hard for their piece of the American Dream, and against predatory, out-of-state landlords who take advantage of our Iowa’s unequal protections for manufactured housing residents.

This week, my Republican colleagues turned their backs on those very same Iowans when they passed HF 2562. READ: Mobile home bill less than nothing for homeowners

The bill further limits the rights of manufactured housing owners, increasing the chances they could lose their home in several ways. These include:

·       Giving homeowners much less time to fix potential lease violations, which could get them evicted more quickly.

·       Changing notice requirements for increases in utility rates so that homeowners may not get notice before their bills are due.

·       Allowing an eviction to proceed even if the court cannot hold an eviction hearing within the time set by law.

·       Using a court order to prevent a homeowner from taking possession of their property, even if they’ve paid off an “abandonment” judgment.

·       Requiring the homeowner to give notice if they wish to bid on their mobile home or personal property after it has been declared “abandoned.”

This bill is on its way to the Governor for her signature.


 

Every year, high school students serve as pages at the State Capitol—even I did when I was in high school. I recommend it to any student considering work in government or politics. The experience will give you a firsthand look at the many facets to how ideas become laws. This year’s group of Senate pages were recognized this week for their outstanding work during the 2022 session. I know they’ll all go on to big things. Learn more about becoming a page.


TAKE ACTION TO ENSURE JUSTICE, PROTECT KIDS

SIGN THE PETITION: Tell Iowa lawmakers to pass Senate File 32, and end our state’s civil statute of limitations for child sex abuse.

 

Making this change would give victims the time they need to seek justice from their abusers and the institutions that shield them.

Iowa’s civil statute of limitations laws are ranked “worst in the nation” when it comes to protecting children from serial child rapists. In Iowa, victims of child sexual abuse quickly lose the right to sue for damages. This allows predators to escape the consequences of their behavior and continue victimizing more children.

According to ChildUSAdvocacy, one in five girls and one in 13 boys are sexually assaulted before they turn 18. We can do better by these kids. In 17 states, child victims NEVER lose the right to have their day in court. Other states have changed their laws to provide an opportunity for justice once a victim has matured and is able to confront their abuser.

Iowa needs SF 32 to stop abusers and punish the institutions that protect them. Click here to sign the petition.

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