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Funnel Highlights

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Clean-up after a funnel deadline is like clean-up after a funnel cloud - there is a lot of scattered debries and it takes some time to pick through all the pieces to find out what can be saved.  We hope to have our online Bill Tracker caught up and current by the end of next week, so please be patient with us as we work to make sure our list is accurate and complete.  

We have a new feature in our Bill Tracker this year - at any time you can go back and look at the "dead bills" that didn't make it through the funnel deadline.  Simply select "inactive" and you'll get a list of those bills that didn't make the cut this year.  Click here to go to our Bill Tracker.

We know you may be getting tired of all the MH/DS Redesign coverage. While redesign definitely has the most potential to impact the lives of Iowans with disabilities, we did want to highlight a few other bills that may be of interest:

  • Anti-Bullying (HSB 196) – Recent bullying incidents have caused lawmakers to close gaps in Iowa's anti-bullying laws.  This bill does that by adding harrassment by electronic means (social networking, internet sites, emails) to the definition of bullying, and including all school property in anti-bullying zones (so that bullying that goes on at football games, in school buses and in school parking lots can be addressed).  Right now, the only bullying teachers can address are inside school buildings.  The bill also requires school districts to report bullying and any training offered to students and staff annually.  The bill survived the funnel and will be managed by Rep. Josh Byrnes of Osage. It will be ready for floor debate as soon as it is redrafted as a committee bill (so it'll get a new House File number soon).
     
  • Consumer Choice in Residential Programs (HSB 119 & SF 351) – Right now, up to five people with intellecual disabilities can live together in a residential program paid for by the Medicaid ID waiver.  However, some people with intellectual disabilities want the option of living with people whose services are paid for by other Medicaid waivers.  This bill gives them that choice by waiving that limitation - but the five-person cap remains in place. HSB 119 will get a new House File (HF) number before it can be debated. Rep. Rob Bacon of Maxwell and Sen. Joe Bolkcom of Iowa City will lead the debate on the bills (they are called "floor managers").   
     
  • Voter ID (HSB 23)- Iowa's Secretary of State campaigned on the need to prevent voter fraud by requiring Iowans to show government-issued photo IDs in order to vote.  This bill requires such ID, and requires the Iowa Department of Transportation to issue free voter ID cards to those without driver's licenses.  The bill will get a new HF number before being debated.  The Iowa Senate says the bill is "dead on arrival" if it comes over, so prospects aren't good.  Rep. Dawn Pettengill of Mt. Auburn is the bill's floor manager.

  •  Fuel Pump Accessibility (SF 235) - The House version of this bill died in the funnel, and the Senate version was amended significantly before passing out of the Senate Agriculture Committee this week, keeping it alive for at least another four weeks.  The bill had required a large call button be installed near one pump at the gas station, which could be reached from inside a person's vehicle, and can be pushed with a closed hand.  That language was removed after legislators expressed concern about the estimated $500 cost of adding the buttons (even though small businesses would be able to offset those costs with a tax credit).  The amended bill calls for a sign to be posted on or near the accessible pump, listing the hours an employee is available for assistance and giving them the option of calling the site or honking their horn (an option that some advocates say is unacceptable because it calls attention to the person with a disability, and could make them feel vulnerable).   The amended bill also requires the International Symbol of Access sign (blue sign with picture of white wheelchair) to be posted on the roadway sign listing the accessible pump's site name and gas prices.  Finally, the amendment added a $250 fine for sites without an accessible pump, or not following sign requirements.  The addition of this fine likely makes the bill funnel-proof, as it will need to go through the Senate Ways & Means Committee before it can be debated by the full Senate.  If that happens, it can be debated at any time during the session.  As in the previous version of the bill, the Iowa Department of Agriculture, as part of their annual inspection of gas pumps. will check to make sure at least one pump at each site is accessible per the ADA regulations, and that the appropriate sign requirements are met.  Sen. Tod Bowman of Maquoketa will manage the bill when it comes to the floor for debate (and it will be getting a new SF number).

  • Accessible Parking Passes (HF 493) - This bill, being managed by Rep. Bobby Kaufmann of Wilton, increases the penalties for a person who fails to return an accessible parking permit, and subsequently misuses it. 
  •  Brain Injury Funding for Veterans (HF 348) - This bill allows money in the Veterans Trust Fund to be used for screening and treating veterans with military service-connected traumatic brain injuries.  Rep. Dwayne Alons of Hull, the bill's sponsor and floor manager, is a veteran. 

  • Sex Offenders in Nursing Homes (HF 53) - The bipartisan sponsors of this bill (Rep. Joel Fry of Osceola and Rep. Bruce Hunter of Des Moines) continue to work out the details of this bill, which they started working on three years ago.  The bill made it out of committee before the funnel deadline, and will get a new number, but both legislators say it still needs work and they welcome input.  The bill addresses the placement of elderly sex offenders in nursing facilities. Before admitting a sex offender, a facility must access and search the sex offender registry to determine if the potential resident is a sex offender. The facility has to develop and implement a written safety plan for the sex offender. The plan has to include consideration for the safety of other residents. The facility can get a civil penalty for non-compliance. The facility can also discharge the sex offender based only on their status as a sex offender, and DHS is to find a placement option for them.

  • Mental Health Advocates (SSB 1192) - This bill moves the responsibility for hiring and overseeing mental health advocates from counties to the Department of Inspections and Appeals (a move which makes them state employees).  The bill also requires a person who is being involuntarily committed for substance use or mental illness be informed of their right to have a pre-application screening to determine the need for the commitment.  The bill makes many other administrative changes, but also requires DHS to develop a bed tracking system so that courts and law enforcement officers can have acccess to real-time data on the availability of hospitalization beds (and not have to spend all their time calling around for placements).  The bill is safe from the funnel, will get a new SF number, and is being managed by Sen. Rob Hogg of Cedar Rapids.  It is likely the bill will continue to be worked on, as the House killed their version of the bill this week.

 On a final note - the bill that created a career path for Direct Care Professionals, including training requirements and licensure, died in the funnel.  Senate File 232 didn't get assigned a subcommittee until seven working days before the funnel making it difficult for a complex bill like this to emerge from committee.  It is unlikely to get up enough steam to pass this year, but look for renewed advocacy to move the bill next year.