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As you can see, legislators have a lot on their minds.  The funnel deadline, debating policy bills, candidate filing deadline, $1 billion tax cut plans, and potential budget cuts. This is the time of year when bills can get lost in the shuffle.  

Legislators may lose sight of bills that are not in their committees.  Now is the time to ask your legislators for help in getting those bills across the finish line.  Here's a quick update on some bills that need action before March 16:

  • House File 2295 makes it a crime to lie about being a service animal's owner or trainer.  This bill passed unanimously out of committee but has not yet been brought up for a vote in the House.  Rep. Andy McKean of Anamosa is the floor manager.
  • Senate File 2365, which is ready for debate in the Senate, also addresses assistance animals.  This bill requires landlords to waive lease restrictions for assistance animals, assistive animals, and service dogs, but also makes the owner liable for damage done to property by that animal.  People who misrepresent themselves as needing a service animal, or misrepresent their pet as a service dog or assistance animal, may be fined $100.

  • House File 2345 deals with that age old question - what to do with aging sex offenders? Legislators are again trying to find a way to keep sex offenders out of facilities where older Iowans and Iowans with disabilities live by having DHS and the Department of Corrections work with providers to develop an alternative.  The bill also got the full support of a House committee, but has not been debated by the full House.  The floor manager is Rep. Gary Worthan of Storm Lake.

  • House File 2377 is a little further along, having been passed out of the House unanimously and now in the Senate Human Resources Committee.  This bill came out of an interim on the state's opioid addiction epidemic, and requires health care providers and phamacists to update the Prescription Monitoring Program whenever they prescribe or fill a controlled substance (like an opioid).  Providers would get notification if a patient might be developing an addiction.  The bill also requires all phamacists to send prescriptons to pharmacies electronically begining January 1, 2020.  Sen. Tom Greene of Burlington (a pharmacist) will take the lead on this bill.
  • House File 2428 requires the Department of Human Services to apply for a Medicaid waiver to require Iowa's Medicaid expansion population (those in the Iowa Health & Wellness Plan) to work.  Over 80% of Iowa's Medicaid members are currently employed or in a household where at least one adult is employed.  Advocates say that doesn't matter; when more paperwork is required, there are more chances for people tobe inadvertently dropped from coverage.   These "work requirement" bills are popping up all over the country, after President Trump suggested he would let states move forward with such requirements.  Iowans with disabilities know how hard it can be to find a job, particularly in rural areas, find employers willing to make accommodations, and find reliable transportation to and from work.  It's also tough to break through others' stereotypes, something legislation can't fix.  The bill passed out of the House Human Resources COmmittee and is ready for debate by the full House.  Rep. Steven Holt of Denison is this bill's floor manager.
  • The Senate has its own version of the work requirement bill (Senate File 2370), but it goes much further by requiring reporting of immigration status, public assistance recieved in another state, and drug testing of all adults receiving public assistance.  The background checks and information required to be enrolled in public assistance programs could cause delays, and people are only given 10 days to fix any issues that arise.  The bill requires people to prove they have lived in Iowa for at least one year before receiving public assistance, and requests that DHS ask the federal government for a waiver that will allow them to exclude "low nutrition foods" from food assistance programs. Iowans would be required to work or volunteer a total of at least 20 hours a week, unless they are under age 19, over age 64, pregnant or caring for an infant or child with a disability or serious medical condition, or (and this is a direct quote from the bill) "medically-certified as physically or mentally unfit for employment."  Sen. Jason Schultz of Schleswig is in charge of this bill, which has passed a Senate committee but not the full Senate.
  • If House File 2453 passes, insurance companies would not be able to switch a person's medication if a person's doctor wants them on it, and the person is medically stable.  This "No Switching" bill also passed out of a House committee, but has not yet moved over to the Senate.  Rep. Tom Moore of Griswold is managing this bill.
  • Filling gaps in services around the state for individuals with complex mental health and disability services needs is the focus of House File 2456.  A large work group met over the last year to develop recommendations, and this bill includes almost all of them. This bill is very close to surviving the funnel, it's passed the House unanimously and a Senate subcommittee will meet on it this week.  Read more about this bill in the next article.
  • Senate File 2284 was drafted to fix the late-2017 miscommunications about Integrated Health Homes (IHHs).  Several provider have ended their IHH services or are in the process of making that decision after United MCO announced they would be ending those contracts and doing the work themselves.  DHS, the MCOs, and providers are meeting to address the situation, but Senators wanted to take a stand with this bill that would not allow MCOs to perform the work of IHHs themselves, and would require existing IHH contracts to continue.  That bill got a lot of support in the Senate Human Resources Committee, but it has not yet moved out of the Senate. Sen. Mark Chelgren of Ottumwa is in charge of the bill in the Senate. 
  • Last year's medical cannabidiol law was passed in the very last hour of the legislative session, and one of the biggest hold-ups was the THC limit for cannabidiol (currenlty law says no more than 3%).  THC is the active ingrediant in cannabis that makes a person feel "high."   Senate File 2313 allows the Medical Cannabidiol Board to allow the use of medical cannabidiol that is over 3% THC, and the Department of Public Health to do this by rule.  Currently, only the Legislature can increase the THC levels allowed.  Sen. Rich Taylor of Mt. Pleasant is the lead on this bill.|
  • Senate File 2340 is the only other bill regulating MCOs left alive, and if it doesn't move soon, there will be none.  MCOs would be required to give at least 60 days written (or electronic) notice of changes, require MCOs pay 18% interest on claims that are held up, and require internal reviews of claims be completed within 90 days.  Sen. Mark Chelgren of Ottumwa is in charge of htis bill too.  
There are many other bills you might find of interest, from creating a Dyslexia Task Force to preventing brain injuries with better coach training to addressing suicide in schools with teacher training.  You can find these and more in our bill tracker - and track the status of your priorities as we approach the March 16 deadline - www.infonetiowa.org/news/bill-tracker/.