INFONET 2021: Issue #9
Issue 9, 07-05-2021
Articles in This Issue:
- 2021 Recap: New Laws & New Fiscal Year
- Election Changes & Iowans with Disabilities
- FEDERAL FOCUS: Infrastructure Opportunities
- Make Your Mark 2021 Conference: Registration Open!
- SAVE THE DATE: Iowa Summit on Disability Employment
- Host a Town Hall This Year or Next (Virtual or In Person)
- Final 2021 Bill Status
2021 Recap: New Laws & New Fiscal Year
July 1 is a pretty big day in state government. It is the start of a new fiscal year, the term we use for the start and end of a state budget year. While many Iowans plan their budgets around a calendar year (January to December), state government plans its budget around a fiscal year (July 1 to June 30). The budgets passed by legislators in the 2021 session started on July 1. Here are a few highlights of what's in this new fiscal year budget:
- Home and community based services (HCBS) and habilitation providers will be paid more for the services they provide. The Legislature gave Medicaid $18 million more this year to increase these provider rates.
- Psychiatric Medical Institutions for Children (PMIC) will get a 28% boost in their reimbursement rates; an extra $3.9 million was given to Medicaid to help increase payment to these providers.
- In May, there were 1,129 children on the waiting list for HCBS children's mental health waiver. Legislators added a little over $1 mililon to get services to more of these children (and reduce - or eliminate - the waiting list).
- Home health providers also get a bump in reimbursement - $2 million fo new money will increase their rates.
- While psychiatrists are in high demand in urban areas, they are really tough to find in rural Iowa. Legislators added $200,000 to this year's budget to add two more rural psychiatrist residencies in rural Iowa (six total).
- Vocational rehabilitation, which helps people with disabilities overcome barriers to employment, will be able to access more federal funds with the additional $300,000 it receives this year.
- Area Education Associations (AEAs) got an extra $2.6 million to improve access to school-based mental health services ($1 million) and address classroom behavior issues with therapeutic classrooms ($1.6 million).
- Iowa made a big investment to make sure the entire state has access to high speed (broadband) Internet services. The Legislature put up $100 million to start the expansion, and the Governor kicked in another $50 million in federal COVID recovery funds. The total bill for this is around $500 million, so there will need to be more spending in this area over the next few years.
- The courts got $700,000 to make sure ASL interpretation is available to people who find themselves in court.
- The state's regional mental health and disabiity services (MH/DS) system is now on its way to being entirely state-funded. Counties lower their property tax levies this year and that state is picking up $60 million (half) of the system costs beginning July 1. Next July 1 (2022), the state will be paying for the entire system, with funds going out on a per person (called "per capita") basis.
- Iowa Medicaid will review administrative rules, state laws and federal policies to make sure pediatric health services provided to Medicaid-eligible children are consistent with the EPSDT (Early Periodic Screening Diagnosis Treatment) Program, including occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech-language pathology, and applied behavior analysis. The report, which is due October 1, 2021, is to make recommendations to ensure this consistency. This item was updated on 7/7/2021; previously it stated that Medicaid would cover these services if delivered via telehealth).
July 1 also marks the day when most of Iowa's laws go into effect. In fact, 153 out of the 183 passsed this year went into effect on July 1. Here's a quick look at a few of these new laws:
- Iowans with disabiities can now move money currently in a Supplemental Needs Trust or Special Needs Trust to a more flexible ABLE savings account. ABLE accounts are available through the State Treasurer and funds in them are protected from most estate recovery efforts. You can learn more about these accounts at iable.gov.
- Private insurance will now have to pay equally for mental health services delivered in person or by video (telehealth). Even though Internet capable of doing telehealth is not yet in all parts of Iowa, Senators refused to require insurers pay equally for services delivered over the telephone with no video (aka "audio only").
- Schools and government agencies will have to be careful about what they say in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) trainings and history classes. They will have to steer clear of divisive topics like saying America is a racist or sexist country, or that America's institutions are biased against people of color. Many legislators this year said they do not think "critical race theory" should be taught in classrooms (this is a theory that says that the idea of "race" was constructed to oppress and exploit non-White people).
- Iowans no longer need a permit to buy or carry a gun, but licensed gun dealers still need to do a federal background check before selling one. But background checks are not required for private sales (like gun shows).
- Police officers now have qualified immunity (meaning they are protected from lawsuits that say they violated a person's rights). Protesters beware - there are now big penalties for "unlawful protests" where peaceful resistance turns to property damage (and some say peaceful protesters could get caught up in the arrests). This so-called "Back the Blue" bill was controversial because it came right after the Black Lives Matter protests.
- People who were sexually assaulted as children now have as much time as they need to ask for justice. Survivors of childhood sexual assault only had until they turned 28 to go to police about their abuse, after that the police could not file charges. That changed on July 1 with the removal of that window; criminal charges can be filed at any time there is enough evidence to convict a person. Unfortunately, the civil statute of limitations is still in place (the time period that a person has to sue the person that abused them).
- Failing to call 911 when a person is in danger is now a crime, and leaving the scene of a serious accident (where somee is injured) is now a felony.
- Parents can now teach their kids to drive - they do not need to pay big bucks for a driver's education teacher to do it. Before, only parents who home-schooled their kids could avoid the required class.
- Parents needing child care got some help this year. Working parents earning up to $90,000 annually now can use the child care tax credit on their state taxes (before you could only earn up to $45,000 annually). Parents already getting state child care assistance will now be able to transition off the program as they start earning more money (before there was a hard cut-off once a person reached that income limit). This also applies to parents receiving special education child care assistance, which allows for families earning between 225% - 275% of the federal poverty limit to gradually transition out of the program as they earn more money.
- With many families struggling to work at home during the pandemic, unregistered home-based child care providers can now have six children in the home if at least one is school-aged (before the limit was five). While this fixes an issue in-home childcare providers had during the pandemic, this change is permanent.
- Charter schools that have state (not local) oversight are now allowed in Iowa, and those schools have the freedom to design classrooms in ways they think will be best for their students. That means they may not have to do things required of public schools, which may be concerning to some families whose children have special needs.
- Iowans can now get alcohol delivered to their homes through third-party delivery services like Uber Eats, Grubhub, and DoorDash. Iowans liked that they could get to-go drinks from restaurants during the pandemic, and it looks like legislators listened to them.
- It's now a crime to use synthetic (fake) urine to pass a drug test. You might get a fine - or the courts can send you to required substance use evaluation and treatment.
You can see all the bills we tracked for our readers this year here. It is very imporant to note that the bills that didn't make it through the process this year can still be worked on during the next legislative session that begins on January 10, 2022. The session next year will last about 100 days, ending sometime in mid-April.
Legislators will be returning to the State Capitol in August to approve new Congressional and legislative district maps using the population data they get from the 2020 Census. This is done every 10 years, and Iowa's redistricting process is considered the best in the country.
If you have questions about what happend this year, what didn't happen and why,
or just want some help figuring out how to get an issue you care about addressed next year,
JOIN US for our next CAPITOL CHAT.
Friday, July 9th | 11 AM
Election Changes & Iowans with Disabilities
Iowans with disabilities have always faced challenges when it comes to voting. Iowa's secretary of states have always worked hard to make sure those barriers are addressed, and that continues to be the case. Unfortunately, there were some major changes to Iowa election law that could make voting harder. We will spend more time over the summer and fall getting you ready for these changes, which will affect how you vote in 2022 when Iowans will vote for Governor, US Senator, US Representatives, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Secretary of Agriculture, State Auditor, State Treasurer, and state legislators.
We will provide you with more guidance on this later, but here is a quick look at the biggest changes and how they may affect you:
- Only you, your immediate family, someone you live with, or a caregiver can mail or drop off your absentee (mail-in) ballot. Legislators added a new crime - unlawful delivery of a ballot. You cannot have a friend, neighbor, or campaign volunteer mail your ballot, put it in a ballot dropbox, or bring your ballot. You can have a friend, neighbor or someone you trust fill out a form that designates them as your delivery person if you have a physical disability or are blind (the law identifies only these two disabilities). That delivery person will only be able to deliver the ballot to the county auditor, and they'll have to present their ID and delivery form when doing so.
These changes limit the people you can have deliver or mail your ballot. For those that live alone or do not have family nearby, this means you'll have to take it to the post office or county courthouse yourself.
- You will now have a shorter time to request and vote a mail-in ballot. Several changes made will make it really tough to make sure your vote is counted if voting by mail at home. There is less time to request it, so you'll have to send in your request quickly. There is less time to vote the mail-in ballot and get it into the mail, so you'll want to make sure you have someone available to help you vote the ballot quickly if you need assistance in making your mark. Finally, ballots need to be received by the end of election day. Post marks no longer count, so you'll want to make sure you get it into the mail and have enough time for it to be delivered (or deliver it to the courthouse yourself before election day).
These changes mean if you want to vote early by mail, you probably need to put all the deadlines in your calendar so you don't miss them. You will want to make sure someone is available to hep you, or you might consider voting early at a satellite voting station so you don't need to worry about the mail. Voting on election day is still a great option, but snow, illness, or lack of reliable transportation may impact your ability to depend on that.
Voting early is still a great option but these changes mean you will probably have to rethink your choices and plan accordingly. Don't worry - we're here to help and will get you more information this summer and fall.
FEDERAL FOCUS: Infrastructure Opportunities
Your federal elected officials have been working hard for you in Washington D.C. Right now Congress (your federal legislature) is working on an infrastructure deal to help the country recover from the pandemic. Lots of people are still out of work, behind on rent or house payments, and struggling to pay expenses. We want you to understand what is being talked about in Congress, how those discussions may impact the disability community, and why your members of Congress need to hear your voice now.
What is being considered? Congress has been considering many ideas about how to help our country recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Plans proposed have included:
- The American Jobs Plan
- The American Family Plan
- The Republican Road Map
Many of these ideas have been discussed using the term infrastructure. Infrastructure means the buildings, roads, bridges, power lines, and other things our country needs to work every day. It can also include systems that make our country work, like schools, healthcare, and other government services. Internet service is now also considered a part of "infrastructure."
While Congress is controlled by Democrats, the Senate is basically deadlocked with 50 Republicans and a coalition of 50 Democrats and Independents who regularly vote with Democrats. That means the Vice President is the tie-breaking vote. Senate Democrats need to convince 10 Republicans to vote with them in order to stop debate on any bill and move immediately to a vote. Senators can filibuster a bill; that is they talk about anything they want for days on end, without stop, to make it impossible to bring a bill up for a vote.
President Biden and House and Senate Democrats and Republicans have been meeting and negotiating what ideas can be passed with bipartisan support. Bipartisan is when people of both political parties (Democratic and Republican) work together on a law. Announcements were made the week of June 21st about a bipartisan deal on infrastructure, but that agreement was just an outline of what they want to do, not the details. As the saying goes, the devil is in the details. We do not yet have legislative language for the bipartisan infrastructure act, but the framework included:
- $109 billion to repair and rebuild roads and bridges
- $49 billion for public transit
Disability advocates continue to push for the All Stations Accessibility Program (ASAP) Act of 2021 (S.1680, H.R.3317) to be a part of this investment. This bill would help make public transportation systems more accessible to passengers with disabilities by providing funding to upgrade existing public transportation and commuter rail stations to meet or exceed accessibility standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
- $7.5 billion to build a national network of electric vehicle (EV) chargers along highways and in rural and disadvantaged communities.
- $7.5 billion to electrify thousands of school and transit buses across the country.
- $65 billion to connect every American to reliable high-speed internet.
- $55 billion to eliminate the nation's lead service lines and pipes to deliver clean drinking water to up to 10 millionfamilies and more than 400,000 schools and childcare facilities that currently don't have it.When discussing this deal, Democratic Congressional leaders also shared their plan to move other ideas forward through a budget reconciliation measure.
Some of the ideas for recovery will now become part of the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Parts of President Biden's American Jobs Plan and American Family Plan that are not included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework continue to move in a budget reconciliation process, a process that will require a majority in the house and a majority (but not 60 votes) in the Senate. Budget Reconciliation is a tool that makes legislation easier to pass in the Senate; a reconciliation bill only needs a simple majority (51) in the Senate, but must be tied to spending.
What disability priorities are likely to be included? A $400 billion investment in Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) proposed by President Biden in his American Jobs Plan is the largest priority of the disability community that was included in proposals. We now know that this priority will move forward as part of budget reconciliation. The Better Care Better Jobs Act (S.2210, H.R.4131) is the legislative language to pass this historic investment in HCBS and is expected to be included in the budget reconciliation.
Where is my voice needed? The most critical need is for education and advocacy around Home and Community Based Services. All Members of Congress need to hear over and over how important the $400 billion investment is to their constituents. Constituents are the people that a Member of Congress represents.
What are the actions I can take? It is important that every member of Congress hear from the people they represent and understand the importance of the Better Care Better Jobs Act (S.2210, H.R.4131). It is true that this will move in a partisan manner (with only Democratic votes), but the issues related to HCBS and Medicaid will be important to all Members of Congress going forward and education on this issue is needed.o
- Reach out to US Senators Joni Ernst & Charles Grassley and share why HCBS are important and offer to answer any questions about the importance of these services to you.
- Ask them what policies they are supporting to meet the needs of people with disabilities.
- Remember that while they are unlikely to support this bill (because they are Republicans) they will be engaged in many disability issues this Congress.
- Both Senators are very supportive of community supports for people with disabilities, but they may not agree on the way it is being done in these bills.
- Make sure you thank them for their time and for listening to you; former staffers will tell you that being polite scores points.
- Reach out to your US Representative (you will be represented by either Cindy Axne, Randy Feenstra, Ashley Hinson, or Mariannette Miller-Meeks). You can find out which of these is your US Representative here.
- If your Representative is Cindy Axne:
- Reach out and share why HCBS is important, ask her to sponsor the Better Care Better Jobs Act (H.R. 4131).
- Offer to answer any questions as they consider becoming a co-sponsor.
- Cosponsorships are important - the larger the number, the more likely you will get all 50 Democrats to support it.
- As noted above, be nice and thank them for their time and consideration!
- If your Representative is Rndy Feenstra, Ashley Hinson, or Mariannette Miller-Meeks:
- Reach out and share why HCBS is important and offer to answer any questions s/he has about its impact in your state.
- Ask them what policies they are supporting to meet the needs of people with disabilities.
- Remember that while they are unlikely to support this bill, they will be engaged in many disability issues this Congress.
- As noted above, be nice and thank them for their time and consideration!
- You can contact your elected official easily from our Action Center! You don't need to look up who your Congress person is, just add your address. Get started here.
Extra ways to make an impact:
- Use social media to raise the importance of this legislation.
- Use #BetterCareBetterJobs
- Share a personal story.
Members of Congress and their staff from every state need to understand what HCBS means to people in their state. We are collecting and sharing these stories with Iowa's elected officials as well. Take the extra step and share your story about home and community based services and why they are important to you by emailing Bill Kallestad (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Amy Campbell (email@example.com)
- Short is best (3-5 sentences).
- A picture helps.
- Stories can come from people with disabilities, family members, allies, and professionals working in these systems.
What is the timeline? Congress will return to Washington on Monday, July 9 (most elected officials went back to their home states for the 4th of July recess). It is expected that the work on both bipartisan infrastructure and budget reconciliation bills will pick up speed when they return, since they are trying to get everything done before the federal fiscal year ends on September 30. (Yes, the Federal government has a different budget year than the state and it is also not on a calendar year. The Federal Fiscal Year runs October 1 through September 30). This gives you and others in the disability community 12 weeks to educate and advocate around these (and your) priorities.
Make Your Mark 2021 Conference: Registration Open!
The Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council and its Iowans with Disabilities in Action network are excited to announce their 2021 Make Your Mark! Conference is now open for registrations! If you want to attend this exciting, engaging, informative and fun conference, register by August 13 to reserve your spot.
September 15, 2021—September 16, 2021
Join us for the 2021 Iowans with Disabilities in Action
Make Your Mark! Conference.
This year’s conference will feature sessions focused on how you can be a game changer in your community and in everyday life. You can see the full list of speakers here.
We are excited to be able to offer FREE registration for individuals with disabilities, family members and direct care support professionals accompanying a participant! The first 150 people to register will receive a FREE conference T-shirt. Attendance will be limited to the first 150 people to register. So don't wait!
SAVE THE DATE: Iowa Summit on Disability Employment
Senator Tom Harkin and Drake University's Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement are pleased to invite you to the Iowa Summit on Disability Employment, a gathering of Iowa business leaders, human resources experts and disability service providers, to discuss how employees with disabilities are essential to addressing the state’s workforce challenges, including hiring, engagement and retention. The Iowa Developmental Disabiliities Council is one of the sponsors of this important event.
The Iowa Summit is a chance to learn how businesses can tap into this robust and qualified talent pipeline, build an inclusive workplace culture and accelerate inclusive leadership to realize organizational value. S ince 2016, the annual Harkin International Disability Employment Summit has gathered high-level business representatives with leaders from other sectors from around the world who share the common goal of increasing competitive employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Learn more about the Harkin Summit on our website, harkinsummit.org.
The Iowa Summit will take place August 19, 2021 ($199/person)
This hybrid event will offer opportunities to attend in person and online. Appropriate health and safety guidelines will be followed.
CEU recreditation hours are available through the Society for Human Resource Management and the Human Resource Certification Institute.
Host a Town Hall This Year or Next (Virtual or In Person)
The Iowa DD Council wants to help you hold a virtual or in-person townhall meeting in your area! In years past, the Iowa DD Council has helped Iowans with disabilities host their own Capitol Days in Des Moines. Even before COVID-19 shut in-person advocacy down, the DD Council was changing with the times and was making their advocay local! So take advantage of their help and grants to help plan your own in-person or virtual (or combination) advocacy event with your local legislators.
Summer and Fall are great times to meet with your elected officials. They have more time, and they are not spending their days and weeks in Des Moines. Let us help you host a townhall with your legislators (or members of Congress) this summer or fall, or plan ahead for 2022!
For more information firstname.lastname@example.org.
Final 2021 Bill Status
The infoNET Bill Tracker is updated with final status of bills. Below is a brief description of the bills that passed and made it into law. You can go to the bill tracker for more details, and links to more information on budgets. Following the bills that were passed is a list of bills that will be held over until the 2022 legislative session. Legislators can bring these bills back up (so if you want to see one make it into law, you will need to talk to your legislators and make that ask!).
BILLS NOW LAW (click here for PDF):
- ASL Interpreters/Court (HF 707): Requires ASL sign language interpreters for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals in legal proceedings. Takes effect November 1, 2021.
- Iowa ABLE Transfers (HF 835): Allows funds to be transferred from Special Needs or Supplemental Needs Trusts to an individual’s Iowa ABLE savings account.
- Older Adult Financial Exploitation (HF 839): Allows bankers and financial planners to report suspected financial exploitation of adults age 65+ or dependent adults of any age without fear of being sued for the reporting.
- Broadband Internet Expansion (HF 848): Defines broadband by the speed of uploads and downloads and makes other requirements for Internet Services Providers getting money to build out high speed (broadband) Internet in rural and other underserved areas. Takes effect on April 28, 2021.
- Infrastructure Budget (HF 862): Restores last year’s cuts to recreational trails ($500,000), state parks ($1 million), and public transit ($1 million). Adds new funds for school safety and emergency services, community tree replacement to repair damage from the derecho, and ChildServe building expansion.
- Judicial Budget (HF 864): Increases court funding for judge/staff salary raises, Story County Pilot District Self-Help Center to help those who are representing themselves in court, and public defender (to pay for increased deaf/hard-of-hearing interpreter costs).
- Administration/ Regulation Budget (HF 867): Spends $149.6 million ($74.6 million increase), including new funding for broadband grants ($100 million) and financial exploitation of older/dependent adult investigations ($75,000).
- Education Budget (HF 868): Increases funding for the Department for the Blind ($528,723 including funding for another Independent Living teacher), AEA children’s mental health training ($1.1 million), vocational rehabilitation ($300,000), Iowa School for the Deaf and education services for blind by ($359,295). No change for child health specialty clinics, independent living programs, Centers for Independent Living (CILs), and Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program. Adds new funds for the therapeutic classrooms ($2,626,075). Directs the Department of Education (DE) to develop standards for school equity coordinators and First Amendment free speech and develop guidance for parents/guardians who have concerns about school districts.
- COVID-19 Vaccine Passport Ban (HF 889): Prohibits state and local governments from issuing a COVID-19 vaccine passport or ID card with vaccine history included on it. Prohibits any business, non-profit, or governmental body from requiring proof of a COVID-19 vaccination before entrance (but allows screening measures like temp checks; health care facilities are exempted). Any violation results in loss of all state funds or grants. Takes effect May 20, 2021.
- Health & Human Services (HHS) Budget (HF 891): Spends $2.048 billion (an increase of $59.4 million).
- NO CHANGE IN FUNDING: Aging & Disability Resource Centers, substance use disorder treatment, donated dental programs for people with disabilities, children’s audiology programs, brain injury, suicide prevention, epilepsy, autism, habilitation provider technical assistance, Iowa ABLE administration, state supplemental assistance, and state autism coverage for uninsured/underinsured families. MEDICAID FUNDING ($44.2 million increase): Increases for Home and Community Based Service/HCBS waiver providers ($11,002,240), habilitation providers ($7,134,214), home health providers ($2 million), children's mental health HCBS waiver to reduce waiting list ($1,031,530), Psychiatric Medical Institutions for Children/PMIC ($3.9 million), ambulance services, nursing homes ($19 million), and pharmacist dispensing fees ($567,445).
- OTHER FUNDING: Adds new funding ($425,000) for one Center of Excellence to encourage innovation and collaboration among regional health providers to transform health care delivery. Increases funding for special foods for individuals with inherited metabolic disorders such as phenylketonuria/PKU ($35,000) and two new rural psychiatric residencies ($200,000). Increases funding for MHIs ($1.2 million for Cherokee, $450,735 for Independence). Cuts funding for Glenwood by $1.9 million and increases funding for Woodward by $1.3 million.
- LAW CHANGES: Prohibits the Board of Social Work and Board of Behavioral Science from requiring licensed social independent worker (LSIW), marital and family therapist (LMFT), and mental health counselor (LMHC) supervision be completed in-person; prohibits boards from requiring supervised clinical experience hours for LMFTs and LMHCs in excess of the hours required for LISWs; and allows LMFTs and LMHCs to supervise social workers going for their LISW. States that federal COVID-19 regulations during the emergency supersede state administrative rules (i.e. Medicaid "flexibilities" allowed by federal government are to remain in effect, despite state rules that may be to the contrary). Allows Polk County to transfer other county funds into the MH/DS Regional Services Fund. Requires DHS to review its policies and applicable state and federal laws to make sure pediatric health services provided to Medicaid-eligible children are consistent with the EPSDT (Early Periodic Screening Diagnosis Treatment) Program, including occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech-language pathology, and applied behavior analysis (report and recommendations to make consistent are due 10/1/2021). Requires MCO payment of any court-ordered substance use/mental health treatment.
- Federal Appropriations (HF 895): Every two years the Legislature passes this bill that directs the estimated $368.1 million in federal block grants to the appropriate department (the amount is determined by Congress, not the legislature, so this is not a controversial bill). COVID-19 FUNDS: Creates a separate fund for COVID-19 recovery funds, including those coming from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021.It is estimated there will be $1.5 billion total available for spending. Directs the Governor to use the funds for 1) public health emergency response, including assistance to households, small businesses, nonprofits, and hard-hit industries (tourism, travel, hospitality); 2) premium pay for essential workers; 3) provision of government services at risk because of declining revenues; and 4) investments in water, sewer & broadband infrastructure.
- School Instruction Delivery (SF 160): Requires schools to offer full-time in person learning options for students during the pandemic. Allows parents/guardians to notify the school district specifying instruction delivery method for students. Applies to schools providing coursework using both in-person and online instruction. Takes effect January 29, 2021.
- Rental Housing Vouchers (SF 252): Prohibits cities/counties from adopting ordinances that prohibit landlords from refusing to accept federal housing vouchers. Existing ordinances in effect at the beginning of 2021 are unenforceable after January 1, 2023. Takes effect April 30, 2021.
- Early Voting & Auditor "Reform" (SF 413): Requires mail-in votes (absentee) to be received in the county auditor’s office before the close of the polls (postmarks no longer count; currently they can be received for another week if postmarked before election day). Changes voter pre-registration deadline to 15 days before the election (currently 10 days). Closes the polls an hour early (until 8 pm); moves voters who do not vote regularly to "inactive status” and requires voters to do something to move back to active status. Changes the earliest date a person can request an absentee (vote by mail) ballot to 70 days before the election (from 120 days); changes early voting period from 29 days to 20 days; begins mail-in ballot request period 70 days out from the election (instead of 120 days); prohibits a candidate on the ballot from helping a voters who do not speak English or have a visual or physical disability to fill in their ballots; allows only a voter’s immediate family, member of their household, or caregiver to deliver a voted absentee ballot to an official dropbox, mail, or auditor office (no friends, neighbors, candidate volunteers). Makes “unlawful delivery of ballot” a serious misdemeanor. Eliminates "home rule" for county auditors and strips them of many duties, as well as making anything but strict adherence to laws and Secretary of State directives a class "D" felony (election misconduct). Bars auditors from establishing satellite voting centers without receiving a new petition each election cycle and limits drop boxes to one location per county (and requires enhanced security and pickups at least four times per day). Prohibits county auditors from mailing requests for absentee ballots to voters unless they have specifically requested one. Takes effect March 8, 2021.
- Dependent Adult Abuse (SF 450): Adds the death of a dependent adult that occurs because of something a caregiver didn’t do to the definition of dependent adult abuse.
- Sexual Exploitation of Minors (SF 562): Expands sexual exploitation of a counselor/therapist/school employee to include adults being paid for educating or training a minor outside of a school. Eliminates the current criminal statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse (which is currently 10 years for most crimes). This allows charges to be filed at any time. Goes into effect May 12, 2021.
- Election Corrections (SF 568): Corrects earlier Election Bill (SF 413) by allowing a voter who has a physical or visual disability to certify a person to handle their ballot using an approved form to designate a "delivery agent." Delivery agents must give voters a receipt for their ballot, deliver the ballot in person to the election office, and show valid ID (they cannot mail or put it in a dropbox). Delivery agents are only allowed to handle two voters’ ballots per election. Requires a person voting a provisional ballot to show proof of residency and identification to vote in the polling place or at a county auditor’s office (proof must be received by Noon on the Monday following the election). Allows a county auditor to reject a petition for a satellite voting station if the site is not accessible, cannot meet requirements for ballot security and voting secrecy, the owner of the property refuses (unless the site is also a polling site), or staffing shortages (after "reasonable efforts" to staff are made).
- Transportation Budget (SF 592): Funds rest area maintenance, including new funds needed to install adult changing stations ($400,000).
- Standings Budget (SF 615): Cuts AEA funding ($15 million). No change in funding for Special Olympics ($100,000). Allows a county to tax separately for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and allows an ambulance service and others to deliver EMS training (currently only hospitals & colleges).
- Tax Cuts, Telehealth & MHDS Funding (SF 619): REGIONAL MH/DS SYSTEM: Changes the way the regional mental health and disability services (MHDS) system is funded, from a system based on county property taxes to a 100% state-funded system. Counties currently pay $116.8 million for services. The bill eliminates the MHDS property tax levy over two years and replaces it with a new automatic (standing) appropriation ($60 million in first year). Regions would enter performance-based contracts with the Department of Human Services for the funds. The total per capita (per person) amount for the year beginning July 1, 2021 is $37 ($15.86 state, $21.14 county property taxes). After that the state will fund the entire system: $38 per capita (beginning July 1, 2022), $40 per capita (beginning July 1, 2023), $42 per capita (beginning July 1, 2024), and after tht previous year's appropriation would be multiplied by a growth factor (based on sales tax growth) up to 1.5%. An incentive fund is created with $3 million and any per capita funds returned to state because a region has reserves in excess allowed (regional fund balances are not to exceed 40% in the first year, 20% in the second year, and 5% after that). Regions will have quarterly per capita payments reduced by the amount they are over. Regions can apply for incentive funds if they do not have enough to pay for budgeted services. Polk County is allowed to transfer both funds and in-kind services from Broadlawns Hospital for fiscal years the first three years. Another bill (HHS Budget) allows Polk County to transfer funding from other sources to support these services if state funds are not sufficient for one year only. DHS is to the effectiveness of the regions.
- TAX CHANGES: Allows the income tax cuts passed in 2018 to go into effect in 2022; allows families earning up $90,000 (instead of $45,000) to get the childcare tax credit; phases out the state inheritance tax over two years; eliminates property tax replacement funds from cities and counties ($150 million); and adds new tax credit to help elderly (over 70 years old) homeowners earning less than 250% of the federal poverty level to protect against assessment increases.
- OTHER CHANGES: Requires health insurance plans to pay equally for services delivered to a person with a mental health condition, whether it is done in-person or via telehealth. This only applies to state-regulated health plans, not Medicaid and self-insured plans regulated by the Federal government. Raises the State Housing Trust Fund cap from $3 million to $7 million (adding more money for affordable housing and homeless programs). Makes nonprofit food banks sales tax exempt.
BILLS THAT DID NOT PASS - BUT WILL BE ALIVE IN 2022 LEGISLATIVE SESSION (click here for PDF):
- 21st Century Caregiving/Education Plan (HCR 8): Calls upon the President, Congress, Governor, Governor, and Legislature to work to improve communities by bolstering the care workforce. House Floor
- Medicaid Managed Care (HF 16): Ends Medicaid managed care contracts. House Human Resources Committee
- Medically Necessary Food (HF 50): Requires insurance carriers to cover medically necessary food, vitamins, and individual amino acids. House Commerce Committee
- Housing Discrimination (HF 90): Prohibits a landlord from denying housing to a person with a disability who has a support animal. House Judiciary Committee
- Medicaid Substance Abuse Waiver (HF 108): Requires DHS to submit a Medicaid waiver to allow comprehensive, evidence-based substance abuse treatment for Medicaid members. House Human Resources Committee
- Long-Term Care Ombudsman (HF 118): Increases the number of local ombudsmen and establishes requirements for case assignments and responses to resident/tenant inquiries. Prohibits issuing an RFP to outsource duties or staff. House Human Resources Committee
- Electronic Absentee Ballots (HF 135): Allows voters to register electronically for absentee ballots. House State Government Committee
- Absentee Voter Status (HF 137): Allows an absentee voter to apply once to receive absentee ballots for all general elections (voter does not need to reapply each election). House State Government Committee
- Cross-Over Visitation (HF 190): Allows for visitation between residents and tenants of long-term care facilities during a national public health emergency or public health disaster. House Human Resources Committee
- Nursing Facilities Visitation Restrictions (HF 191): Requires DIA to consult with the state long-term care ombudsman prior to issuing guidance restricting visitation at nursing homes during a national public health emergency. House Human Resources Committee
- Emergency Prescription Refills (HF 262): Allows a pharmacist to refill a prescription without prescriber authorization in some situations (but can only be done once in a year). Passed House 91-0; Senate Human Resources Committee
- Prescription Insulin Coverage (HF 263): Requires insurance carriers to cap the total amount of cost-sharing that a covered person is required to pay for prescription insulin at an amount not to exceed $100 for up to a 31-day supply. Passed House 89-2; Senate Human Resources Committee
- Nursing Facility Electronic Monitoring (HF 268, SF 378): Allows authorized electronic monitoring in nursing facilities under certain circumstances. House & Senate Human Resources Committee
- Adult Changing Stations (HF 306): Requires adult changing stations in new buildings built after 1/1/2023; buildings renovated after 1/1/2026; buildings with the capacity to serve 1,500 or more people in one day; shopping malls, retail stores, entertainment venues with floor space of 40,000 square feet or more; public transportation facilities; galleries, libraries, museums, tourist information centers; parks, playgrounds, recreational centers, zoos, and amusement or theme parks; certain airports; rest areas; education facilities; hospitals; and rehabilitation facilities. House Commerce Committee
- Open Enrollment (HF 385): Adds prekindergarten students enrolled in special education programs in the 9/1 deadline for open enrollment. Applies to school years beginning July 1, 2021. Passed House 96-0; Senate Education Committee
- Medicaid LTSS (HF 447): Requires MCOs to submit quarterly reports on long-term services and supports (LTSS) members. Also requires DHS to convene stakeholders to review existing metrics for the LTSS population. Stakeholder report with recommendations is due October 1, 2021. House Human Resources Committee
- Interstate Audiology Compact (HF 500): Enacts the Interstate Audiology & Speech Pathology Compact. Makes the compact effective when it is adopted by ten states. Passed House 93-0; Senate State Government Committee
- Home Modification Program (HF 506): Establishes a home modification grant program. Qualified homeowner must have an income at or below the annual Iowa median household income, be the owner of a residential real property in the state that is the primary residence of the owner and be a qualified person or reside with a spouse or dependent who is a qualified person. House Human Resources Committee
- Prescription Drug Price Transparency/Cost-Sharing (HF 526): Requires prescription drug manufacturers to file an annual report that discloses the wholesale cost for prescription drugs. Requires manufacturers to file a report if a drug has a cost of $100 or more for a 30-day supply and the cost increases 40 percent or more over three preceding years or increases 15 percent or more in the preceding year. Requires health carriers to submit an annual report and requires carriers to include all cost-sharing amounts paid by a health plan enrollee (does not apply to certain drugs). House Commerce Committee
- Immunizations by Dentists (HF 528): Authorizes dentists to prescribe and administer vaccines or immunizations for influenza or COVID-19 to patients. Passed House 89-4; Senate Floor
- Nursing Facility/Hospital Visitation (HF 571): Prohibits hospitals and nursing facilities from instituting policies that limit a patient from receiving visitors during a public health emergency. House Human Resources Committee
- Safe and Sound Program (HF 585): Establishes the safe and sound program to develop and implement a system for receiving anonymous reports/information from the public regarding potential self-harm and potential harm or criminal acts, including threats of violence, sexual abuse, assault, or bullying directed at students and schools. House Public Safety Committee
- Language Development for Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing Children (HF 604): Requires the development of a resource for parents/guardians of children who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Establishes an advisory committee to make recommendations in the development of the resource. Passed House 96-0; Senate Education Committee
- Non-medical Switching (HF 656): Prohibits insurance providers from limiting or excluding coverage of a prescription drug if the individual is medically stable on the drug, the drug was previously approved for coverage, and the individual's provider has prescribed the drug within the previous six months. Applicable to plans issued on or after January 1, 2022. House Commerce Committee
- Suicide Intervention (HF 679): Adds "intervention" to school suicide protocols to be established and requires the focus on youth at higher risk of suicide, beginning July 1, 2022. Schools are required to review the protocols at least every five years. House Education Committee
- Medicaid EPSDT Services (HF 691): Requires Medicaid to revise its state plan amendment to recognize EPSDT paraprofessionals who hold a registered behavior technician certification but do not have a college degree (currently all other state Medicaid programs do this, as does Wellmark). Iowa's Medicaid program requires an undergraduate college degree; other states require either that or a high school degree with the training required to get certification. House Human Resources Committee
- Direct Care Workforce Registry (HF 692): Expands the direct care workforce registry to include all certified nurse assistants regardless of employment setting. Directs DIA to convene a stakeholder advisory work group to plan for the expansion. House Human Resources Committee
- Home Retrofitting Tax Credit (HF 717): Creates a home retrofitting tax credit up to $5,000 per project. Limits the credit to $30,000 total for each qualified taxpayer. Applies to tax years beginning on January 1, 2022.House Ways & Means Committee
- Telehealth Providers (HF 731): Prohibits certain health carriers from excluding out-of-state health care professionals from providing telehealth services if the individual is licensed in Iowa and is able to satisfy the same criteria a carrier uses to qualify in-state providers. House Human Resources Committee
- Vaccine Information (HF 769): Requires DPH to ensure that health care providers are aware of and comply with vaccine requirements, including providing relevant federal vaccine information statements and verbal information regarding the FDA vaccine adverse event reporting system and the national vaccine injury compensation program prior to the patient receiving the vaccine. House Human Resources Committee
- Medicaid Waiver/IMD (HF 773): Requires DHS to submit a Medicaid waiver to provide and seek federal financial participation for services to members with serious mental illness or serious emotional disturbance during short-term stays for acute care in residential and inpatient settings that qualify as institutions for mental diseases. Passed House 97-0; Senate Human Resources Committee
- Telehealth Reimbursement (HF 784): Requires health insurers to reimburse for services provided by telehealth at the same rates as in-person services. Does not include site of service waiver (provider still must be in approved facility). Applies to all services, not just mental health. House Human Resources Committee
- Epilepsy/Seizure Disorder Training (HF 795): Requires schools that have an enrolled student with epilepsy or seizure disorder to provide training certain employees. Requires school districts and accredited nonpublic schools to have at least one employee at each school with appropriate training. Requires school attendance centers to provide training to all school personnel who have direct contact with and supervise children. Requires student's parent/guardian to provide written authorization to administer medication. Passed House 91-0; Senate Education Committee
- Service Animals/Landlord Tenant Bill (HF 866): Requires a tenant request for an accommodation of a service animal must be reasonable. Allows the landlord to accommodate the tenant by relocating to another unit. Passed House 58-35; Senate Ways & Means Committee
- Therapy Animal Importance (HR 12): Designates April 30 National Therapy Animal Day in Iowa, recognizing the national significance of therapy animals and their handlers. House Floor
- Medicaid Processes/Oversight (HSB 169, SSB 1164): Defines "clean claims" and requires Medicaid MCOs pay 90% of clean claims within 14 days and 100% within 30 days. Gives MCOs 30 days to correctly enter new provider rates and reprocess and pay affected claims. Requires MCOs to give providers the ability to submit and track all claims and disputes online in real time. Requires DHS to hire a uniform authorization and credentialing verification service for both managed care and fee for service system. Prohibits MCOs from requiring additional credentialing. House & Senate Commerce Committees
- Electronic Public Notices (HSB 221, SF 228, HF 600): Allows governments to publish notice electronically in lieu of newspaper publication. Requires that paper copies be available. Requires the government to make email accounts available for persons to receive such notices. House & Senate Local Government Committees
- Adult/Minor Guardianships and Conservatorships (HSB 27, SSB 1007): Makes provisions related to opening, administration, and termination of adult guardianships and adult and minor conservatorships. Addresses guardianship proceeding notices, court visitor qualifications, court-ordered professional evaluations, guardian background checks, emergency appointment of a temporary guardian or conservator, initial verified care plans, and termination of guardianships and conservatorships. House Judiciary Committee
- Nursing Facility Visitation Practices (SCR 5): Urges the US Congress to approve legislation allowing states flexibility in determining COVID-19 visitation parameters at nursing facilities. Passed Senate 47-0; House State Government Committee
- Disability Provider/Income Tax Exemption (SF 17): Make income earned by a person working for a nonprofit organization that provides services to individuals with disabilities or mental illness from state income tax. Does not define type of job; applies to all. Takes effect January 1, 2022. Senate Ways & Means Committee
- Electronic Absentee Ballots (SF 53, HF 322): Allows voters who have a physical disability that prevents the voter from reading and marking a physical ballot without assistance to receive an electronic absentee ballot.Senate State Government Committee
- Medicaid Improvements (SF 61): Requires DHS to ensure long-term services and support services are provided in a conflict-free manner; MCOs to develop and administer a workforce recruitment, retention, and training program; DHS to create of an external independent review process for Medicaid providers for the review of final adverse determinations of the MCOs' internal appeal processes; DHS to change MCO responsibilities regarding member disenrollment; and MCOs to apply uniform authorization criteria for credentialing and recredentialing providers. Adds funding for the office of long-term care ombudsman and the Medicaid managed care ombudsman program. Senate Human Resources Committee
- Telehealth Reimbursement (SF 92): Requires health insurance carriers to reimburse for services provided by telehealth at the same rate as in-person services. Effective upon enactment and applies retroactively to January 1, 2021. Applies to all services, not just mental health. Senate Commerce Committee
- Student Sexual Exploitation (SF 105): Makes sexual exploitation of a student with a disability by a community college employee a criminal offense. Senate Judiciary Committee
- Absentee Ballots (SF 115): Changes the date by which an absentee ballot request must be received to 15 days before an election, and the date by which a ballot must be postmarked to 10 days before an election.Senate State Government Committee
- Dependent Care Campaign Expenses (SF 145): Allows a candidate to pay for dependent care expenses using campaign funds. Senate State Government Committee
- Governor's Education Plan (SF 159): Establishes a student first scholarship program for certain students attending a nonpublic school. Establishes a new charter school program and allows anyone to open enroll in schools (this part was passed in 2021 in another bill). Allows taxpayers to receive tuition and textbook tax credit for each dependent receiving private instruction (effective upon enactment). Changes to current law governing calculation of each school districts' additional enrollment because of special education (effective upon enactment). Amends current law to specify that a school corporation is entrusted with public funds to improve student outcomes. Passed Senate 26-21; House Education Committee
- Direct Care Workforce Database (SF 161): Requires DIA to establish a direct care workforce database system and advisory council, and tasks agencies with supportive assignments. Senate Human Resources Committee
- AEA Services (SF 168): Requires area education agencies to provide services and supports on nonpublic school premises, if the parent/guardian grants permission. Senate Education Committee
- Long-Term Services/Supports (SF 190): Requires DHS to move Medicaid long-term services and supports from MCOs to fee-for-service administration. Senate Human Resources Committee
- Elderly/Disabled Property Tax Credit (SF 219): Increases to $2,000 the maximum amount of property taxes due or rent constituting property taxes paid that may be considered in calculating the elderly and disabled property tax credit or rent reimbursement. Senate Ways & Means Committee
- MH/DS Transportation Services (SF 293): Includes transportation as a core service under the regional mental health and disability services system. Senate Human Resources Committee
- Adult/Minor Guardianships and Conservatorships (SF 348): Makes changes relating to the administration of adult and minor guardianships and conservatorships. Gives juvenile court exclusive jurisdiction of minor guardianship proceedings. Makes juvenile court records in guardianships confidential. Requires submission of name and address of any adult who has had primary care of the person or with whom the person has lived within six months prior to the filing. Details required information and notices of guardianship proceedings. Specifies court visitor qualifications. Changes background check requirements. Allows district court access to dependent adult abuse information. Establishes the powers of a conservator. Amends reporting requirements for guardians and conservators. Passed Senate 47-0; House Judiciary Committee
- Medicaid LTSS Reimbursement (SF 379): Requires DHS to conduct a reimbursement rate review for long-term services and supports providers. Findings due November 1, 2021. Senate Human Resources Committee
- Public Assistance Oversight (SF 389): Requires initial and "periodic" income verification and a new asset test on all household members of food assistance (SNAP), family support (FIP) and Medicaid benefit recipients and applicants and requires SNAP applicants to cooperate with the child support recovery unit. Requires DHS to redesign and implement a new eligibility verification system and hire a third party to run the system by July 1, 2022. Requires DHS to complete an identity authentication process for applicants. Passed Senate 30-18; House Human Resources Committee
- State Boards/Senate Confirmation (SF 423): Eliminates Senate confirmation for Governor's appointees to several boards and councils, including Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board, Iowa Law Enforcement Council, Public Information Board, Civil Rights Commission, all Department of Human Rights Commissions (including Commission on the Status of Women, Commission on Persons with Disabilities, Commission on Deaf Services), Council on Human Services, MH/DS Commission, Commission on Aging, Child Advocacy Board, County Finance Committee, Board of Corrections, City Development Board, Commission on Judicial Qualifications, hawk-I Board, Early Childhood State Board, Iowa Autism Council, and Children's Behavioral Health Board. Senate State Government Committee
- Education Savings Grant Program (SF 431): Establishes an education savings grant program for certain students attending a nonpublic school or receiving competent private instruction. Senate Ways & Means Committee
- Electronic Publication of Public Notices (SF 453): Provides that an area education agency, a school district, a county or city legislative body, or a county or city officer that is required by statute to publish a notice, action, or other information in a newspaper may instead publish the notice on the respective governmental body's internet site. Senate Education Committee
- Occupational Therapy Licensure Compact (SF 463): Adopts the interstate occupational therapy licensure compact that establishes a system whereby occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants licensed to practice in one member state may practice in another member state under a compact privilege without applying for a license in that state. Passed Senate 47-0; House Human Resources Committee
- State Professions Regulation (SF 487): States that unregulated professions are only to be restricted in order to protect the public (and not to restrict competition) and legislators considering a bill to regulate these professions are to determine certain conditions exist before proceeding (credible evidence potential for harm exists, public would benefit from regulation, protection cannot be achieved in other ways, and that the option before them is the "least restrictive" option available). Written reports are required detailing these and other considerations made before passing legislation, as well as before adding more regulations to existing regulated professions. Requires evidence of efficacy for any new CEUs. Requires the state government efficiency review committee to create a schedule for review of approximately one-fifth of all professional licensing and regulation boards each calendar year between 2022 and 2027. Requires the Legislature to act on the recommendations, or the board/professional licensing reviewed will sunset. Requires the administrative rules review committee to consider certain factors when reviewing an entry regulation. Passed Senate 30-17; House Unfinished Business Calendar
- Nursing Home Visitation Shelter Tax Credit (SF 502): Creates a nursing home visitation shelter tax credit. The amount of the credit equals 50 percent of the cost of construction a shelter not to exceed $100,000 per application. Takes effect upon enactment and applies retroactively to January 1, 2021. Senate Ways & Means Committee
- Long-Term Care Facility/Hospital Visitation (SF 507): Makes provisions related to long-term care facility and hospital practices during a national public health emergency or public health disaster. Allows a private pay long-term care facility to implement in-person, indoor visitation policies for residents and tenants that are less restrictive than the policies applicable to facilities accepting public sources of payment. Requires hospitals to permit a patient to have at least two visitors who are related to the patient within certain parameters. Senate Human Resources Committee
- MH/SA Police Report Confidentiality (SF 513): Requires any law enforcement report regarding a person experiencing a mental health crisis, substance-related disorder crisis, or housing crisis to be kept confidential when the report is generated to provide crisis intervention. Senate Judiciary Committee
- Crimes Against Older Adults (SF 522): Establishes certain criminal offenses and civil actions against older adults and dependent adults. Establishes the crimes of older individual assault (for individuals age 60 or older) and theft against older individuals. Makes the civil penalty for consumer fraud committed against individuals age 60 or older consistent with other crimes against older Iowans. Establishes older adults abuse offenses and financial exploitation crimes against older adults. Passed Senate 47-0; House Judiciary Committee
- Emergency MH/SA Treatment (SF 526): Allows treatment in an access center for a person who is detained due to experiencing an MH/SA crisis. Senate Human Resources Committee
- Vaccinations/ Immunizations (SF 555): Prohibits an employer from mandating employees get vaccinated for COVID-19. Prohibits a driver's license/ID card from including vaccination or immunization status, immunity status, or test results relating to a communicable disease. Senate Human Resources Committee
- Adult/Minor Guardianships and Conservatorships (SSB 1035): Requires a petition for minor guardianships must include the name and address of the primary caregiver or adult with whom the minor has lived during the six months prior to the filing. Requires parents be informed they may be entitled to an attorney. Provides the qualifications and term of service for a court visitor. Provides that background check results for a proposed guardian may be used. Requires initial care plan include guardian’s plan for funds and benefits payable for support of the minor. Division II- Makes requirements for a petition for appointment of guardian or conservator for an adult the same. Provides qualifications for court visitor. Removes the standard of clear and convincing evidence to prove cause for termination of a guardianship or conservatorship. Senate Judiciary Committee
- PANS/PANDAS Coverage (SSB 1200): Requires health insurance providers to offer coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome (PANS) and pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections (PANDAS) for patients 18 and younger. Senate Commerce Committee
- Medicaid Transportation Services (SSB 1222): Requires MCOs to coordinate with urban or regional transit systems. Requires MCOs to provide transit systems with the right of first refusal in providing services. Senate Human Resources Committee
DHS to Invest $104 million in HCBS
Earlier this year, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA for short). The Plan allows states to draw down 10% more in federal Medicaid...Read more
Make Your Mark 2021 Conference: Registration Open!
The Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council and its Iowans with Disabilities in Action network are excited to announce their 2021 Make Your Mark! Conference...Read more
Final 2021 Bill Status
The infoNET Bill Tracker is updated with final status of bills. Below is a brief description of the bills that passed and made it into law. You can go to the bill tracker for more details, and links to more information on budgets. Following...Read more
SAVE THE DATE: Iowa Summit on Disability Employment
Senator Tom Harkin and Drake University's Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement are pleased to invite you to the Iowa Summit on Disability...Read more
Election Changes & Iowans with Disabilities
Iowans with disabilities have always faced challenges when it comes to voting. Iowa's secretary of states have always worked hard to make sure those barriers are...Read more
Host a Town Hall This Year or Next (Virtual or In Person)
The Iowa DD Council wants to help you hold a virtual or in-person townhall meeting in your area! In years past, the Iowa DD Council has helped Iowans...Read more
2021 Recap: New Laws & New Fiscal Year
July 1 is a pretty big day in state government. It is the start of a new fiscal year, the term we use for the start and end of a state budget year. While many Iowans plan their budgets around a...Read more
FEDERAL FOCUS: Infrastructure Opportunities
Your federal elected officials have been working hard for you in Washington D.C. Right now Congress (your federal legislature) is working on an infrastructure deal to help the country recover from the pandemic. Lots of people...Read more
JOIN: June 16 HCBS Webinar
Your federal elected officials in Congress are still thinking about new ways to help our country recover from COVID-19, including helping those with...Read more
Session Ends: 2021 Highlights
The 2021 Iowa legislative session ended just before midnight on May 19; it was the 129th day of the scheduled 110-day session. People always think that if one party controls both House and Senate and Governor's office (like Iowa), agreement is easy....Read more
Take the Next Step: Join our Summer Capitol Chats!
We have had a great time sharing information and hearing from you during our Capitol Chats this year, and the events aren't over yet! Even after this...Read more
Federal Advocacy: Contact Congress
Iowans are represented by two US Senators in Washington DC - Sen. Charles Grassley and Sen. Joni Ernst. Iowa is divided up into four congressional districts, which are represented by Rep....Read more
Budgets, Redistricting, and Taxes (Oh My!)
At the beginning of the year, we said the Legislature really only has two things it must do this year - pass a budget and complete the redistricting process. Budgeting is usually a really hard process and the...Read more
Our bill tracker is updated and will be changed as the Governor takes action on the bills. A reminder: You can find the list of bills that passed...Read more
June & July Capitol Chats Set
We've had a great time sharing information and hearing from you during our Capitol Chats this year, and the events aren't over yet! Even after this...Read more
Action Needed for Direct Care Worker Database
Iowa's direct care givers, health professionals, and other "essential workers" like public bus drivers all deserve praise for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic. They...Read more
Federal Update: Things are Happening in Washington DC
It took a pandemic to dislodge the gridlock in Washington DC, but it happened and there are a lot of bills that we'll be tracking for you over the summer. We have a couple that we wanted...Read more
Session Drags On...But End May Be Close
The Iowa Legislature was scheduled to be in session for 110 days this year. Today (May 14) is the 124th day and there is still no agreement that will allow the session to end. For...Read more
Health & Human Services Budgets Now Public
The Iowa House of Representatives and Iowa Senate have now made their budgets public, and they are about $22.3 million apart in the area of Health and Human...Read more
The End is Near (Maybe)
There are just two more weeks left until the Iowa Legislature is scheduled to finish its work. April 30 is the 110th day of the 2021 session and the last day...Read more
Budget Bills in Position, Ready for Compromise
The budget is the one thing legislators must do before they leave town in a couple of weeks. The state's new budget year (called a "fiscal year") begins on July 1, 2021 and ends on...Read more
Redistricting the Iowa Way
Every ten years, following a new US Census count, states must redraw their political maps. That means drawing new Congressional and state legislative districts so they are...Read more
It's easy to drift away from advocacy after the legislative session, but that is the biggest mistake you can make! Summer is a great time to gear up for the...Read more
Bill Tracker 2021
Check on the status of the bills you care about in the infoNET Bill Tracker here. Status is updated daily, so check back frequently.Read more
Get Out the Vaccine - #GOTVaccine
More Iowans are becoming eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s time to "Get Out the Vaccine!" The Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council and its national...Read more
Iowa DD Council State Plan Feedback
The Iowa DD Council hosted a series of listening posts Aprll 6-8 to learn more about their five year plan and get stakeholder feedback. If you missed the...Read more
State Revenue Estimates; Time to Start Budgets
Today the state's three-person Revenue Estimating Conference met to revise its estimates, which help state lawmakers develop the budget for the fiscal year that...Read more
President Signs New Relief Package
This week, Congress passed and President Biden signed a $1.9 TRILLION package to help respond to the economic impact of COVID-19. The following information is from...Read more
Funnel Week Ends!
The first legislative deadline is today (March 5) - the date when most bills need to be voted out of a committee. This "funnel" deadline does not apply...Read more
Special Election Information: January 26
Voters living in Senate District 41 will go to the polls on Tuesday, January 26, 2021 to select a new state senator. We wanted to make sure those of you living in this area had all the...Read more
SPECIAL ELECTION SET: January 26, 2021
Ottumwa physician Mariannette Miller-Meeks has been "provisionally" sworn in as a U.S. Representative, as she awaits the review by a Congressional...Read more
LEGISLATURE STILL PLANS TO MEET
Many of you have asked what the next legislative session will be like. Our answer continues to be - who knows! At this point, we believe the Iowa...Read more
2021 Committees Assigned
Each legislator serves on several committees - standing committees that deal with policy issues in a certain area, and budget (appropriations)...Read more
Revenues Holding Steady, State Economy Looking Good
Every year we talk about the way Iowa budgets. It all starts with the law that only allows the state to spend 99% of the money it collects each year. So if the state...Read more
Legislative Leaders Elected; Looking Ahead at 2021
The majority and minority party members of the Iowa Legislature have picked their new leaders. Committee assignments should be coming out in the next few weeks, so stay tuned. Below are the new leaders - an...Read more