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The End is Near (Maybe)

Friday, April 16, 2021

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 legislators get their expense checks.  If they plan to work longer, they'll do so without being paid and without extra staff to help answer emails and schedule their days.  You would never know the end is near if you visited the State Capitol this week.  Legislators spent long days in caucus before doing a handful of bills; the Senate did only 12 bills this week, all on Tuesday. The House did 22 bills over three days, yet still has 57 bills that are or could be debated.  The Senate has almost double that - 97 bills that are ready for debate. These include:

  • Limiting the amount a jury or judge can award someone fornon-economic damages (also called "pain and suffering"). (HF 592, SF 557)
  • Another round of guardianship and conservatorship changes, this time cleaning up from the last two years' bills. (HF 836, SF 348)
  • Allowing occupational therapists licensed in Iowa to practice in other states without an extra license. (SF 463)
  • Allowing only county supervisors to vote on budgets (spending of tax dollars) in mental health and disability services regions. (SF 461)
  • Establishing new charter schools that are overseen by the state Board of Education instead of local school districts. (HF 813)
  • Stopping schools from talking about racism and sexism in ways that are "divisive." (HF 802)
  • Directing all health professional licensing boards to recognize telehealth as an appropriate way to deliver services. (HF 431)
  • Allowing only therapists certified in music therapy to use the title "music therapist" in Iowa. (HF 285)
  • A set of bills to expand access and affordability of child care. (HF 301, HF 302, HF 606)
  • Outlining a process for reporting of suspected financial expoitation against an older person or person with a disability. (HF 839)
  • Allowing Iowans with disabilities to convert older special needs or supplemental trusts into more flexible ABLE Accounts. (HF 835)
  • Reviewing the psychiatric bed tracking system, which was amended in committee (H-1334) to require insurers to pay equally for services provided to a person with a mental health condition, whether delivered in person or virtually via telehealth. (SF 524)

We are still waiting to hear whether the Governor will sign SF 252, which stops cities and counties from passing laws that would protect people using federal housing choice vouchers to pay their rent. Nationally, two in every three people using these vouchers is a person with a disability or is elderly.  The cities of Marion, Des Moines, and Iowa City have all passed local laws (called ordinances) that tell landlords they are not allowed to make decisions on whether to rent to somone based only on the fact they use a federal housing voucher.  Des Moines' law goes even further, stating that a landlord cannot discriminate against someone whose income comes from public assistance (such as SSI) instead of work income.  

   

If you think SF 252 is bad policy, you can ask the Governor to veto it here.  You can take action on other issues by clicking here.



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