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infoNET Summer 2022

Issue 4, 6/28/2022

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The Straight Scoop on the 2022 Session

This issue of our newsletter is a big one.  It's the end of session, there was an election on June 7, and there is a lot to cover.  Some people want a lot of details. Others just want to know what it means to them.  The rest of this newsletter will have the detail, but here we want to cut to the chase.

Things change when people speak up, when they tell their legislators what they need and why.  Iowans with disabilities have said they need more choice in community living, they need to know their direct service providers will be there for them, and they do not want their lives on hold while they wait for services.  If you look at the things that happened this legislative session, I think you will be pleased.  

  • More money for direct support staff wages will help keep people in those jobs, so you don't have new workers each week and can rely on them being there for you when you need them.  
  • More people with intellectual disabilities will be served. Using federal funds, DHS will take an estimated 200 Iowans with intellectual disabilities off the waiver waiting list.  Of course we know there is much more to do on this, it costs a lot to reduce the waiting lists for services.  The list is too long, and we know DHS is looking at ways to make the waivers more flexible, reduce wait times, and serve more people. 
  • More money for vocational rehabilitation means more Iowans with disabilities will learn important job skills so they can be employed in their community.

  • Children with disabilities will have equal access to special education, no matter where they live in the state. Some schools in the state refuse to provide special education services to children in private schools, which is against the law.  No parent should have to take their schools to court in order to get the services for their children.  

We know that there are not enough Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) providers in the state, but part of that is there are not enough people to provide the services. Taking people off waiting lists will not guarantee they will get services; you need the people to provide the service and there aren't enough workers now to do the work.  The really good news is DHS and the Iowa Legislature are committed to finding a solution.  DHS wants to make waivers more flexible, make sure provider rates are enough to make sure services are widely available, and make sure people are paid enough to keep providing those direct services.  We hope to talk more about these plans in our Fall newsletter. 

On a final note, the Iowa Legislature can only do so much. Your federal elected officials can make some reforms at the federal level, in Congress.  For example, combining waivers, requring all states to eliminate all HCBS waiting lists, and making sure funding is available to do this.  Congress also provides most of the funding for public transportation, which is also important to making sure people can live in the community.  

So make sure to thank your legislators for their work this year, but make sure they know there is much more to be done.  Make sure you talk to the people who represent you in Congress (your US Senator, your US Representative).  Talk to the candidates who are running for these offices and tell them it's time for action.   As we said at the beginning, advocacy works.  We have proof in the bills that passed this year, in the stories that were retold during debate.  Your story is your superpower. Use it! 

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2022 Iowa Legislative Session Ends

Iowa's legislative session finally ended just after midnight on Wednesday, May 25.  The Iowa House and the Iowa Senate fought for a month before "agreeing to disagree" on using taxpayer funds to pay for private school scholarships. Once leaders decided to save the education debate for another day, the end of session happened fast. After two very long debate days, Iowa legislators passed all ten budgets, a second tax bill, changes to our state’s 44-year-old bottle deposit and return law, and dozens of other bills. The Health & Human Services Budget took less than 15 minutes to pass the Iowa Senate, surely a new record. 

The Governor signed all but one of the 156 bills sent to her, vetoing a bill dealing with substitute teacher requirements (a veto means that the bill will not become law).  She also took out one section of a budget bill that made changes to the process for nominating district judges (again, this "line item veto" means the part taken out will not become law). Most of the 155 bills that were signed will become law on July 1, 2022.  

Image says FUN FACT in red and yellow speech bubbles.

 

1,370 bills were introduced this year.

155 were signed into law.

11% of the bills filed this year will become law.  

That means for every ten bills sponsored by legislators - only one will make it to becoming law. 

  

Change takes time.  It takes time to pass a bill and educate legislators about the issue. If advocacy was a race, it would be a marathon, not a sprint.  If your ideas didn't become law this year, get ready for 2023!   Talk to the people running for office and educate them about your issue now. Advocacy works; we have several examples in the next article as proof.

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A Lot to Celebrate in 2022

The year started off rocky, with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) report on the problems at Glenwood State Resource Center and the decision a few months later to close it in 2023. While this was troubling news to everyone, the report creates opportunities for Iowans with disabilities.  

The Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council advocates for more home and community based options for Iowans with disabilities.  They want Iowans with disabilities to have more choice, but doing this can cost a lot of money at first.  It has been tough to get legislators to agree to big increases in home and community based services, but the DOJ is going to require Iowa do just that.  Invest in more home and community based options.

This session, legislators did start to address this challenge by making changes they hope will develop community capacity to better serve people in homes and in the community. 

2022 Wins

Almost $30 million in new money to make it easier to find and keep the services that allow people to live, work, and be involved in their community (HF 2578, federal ARPA plan)

  • The people helping you with your daily needs will be paid better, so they will hopefully stay in the job longer. 
  • Providers may be able to offer more services if they can pay their staff better, giving you more options. 

  • $14.7 million to increase wages for direct staff working for Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) providers, including habilitation, consumer choice option, and consumer directed attendant care.  This is a 4.25% increase.

  • $7.4 million to take up to 200 Iowans with intellectual disabilities off the HCBS/ID waiver waiting list.

  • $1.3 million to increase direct support staff wages at Intermediate Care Facilities for individuals with Intellectual Disorders (ICF/ID). 

  • $1.8 million so that rural Iowans can better access home health care services and help offset the high price of gas.

  • $3 million to increase rates for those that provide behavioral health intervention services to children.

  • $385,000 to increase rates to autism providers (for applied behavior analysis).

Access to mental health services was improved: 

  • Created 14 new residencies for psychiatrists in rural areas and state-run institutions (HF 2578).

  • Paying mental health providers more for higher-needs patients, aka “tiered rates.” (HF 2546).
  • Funded a new Mental Health Professional Loan Repayment Program for social workers, psychologists, marriage and family therapists, and mental health counselors. The $520,000 will help 13 professionals practicing in rural areas pay off student loans (HF 2549HF 2575).
  • Required insurance companies to add any out-of-state telehealth companies to their networks if they provide behavioral health services to Iowans with Iowa-licensed providers (HF 2578).
  • Updated the definition of “autism” to improve access to services (HF 2167).
  • Added $200,000 more (for total of $3.8 million) for school-based mental health services to children (HF 2575).

More supports for Iowans with disabiltiies and their families:  

  • Vocational rehabilitation services that help individuals with disabilities with employment could get more federal money if the state upped its funding; the Legislature increased their funds by $120,000 to do this, making the services available to more people (HF 2575).Making sure police reports on people experiencing a crisis are confidential (SF 513).
  • Allowing physical therapists and occupational therapists to authorize accessible parking permits, so you don’t have to return to physician (HF 2259). 
  • Updating the definition of “intellectual disability” and putting more checks in place before someone with an intellectual disability is admitted to a state-run mental health institution (HF 2578).

People with disabilities and their families spoke, and legislators listened.  Here are a couple examples of bills that started as a story from an advocate with a disability, and ended up becoming law!

  • Better screening of newborns to identify more genetic conditions at birth (SF 2345).
  • More resources for parents of deaf or hard-of-hearing children to help make sure they are on track (and stay on track) developmentally and don't fall behind in school (HF 604).
  • Review of state special education services to ensure uniformity in access regardless of whether services are received onsite in public or private schools (SF 2197).

Efforts to make voting more difficult were stopped:

  • A bill that would have required mail-in voters to include their voter verification number in order for their vote to be counted did not pass
  • This would have put another barrier up to voting by mail, which could have made it harder for Iowans with disabilities to vote (or to have their vote count).

2022 Losses

  • Creating scholarships for college-age students with disabilities who attend an alternative post-secondary transition program (like REACH at the University of Iowa, or NEXT at Northwestern College), including the $200,000 that would have helped start it, did not pass this year.  These programs can be very expensive, so helping young adults with disabilities access programs like this can help set them up for employment success in the future. The bill made it out of the House, but the Senate did not take it up.  Look for this to come up again in 2023.  As we mentioned, it sometimes takes two or more years to get a bill passed, so maybe 2023 will be that year!  (HF 2495)
  • Insurance companies consider hearing aids for children to be "cosmetic" and do not cover their cost. A bill that would have required insurance to pay for childhood hearing aids didn't pass this year, but legislators are going to see if an existing state program to reimburse parents for the costs of these hearing aids can be used ot help address this need. If not, you may see this coming back again in 2023. (HF 2568)
  • Voters with disabilities would have been allowed to request and vote an electronic absentee ballot if HF 2075 had passed, but it did not.  Maybe 2023 is a better year for this idea, since it is not an election year and county auditors would have more time to prepare for this. 
  • Balancing the rights of landlords and renters who have service animals, and making it a crime to lie about a pet being a service animal, have been issues for many years.  While a bill was introduced each year for the past three years, nothing passed in 2022. (HF 866)

We wanted to make sure you saw that many of the “wins” this year started with a parent or self advocate talking to their legislator, who then talked to other legislators, who then sponsored a bill that made its way to become law.  Advocacy does work, but it takes time. 

Do not be upset that something didn’t pass this year, it just means you need more time to build your case, find your champions, and grow more support for it in your community. The Iowa DD Council has many options to help you advocate. You can learn a lot at their annual Make Your Mark! Conference - so think about attending on September 14-15 at Prairie Meadows in Altoona.  Click here for more information.

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The Harkin Institute Wants to Hear From YOU!


The Harkin Institute is working with Mathematica and the Iowa Department of Human Services to take a look at 
community-based behavioral health, disability, and aging services across Iowa.  They hope to learn how people access and use these services, including those paid for by Medicaid.  The team will make recommendations after they collect this important information.

 The Department of Human Services has set the following guiding principles for this project:

  • Services should be accessed equitably by all.
  • High-quality care should meet the needs of people living in the community.
  • Service delivery should be well-coordinated, without gaps in or duplication of services.
  • System providers should have clearly defined roles and responsibilities.
  • The workforce should be well-trained, including paid staff and family members.
  • Available services should have demonstrated value to improve health and quality of life.

HOW CAN IOWANS GET INVOLVED?

The Harkin-Mathmatica team will be holding listening sessions throughout Iowa over the next five months (July - November 2022), and you can submit your comments online through the end of August. Here are some things you can do:

1. Go to dhs.iowa.gov/CBSE for updates. You can also subscribe to this page's updates by clicking the link at the bottom of this page (so you get notices when new things are added).

2.  Consider participating in a listening session. The research team will hear from Iowans across the state in-person and virtually at the following locations and dates:

July 7-9: Northeast Iowa (Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, Independence, Mason City, Waterloo)

August 4-6: Northwest Iowa (Denison, Estherville, Fort Dodge, Rock Valley, Sioux City, Spencer, Storm Lake)

September 15-17: Southeast Iowa (Burlington, Columbus Junction, Davenport, Fort Madison, Iowa City, Muscatine, Ottumwa)

October 26-28: Southwest Iowa (Atlantic, Clarinda, Council Bluffs, Creston, Shenandoah)

July-November (various dates): Des Moines and virtual

American Sign Language and Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) will be provided. Participants will receive a $25 gift card for their time. They can also receive a $10 gift card to help cover travel and child care costs. Session space is limited, so the research team requires registration to attend. Sign up by emailing harkinoutreach@drake.edu or calling (515) 271-3688.  

3.  Share your thoughts online. You can share your thoughts—anonymously or not—at www.CommunityServicesIowa.com.

This is a great option if the listening sessions in your area are at capacity or not convenient for you to attend. The feedback form will be open from July 5 through August 31.

4. Express your interest in joining the Advisory Committee by emailing us at iowahcbs@mathematica-mpr.com

Committee members will provide input to the research team to make sure that the assessment reflects the voices of Iowans who use community-based behavioral health, disability and aging services. We currently have all spots filled, but will keep track of people who are interested as opportunities arise in the future.

For any other questions, people can call (515) 271-3688 or email harkinoutreach@drake.edu.  Please feel free to share this information by email and social media with people who might want to attend a session! 

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Retirements & New Districts for 2023

Every ten years, states "redistrict" by redrawing their Congressional and legislative districts.  This follows the US Census and is necessary to make sure each legislative district, and each Congressional district, has about the same number of people in it.  That's how we make sure every person has equal representation.  

There will be a lot of new faces in the 2023 Iowa Legislature. One out of every three legislators will not return to work at the Capitol in 2023.  Some are retiring (it's a lot of work to meet voters in areas that were not in your old district).  Some are running for a different office.  A few were put into the same district as other legislators (so they have to run against each other).  

You may have noticed new names on your June 6 Primary Election ballot, either because you were put in a new district or because your legislator is among the many retiring.   Here is a quick rundown:

  • Sen. Craig Williams (R) - retiring
  • Sen. Roby Smith (R) - running for State Treasurer
  • Sen. Amanda Ragan (D) - retiring
  • Sen. Zach Nunn (R) - running for Congress (against US Rep. Cindy Axne)
  • Sen. Liz Mathis (D)  - running for Congress (against US Rep. Ashley Hinson)
  • Sen. Jim Lykam (D) - retiring
  • Sen. Craig Johnson (R) - running for State Senate
  • Sen. Rob Hogg (D) - retiring
  • Sen. Tim Goodwin (R) - retiring 
  • Sen. Jim Carlin (R) -  ran for US Senate (lost in primary to US Sen. Chuck Grassley)
  • Sen. Joe Bolkcom (D) - retiring 
  • Rep. Marti Anderson (D) - retiring
  • Rep. Rob Bacon (R) - retiring
  • Rep. Terry Baxter (R) - retiring
  • Rep. Liz Bennett (D) - running for State Senate
  • Rep. Christina Bohannan (D) - running for Congress (against US Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks)
  • Rep. Mike Bousselot (R) - running for State Senate
  • Rep. Holly Brink (R) - retiring
  • Rep. Dennis Bush (R) - lost in primary election
  • Rep. Cecil Dolecheck (R) - retiring
  • Rep. Molly Donahue (D) - running for State Senate
  • Rep. Chris Hall (D) - retiring
  • Rep. Lee Hein (R) - lost in primary election
  • Rep. Dustin Hite (R) - lost in primary election
  • Rep. Bruce Hunter (D) - retiring
  • Rep. Jon Jaccobsen (R) - retiring
  • Rep. David Kerr (R)- retiring
  • Rep. Jarad Klein (R) - retiring
  • Rep. Mary Mascher (D) - retiring
  • Rep. Dave Maxwell (R) - lost in primary election
  • Rep. Charlie McClintock (R) - running for State Senate
  • Rep. Charlie McConkey (D) - retiring
  • Rep. Jeff Mitchell (R) - lost in primary election
  • Rep. Jo Oldson (D)- retiring
  • Rep. Ross Paustian (R)- retiring
  • Rep. Todd Prichard (D)- retiring
  • Rep. Kirsten Running-Marquardt (D)- running for Linn County Supervisor
  • Rep. Sandy Salmon (R)- running for State Senate
  • Rep. Ras Smith (D)- retiring
  • Rep. Kristin Sunde (D)- retiring
  • Rep. Jon Thorup (R) - lost in primary election
  • Rep. Cherielynn Westrich (R)- running for State Senate
  • Rep. Dave Williams (D)- retiring
  • Rep. Cindy Winckler (D)- running for State Senate
  • Rep. Mary Wolfe (D)- retiring
  • Rep. Gary Worthan (R)- retiring

Senators are elected for four-year terms, so Senators in even numbered districts are not up for election this year. The following legislators are not up for re-election this year:

  • Sen. Nate Boulton (D)
  • Sen. Mark Costello (R)
  • Sen. Dan Dawson (R)
  • Sen. Jeff Edler (R)
  • Sen. Eric Giddens (D)
  • Sen. Jessse Greene (R)
  • Sen. Dennis Guth (R)
  • Sen. Pam Jochum (D)
  • Sen. Mike Klimesh (R)
  • Sen. Mark Lofgren (R)
  • Sen. Janet Petersen (D)
  • Sen. Jeff Reichman (R)
  • Sen. Amy Sinclair (R)
  • Sen. Jeff Taylor (R)
  • Sen. Brad Zaun (R)
  • Sen. Dan Zumbach (R)

If you know a legislator who is retiring, you might want to send them a handwritten note thanking them for their service to the state and saying how much you appreciated them listening to you.  It's always a nice touch, and legislators remember personal letters! You never know if they will end up in another job or in another elected office where you can continue that relationship.  You can find their addresses in our Guide to the Iowa Legislature.

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Primary Election 2022 Results

Iowa voters went to the polls on Tuesday, June 7 to select their party's candidates for the November 8 General Election.  If someone wants to run for office as a Republican or a Democrat, they must first get the members of their own party to pick them as their candidate.  That's what a primary election is - the members of a political party vote for the person they want to go up against the other party's candidate in the November election.  

The primary election was also the first time voters are selecting someone to run in new districts.  Voters turned out in near record numbers; it was the second highest turnout in a primary election since 1994. Almost 40% of the registered voters in both parties turned out to vote in the primary (195,355 Republicans; 156,589 Democrats).  We hope that you got a chance to get out and vote; it's your voice and your time to pick the people who will make important decisions about your life. 

People often refer to the "top of the ticket," meaning the races at the top of the ballot.  Topping our ballots are the US Senate race, US Representative, and our statewide races (Governor, Secretary of State, State Treasurer, State Auditor, Secretary of Agriculture).  

  • US Senate: US Senator Charles Grassley beat State Senator Jim Carlin for the Republican nomination; he is running for his 8th six-year term.  He will face retired Admiral Mike Franken, who beat former US Representiative Abby Finkenauer in the primary to be the Democratic Party's candidate.  Franken won 76 of Iowa's 99 counties; Sen. Grassley won all 99 counties.
  • Congressional District 1: State Representative Christina Bohannan was unopposed in the Democratic primary, so she will face Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks.
  • Congressional District 2: Congresswoman Ashley Hinson (R) will face State Senator Liz Mathis (D). Neither had a primary opponent, but this race is considered one of the most competitive in the nation. 
  • Congressional District 3: Congresswoman Cindy Axne (D) will face State Senator Zach Nunn (R), who won a three-way primary.
  • Congressional District 4: US Representative Randy Feenstra (R) will face as Ryan Melton (D), who is from Nevada and works at Nationwide.
  • Governor:  Neither Governor Kim Reynolds (R) nor her opponent Deidre DeJear (D) had primary opponents, so they will go on to the November election.
  • Secretary of State:  Secretary of State Paul Pate (R) was unopposed in the primary, but there were two county auditors running to be the Democratic candidate.  Linn County Auditor Joel Miller beat Clinton County Auditor Eric Van Lanker by a little less than 50,000 votes.

  • State Auditor:  Todd Halbur, the Chief Financial Officer for the State Alcoholic Beverages Commission, edged out former State Representative Mary Ann Hanusa to be the Republican candidate to run against State Auditor Tom Sands (D).

State Senate:

  • All current State Senators will move on to the General Election (most didn't have an opponent, but those who did won). Likewise, all current State Representatives who are running for State Senate won their races (Rep. Liz Bennett, Rep. Mike Bousselot, Rep. Molly Donanue, Rep. Charlie McClintock, Rep. Sandy Salmon, Rep. Cherielynn Westrich, Rep. Cindy Winckler).
  • No surprises on the Democratic side.  There was a bit more drama on the Republican side.  Rep. Charlie McClintock decided to run for State Senate this year, and faced a primary opponent.  He lost by two votes on election night but a hand recount changed the election results; he won by two votes.

State House:

  • Three current Republican State Representatives lost their primaries after Governor Kim Reynolds endorsed their opponents (Rep. Dennis Bush, Rep. Dustin Hite, Rep. Jon Thorup). Another three lost because they were thrown into districts with other legislators:
    • Rep. Dean Fisher (R) beat Rep. Dave Maxwell (R).
    • Freshman Rep. Steven Bradley (R) beat House Ways & Means Chair Rep. Lee Hein (R).
    • Rep. Jeff Shipley (R) beat Rep. Joe Mitchell (R).  Interestingly, Rep. Shipley will go up against former Republican State Representative Dave Heaton's nephew, who is running as a Democrat. 
  • The Republican primary in one district (new HD 46 - Grimes and Northern Polk County) had to be decided at a June 27 special convention, since none of the five candidates received the required 35% of the vote. Jeremy Freeman, a Grimes business owner who also got the highest number of votes in the primary election, will be the Republican candidate for this House seat.  Former Democratic State Representative Dan Kelly was one of those who lost in this primary; he had switched parties and moved from Newton to run in this newly formed district.
  • Another former legislator (former Republican State Senator Mark Chelgren) lost a primary to Austin Harris, who served in the Trump Administration and was Congresswoman Marianette Miller-Meeks' deputy chief of staff.  Former Republican Congresssman David Young and former Democratic Congressional candidate J.D. Shoulton were unopposed in their primaries for State Representative.
  • All Democratic State Representatives will move on to the General Election. The Democratic races were pretty boring; even thesix-way primary in the Des Moines area was decided on election night.  UnityPoint doctor Austin Baeth won that race with nearly 50% of the vote.  Another Des Moines doctor won her Democratic primary; Dr. Megan Srinivas beat former Democratic Congressional candidate Eddie Mauro. 

Remember, every vote counts, and yours could make the difference!  Three primary races were decided by less than 100 votes! Only 25 votes made the difference in one Senate District (out of 3,132 total votes).  As noted above, Rep. Charlie McClintock won his primary for State Senate by only two votes in a recount (on election night, he lost by two votes).  Two votes made the difference out of the 3,736 votes cast!  Every vote does count.  So start making a plan to vote on (or before) November 8!  

 More Resources:

  • You can see final results of the primary on the Secretary of State's website here.
  • You can see the new Congressional Districts here.
  • You can find the new State Senate Districts here and State House Districts here.
  • To find which district you are now in, type in your address here.

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NEW Candidate Guide Coming

It can be hard to get information about the people up for election in November.  That is why we will be asking some "top of the ticket" candidates questions about their plans to help Iowans with disabilities be fully engaged in their communities and have more choices in how and where they live.  We will also be putting together voter resources, voter training opportunities, and a candidate guide to help with your preparation. So stay tuned and watch for more information at infonetiowa.org, idaction.org, and iowaddcouncil.org.


If you do not have access to the Internet at home, you can always go to your pubic library! 

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Capitol Chats & More Online

This year we added a lot of new choices in how you get our news - weekly "This Week @ The Capitol" reports every Monday morning, weekly "Capitol Snapshot" video reports for those that prefer to get their news in video format, and our monthly "Capitol Chats" that give advocates a forum to exchange ideas and learn about progress at the State Capitol. We just finished our June Capitol Chat, and it is now available online. While we are skipping July, you can already sign up for our August Capitol Chat (August 26, 11 am).

Our series of "Capitol Snapshots" includes many advocate stories, interviews with legislators, and clips from debate that prove your stories matter. Not only do they matter, they motivate.  So if you missed out on these this session, they are worth a quick view.  While we tried to keep them to five minutes, some ran a little longer.

  • Watch our June Capitol Chat here.
  • Look back at the session by watching our weekly Capitol Snapshots & other monthly Capitol Chats here.
  • Sign up for our August 26th Capitol Chat here.

 

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WANTED: Advocate Stories

As you can probably tell, we think that advocacy works.     

We know that your stories make a difference.  

That is why we want to share your advocacy successes.  Have you:

     - Talked to your elected officials about an issue?

     - Shared your story with them?

     - Gotten your elected official to take action?

Let us know!  We would like to feature your advocacy stories in infoNET.  You can reach out to the Iowa DD Council's Bill Kallestad or email us at infonetiowa@gmail.com. 

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2022 Bill Tracker

Our 2022 Bill Tracker is updated. You can read details about each bill, including vote totals, committee and subcommittee assignments, and final status when session ended.

 You can find our Bill Tracker here.  Bills that passed and are now law are listed in the "active" list (which is what you will see when you go to the site).  If you want to see the bills that were introduced, but didn't pass this year, just switch the "Status" box to "Inactive."

NOTE:  None of these "inactive" bills will carry over to next year. If you see something you like, ask your legislator to sponsor it in 2023.  The bill's already written, so it's really easy to do.

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