A time for reflection

December is always a good time for reflection. A year has come to an end, the sun is in its final stages of moving away from us, and Christmas and other religious holidays are upon us. The Iowa artist, Grant Wood, captured the Iowa landscape in late fall/early winter in his sketch, “December Morning.”

One of the things I enjoy during this time is to carve out a little time for reading. I have a comprehensive collection of Christmas literature. I just finished a novella called “The Drum Goes Dead” by Bess Streeter Aldrich.

It was a delightful story about a man renewing his enjoyment of Christmas by asking people to tell him about their favorite Christmas. A little side note is the author met her husband in Marshalltown while she was teaching in our community following the end of the Spanish-American War.

It’s one more example of how Marshall County and our lives here have made a difference in our world.

I’m also busy preparing for Christmas and gearing up for the 2016 session of the Iowa General Assembly. During this time, I hold a number of meetings here in my district and also around the state to insure that I’m as informed as much as possible about the important issues facing the good hard-working people of our state.

I’ve often stated that government spending should always be considered a diet. We should not consume more than we take in. During the time I’ve been in the legislature, I’ve insured that that has not happened. Further, we should always be mindful of whose money it is: yours.

With that in mind, I believe you should be getting the best return on your money. That means quality education for your children, vibrant educational opportunities beyond high school through the community colleges, regents institutions, and the multitude of private colleges we have available in our state.

We also know that the days of someone receiving training that will carry them for the next 40 years of occupation are gone. Therefore, in order to keep people employed and to meet the commerce needs of our state, we need to have retraining possibilities available so that Iowans always have access to state-of-the-art goods and services.

This is why a great deal of focus needs to be on public education during the 2016 session.

In addition to this, a number of you have contacted me regarding the Governor’s plan to privatize Medicaid. Currently, he’s being sued by the Iowa Hospital Association and a number of consumers, family members, and providers have contacted me that this effort is at a minimum occurring too quickly and there are a number of concerns expressed that it simply should not occur at all.

These services affect more than 560,000 Iowans. They affected a host of medical services we offer in our community. One of the things we have prided ourselves on has been the quality of medical services available in our community. We cannot let anything occur is going to lessen the availability of these services and, therefore, I’m taking an active role in assuring the privatization of Medicaid does not affect quality.

I started this column by discussing the artist, Grant Wood and the author, Bess Streeter Aldrich. Ms. Aldrich’s main character asks people about their favorite Christmas and Grant Wood captured Iowa in December. I hope you capture the beauty and spirit of the holiday season in Iowa this year as well.

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State Rep. Mark Smith can be reached at (641) 750-9278 or by email: mark.smith@legis.iowa.gov