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Great news from Iowa Senate

We received good news about Iowa and the economy. The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Iowa’s economy grew faster in the last few months of 2020 than many of our neighboring states at 6.3 percent. This, along with one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, is great news as Iowa recovers from the pandemic. It also demonstrates why pro-growth policies are important — they help grow our economy, open up jobs so people can work and ensure we are prepared when difficult times come.

This week was the twelfth week of the legislative session which included the next important legislative deadline of the year. In order to be considered for the rest of the year, policy bills needed to be out of their original chamber and through committee in the second chamber. In other words, we spent time this week looking at policy bills sent to us from the House.

In the Human Resources Committee, we passed another bill to help Iowans be successful by offering a graduated eligibility program for child care. HF 302 offers people who are receiving child care assistance to now have an off ramp to be self-sustaining. In the past, the child care assistance program had a steep cliff which meant that one’s assistance drops off faster than their income rises. As a result, Iowans would refuse a higher wage to avoid losing assistance. HF 302 bill will address that problem.

We passed House File 260 in the Senate. It allows a child care provider to care for five or fewer children or six or fewer children if one of the children is school-aged. Current law requires a child care home to register with the Department of Health and Human Services if they provide care to more than five children at one time. Access to affordable child care has been an issue for a while, especially while many were working from home during the pandemic. This bill is another way we can address the need for child care in rural Iowa.

In the wake of the pandemic, we have realized the value of accessing telehealth services. In order to leverage telehealth into the future, we need to find a sustainable reimbursement level while not hindering patient outcomes. While it would be much easier and far less work to legislate a government mandate for insurance reimbursement, that is not what you sent me to the Capitol to do. You sent me to provide real-world solutions – not more government intervention that raises insurance premiums. I have worked extensively with private payers to come up with a 95 percent reimbursement rate for outcome-based services. This rate is 20 percent more than what Iowa law provides, while focusing on better patient outcomes.

The Senate advanced a bill to address sustainable funding for Iowa’s mental health regions. SF 587 has many facets, but the main theme is property tax reduction. While the bill takes a bold stance on property tax reduction there will be many days of conversation before we see a final product. As the policy work starts to wind down for the session, we will continue to spend more time on appropriations and taxation issues.

It has been an honor and a privilege to serve you. Feel free to contact me with questions and concerns.

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Jeff Edler is the state senator for District 36.

Contact him at jeff.edler@legis.iowa.gov

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