Tackling Mental Health
This week, the Iowa House passed a historic mental health bill on a widely bipartisan vote. House Republicans worked closely with families and individuals who have experienced mental health crises, mental health professionals, and law enforcement to craft this comprehensive legislation that will support those dealing with mental illness. The bill significantly addresses many of the gaps we currently have in our mental health system.
This is an issue that is personal to many Iowans. Individuals and families that are faced with a mental health crisis often don’t know where to go for support. Additionally, the stigma attached to mental illness only makes it harder to ask for help. This bill will ensure that when a family has a loved one facing a mental health crisis, families will have a place to turn to.
The legislation strengthens Iowa’s regional mental health system, ensuring Iowans with mental illness can access services near their families and in their home communities. The bill:
- Creates new short-term access centers where Iowans suffering from a mental illness can be stabilized before reaching a crisis, and receive appropriate treatment
- Ensures long-term, sustainable resources for mental health and substance abuse services across the state of Iowa. These new services will be Medicaid-covered services.
- Returns mental health care determinations to medical professionals, instead of judges and law enforcement officers. Iowans don’t want jails and prisons to become the default location to treat mental health issues.
Passing Opioid Legislation
In last week’s newsletter, I wrote about a piece of legislation that passed out of the House Human Resources Committee that would help combat the opioid epidemic in Iowa. This week, I am proud to report that this legislation was passed on the House floor. This legislation will help make a difference to the many families and communities in our state that have been impacted by opioid addiction and abuse. The bill will do this by accomplishing three mains goals:
- Prevent doctor shopping
- Reduce overprescribing
- Support Iowans that are suffering from an addiction
This legislation will ensure we have a state-of-the-art prescription monitoring program, require prescribers to record controlled substance prescriptions, and put limits on highly addictive medications. Additionally, the bill would make Iowa the 41st state to add a Good Samaritan Law, providing immunity when someone in danger seeks medical help. There are still restrictions for drug dealers and repeat offenders, however.
I’ve had questions from several constituents about what the impact is if they actually have pain that is managed by opioids. This bill did nothing to change the scope of practice between a doctor and their patient. This will just help us hold the bad actors accountable.
Reforming Iowa’s Tax CodeThe House held its first subcommittee on the Governor’s tax reform bill on Thursday morning. Although we are using the Governor’s plan as a starting point, we will still continue to pursue a thoughtful and transparent process regarding the development of any tax reform bill that advances to the House floor.
Iowans deserve a tax code that is simpler, fairer, and more competitive. We believe that any tax reform efforts need to be focused on hard-working, middle class Iowans, and must be done in a pragmatic and thoughtful way.
Catching Up at the Capitol
This week we had physicians from all over the state come for Physicians Day on the Hill. Dr. Brian Privett is an ophthalmologist with the Iowa Eye Center based out of Cedar Rapids. He thanked the House members for their work on passing both the mental health and opioid bills this week. He is also my son Jax’s ophthalmologist, so it was great to connect with our doctor here at the Capitol. Representative Art Staed, a fellow Representative from Cedar Rapids, also had the chance to catch up with us and take a picture.
Happy Birthday Max!
Last Sunday, we celebrated my oldest son Max’s 7th birthday. We, along with some of Max’s friends, went out for bowling and pizza. My family is a lot of the reason why I do what I do here in the State House. They mean the world to me, and I always cherish the moments such as these that we make together.
Representatives and Senators from the Corridor area met with a group called “Connect Cedar Rapids.” These folks are working to revitalize the Cedar Lake area in Cedar Rapids. They were visiting today to present their plan and make an ask for state funding to help make the project a reality. The group has a significant amount of private dollars already raised, and I’ve advocated for a state commitment to help them cross the finish line. You can find their website describing the project and the organization here
I am continuing to develop my Constituent Advisory Committee.
The group is comprised of people I could email or call to ask questions about specific policy questions. If you would like to join, please email my legislature email (email@example.com) and let me know what your area of expertise is and how I could get in touch with you.
From Education, Judicial issues, Medical, Energy, and Tax policy, I want your input in the process.