Ashley’s Angle: Week Seven 2/19/18

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Trusted. Proven. Leader.

Thank you so much for entrusting me to represent Iowa House District 67. I am proud to represent people from Marion, Robins, Hiawatha, and Cedar Rapids.

Babies!

It has been babies-galore at the Capitol lately! Assistant Majority Leader Jarad Klein’s 9-month old baby girl, Violet, visited the Capitol earlier this week. Additionally, Assistant Majority Leader Megan Jones recently welcomed her new baby girl, Alma Lucille Jones, in January. As she is dedicated to her constituents and the rest of Iowa, she took a short leave, but is now back at work with Alma assisting her. Violet and Alma are both lovely girls, and it was great to get my baby fix!

Legislative Business

Debates

As the first funnel deadline has passed, this week has been full of debates on the House floor. Many of the bills have been non-contentious, exemplifying the bipartisan cooperation that can sometimes be overlooked in politics. I floor-managed two bills this week, one which would allow Iowa-based motor carriers to continue to administer their own CDL skills testing in their training programs. The other bill would would create a text-messaging service that would inform Iowans of important updates relating to citations, as well as allowing them to pay those citations through their phone. You can watch me address my fellow members of the House here: CDL and Texts.

Tackling the Opioid Crisis

In the past week, Iowa House Republicans have unveiled priority legislation to combat Iowa’s opioid epidemic and to improve the state’s mental health system. HF 2299 passed the House Human Resources Committee on Tuesday 21-0. This comprehensive legislation prevents doctor shopping for opioids, reduces overprescribing, and provides support to Iowans suffering from opioid addiction by:

  • Funding the new state-of-the-art Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP), which will have the ability to integrate with electronic health records and provide immediate access to information
  • Requiring prescribers to register for the PMP and use the PMP when prescribing controlled substances
  • Requiring electronic prescribing to eliminate fraud
  • Requiring pharmacies to report to the PMP within 24 hours
  • Allowing proactive notification to providers so they can recognize patients at a high risk for opioid abuse and addiction
  • Allowing penalties to be assessed by licensing boards for providers overprescribing
  • Providing prescriber education on opioids
  • Prohibiting addictive prescriptions from being filled more than six months after the date prescribed and from being refilled
  • Requiring first responders to report to the PMP if they administer an opioid antagonist
  • Providing immunity from liability to a person calling 911 to seek help for a drug overdose and for the person experiencing the overdose, with exceptions for drug dealers and repeat offenders
Providing Health Care for Families of the FallenOn Thursday, a bill was presented on the House floor that would require the government to continue to provide health care coverage to the spouse and children of police officers that were killed in the line of duty. The bill provides that a child of a fallen officer shall be provided coverage with the full cost paid by the city, county, or state that employed the officer until the child reaches the age of 26. The bill also provides that the surviving spouse of a fallen officer shall be provided coverage with the full cost paid by the city, county, or state that employed the officer until the date the surviving spouse becomes eligible for coverage under Medicare.

I am proud to have voted in favor of this legislation and am happy to write that the bill passed with unanimous, bipartisan approval within the House. These families have endured the ultimate sacrifice, and by no means does this bill make them whole again, but we hope that it will make their lives a little bit better and a little bit easier.

You can find the full text of the bill here: HF 2351.

Updates on Appropriations

Budget adjustments are sometimes necessary in Iowa, seeing as we have a constitutional provision for a balanced budget. We held a public hearing on Monday to hear from people about these adjustments. We heard from people both supportive of the actions we took, and those who were critical. One of the positives from the bill is that we included a provision for GEMT reimbursement. Basically, the Department of Human Services must request authorization to be able to draw down federal medicaid dollars to help offset the costs of providing emergency ambulance and transports for medicaid patients. You can see the original bill I filed with Representative Breckenridge here.

Separate from the budget bill language, the bill also passed on the floor of the house, meaning it will proceed either in the budget bill language or when our bill makes it through the Senate. Either way- I ensured we are moving the process forward to help our local municipalities and EMS providers.

Bill of the Week

The bill of the week is… HJR 2008.

HJR 2008 is a resolution I sponsored that would oppose the enforcement of a federal requirement of the states to revoke the driver’s license of individuals with drug-related convictions.  These crimes are not related to safety on the roads, so the revocation of driver’s licenses should not be included in the penalties of those convicted of drug-related crimes (Please note: these sanctions are NOT related to crimes of driving while impaired or under the influence of drugs). By eliminating these revocations in these cases, the state will not only save money, but also eliminate a barrier for individuals that are trying to re-enter society and get back into the workforce. I am proud to have sponsored this piece of “second-chance” legislation.

If you have any questions about this or any other bill, please feel free to contact me. You can find the full text of the bills here: HJR 2008.

Touring the ILEA

This past Monday, I, along with other members of the Justice Systems Appropriation Subcommittee, had the opportunity to tour the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) at Camp Dodge. Director Judy Bradshaw introduced us to the staff responsible for training our new law enforcement officers. She also explained to us the difficulties that the ILEA is facing in regards to their current home. As their current building is very dated, much of its inner-workings, such as plumbing, wiring, etc., needs to be renovated. These pictures help to illustrate the current conditions that our future law enforcement officers are training in. The picture on the right even shows that they had to use a pie tin and tape in order to prevent a leak. With all of the faults of the current ILEA building, it is no longer cost-effective to continue to attempt to mitigate the current issues. Therefore, as a member of the Justice Systems Budget committee and the full Appropriations committee, I will be making a strong recommendation to take action on this issue.

Family Fun for Marion Night

After a very busy week last week, it was nice to unwind and spend some much needed family time while celebrating Marion night last Saturday night. My husband Matt, my two boys Max and Jax, and I attended a Cedar Rapids RoughRiders hockey game. Unfortunately, the Riders lost, but we still had a great time.

Get Involved!

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 (ashley.hinson@legis.iowa.gov) 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.