To the People of House District 54

To the People of House District 54

“General Fund Revenue is Even Stronger than Projected” and “The Iowa House Increases Access to Mental Health Care” are headlines that appropriately describe the 10th week of the 2022 legislative session. In addition, committee action was taken this week to help protect land owners’ rights while carbon pipeline projects are being negotiated.

Revenue is Stronger than Projected 
During its March meeting, the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) announced that General Fund revenue is expected to be even stronger than what the three-member panel projected in December 2021. The new revenue figure means there will be an even larger deposit in the Taxpayer Relief Fund than was expected when the Legislature passed tax cuts earlier this session. 

Because Gov. Reynolds signed House File 2317, which lowers Iowa’s income tax rate to 3.9% and eliminates tax on retirement income, the REC is required by law to apply those revenue adjustments to their new projections. The March REC projection includes those adjustments. Even when new tax cuts are factored into the equation, state revenue is projected to stay nearly the same in FY 2023 as in FY 2022. In other words, any potential revenue reductions due to tax cuts has been negated due to the strong revenue growth rate.

House Members Vote to Increase Access to Mental Health Care
The Iowa Legislature during the past five years has passed: bipartisan mental health reform; created the state’s first ever children’s mental health system; created long-term sustainable funding for the Mental Health and Disability Services Regions; provided significant funds to mental health providers through Medicaid rates; and expanded access to mental health care through telehealth. 

However, we hear there are open beds at the 27 hospitals with inpatient psychiatric units but nowhere to put difficult mental health patients. So this week the Iowa House overwhelmingly passed three pieces of legislation to address mental health workforce and additional beds for Iowa’s most difficult patients:

  1. House File 2529 appropriates funding for 12 new psychiatry residencies at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC). 
  2. House File 2549 establishes a mental health practitioner loan repayment program for Iowans who agree to practice in Iowa for at least five years.
  3. House File 2546 requires Iowa Medicaid to establish a rate for psychiatric intensive care in Iowa. 

Protecting Landowners Involved with CO2 Pipeline Projects
The State Government Committee passed legislation this week to provide protections for landowners, who are negotiating with CO2 pipeline projects in Iowa. Current bill language states that pipelines cannot seek or use eminent domain before March 1, 2023. 

The goal of this legislation is to allow landowners and pipeline builders to negotiate on a level playing field without the threat of eminent domain being abused. This bill would allow negotiations with landowners and pipelines to go on without interference. Because private property rights work both ways, this legislation respects all parties.

Constituents in the Capitol
It was great to see so many students spend a day during their spring break, visiting the Iowa Capitol. It was my pleasure on Monday, March 14, to introduce Christy, Grace and Adrian Welsh from Ventura to the Iowa House.

I enjoyed visiting with Government students from Spirit Lake High School on Wednesday, March 16. These students selected a legislator “to become” and then researched bills of interest. One student who selected me shares my love of goats. She also serves on the Dickinson County Youth Council and is the president of her FFA chapter.

Courtney Hass of First Bank Hampton was selected for the Iowa Banker’s Association Banking Leadership Institute and participated in its legislative day on March 16. This five-month program establishes a network of future bank leaders who understand and can respond to local and national issues that impact the banking industry.

Also on March 16, it was my pleasure to host three queens from Franklin County. Rebekah Craighton of Hampton was named Midwest Cover Miss United States Agriculture in December and will compete this summer in the national competition. Jessica Simmons of Latimer is Franklin County Teen Miss United States Agriculture. Addy Moellers of Sheffield is Franklin County Junior Miss United States Agriculture.

It was my pleasure to introduce these lovely queens from Franklin County to the Iowa House this morning. Pictured from left to right are: Rebekah Craighton, Midwest Cover Miss United States Agriculture from Hampton; Jessica Simmons, Franklin County Teen Miss United States Agriculture from Latimer; and Addy Moellers, Franklin County Junior Miss United States Agriculture from Sheffield.
I enjoyed visiting with Government students from Spirit Lake High School on Wednesday, March 16. These students selected a legislator and then researched bills of interest. Izzy Ostovic selected me, and it was interesting to learn how much we have in common. Izzy raises goats. She serves on the Dickinson County Youth Council and is the president of her FFA chapter.