Statehouse News 

The session has come to a close after 135 days —35 days longer than scheduled. There were many ups and downs this session, and though the headlines would make you believe that all was divisive, as always the majority of what we do in the state of Iowa is bipartisan. 
The headlines prefer the sensationalized portions that are without a doubt divisive topics to the majority party—like public school funding, Educators, “choice”, LGBTQ —specifically trans rights, the governor’s workforce shortage… 
Though 90% of what we did was good for Iowans, and we did it together, we still have a lot of work to do here in Iowa. That work will go unfinished until we make changes in our priorities. We need to fully fund our schools, we need to create better jobs and wages, we must have affordable housing for our workers, we need to improve our healthcare and increase our mental health care capacities, we need to cleanup our environment and waterways here in Iowa, and we must find a way to attract young people to the state —and keep our children here to work, live, and play.
As you know on June 7 you have the opportunity to make a choice —and I hope you exercise your right to vote in this primary election. 
Then next fall, work to flip some seats blue that are currently red to move the priorities forward that have been left undone-that will make Iowa a better place for all. 

Legislature Concludes – Focus on People, Not Politics

When the 2022 Iowa Legislature began in January, lawmakers were focused on listening to people and leading with Iowa values. Legislators believe Iowa’s way of life is worth protecting so they put politics aside and focused on improving the lives of Iowans through the following legislation: 
  • Fixing the workforce crisis and keeping the next generation in Iowa
  • Lowering costs and putting more $$ in the pockets of Iowans
  • Keeping public money in public schools
  • Addressing the affordable child care & housing shortages
The Legislature did take some steps to address some of these priorities, but not enough progress was made to fix Iowa’s growing workforce shortage. Here are a few of the bi-partisan achievements this session:  
  • Expanding opportunities for farmers and rural Iowa through increased hemp production (HF 2380)  
  • Making more students eligible for college & job training scholarships (HF 2165)
  • Investing in our homegrown energy future with the Iowa Energy Center (SF 2325)
  • Making more students eligible for college and job training scholarships (HF 2165)
  • Promoting Iowa food products through the “Choose Iowa” program (HF 2581)
  • Cutting red tape for restaurant and bar owners. (SF2374)
Iowans raised big concerns about some of the priorities pushed by the Governor and Majority Party lawmakers this session that were more about politics than people. With Iowans engaged and strongly opposed, several issues that dominated the legislative session never became law: 
  • Private school vouchers that shift money from public schools to private schools (SF 2369)
  • Threatening educators with jail (SF 2364) and putting cameras in every classroom (HF 2177)
  • Putting monetary value on lives forever impacted by serious medical errors (SF 2275)
  • Forcing doctors to provide false medical information to their patients (HF 2389)
  • Taking food benefits from children during the pandemic (HF 2438)

Iowans Want Strong Public Schools; Vouchers Fail 

When the session began, lawmakers heard from students and educators across the state, exhausted from underfunding and navigating through two-years of pandemic learning. Iowa Democratic lawmakers offered plans to return to Iowa’s deep-rooted history in public education with a $300 million investment in public schools instead of corporations. Democrats also offered ideas to lower class sizes, get more parents involved in their child’s education, and keep good teachers in the classroom.  

Instead of working together to strengthen public schools this session, the Governor and Republican lawmakers worked on legislation that will weaken public schools and drive more teachers out of the classroom.  
The Governor’s private school voucher plan to divert money from public schools to private schools was the most controversial topic of the legislative session. A majority of Iowans are firmly opposed to vouchers because they believe public money is for public schools. Iowans registered their opposition to the plan all session long and, with Democratic lawmakers united in opposition, the bill did not pass the Iowa House. 

Even with a record state surplus, the Governor and Majority Party lawmakers again underfunded public education. Over the last decade, state funding for education hasn’t kept up with rising costs, and next year will be no different.  PreK-12 school leaders say low funding will result in higher class sizes, less course offerings, and fewer textbooks and technology upgrades. Higher education did not fare much better, as community colleges and public universities will likely have to raise tuition again next year for Iowa students.

There have been several bills that lawmakers worked together on earlier this session that bring good things to the table for Iowa students and teachers including: 
  • A new scholarship program through the College Student Aid Commission to help young adults with intellectual disabilities transition to and pay for the college (HF 2495)
  • New radon testing and mitigation at Iowa’s school buildings. (HF 2412)
  • A program to assess, monitor and track language development for deaf and hard-of-hearing kids (HF 604)
  • Keeping students safe while protecting them from bad actors that teach our children by eliminating an age requirement of an abused child under the mandatory reporter law, and requiring the reporting of the identity of a school employee under the mandatory reporters who may have caused injury to a child (HF 2567)  

Helping Iowa’s Women and Children  

Due to the pandemic, women in record numbers are having to leave the workplace because of the struggle to find childcare. Iowa women are also losing options when it comes to their own health care and starting a family. Because of this, House Democrats have been focused on tackling issues that will help women and children.

House Democrats were strong supporters of expanding the newborn screenings legislation that was recently signed into law. Iowa will now require all of the federally recommended newborn screenings to be included in Iowa’s newborn screening panel, and will add four extra conditions that newborns will be screened for. There was also wide support for expanding the age, from 30 days to 90 days, that an infant can be dropped off at specific locations under the Safe Haven Act. 

Also, after years of advocating for the elimination of the “tampon tax”, Iowans will finally be able to buy menstrual products, as well as children and adult diapers, tax-free. 

House Democrats also proposed the following policies to help women and children that the Majority Party lawmakers were against:
  • Expanding the postpartum Medicaid care for 12 months to help new mothers care for themselves and their child
  • Requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees
  • Creating a task force to address the infant formula shortage in order to develop ways to encourage the in-state production of raw materials used to make infant formula
  • Increasing child care provider rates so that more children will have access to quality child care
Instead of helping women, the country is seeing a wide attack on basic rights, even right here in Iowa. In 2018, GOP leaders attacked a woman’s right to make decisions about their bodies by passing a law that would have banned abortions at six-weeks. This is before some women even know they are pregnant. This law was eventually struck down as unconstitutional by the Iowa Supreme Court. 

In 2017, the Governor and Republican lawmakers turned away a yearly $3 million in federal funding for family planning programs which has now led to the closure of multiple family planning and health care clinics. The closures have left 14,600 Iowans without health care in their own community for services like birth control, cancer screenings, and other women’s health services. This year, the Majority Party decided to fund fake pregnancy centers that do not provide all the information or services that an individual may need during their pregnancy.


Increasing Access to Mental Health Care Services

Currently, 57 percent of Iowans are living in a mental health professional shortage area and many have to wait months before being able to access any services. Iowa is ranked 45th in the nation for the number of psychiatrists per capita. Several bills have moved through the legislative process this year that work to address access to mental health care services including: 
  • Allows more people to access psychiatric care because it will now be a covered service under the Medicaid program.  This initiative was also funded at $1.5 million in the Health and Human Services budget this year (HF 2546
  • Creates the Mental Health Professional Loan Repayment Program where mental health professionals can receive up to $40,000 off their student loans. This will entice these professionals to come and stay in Iowa (HF 2549
  • Adds an increase of $200,000 for the Psychiatry Residency Program, which attracts medical residency students to Iowa, where they would hopefully stay and make Iowa their home (HF 2578)
House Democrats voted to open up a 12-bed psychiatric unit at the Cherokee Mental Health Institute and a 12-15 bed psychiatric medical institution for children (PMIC) at the Independence Mental Health Institute. These beds would have gone a long way in increasing access to services, especially in rural Iowa. However, the Majority Party voted the measure down.

The bills that made their way to the Governor are a good first step to addressing access and attracting professionals to our state, but they are not going to solve the problem entirely. 


Supporting Iowa’s Veterans

This year, the Iowa Legislature continued to thank and support Iowa’s veterans and their families for the services and sacrifices they’ve made for our state and country.

Several bills were passed and sent to the Governor this session that will assist veterans across Iowa including giving 99 Veteran County Commission Offices extra financial support to help Iowa Veterans. Additional assistance was also given to the Veteran Home Ownership Program which provides $5,000 to veterans to be used for down payments and closing costs in order to purchase a house.

Veterans will receive several new benefits thanks to the passage of Senate File 2383. Veterans with a disability rating of 100 percent will no longer have to pay for a driver’s license or a motorcycle license and all veterans and active duty military members will have the fees waived for a chauffeur’s license or commercial driver’s license. 

Finally, a new $5 annual armed forces fishing license or annual armed forces hunting and fishing combined license for any resident of Iowa who has served in the military on federal active duty. Veterans can also now receive guided hunting trips for veterans to receive 50 more deer tags, and disabled veterans will now be able to receive a lifetime trout stamp.     

Iowa House Democrats will continue to support our veterans who have sacrificed so much for our state and nation.


A Commitment to Renewable Energy

Iowa lawmakers passed two bipartisan proposals to assure new investments in solar energy and renewable fuels. 

Honoring a commitment made to Iowans who invested in solar energy, House File 2395 extends a tax credit that previously expired. For several years, Iowa offered a $5,000 tax credit for solar energy installations, but many Iowans were left on a waiting list without receiving the credit when the credit expired. The Legislature supported fulfilling this obligation, and also expanding the credit by allowing for new claims going forward.

House Democrats recognize the success of the solar energy program and support efforts to reduce demand and lower energy costs. 

Iowa’s strong agricultural and manufacturing heritage has made us a world leader in renewable energies such as wind, solar, ethanol, and biodiesel. It has created tens of thousands of jobs and pumped billions of dollars into our economy.

House Democrats continued their support of these efforts by expanding the use of renewable fuels in the state. House File 2128 sets a new renewable fuel standard for service stations in the state to encourage expanded availability of renewable fuels and ensure that ethanol blended gasoline of at least 15 percent, often referred to as E-15, is available at more locations around the state.

The bill also expands a number of renewable fuel credits, which include incentives for the production of higher ethanol blends like E-85, biodiesel production, and a credit for retailers that blend gas that is at least E-15. The final version of the bill prioritizes these incentives for smaller producers, providing more financial help for the smallest “mom and pop retailers'' to upgrade their ability to sell renewable fuels. The bill additionally includes expanded waivers from requirements for small retailers that could have trouble meeting the new requirements in the short term.

HF 2128 passed the Legislature last month and was signed into law by the Governor.


Other News from the Legislative Session

NEW CHANGES TO IOWA’S BOTTLE BILL: An update to the long-standing beverage redemption program, known as the “bottle bill”, passed the Iowa Legislature this year. While the five-cent deposit that Iowans already pay remains the same, lawmakers allowed retailers to opt-out of redeeming cans and bottles as long as they are near a redemption center or mobile redemption system and requires stores that reject bottle returns to post on the front door the location of the nearest redemption center. It also provides a larger incentive to redemption centers in the hopes to have increased access. The bill passed both chambers and is now awaiting the Governor’s signature.

TAX GIVEAWAYS TO CORPORATIONS AND MILLIONAIRES: Governor Reynolds signed a bill into law that will give hundreds of millions in new tax breaks to millionaires and corporations this year. House File 2317 includes tax breaks for corporations that are estimated to cost the state over $200 million in future years. According to the Department of Revenue, approximately 500,000 Iowans will receive no change in their taxes with these tax changes. 

LOWERING PRESCRIPTION DRUG COSTS: In an effort to reduce prescription drug costs from skyrocketed even higher, the legislature passed regulations on Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBM) to increase drug pricing transparency. House File 2384 will lower Iowa consumers’ prescription drug costs by prohibiting PBMs from pocketing drug cost savings. The average price increase is 10.5 percent, which is near five-times the rate of inflation. As a result, Iowans have been paying significantly more for medication without receiving a pay increase. A contributing factor in these price increases is the prevalence of Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs). PBMs administer drug plans for 266 million Americans over several different healthcare plans. PBMs are meant to reduce prescription drug costs and improve prescription medication safety and convenience. However, in Iowa PBMs have been found to hurt, rather than help because they partly profit from spread pricing. This includes PBMs charging a healthcare plan more for a drug than the amount reimbursed to the pharmacy and pocketing the difference. In one example, the for-profit PBM (CVS Health) charged Wapello County almost $200 for a drug, but only reimbursed the local pharmacy less than $6 for the same drug. House File 2384 will prevent PBMs from prohibiting pharmacies from disclosing or selling lower-cost drug options. Unanimously passing both chambers, the proposal now awaits being signed into law. 

DEAF AND HARD OF HEARING SERVICES BILL APPROVED: Many deaf and hard-of-hearing children go to school with no or limited language skills at a critical time for learning. House File 604, known as the Language Equality and Acquisition for Deaf Kids (LEAD-K), will impact high-quality services that support equitable early language acquisition in deaf and hard-of-hearing children. This should reduce the need for intensive remedial education services provided by a school, and will push for the coordination of deaf services for students. There are approximately 430,000 individuals in Iowa who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. This legislation will encourage assessments, provide data, and help parents make informed choices and improve resources for deaf or hard-of-hearing children so that they will be ready for kindergarten. 

TRANSGENDER KIDS BELONG IN SCHOOL AND IN SPORTS: Every kid deserves the opportunity to participate in sports. House File 2309, passed this session on a party-line vote, discriminates and singles out transgender girls, legislating them as dangerous or unwelcome in high school and collegiate activities. Quickly signed into law by the Governor, it disrupts schools’ policies of treating all kids fairly. Local schools across the state in partnership with the high school athletic associations already had policies that protect transgender youth and ensure a level playing field for all students. There is no evidence that supports the theory that including transgender girls in school sports will make anything less fair for non-transgender girls. Legislators who have pushed such bans have consistently been unable to provide any evidence supporting this. 

INCREASED PENALTIES FOR ELDER ABUSE: Anyone who abuses aging Iowans could face criminal charges under a new change that passed the Legislature. Senate File 522 increases penalties for physical, psychological, and financial exploitation of our older population in Iowa. The penalties for elder abuse range from one to five years in prison. The penalty for financial exploitation of an older individual can be up to 25 years in prison, depending on the value of the assets involved in the exploitation. 

GOVERNOR CUTS EARNED UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS: Instead of addressing the issues causing Iowa’s workforce shortage this session, Legislative Republicans chose to permanently cut earned unemployment benefits by 10 weeks. House File 2355 further mandates Iowans accept a job, even if the offered wage is significantly less than what they were previously earning. Despite Governor Reynolds’ claims, this will not solve Iowa’s workforce shortage, and it only punishes people who, through no fault of their own, have lost their job.

MAJOR CHANGES TO JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM: Iowa has recently taken major steps to reform their juvenile justice system. The bill, House File 2507, aligns with the federal Family First Act which focuses on keeping kids with their families and not in foster homes.  The Family First Act (FFA) is a federal initiative that completely restructures how federal money is used for child welfare. Previously, most of the funding went towards services once the children are removed from their home. FFA changes that to focus on preserving families, and putting more emphasis on keeping children with their families or in family settings. Iowa was the 11th state to get their FFA plan approved, and over the past five years, Iowa has reduced the number of children and youth entering foster care by 20 percent. HF 2507 specifies that when a child is removed from their parents, the court must secure the least restrictive care for the child’s placement. The child’s relatives and fictive kin are to have preference in placement. Fictive kin are adult persons who is not a relative of a child but who has an emotionally positive significant relationship with the child or the child’s family. 

I have been honored to represent all of you in house district 68 for this last session as well as those of you in my future senate district 37.


I thank you for your support as your State Representative, and I look forward to your continued support as I work to become your new State Senator next session.
I understand there are some who have a different opinion about the legislation and choices made on the floor, but I hope to keep communication lines open for all to continue to share their concerns with me. 
It is my plan, as always, to work with everyone in the Capitol to better my district and the state. I look forward to bipartisan efforts that I know we will have to move Iowa forward. But I am also up for the fight to push for a better Iowa and different priorities for Iowans.
Please follow my Facebook page for updates on what’s happening around the district. I will do my best to kept events listed there over the coming months.
Go to the link below and like my legislative page to keep up to date:
As your representative, I am available throughout the year for questions, concerns, and suggestions. Please contact me if you have any concerns, questions, or comments:
It is truly an honor to serve you and I am looking forward to what the future brings in senate district 37 in 2022. 
Warmest regards,

Contact State Rep. Molly Donahue

Copyright © 2022 State Rep. Molly Donahue, All rights reserved.

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