Capitol Update Welcome to week 4 of the session. This week in the House, we continued to advance legislation through the sub-committee and full committee processes.
One of the issues with multiple pieces of legislation is Broadband. Reliable broadband services are no longer a luxury as broadband has become a necessity in today’s economy and equal in importance to utilities for many companies. Iowa businesses and workforce depend on a reliable connection to conduct business online or work from home. We will continue to work closely with stakeholders to find solutions and expand broadband to Iowa’s rural communities.
Medical Cannabidiol in Iowa
There have been repeated discussions about medical cannabidiol in Iowa, especially since Illinois has legalized both medical and recreational marijuana. Multiple businesses have been selling cannabidiol products which is against state law. Law enforcement has been working hard to explain the law to businesses and help them properly dispose of the illegal product. While there may be law changes in the future, at this time Iowa law is very clear: unless a person is in the medical cannabidiol program, possession of cannabidiol is illegal in Iowa. Current law allows a person diagnosed with certain conditions to apply for a medical cannabidiol card. If the person is approved for the card, they are allowed to purchase cannabidiol products with up to 3% THC from one of five medical cannabidiol dispensaries around the state. Any products purchased outside of these facilities is illegal to possess for anyone in the state. The Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Board has approved the following conditions for a medical cannabidiol card:
• Cancer – if the illness or its treatment produces one or more of the following: severe or chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, cachexia or severe wasting.
• Crohn’s disease
• Untreatable pain – any pain whose cause cannot be removed and, according to generally accepted medical practice, the full range of pain management modalities appropriate for the patient has been used without adequate result or with intolerable side effects.
• Multiple Sclerosis with severe and persistent muscle spasms
• AIDS or HIV (as defined in Iowa Code, section 141A.1)
• Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
• Parkinson’s disease
• Any terminal illness with a probable life expectancy of under one year – if the illness or its treatment produces one or more of the following: severe or chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, cachexia or severe wasting
• Ulcerative colitis
• Severe, intractable pediatric autism with self-injurious or aggressive behavior
• Corticobasal Degeneration
The board continually reviews petitions to add additional conditions. Future laws may change how Iowa’s cannabidiol program works, but unless these changes are made, CBD products can only be purchased from approved dispensaries by people with Iowa medical cannabinol cards.
Advance Priority Child Care Bills
One of the biggest topics of discussion this session will be continuing to find solutions to Iowa’s workforce shortage. Several factors contribute to this problem, including a lack of access to affordable child care options for Iowa families. This week we advanced two bills out of committee to increase child care provider rates and introduced legislation to address the “cliff effect” in the child care assistance program. These are just three of the priority bills that the House has introduced this session to address access and affordability of child care. Several committees are working on common sense solutions to make child care more affordable for families, increase access to providers, incentivize employers to offer and expand child care to their employees, and address the “cliff effect” by easing Iowans off of government child care assistance programs.
• House File 2067 unanimously passed the Human Resources Committee to increase child care provider rates in the Child Care Assistance Program below the 50th percentile of the 2017 Market Rate Survey up to the 50th percentile, and also increases rates to child care providers under the quality rating system bonuses to reflect the increased rates as appropriate. This amounts to a $7.2 million increase to child care providers accepting CCA. This legislation is important because between FY2018 and FY2019, there was a reduction of 18 child care centers, 140 child development homes, and 99 unregistered homes accepting CCA in the state.
• House File 2128 also passed the Human Resources Committee with bipartisan votes to expand the definition of “infant and toddler” to include children age two weeks to three years. Currently the “infant and toddler” pay class only goes up to the age of two years. The Governor recommended this change in definition to increase rates to providers by $2.3 million.
• House File 2203 was introduced this week and assigned a subcommittee to address the “cliff effect” in the child care assistance program. Currently, Iowans are limited in their ability to be successful. Parents receiving Child Care Assistance are actually discouraged to increase take home pay and encouraged to remain on welfare. The state places a significant child care financial barrier in their way. My colleagues and I are committed to help Iowans stuck in welfare dependency by allowing them to accept raises or promotions at work due instead being pushed over the welfare cliff. The House proposal extends the financial eligibility to those families receiving Child Care Assistance with a staggered increase in payment from the family to begin preparing them to pay for child care costs.
The House will continue to work with the Senate to expand eligibility of the child care tax credit program by doubling the household income threshold ($45,000 to $90,000). The House passed this bill last session and Governor Reynolds included it in her Condition of the State speech as a priority for her this year.
With new technology being introduced every day, distracted driving is a major traffic safety issue. Although there are a wide variety of issues related to driver focus, the most common concern is the potential distraction caused by cell phones and other technology in the car. More than 220 million people in the United States subscribe to wireless services, and it is estimated that as many as 80 percent of those subscribers use their phones while driving.
This week a Transportation subcommittee heard public testimony on HF 2119, requiring the use of hands-free technology while driving a vehicle. While many spoke in favor, there are still a few changes that need to be made before the bill is in its final form. The penalty for failure to comply is a $100 fine. Distracted driving has become an increasingly important issue over the last few years, HF 2119 is an important start to reducing the number of distracted drivers.
From Inside the Chamber
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