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Mental Health: Bills passed through committee:

  1. Fund 12 psychiatric residents per year, thus increasing the number of psychiatrists trained in Iowa and prioritizes Iowans in application process.
  2. Adds $1 million per year to expand loan forgiveness opportunities to help retain and attract new prescribing mental health providers in Iowa.

Child Care:  Bills passed through committee:

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  1. Allowing child care providers to accept additional money from families participating in the state child care assistance program. Current law does not allow those families to pay the difference between the CCA reimbursement rate and the rate the provider typically charges, even if the family agrees to pay the additional fee. This bill would help providers make additional money by allowing them to collect more money from the families who can afford it, as the state funding does not even pay for their costs.
  2. Change the ratio of staff to children at a child care center. It would allow one worker to be able to watch seven 2-year-olds instead of 6 and allow one worker to watch ten 3-year-olds instead of eight. This bill is designed to help address the staffing shortages many child care facilities face. Additionally, it is intended to create more child care slots for additional families and allow child care facilities to take in more money. However, I have heard concerns about possible safety issues with watching additional children.

Biofuels Bill:  This is the governor’s bill and it passed through committee last week. She has been working with farmers and the biofuels industry and the fuel retailers to help find ways to boost the sale of homegrown ethanol and biodiesel and help fuel retailers with the infrastructure costs they must pay to offer these fuels and still maintain choice for consumers. Simply put, it requires fuel retailers to install, if they haven’t already, compatible infrastructure to offer E-15. However, there is a waiver process under certain circumstances, such as if the cost to the retailer to install the infrastructure is too high. Priority for helping fund infrastructure for fuel retailers will be to upgrade existing retailers and non-exempt retailers.

ATV’s & UTV’s Bill:  This bill would make the law governing use of ATV’s and UTV’s uniform across the state instead of it differing from county to county. Under the bill no county could prohibit the use of these vehicles from using county roadways.

Hands-Free Bill:  Prohibits drivers from using a cell phone while driving unless the use is hands-free or voice activated.

Author: Sandy Salmon

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