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Hi all, it’s been a busy week at the Capitol. Next week is the first legislative funnel, meaning a bill needs to pass the committee to remain alive. Our subcommittee blocks were full this week!

Human Resources (health policy) committee -This week, we ran a bill that will expand health care providers that can deliver vaccines, including dentists and podiatrists. This simply gives people more access to qualified people to deliver vaccines. We also ran a bill that allowed women to obtain a medically necessary hysterectomy without requiring the “permission” of their spouse (yes, that is really a thing…)

I also serve on State Government, and I’ve heard a lot from you about the election bill we ran in committee last week and on the Floor Wednesday night, HF 590. Most of you supported it; some called it a “voter suppression” bill

The bill starts with strengthening election misconduct penalties for those who fail to follow the Secretary of State guidelines or those who disregard the law. First of all, Webster County Auditor Doreen Pliner (and her staff) do a stellar job with elections. Most, 95% of auditors, did an amazing job in the 2020 election and are doing the right thing. They have nothing to fear regarding this bill, as it creates a new ceiling for election misconduct that is sorely needed. Rogue auditors in Linn and Johnson Counties knowingly and egregiously broke the law by intentionally violating our Voter ID law and sending out voters personal information. Our auditors who are doing the job the right way should like this bill as it offers them tools they currently don’t have. Current law allows for the S.O.S to issue technical infractions that go on their permanent record and they have no recourse, this bill offers them an appeals process so they could make their case and have it removed.

Further details of the bill include; mandating voter registration maintenance (who else is sick of dead people voting) and penalties for those who fail to perform said maintenance; prohibiting pre-filled absentee ballot request forms; restricting ballot harvesting to a person living in the same house, immediate family member or qualified caretaker; absentee ballots requests beginning at 70 days (instead of 120) before the election and those shall be mailed no more than 21 days before the election, which is when satellite voting would now start.

Twenty-one days is plenty of time to vote, the national average is somewhere between 18 and 19 days, but some out there are claiming it is voter suppression. Apparently, unless you have longer than a four-month window to vote, it’s voter suppression in their eyes. Yet for years, at least half the country has been telling pollsters that campaigns are too long.

In Iowa, you cannot take your vote back, and voter remorse plays a role when major events happen closer to an election. We also know campaign ads and spending ramp up significantly during voting, so I see this as shortening the intense campaign window – something constituents have commented on a lot. Access to voting is important, but so is making sure it is secure. We either have faith our vote counts, or we don’t. This bill simply looks to align us with the national average and hold those accountable who would tamper with or disregard voting laws. Long story short, Iowan’s expect us to preserve the integrity of our elections, and I will always fight for proper access and security of that right.

Here are some early voting periods in other states-
Delaware – 10 days
District of Columbia – 10 days
Massachusetts – 11 days
New York – 10 days
Wisconsin – 14 days
Here’s a link to more info on what the rest of the country is doing
http:/https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/early-voting-in-state-elections.aspx

Vaccine update – As of today, 626,927 doses of the COVID Vaccine have been administered in Iowa. 155,382 Iowans have completed their full series. New guidance from the CDC was issued last week…If you have completed your vaccine series and two weeks have passed, if you are exposed to COVID you do not need to quarantine. Until you reach that point, please continue precautions to protect yourself and other…frequent hand washing, stay home if you’re sick, and mask up when indoors and in close contact.

Our demand for the vaccine is still greater than the supply. I meet with the State Vaccine commission and IDPH every week, and we are receiving more doses each week. There was a delivery delay to some of our doses related to the inclement weather last week, but it will not decrease the total doses delivered to Iowa.

In Webster County, 7400 vaccines have been administered and 1726 residents have completed their series. I will be volunteering at the Webster County clinic March 6. The clinic I worked last week ran so smooth…it’s amazing that Webster County Health can vaccinate, monitor, and enter important information in IRIS on 90 people every thirty minutes!  I’m grateful for the work of Webster County Public Health in managing this huge task.

Author: Ann Meyer