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In a short week 13, we heard the continued retirement speeches (we have many retiring this year, including some long-time legislators), and the House passed our final two budget proposals, Health and Human Services and the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund. With the passage of these two bills, all nine budget bills produced by the budget subcommittees have moved from the House to the Senate where they are all currently residing in the Senate Appropriations Committee. The Senate has yet to release the funding levels allocated to each budget subcommittee. My guess, they’ll stay there as bargaining chips to force votes in the House.

The House’s RIIF Budget focuses infrastructure funds to maintain and improve state facilities. $28 million in FY 23 will go toward addressing major structural issues at state facilities. Another big focus of the RIIF budget is increasing quality of life for Iowans. The bill triples the amount of infrastructure funding for state parks and doubles the funding for the Community Attractions and Tourism (CAT) grant program and the Great Places program and increases funding for the Dept. of Transportation’s trails program.

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The House’s Health and Human Services budget prioritizes community-based services for Iowans with intellectual disabilities as well as mental health services. For disability care it provides a $14.6 million investment in home and community-based services rates. This allows for a $2 raise to all direct support professionals, and this bill requires this increase to go towards our front-line workers wages and provides a $7.4 million state investment to reduce the waitlist on the intellectual disability services waiver. This appropriation should add an additional 250 ID waiver slots.

The bill provides mental health funding to increase access to care by expanding the workforce and increasing beds for the most difficult to serve patients. It also completes the state’s transition of taking mental health funding off property taxes, completely phasing out the mental health property tax levy and allocating an additional $71 million from the general fund for mental health regions. Providing $3 million of state funding, and a total funding increase of $7.9 million, to behavioral health intervention services. This is a 35% increase because there are currently lengthy waitlists for individuals to get services due to staffing shortages. It provides $1.1 million of state funding and almost $3 million of total funding to increase residential substance use treatment rates.

After years of work, this week the Iowa House passed a bill to add meaningful protections for Iowans in mobile homes. Recently Iowa mobile home residents have seen an increase in out of state groups buying mobile home parks and make this affordable housing option less attainable. This bill provides protections for residents against retaliation from landlords and requires a 90-day notice of any rental fee increase or cancellation of a rental agreement. It also gives legal remedies to residents if the landlord is not providing essential services, such as water.

Recently, the Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon has announced a massive multibillion-dollar investment in its satellite internet service. Project Kuiper, Amazon’s competitor to SpaceX’s Starlink, has secured up to 83 launches in the next five years to launch its fleet of more than 3,000 satellites into orbit. If completed, the satellite constellation would provide broadband internet service to consumers, businesses, and government agencies. This year the House Info Tech Committee considered House File 2324 which would establish a grant program to reimburse Iowans for initial hardware costs associated with connecting to low earth orbit satellite internet such as Starlink or Project Kuiper. While it failed to survive the legislative funnel deadlines this year, high-speed satellite internet should be a part of Iowa’s plan to provide all Iowans access to the internet.

Author: Ray Sorensen

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1 COMMENT

  1. Deja Vu all over again. The coward of Beijing is back and working his magic. We went through this back in the 80’s when we closed state hospitals and sent ‘clients’ back to their home counties to be warehoused in poorly run Waver Homes staffed by minimum wage untrained baby sitters. I personally don’t believe the mentally ill should be called Clients, we should be honest and just call them Terrys pawns.

    However, any day we can laying off 800 State of Iowa RTW’s (resident treatment workers or tard wranglers as they call themselves) in Konfrst controlled Glenwood is a good day. A few RTW’s will keep their jobs by moving into Fat Terry’s backyard to Woodward. However, we won’t need all the RTW’s as we are NOT moving all 400 Glenwood clients or pawns to Boone county. 25 at the most to Woodward and then someday 250 ID waiver slots will be created in the 99 counties with the rest off to Cherokee @ 2 per month as the remodel progresses.

    Luckily for Fat Terry and the Boone County GOP, the hospital at Cherokee was built with high ceiling in the rooms to stack & warehouse the insane 3 and 4 high, 10-15 Insane Pawns to a room. The 90-day notice of any rental fee increase for lot renters in mobile home parks should go a long way towards balancing the pain & suffering caused by kicking the 400 insane of Glenwood to the streets.

    800 unemployed Union member from a small Iowa town of 5,000 out on our western border should not be a problem for seniors in central Iowa and not a problem for Boone, Story, and Polk county GOP.

    Life is good when you are retired and own an RV in Central Iowa. More money for our parks. More money for the RV WIFI internet. No state income tax on 401-K’s & SSI. We can use any bathroom we feel we were born to use. Pole dancing drag queen bars are the new rage on Iowa college campuses to keep the Democrats happy. Life is good in Iowa…

    Boomers Rule…

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