Last week I filed SSB 3131. If you pay attention to the left-wing “spin” media, I’m sure you have heard this past week that I am a fascist and a book burner who is attempting to shut our precious libraries down. For starters, SSB stands for “Senate Study Bill.” Study is the keyword to that statement. This library funding and authority bill came to me straight from my district in response to some of the property tax reforms we have made this past year. Local governments have asked us to take care of some of their unfunded mandates that we require of them if we expect them to lower property taxes. The $.06 mandatory minimum levy that we require of all local governments to charge to pay for libraries is generally one of those levies that they point to as an example. Since I am chair of the Local Government Committee, I felt it was my responsibility to file a bill.
The only thing the funding portion of the bill did was change the word “shall” to a “may” regarding the county and city responsibility for this levy. The reality is after studying this, almost all local government entities charge more than this $.06 mandatory minimum, so consequently, this part of the bill really wouldn’t change anything except to take away one of their talking points that attempts to shift blame for local reckless spending on state officials. I do not want that portion to kill the other portions of the bill that I am confident will pass swiftly. We are in the second session of the general assembly with the time clock running out on us, so I struck the funding portion of the conversation out to keep the rest of the bill moving swiftly. The rest of the bill simply adds an option for the city councils for how they oversee and hire their library boards and directors.
One issue that got some attention this week is Senate Study Bill 3140. In her Condition of the State speech last month, Governor Kim Reynolds spoke about extending postpartum Medicaid coverage for low-income Iowa women from 60 days to 12 months. Her legislation to accomplish that goal, SSB 3140, advanced in the Senate this week. It reduces current income eligibility from over $93,000 annually for a household of three to over $53,000 annually for a household of three, while extending coverage from 60 days to 12 months. Eligible women will now be covered during the months of pregnancy through a year following the end of the pregnancy. Public assistance programs like Medicaid should be available for low-income Iowans and not for everyone to qualify.
Hard-working Iowans should not be asked to pay for the health insurance of people making nearly $100,000 per year. Iowa is one of only a few states to offer two months of postpartum coverage for women, but income eligibility is the most generous in the country. The changes in this bill bring Iowa in line with many other states both for income eligibility and duration of coverage. This policy is consistent with many of Senate Republicans’ policies that advanced over the years to ensure public assistance programs are available for people truly in need and are not utilized by people with the means to provide for themselves.