Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
By State Sen. Jeff Reichman
Mar. 28, 2023 11:56 am
One bill debated this week was Senate File 547, known as the “hands free” bill. This bill is designed to keep Iowa roads safer from the dangers of cell phone usage while driving. SF 547 would update the law, making it illegal to use electronic devices while driving unless it is used in a voice-activated/hands free mode. The bill passed in the Senate on Wednesday with bipartisan support. Hands-free legislation is supported by law enforcement and has been shown to reduce traffic deaths and injuries in states with similar legislation.
Another bill policy debated this week was rooting out error, fraud, and abuse in Iowa’s welfare system. This issue has been a priority in the Iowa Senate for several years. The bill establishes updated and effective income and identity verification parameters for public assistance programs such as SNAP, Medicaid, FIP, and CHIP by using private sector technology to identify possible errors and fraud. Preventing welfare errors and fraud was a bipartisan issue for many years. However, it appears pro-fraud senators are no longer interested. In fact, not only did they propose spending more money on the program, but incredibly, they also tried to amend the bill to make it easier to commit fraud and violate federal policies in the programs.
On Tuesday we celebrated National Agriculture Day. This is a great time to recognize the hard work the farmers in Iowa put in to feed the world. Iowa has over 80,000 farms and is a leader in corn, soybean, livestock, and ethanol production. We are proud to have many farmers in our caucus and have been working to strengthen agriculture in our state for the past several years. Thank you to all Iowa farmers and their families for the work you do not just for Iowa, but people all around the world.
Health Care Reforms Pass Iowa Senate
Improving health care availability and ensuring Iowans have access to important health care services has been a priority this year and it came up again this week. On Wednesday, the Senate passed Senate File 506 to reform Iowa’s Certificate of Need law. Senate File 506 reforms Iowa’s CON law so it no longer applies to community mental health facilities, birth centers, and rehabilitation facilities. Institutional health facilities, like hospitals, nursing facilities, residential facilities, and ambulatory surgical centers, would still be under CON with targeted regulations. Under this bill, institutional health facilities would not need to apply for CON to replace equipment, buy new equipment, or change services.
This bill changes the state’s role in how it oversees health facilities grow in our state. Health care access, cost, and quality services are something we hear about from our constituents often, and we have been working hard to ensure Iowans have access to the care they need, when they need it. This bill is one way we can help Iowans and our rural communities by easing government regulations and not endlessly pouring more taxpayer money into health care.
Parental Bill of Rights Advances
Since the onset of the pandemic, many parents have become more aware and involved in the content taught to their students and the materials available to them at their school. Ensuring parents are part of their children’s education has become a nationwide conversation from Virginia to Iowa.
Some parents have routinely described explicit materials available to their young students. This bill, which the Senate passed on Wednesday, has no book bans, no implementation of speech codes, and the wildly exaggerated claims of censorship also do not exist in this bill. SF 496 simply implements common sense. It is completely reasonable for sexually explicit content to be unavailable to elementary students in their taxpayer-funded school. It is completely reasonable to ensure parents are informed of their children’s activities in school, especially on an issue as sensitive as gender identity. It is also completely reasonable to prohibit discussions of gender identity and sexual activity to kindergarteners and elementary students.
A Democrat on the floor of the Senate said, “There are some things parents shouldn’t have access to.” Instead of hiding information from parents I believe parents should have all information they request about their students. Parental rights is the concept that parents bear the ultimate and fundamental responsibility for the upbringing of their child. Students are not wards of the state and parents must have the ability to guide their education, moral and religious upbringing, and the preparation for their future.
On a personal note, Renee and I announced our engagement in the Senate at the start of the day on Tuesday, March 14. No date at this time, however we are very much looking forward to boating season.
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