The Exchange, May 9, 2018, Legislative Wrap Up

May 9, 2018

From the left: State Represenative Jacob Bossman (R), Host Mary Hartnett, State Senator David Johnson (I) and State Representative Tim Kacena (D)

Legislative show 050918

Welcome to The Exchange on Siouxland Public Media, I’m Mary Hartnett.  The 2018 Iowa Legislative Session wrapped up on Saturday, two weeks overdue.  This was another historic year for Republican lawmakers who control the House and the Senate.  They passed a major tax overhaul, an abortion bill that is the strictest in the nation, and.

With me to discuss the session are four Siouxland area lawmakers.

Democrat Chris Hall of Sioux City represents the 13 House District.

Sioux City’s Tim Kacena is a Democrat who represents the 14th House District.

David Johnson of Ocheydan represents the first Senate District.

Jim Carlin of Sioux City is a Republican who represents the third Senate District. 

And Jacob Boss of Sioux City represents the sixth House District.

The new law signed last Friday by Governor Kim Reynolds prohibits physicians from performing an abortion one a fetal heartbeat is detected.  That is usually around six weeks.  This is now the strictest abortion law in the country.  
How do you stand on the bill and will it be challenged?

How will the passage of this law play out in the mid-term elections, Republican, and Democratic voters?? 

Tax Cut-Republicans approved some significant changes in Iowa’s tax system that would reduce the personal income taxes and also phase in some cuts to corporate tax rates.  That bill is expected to be phased in over several years.   It would cost an estimated 362 million dollars over the next two years, and the total could climb to more than 2.1 bill dollars by 2024 if some economic conditions are met.   Jim Carlin, you were very much in favor of this bill.  Some are concerned about whether the state can afford it in light of budget deficits in the last few years. Should we be concerned?  

Chris Hall, you have some problems with the bill.  You have had significant concerns about budget deficits over the last few years.    

Tim Kacena?  Will this benefit all Iowans?   David Johnson?  Is this a good thing for the middle class, working class Iowans?  

Budget Bill-the 7.4 billion dollar budget was approved, and some lawmakers say it should be sufficient to prevent more mid-year budget cuts, like the ones Iowa had last year.  However, contracts for the state’s privatized Medicaid system are still pending and that leaves some costs for the next year uncertain. Is it going to be enough to cover the state’s costs?  Tim Kacena?Mental Health and Addiction-mental health legislation create access to centers to provide short-term care for people in crisis, and it seeks to improve the availability of hospital beds for psychiatric patients.  Gov. Kim Reynolds also issued an executive order to look at expanding mental health services for children and teens.  Will these make a dent in the state’s shortage of mental health facilities and providers?  Isn’t this a big problem in NW and rural Iowa?  David Johnson?

Some of the issues related to the problems with the privatized Medicaid program were also addressed this year.  One of them requires private companies overseeing the program to provide written notice for claim denials, but Democrats were concerned because no penalties were established.  Should they have been set up for these claim denials?  

What about the bill allowing the Iowa Farm Bureau to offer limited health care coverage that doesn’t qualify as health insurance in the federal definition?  Will this help some people?  As good as health insurance?

Sexual harassment was a big issue this session.  Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix resigned after photos and video of him with a statehouse lobbyist were released.  Also, the state had to pay out 1.75 million dollars to a Republican Senate staffer who was verbally abused and then fired for reporting it.   There are new rules to address sexual harassment. And Gov. Reynolds fired state housing administrator Bill Jamison for sexual harassment.  

But the bill that would have required those guilty of harassment to pay up in the event of a lawsuit failed.  Should that have gone through, so the state isn’t on the hook for the bad behavior of harassers?

The opioid bill will expand participation in Iowa’s prescription monitoring program and seeks to reduce opioid prescriptions.  It also establishes a “good Samaritan law for anyone seeking treatment for an overdose patient.  Chris Hall, this was a much need change because of the issues with opioid addiction in Iowa.  Is it enough?

Bills that died:

There was a bill that would have reinstated capital punishment. Killed in committee.  Did it ever really have a chance?

The ban on traffic cameras, which are prevalent in Sioux City, failed as well.  Some Iowans have said these cameras don’t improve public safety and are mainly there to generate revenue.  Back next year?

The one-cent sales also tax failed.  That has been a big help for school districts.