Month: September 2019

Rep. John Forbes Appointed as Ranking Member of Health and Human Services Budget

House Democratic Leader Todd Prichard announced today the appointment of State Representative John Forbes of Urbandale as the Ranking Member on the Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee. Representative Forbes will be replacing former Representative Lisa Heddens, who resigned earlier this summer. “I look forward to this new leadership role and working with my colleagues [...]

Senate Dem Leader on appointment of new Human Services chief

Iowa Senate News Release
For Immediate Release:  9/5/19

Statement from Senate Democratic Leader Janet Petersen on appointment of Kelly Kennedy Garcia to Iowa DHS Director

Iowans need a leader at the Department of Human Services who will stand up for people instead of for-profit companies.

Apparently Governor Reynolds shared her ‘ambitious goals’ for serving Iowa’s most vulnerable populations with newly appointed director Kelly Kennedy Garcia.

It is time for Governor Reynolds to also share those goals with Iowans.  The Reynolds Administration has been working behind closed doors on a ‘new direction’ for the department for nearly a year.  Yet Governor Reynolds has continued to keep Iowans in the dark about what to expect.

Like most Iowans, Senate Democrats are hopeful the new Iowa DHS director will have the courage to help Governor Reynolds fundamentally change course. Her to-do list should start with:

1)    Fixing Iowa’s privatized Medicaid system, a failure that is unsustainable, unaffordable and unaccountable.

2)    Reversing the policies that destroyed Iowa’s once successful family planning network.  The result has been more unintended pregnancies, more risky births, and more teenage mothers.

3)     Addressing Iowa’s maternal health crisis which has more than doubled maternal mortality in less than three years.  Reynolds Administration policies have contributed to making Iowa a more dangerous place to have a baby.

4)    Establishing a comprehensive, adequate source of funding for child and adult mental health services.

5)    Ending dangerous practices and procedures in use at Glenwood, Eldora and other state-operated facilities.

6)    Rebuilding Iowa’s child protective safety net by mending the holes that have resulted in abuse and death.

The Reynolds Administration does not have a good record on helping Iowa families. Senate Democrats hope the Garcia appointment signals real change rather than more failure.  Iowans deserve better.

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Mathis named Legislative Friend of Housing

Iowa Senate News Release
For Immediate Release:  September 4, 2019

Senator Liz Mathis receives “2019 Legislative Friend of Housing” Award

CEDAR RAPIDS: Today State Senator Liz Mathis of Hiawatha received the 2019 “Legislative Friend of Housing” award at the statewide 2019 Housing Iowa Conference currently being held in Cedar Rapids. 

The award recognizes “a legislator who has actively participated in committees involving affordable housing legislation, has developed strong grass roots initiatives and makes improving the lives of Iowans through affordable housing an integral part of his/her legislative work.”*

“There are few things more important in life than a home that is safe and affordable,” Mathis said. “Iowa communities both large and small struggle to provide families with high quality, affordable places to live.  In the State Senate, I’ve focused on housing because solving this problem will help our children succeed, help businesses grow, and improve the lives of Iowa seniors.

The specific work that led to Mathis’ nomination included:

  • Helping lead the restoration of flooded Cedar Rapids homes.
  • Expanding affordable housing for workers after the floods.
  • Working to restore single-family housing in a core neighborhood that was under stress.
  • Organizing a state-wide tour of affordable housing in the cities of Dubuque, Des Moines and Carroll.

Housing legislation Senator Mathis helped pass or fund include: the State Housing Trust Fund, the Workforce Housing Tax Credit, the creation of a new state income tax exemption for deposits in a First-time Homebuyer Savings Account, Workforce Housing Set-Asides for Iowa’s smaller communities, the Home Ownership Assistance Program for military service members and veterans, and Redevelopment Tax Credits.

Senator Mathis is the ranking member of the Human Resources Committee and Ag & Natural Resources Budget. She also serves on the Agriculture, Appropriations, Commerce and Ethics committees.  Additional information and photos of Senator Mathis can be found at http://www.senate.iowa.gov/senator/mathis/

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* https://www.housingiowaconference.com/awards/legislative-friend-of-housing-award

Labor Day: Iowa workers are our best asset

Labor Day is about recognizing the contributions workers make to their communities and our state. It really can’t be overstated: Workers are the backbone of our way of life.

A thriving workforce is a sign of a strong economy and a successful society. When workers aren’t valued, we’re headed in the wrong direction—and that’s exactly what many Iowans are facing.

In recent years, decades of advances toward fair wages, working conditions and benefits have been lost to policies that are upending the principles that made our country strong, along with opportunities for Iowans to achieve the American dream.

In spite of record low unemployment, our economy has slowed to a crawl. Working families have been pushed aside in favor of corporations and profits.

Most GOP legislators and the Governor gutted the state’s collective bargaining law that ensured employees and public employers collaborated on mutually agreeable solutions in the workplace; slashed protections for Iowans injured on the job; put pensions in danger; and weakened wage and “Buy American” requirements.

The nonpartisan Iowa Policy Project sums it up this way: “Unfortunately, policy choices have put us on a road that prioritizes corporate profits over worker wages and corporate tax cuts over the public investments that allow for a strong, sustainable economy.”

The result is a growing inequality, with the rich getting richer. Meanwhile, many Iowans work multiple jobs and still struggle to make ends meet. That’s not right.

As we celebrate Labor Day, Senate Democrats remain committed to fighting for working Iowans, restoring and protecting workplace rights, and ensuring Iowa employees and employers have a fair shot at getting ahead.