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High School Students Encouraged to Serve as Iowa Legislative Pages

The Iowa Legislature is looking for high school students to learn more about the legislative process by applying to serve as a Legislative Page in the Iowa House of Representatives for the 2020 legislative session. Legislative Pages provide invaluable assistance to representatives and staff by running errands, delivering messages, and distributing bills and amendments.  Pages [...]

Iowa needs better medical cannabis program that meets patient needs

Statement by Senator Joe Bolkcom
Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Board Meeting
August 2, 2019

Members of Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Board, with all due respect.  It’s time to face facts.

Between the misguided actions of the Governor, the Republican controlled legislature and this Board, you have created the nation’s worst medical cannabis program.

Residents of 32 other states — the majority of all Americans — have much better access to affordable, effective medicines made from cannabis.

In Iowa, the medicine is too expensive and not potent enough to help most people. Getting approved as a patient is cumbersome and bureaucratic. There are only five dispensaries, none located in rural Iowa.

After five long years, only 3,300 sick Iowans have been able to cut through the red tape to legally obtain medical cannabis. More than 70 percent of these patients suffer from intractable, severe and chronic pain.

Patients want the choice of medical cannabis when they are faced with serious, life threatening medical conditions.

Sadly, a few short months ago this board derailed very modest improvements supported by 137 Iowa legislators that would have helped these patients suffering from intractable pain.

Meanwhile, Iowa remains awash in powerful, highly addictive narcotic pain pills.  It’s astonishing that in the first six months of 2019, Iowa doctors wrote 850 thousand narcotic prescriptions for 307 thousand Iowans. More than half were prescribed addictive opioids like fentanyl.

So follow this. There are more than 300 thousand sick Iowans taking narcotic pain pills while only 3,300 patients have been able to access safer, medicines made from cannabis.

When are we going to start protecting Iowans from deadly, drug company opioids?

The board’s misplaced obsession with THC has clouded your ability to actually help people. THC is medicine and Iowa patients are capable of managing it.

This is NOT about having a party, it’s about helping people that are dying and sick.

Earlier this year Illinois ended marijuana prohibition.

On January 1, adults 21 years of age and older will be able to legally buy products made with marijuana.

The good news is that Iowa medical cannabis patients will have much easier access (albeit illegally) to less expensive, far more effective medicines closer than Colorado.

The bad news is that this could put Iowa medical cannabis companies out of business.

These companies that have invested millions are all losing money now and they will lose much more as their patients take their business to Illinois.

Like it or not, without thoughtful and immediate improvements to Iowa law, Illinois businesses will become major suppliers of medicine to Iowa patients.

This mess is Governor Reynolds, the Republican legislature’s and yours to fix.

It won’t happen until you start listening to patients and put their needs first.

Thank you.

Oversight Committee should investigate Foxhoven allegations, resignation

Iowa Senate News release
July 22, 2019

 

Key Senators: Oversight Committee needs to investigate Foxhoven allegations, resignation

DES MOINES — Democratic Senators Tony Bisignano and Claire Celsi, members of the Senate Government Oversight Committee, are calling for an interim public meeting of the five-member committee to discuss the departure of Jerry Foxhoven, former Director of the Iowa Department of Human Services.

“Governor Reynolds has said that she wanted her Administration to be one of the most honest and transparent in history,” said Sen. Tony Bisignano, Ranking Member of the Senate Oversight Committee. “We are calling on her to be transparent, release all relevant information, and to clear up the real reasons for Jerry Foxhoven’s resignation.”

A 2017 state law requires that the reason for firing (or demanding the resignation of an employee) is made public. Reynolds has declined to explain why Foxhoven was asked to resign and claimed that there has been a group working towards “a new direction” for the Department. When asked to produce documents proving that the group had been meeting, or to produce documents related to Foxhoven’s termination, Reynolds claims that none exists.

“The need for a public meeting is more important because of recent allegations by Foxhoven that he was asked by Governor Reynolds to do something illegal and he declined,” said Sen. Claire Celsi. “Iowans deserve to know what is going on and we want to get to the bottom of it. We’re asking Senate Republican leaders Charles Schneider and Jack Whitver to authorize Senator Amy Sinclair, chair of the Senate Oversight committee, to convene a meeting so we can question those involved and get some answers.”

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House Democrats Call for Immediate Oversight Hearing on Foxhoven Illegal Action Claim

Des Moines, IA -- State Representative Ruth Ann Gaines, Ranking Member of the House Oversight Committee submitted a formal letter to the House Oversight Committee to open an investigation into the forced resignation of former Department of Human Services Director Jerry Foxhoven and questions of illegal action. “It's the constitutional duty of the Iowa Legislature [...]

Statement on latest privatized Medicaid contracts

Iowa Senate News Release
For Immediate Release:  July 10, 2019

 

Statement from Senate Democratic Leader Janet Petersen on outrageous new contracts for privatized Medicaid 

“The outrageous contracts with two out-of-state corporations are more evidence that privatized Medicaid in Iowa is unsustainable, unaffordable and unpredictable.

“Governor Reynolds has once again agreed to give the MCOs the largest dollar increases for Medicaid in the last decade. The publicly managed Medicaid system grew at an average of 5% each year over a 10-year period before privatization. Last year, the increase was 8.4%. The increase announced today is a whopping 8.6%!

“Just imagine how much better off Iowans would be if K12 public schools, job training programs and family planning services received that kind of increased state support!

“The big cheerleaders for privatized Medicaid – Governor Reynolds and Republican legislators –cannot back up their claims that privatizing would save money and make people healthier. That’s because it hasn’t happened.

“Privatized Medicaid continues to be a bad, bad deal for Iowa Medicaid recipients, health care providers and taxpayers.”

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New Laws Starting July 1

A host of new laws will take effect on July 1, the start of the state’s new fiscal year. A number of bi-partisan bills were passed during the 2019 Legislative Session designed to protect Iowans.  In an effort to curb the abuse of opioids in Iowa, a new law will make it easier for those [...]

2019 Weekly Bill Tracking, Thurs. April 4 – Wed. April 10

WEEKLY BILL TRACKING Thurs. April 4 – Wed. April 10, 2019 HOUSE DEMOCRATIC RESEARCH STAFF Appropriations HF 674        Automated Traffic Enforcement. Establishes traffic camera regulation for local cities and law enforcement (passed House Appropriations 15-9) to House Calendar. HF 756         Federal Block Grants. Allocates Federal block grant appropriations to various State Agencies. (Passed the House 96-0) […]