Tag: Issues

HWY 20 shows the promise of rural Iowa investments

IOWA SENATE NEWS
October 18, 2018

Statement on the completed expansion of Highway 20 by State Senator Tod Bowman of Maquoketa, current Ranking Member and former Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee

“It’s been decades in the making, but we finally have a four-lane highway across northern Iowa between Dubuque and Sioux City.

“There will be a ribbon cutting in western Iowa for the completion of Highway 20 on Friday. I’ll be teaching in Maquoketa at that time, but I will still be celebrating this important investment in rural Iowa.

“Safe, efficient roads for Iowans, travelers and commerce have been top priorities over my last eight years on the Senate Transportation Committee. We’ve accomplished a lot in that time through bipartisan efforts focused on making Iowa the best place to live, work and do business.

“Expanding Highway 20 already has brought more traffic to the communities it passes through and has helped relieve congestion on I-80 by providing another convenient route across the state for people and freight.

“It will continue to create opportunities for manufacturing, agriculture, services, recreation and tourism—all of which create jobs, boost our economy and improve our quality of life.

“This and other infrastructure investments—like high-speed Internet—are critical to get Iowa’s economy going again, especially in our small towns and rural areas.”

 

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Statement on latest revenue estimates

IA SEN NEWS
Oct. 16, 2018

Statement from Sen. Joe Bolkcom, Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee

“The fiscal mismanagement by Governor Reynolds and legislative Republicans is like a slow train wreck for everyday Iowans.

“Their smoke-and-mirrors shell game won’t erase the fact that the Governor and Republican-controlled Legislature have made job training and higher education unaffordable for thousands of Iowans, reduced protections for seniors and other vulnerable Iowans, and made health care less accessible for thousands of Iowans over the past two years.

“It’s no wonder that Iowans are clamoring for new leadership that will put their needs ahead of the self-interest of Wall Street corporations, special interests and millionaires. It’s time to put Iowans first again.”

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Appropriations Ranking Member on year-end balance

IA SEN NEWS
September 25, 2018

Statement from Sen. Joe Bolkcom,
Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee

“The fiscal mismanagement and misplaced budget priorities of Governor Reynolds and legislative Republicans are still bad news for everyday Iowans.

“Last year, the Governor took a victory lap because she didn’t need the Legislature to have a special session to fix her budget mess.

“The Governor is cheering today because there’s still money in the state’s bank account. That would be great news if she and the Republican-controlled Legislature hadn’t slashed funding for job training and higher education, reduced protections for seniors and other vulnerable Iowans, and made health care less accessible for thousand of Iowans.”

 

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How can we stop the increase in Iowa suicides?

The U.S. has seen a jump in suicides in recent years, with rural states being hardest hit. Iowa’s suicide rate increased more than 35 percent between 1999 and 2016.

Mental illness, economic hardship, relationship problems, substance abuse, poor health and other crises increase a person’s risk of suicide.

September’s National Suicide Prevention Month reminds us that we all can do our part to help. One simple way is by sharing the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 or SuicidePreventionLifeline.org. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, as well as other prevention and crisis resources.

Even state government and our local communities have a role to play in ending suicide. Senate Democrats will continue to push for policies and strategies that the Centers for Disease Control says reduce the risk of suicide, including:

  • Connecting patients with mental health care, covering mental health services under insurance plans and increasing the number of mental health care providers.
  • Strengthening economic stability by providing unemployment benefits and other temporary assistance, while also stimulating the economy and job growth so that Iowans can get ahead.

What happens when you privatize Medicaid?

In a video released Sunday, AJ+ looks at “what happens when a state puts a crucial social safety net in the hands of for-profit companies.”

It’s a devastating report on Iowa’s Medicaid privatization that features Senator Pam Jochum of Dubuque, as well as Iowans who are suffering under the #MedicaidMess.

It’s got people all over the country scratching their heads and asking, “What is wrong with Iowa?”

WATCH: 

Petersen: Medicaid increase is GOP’s ‘gut punch’ to Iowa taxpayers

Statement from Senate Democratic Leader Janet Petersen on GOP’s ‘gut punch’ to Iowa taxpayers 

“Iowa families, health care providers and taxpayers received a gut punch today because of the mismanagement of privatized Medicaid by Governor Reynolds, Senate Republicans and House Republicans.

Iowa Senate Democratic Leader Janet Petersen

“Taxpayers are being hurt because they must now pay an additional $342.2 million to out-of-state corporations that are running Medicaid and Iowa’s heath care system into the ground.

“In order to balance the state budget, Governor Reynolds and Republican legislators are unfortunately likely to

  1. Cut and further delay payments to Iowa health care providers that provide critical services to hundreds of thousands of Iowans.
  2. Make health care services even less accessible to Medicaid members.
  3. Take more than $100 million away from education, health care and public safety to cover the additional payments to out-of-state corporations.

“The best option would be for Governor Reynolds and legislative Republicans to finally reverse course and join legislative Democrats in supporting a return to a more efficient, publicly managed system.

“We all know for-profit Medicaid has been a disaster for Iowa families and health care providers. Now we know that it is a bigger disaster for the state budget and Iowa taxpayers.”

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Two new laws will help protect your credit

1. Credit reporting agencies cannot charge fees when you freeze checks on your credit reports 

In the Equifax security breach last year, hackers stole Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and other personal information from 1.1 million Iowans.

Wary of identity theft, many consumers requested a freeze on their credit reports. They then learned that they had to pay a fee to get the freeze and pay again if they wanted to lift the freeze. Iowans have been paying some of the highest freeze-related fees in the nation, according to the state Attorney General.

This year, we banned Equifax, Experian, TransUnion and other credit reporting agencies from charging fees when Iowans freeze checks on their credit reports (SF 2177). Freezing prevents anyone, including an identity thief, from opening a new line of credit in your name. If you need to apply for a credit card, loan or job that requires a background check, you can have the freeze lifted, even temporarily.

 

2. Tougher penalties for criminals who use technology to steal your credit card

We’re also cracking down on illegally using technology to steal payment card information (HF 2199).

Criminals can access your credit and debit cards remotely through your clothes, wallet or purse, or place nearly undetectable “skimming devices” on gas pumps and other card readers that steal your information. Your card information can even be transferred to another card for the thieves to use later.

It is now a Class D felony punishable by up to five years in prison to use a scanning device to take payment card information without authorization, or to use an encoding machine to transfer information from one card to another. In addition, it will be an aggravated misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in prison to possess a scanning device intended to obtain payment card information without authorization.

 

Find helpful tips to avoid credit card fraud and identity theft on the Iowa Attorney General’s website. 

Proposal to close UI Labor Center is “latest gut punch” to Iowa workers

Iowa Senate News Release
For Immediate Release:  July 10, 2018  

 

Senator Joe Bolkcom statement on University of Iowa’s announcement of center closures and furloughs

“I am disappointed in the news about the center closures and furloughs.

“I am deeply disappointed at the proposed closure the UI Labor Center. This proposal is the latest gut punch to Iowa workers and their families. This is a terrible time to even consider closing the UI Labor Center.

“Since 1950, the Labor Center has helped make Iowa a better place to live and do business. It has helped workers and Iowa employers meet the changing workforce needs of the state. As an interdisciplinary educational and research center, it has helped educate students and advance the public’s understanding of work during a time of rapid change.

“It has also has leveraged its state appropriation in securing competitive federal grants for the university.

“While there is no doubt that the University of Iowa is under financial pressure because of the bad budget priorities of Governor Reynolds and the Republican Legislature, I hope that President Harreld will change his mind and reconsider this ill-advised decision that would only worsen Iowa’s efforts to build a strong, modern economy that rewards hard work.”

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