Tag: Issues

Iowa Future Caucus tours renewable energy facilities


IA SEN NEWS

August 14, 2019

 

Iowa Future Caucus Launch Statewide Tour of Iowa’s Renewable Energy Industries

Four state lawmakers who created the Iowa Future Caucus this year toured statewide Iowa’s renewable energy industries on Wednesday, August 14.  Founded in 2019, the Iowa Future Caucus is a bipartisan, bicameral group of young lawmakers dedicated to finding bipartisan solutions in the Iowa Legislature.

“Protecting the quality of life for our kids and our grandchildren means we have to take seriously air and water quality, the development of clean and renewable sources of energy, and pursue policies that build environmentally friendly infrastructure for our cities and towns,” said Representative Lindsay James.  

“Solar, wind, biodiesel and ethanol are all components of progressing towards cleaner energy in our state and the energy of our future.  I’m excited to learn more about clean energy in our state and figure out ways to continue to support it.  As Iowa has been the leader in Wind Energy let’s continue to do that with other clean energy options.” – Representative Joe Mitchell 

“Iowa’s renewable energy industries create jobs, support rural communities, and provide alternatives to conventional fossil fuels. Renewables will continue to be an important part of our state’s future for many decades to come, and it’s terrific to have this tour so we can learn more about what’s in store for these Iowa companies.” – Senator Zach Wahls

“Renewable energy isn’t a partisan issue– it’s the best possible Public-Private investment in Iowa’s future.  The return on cultivating renewables helps our communities, our businesses, and our state attract long-term economic partners and retain our best workforce.” Senator Zach Nunn

 

A bipartisan group of Iowa legislators spent the day learning about Iowa renewable energy production sites in Mason City, Colo and North Liberty. This photo was taken at the Biodiesel Plant in Mason City operated by Renewable Energy Group. The group above includes workers from the plant and State Representative Lindsay James of Dubuque,  Senator Amanda Ragan of Mason City, Representative Sharon Steckman of Mason City, Representative Joe Mitchell of Mount Pleasant, and Senator Zach Wahls of Coralville. 

 

A bipartisan group of Iowa legislators spent the day learning about Iowa renewable energy production sites in Mason City, Colo, and North Liberty. Chris Hoffman of Moxie Solar in North Liberty (right) explains how the company has expanded to include offices in Davenport, Cedar Rapids, Chicago and Austin, Texas. From left to right: State Legislator Lindsay James of Dubuque, State Senator Zach Wahls of Coralville and Hoffman.   

 

The renewable energy tour on Wednesday included an ethanol plant, a biodiesel plant, a wind farm, and a solar energy facility. The full itinerary is below.

Ethanol Plant Tour – Golden Grain Energy in Mason City: Golden Grain Energy is a privately-held company dedicated to adding value to northern Iowa’s corn production by turning locally-grown corn into clean-burning ethanol.

Renewable Energy Group in Mason City: Renewable Energy Group is a global producer and supplier of renewable fuels like biodiesel and renewable diesel, renewable chemicals and other products.

Wind Farm Tour – NextEra Wind Farm in Colo: NextEra Energy Resources is a leading wholesale power generator, operating power plants and offering a diverse fuel mix to utilities, retail electricity providers, power cooperatives, municipal electric providers and large industrial companies.

Solar Installer Tour – MOXIE Solar in North Liberty: MOXIE was founded in 2008 out of a desire to bring new energy options to Iowa. With over 500 successfully completed projects and predominantly 5 star customer reviews, we’re proud of our role in creating a more sustainable future for our clients and our world.

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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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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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Fight for medical cannabis reforms continues

For Immediate Release: July 1, 2019

 

Legislative leaders announce next steps in the fight for Iowa medical cannabis reforms

News Conf Video: https://youtu.be/3LZjZNil7gQ

Legislative advocates for reforming Iowa’s “worst in the nation” medical cannabis program say they will keep fighting for much needed reforms vetoed by Governor Reynolds.

“Representative Forbes and I called on our colleagues to join us in calling for a special session to overturn Governor Reynold misguided veto of modest improvements to Iowa medical cannabis program,” said Senator Joe Bolkcom of Iowa City.  “We are happy to report that every Democratic member of the Iowa Senate and Iowa House signed the call for a special session. Unfortunately, not a single Republican lawmaker acted to defend their votes.”

In April, House File 732 passed the Iowa House by a vote of 96 to 3 and the Iowa Senate by a vote of 40 to 7.

“We gave our Republican colleagues the opportunity to make a wrong by the governor into a right. They ignored us,” said Representative Forbes. “Now it is time to take action to make sure Iowa’s elected officials are advocates for people who are sick and not able to access and afford effective medicines.”

The two legislators said they would immediately press for a legislative interim committee to prepare legislation for passage early in the next session beginning in January, 2020.

“An interim committee would include public meetings and public input,” Bolkcom said.  “Secret meetings between the Governor and legislative Republicans failed to get the job done.  The Legislature needs to listen to patients and create a better program that meets their needs.”

The Legislative Council Committee is scheduled to meet Thursday, July 11, 2019, at 11:30 a.m. in Room 22, at the State Capitol.

“The July 11th meeting will be very important for Iowans who want to have the same access to effective medicines that most other Americans already have,” said Forbes.  “The goal now must be seeing the necessary medical cannabis reforms signed into law shortly after the January start of the 2020 session.”

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Spread the word about abuse hotline

The Iowa Attorney General’s office recently established a new toll-free hotline for adult survivors to report child sexual abuse.

This is an important step to ensure that survivors of child sex abuse get the justice they deserve.  Iowans will be safer when we know the truth about sex offenders among us and better understand how to prevent child sex abuse.

You can help by promoting this hotline so that more survivors know that they can seek justice.

I encourage you to distribute information about the hotline — 855-620-7000 – to your employees, stakeholders and clients/customers, and any other Iowans that you connect with. Spread the word via:

  • Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media
  • Websites
  • Bulletin boards
  • Staff meetings
  • Any public meetings
  • Public service announcements

Feel free to use the flyer and social media graphic below!

It’s going to take a team effort by religious organizations, nonprofits, governmental agencies, businesses and news media to get the word out. I appreciate anything you can do to ensure more adult survivors of child sexual abuse know there is help and hope.

 

Flyer

abuse hotline flyer

 

Social media graphic

Medical cannabis veto override is more than halfway to goal

Iowa Legislature Release
For Immediate Release: June 24, 2019 

 

Medical cannabis veto override is more than halfway to goal

Iowans urged to contact legislators who voted for reforms but have yet to defend their votes

Des Moines, Iowa – Iowans pushing to overturn Governor Reynold’s veto of medical cannabis reforms are more than halfway towards their goal of calling for a special session.

House File 732 would have made substantial improvements to Iowa’s “worst in the nation” medical cannabis law.  It was overwhelmingly approved in April by the Iowa House on a vote of 96 to 3 and by the Iowa Senate on a vote of 40 to 7.

A special session to override the veto will be held if two-thirds of the members of the House (67) and two-thirds of the Senate (34) each submit a written request.

As of Monday, June 24, Iowa’s 18 Democratic State Senators and 47 Democratic State Representatives have all either submitted or plan to submit a request for a special session.

It is unclear whether any of the Republicans who voted for the bill–50 in the House and 24 in the Senate–have requested a special session.

“The voices of ordinary Iowans have gotten us this far.  They need to keep fighting because that is the only way this mean-spirited veto will be overridden,” said Senator Joe Bolkcom.  “I urge every Iowan to encourage Republican legislators to defend their votes for urgently needed Iowa medical cannabis reforms.”

More information about the effort to pass Iowa medical cannabis reform can be found here: http://bit.ly/Override-the-veto

Below is a list of the members of the Iowa House and Senate who voted for Iowa Medical cannabis and who have not yet expressed support for a special session to override the veto.

Sen Waylon Brown, (641)-590-0610, [email protected], St Ansgar

Sen Jake Chapman, (515)-650-3942, [email protected], Adel

Sen Chris Cournoyer, (563)-289-7335, [email protected], LeClaire

Sen Jeff Edler, (641)-751-5902, [email protected], State Center

Sen Thomas A. Greene, (319)-750-6579, [email protected], Burlington

Sen Dennis Guth, (641)-430-0424, [email protected], Klemme

Sen Craig Johnson, (319)-334-2413, [email protected], Independence

Sen Tim L. Kapucian, (319)-334-2413, [email protected], Keystone

Sen Carrie Koelker, (563)-590-5975, [email protected], Dyersville

Sen Tim Kraayenbrink, (515)-408-4770, [email protected], Fort Dodge

Sen Mark S. Lofgren, (563)-272-8683, [email protected], Muscatine

Sen Mariannette Miller-Meeks, (641)-683-7551, [email protected], Ottumwa

Sen Zach Nunn, (515)-519-2246, [email protected], Altoona

Sen Ken Rozenboom, (641)-295-6551, [email protected], Oskaloosa

Sen Charles Schneider, (515)-657-7375, [email protected], West Des Moines

Sen Jason Schultz, (712)-269-2178, [email protected], Schleswig

Sen Mark Segebart, (712)-269-4519, [email protected], Vail

Sen Tom Shipley, (712)-785-3583, [email protected], Nodaway

Sen Amy Sinclair, (641)-870-0199, [email protected], Allerton

Sen Roby Smith, (563)-386-0179, [email protected], Davenport

Sen Annette Sweeney, (641)-373-4899, [email protected], Alden

Sen Jack Whitver, (515)-281-3371, [email protected], Spirit Lake

Sen Brad Zaun, (515)-276-2025, [email protected], Urbandale

Sen Dan Zumbach, (563)-920-5094, [email protected], Ryan

Rep Robert P. Bacon, Not Listed, [email protected], Nevada

Rep Michael R. Bergan, (563)-380-3974, [email protected], Dorchester

Rep Brian Best, (712)-830-1844, [email protected], Glidden

Rep Jacob Bossman, (712)-251-4541, [email protected], Sioux City

Rep Holly Brink, (641)-295-7111, [email protected], Oskaloosa

Rep Gary L. Carlson, (563)-299-7021, [email protected], Muscatine

Rep Dave Deyoe, (515)-382-2352, [email protected], Nevada

Rep Cecil Dolecheck, (641)-464-2913, [email protected], Mount Ayr

Rep Dean Fisher, (641)-750-3594, [email protected], Montour

Rep Joel Fry, (641)-342-1017, [email protected], Osceola

Rep Tedd Gassman, (515)-538-0117, [email protected], Scarville

Rep Thomas D. Gerhold, (319)-361-2950, [email protected], Atkins

Rep Pat Grassley, (319)-214-0351, [email protected], New Hartford

Rep Chris Hagenow, (515)-274-1652, [email protected], Urbandale

Rep Mary Ann Hanusa, (712)-256-5159, [email protected], Council Bluffs

Rep Lee Hein, (319)-480-1997, [email protected], Monticello

Rep Ashley Hinson, Not Listed, [email protected], Marion

Rep Dustin D. Hite, Not Listed, [email protected], Not Listed

Rep Steven Holt, (712)-269-4042, [email protected], Denison

Rep Daniel Adair Huseman, (712)-434-5880, [email protected], Aurelia

Rep Jon Jacobsen, Not Listed, [email protected], Council Bluffs

Rep Tom Jeneary, (712)-539-1275, [email protected], Le Mars

Rep Megan Jones, (515)-991-7337, [email protected], Not Listed

Rep Bobby Kaufmann, Not Listed, [email protected], Wilton

Rep David Kerr, Not Listed, [email protected], Morning Sun

Rep Jarad Klein, Not Listed, [email protected], Keota

Rep John Landon, (515)-249-0348, [email protected], Ankeny

Rep Brian K. Lohse, (515)-519-2347, [email protected], Bondurant

Rep Shannon Lundgren, (515)-428-0809, [email protected], Not Listed

Rep David E. Maxwell, (641)-660-0792, [email protected], Gibson

Rep Ann Meyer, (515)-570-6610, [email protected], Fort Dodge

Rep Joe Mitchell, Not Listed, [email protected], Not Listed

Rep Gary M. Mohr, Not Listed, [email protected], Bettendorf

Rep Norlin G. Mommsen, (563)-357-9826, [email protected], DeWitt

Rep Tom Moore, Not Listed, [email protected], Griswold

Rep Anne Osmundson, (563)-880-8227, [email protected], Volga

Rep Ross C. Paustian, (563)-284-6783, [email protected], Walcott

Rep Sandy Salmon, (319)-987-3021, [email protected], Janesville

Rep Mike Sexton, (712)-830-3960, [email protected], Rockwell City

Rep Jeff Shipley, (319)-432-3108, [email protected], Fairfield

Rep David Sieck, Not Listed, [email protected], Glenwood

Rep Ray Sorensen, (712)-525-0580, [email protected], Not Listed

Rep Phil Thompson, Not Listed, [email protected], Not Listed

Rep Jon Thorup, (641)-891-9357, [email protected], Knoxville

Rep Linda L. Upmeyer, (641)-357-8807, [email protected], Clear Lake

Rep Skyler Wheeler, (712)-441-7444, [email protected], Not Listed

Rep John H. Wills, (712)-330-9492, [email protected], Spirit Lake

Rep Matt W. Windschitl, (712)-642-4334, [email protected], Missouri Valley

Rep Gary Worthan, (712)-732-6340, [email protected], Storm Lake

Rep Louis J. Zumbach, Not Listed, [email protected], Coggon

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Statement on appointment of new DAS director

IOWA SENATE NEWS
June 20, 2019

Statement from Senate Democratic Leader Janet Petersen on new DAS Director appointment

“The biggest job for Governor Reynolds and Jim Kurtenbach in the coming months is to restore taxpayers’ faith in the Department of Administrative Services.

“In a May 29 letter, I encouraged Governor Reynolds to appoint a new Director with the experience and proven track record necessary to write a new chapter. The Department must establish higher expectations than what we’ve seen over the past several years.

“It’s unclear at this time whether she has accomplished that goal with the appointment of Mr. Kurtenbach.

“The Governor and Mr. Kurtenbach will need to explain to Iowans how his background is suitable for this new job. We have seen numerous problems in recent years – multi-million dollar harassment settlements, hush money payments, understaffing that puts at risk the safety of state workers,  and unfair bargaining tactics, and biased hiring and procurement practices – that need to be addressed, not ignored.

“Mr. Kurtenbach must explain to Iowans what specific plans he has for addressing those problems and ensuring that all state employees and Iowans are safe and treated with dignity, and that tax dollars are not abused.”

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The May 29 letter from Sen. Petersen to the Governor outlined problems that previous Directors either created or failed to address:• Denied Iowans access to basic public information about the number of harassment complaints in state government and how much taxpayer dollars have been spent to compensate harassment victims.• Taken a restrictive, punitive approach to negotiating contracts with state employees.

• Put the health and safety of state employees and Iowans at risk through dangerous staff reductions, overtime policies, and other employment practices that were previously protected under collective bargaining.

• Mishandled a sweeping scandal at the Iowa Finance Authority (IFA) that included rampant harassment of employees, a failure by IFA staff and DAS staff to address complaints, and pay raises and promotions that were based on cronyism rather than merit.

• Approved secret settlements – described by some as “hush money” – to outgoing state employees.

• Endangered the rights of workers by maintaining a “do-not-hire” list without due process for workers to challenge their inclusion on the list.

• Failed to adequately update and enforce harassment policies in the executive branch.

• Conducted hirings, firings and promotions across state government that appear to be based on political connections rather than qualifications.

Statement on Governor’s explanation of DHS shakeup

Iowa Senate News Release
For Immediate Release:  18 June 2019

Statement from Senate Democratic Leader Janet Petersen
on Governor’s latest statement on departure of DHS Director

“The Governor’s latest statement on the departure of Jerry Foxhoven is as clear as mud.

“If the Governor has been working behind closed doors for nearly six months on a new direction, a new team and a new vision for the Department of Human Services, she needs to back up her rhetoric with positive action. This includes outlining her specific plans to:

  • Fix a privatized Medicaid system that is unsustainable, unaffordable and unaccountable.
  • Reverse course on policies that decimated the state’s successful family planning network, resulting in more unintended pregnancies, more risky births, more teenage mothers.
  • Present a comprehensive plan for adequately funding mental health services for children and adults.
  • Stop dangerous practices and procedures at Glenwood, Eldora and other at state-operated facilities.
  • Rebuild the child protective safety net instead of putting dangerous holes in it.
  • Explain to Iowans why she made the decision to replace Foxhoven (a) when her Administration is in the middle of negotiations with both out-of-state managed care organizations (MCOs) and (b) when hundreds of thousands of Iowans are two weeks away from transitioning to a new MCO.

“Finally, I repeat my call for the Governor to immediately launch a nationwide search for a new Director of the Department of Human Services who is truly committed to watching out for the most vulnerable children and adults in Iowa.

“When then-Director Chuck Palmer resigned in 2017, the Governor posted the opening on the website of the Iowa Department of Administrative Services (https://agency.governmentjobs.com/iowa/job_bulletin.cfm?jobID=1755326&sharedWindow=0) and that should be her first step to take in 2019.”

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