Tag: Quality of life

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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Continuing the fight for equality

On August 26, we celebrated Women’s Equality Day, which commemorates the ratification of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote.

“It is a time to celebrate women leaders who have gone before us, paving the way toward increased opportunity for women,” writes Wendy Musgrave, a member of the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women. “However, true equality is not achieved until it is made real for women in all sectors and industries, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, age, ability or socioeconomic status.”

One way we can continue the push for equality is through equal pay.

In 2009, the Iowa Legislature approved a Pay Equity Act, outlawing wage discrimination. It is illegal for an employer to pay some workers less than others for jobs requiring equal skill, effort and responsibility.

Nonetheless, wage inequality persists. In fact, the gap for Iowa is even higher than it is for the nation as a whole when it comes to equal pay between men and women. On average, a woman working full time in Iowa earns 79 cents for every dollar a man makes.

It’s even worse for women of color: African-American women in Iowa earn 59 cents for every dollar a white man makes; and Iowa’s Latina women make 58 cents for every dollar a white man makes.

These wage disparities are enormous over the course of a 40-year career. Women overall lose more than $400,000 as a result of the wage gap, and women of color lose about $870,000.

Why should one person be awarded more purchasing power and a better standard of living for the same work? We all deserve to know our work is valued, to support our families and to get ahead.

Equal pay for equal work is simply the right thing to do. We must close loopholes that allow wage discrimination to continue. That includes allowing employees to discuss what they make with coworkers, without fear of retaliation from their employers; and narrowing the reasons an employer may pay workers different amounts.

 

2019 Equal Pay Days

Equal Pay Day is the date American women earn as much as men did the previous year. Here’s how much women earn per every dollar a man makes and how much longer it takes them to earn what a man does in one year:

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.

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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