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 Statehouse News

I hope that everyone is staying warm as the temperatures drop in Iowa.  And if your kids had a snow day (or two) this week, I hope they enjoyed a break as much as my kids did!  

It was a short but busy week. As the second week of session comes to a close, the pace of business is picking up as new legislation is introduced daily and committee work gets under way.  I am eagerly reviewing proposed legislation for bills I would like to sign on as a co-sponsor.  It’s also been wonderful to see constituents who are visiting the Capitol to advocate on a range of issues.  

This week’s committee work included learning about Iowa’s Prescription Monitoring Program (Human Resources) and all of the work of the Department of Cultural Affairs (Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee).  I also had the opportunity to tour MedPharm to learn more about medical cannabis manufacturing in Iowa.

As a new member of the Education Committee, my focus has been digging in on all the components of school funding. I’ll continue conversations with our local school districts to ensure legislative proposals are meeting the needs of our students and educators.

A bill to extend SAVE (Secure an Advanced Vision for Education Fund) has been introduced in the House.  Extending SAVE is critically important for school districts across Iowa so that they can plan and implement major infrastructure changes that meet the needs of the local districts. The current proposal would extend the sunset date to 2051 and I am hopeful that legislation will get through both the House and Senate this year.   

Finding constructive ways to fix Medicaid privatization is also a priority of mine this session. I am pleased to sign on as a co-sponsor of a bill that would move our long-term services and support (LTSS) population out of managed care and restore state oversight in order to improve care and ensure providers are paid for services.  These are our most vulnerable Iowans because of a disability, aging or chronic illness; often needing help with everyday tasks like bathing, eating and dressing.  Their complex health needs haven’t been met or have been flat out denied, and therefore have been disproportionately affected by privatization.

Iowans deserve health care that is affordable and accessible. I will make every effort to find bipartisan support for legislation that will protect our most vulnerable Iowans and also save taxpayer dollars with lower administrative costs than we currently have with MCOs. And quite frankly, we can’t afford not to do the right thing and protect Iowans in need of care.

You may have heard about the election being contested in HD55 and how the Iowa House has been directed to resolve the dispute. Only 9 votes separate the two candidates.  As of now, 29 legally cast ballots have not been counted, even though the post office has determined that the ballots were mailed on time. This isn’t about a particular candidate or party. I believe that the constitutionally protected right to vote is fundamental to our democracy and fair elections, and therefore, all legally-cast ballots should be counted.   A Republican-led committee has recommended that the votes not be counted. We expect floor debate on this very soon and it is my hope that the voices of all voters will be heard in this contest.  We must count every vote.

A reminder, I’m holding weekly office hours every Monday from 9:45 - 11:15am at Main Street Café in Ankeny. I will also be holding a listening post this Saturday at 9:30am at the DMACC Ankeny campus in building 5.  Please join me if you can!

I have enjoyed reading your emails and letters as hearing from my constituents is very important to me. If you can’t make it to either my office hours or listening post, please email me with any questions or concerns.  Also, follow me on both Facebook and Twitter for updates on constituent outreach events.

Rep. Matson met with Ankeny residents, Jane Warren, Diana and John Phoenix, at her first office hours on Monday. They spoke about a variety of important issues like the CARE Act and voting rights.

Rep.  Matson stands with Iowa Democratic Party Veterans Caucus Chair Ron Healy, Secretary Joe Stutler and Iowa Democratic State Party Chairman Troy Price at the Veterans Day on the Hill this past Wednesday. Rep. Matson was excited to speak with members of the community who admirably served to protect our country.

Rep. Matson speaks with EveryStep Foundation Director Pam Schoffner and Coordinator Intake Manager Tabby Kuehl at the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2019. EveryStep, formally HCI Care Services and Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, has a vision that all individuals have access to healthcare and services to live their best lives.

Rep. Matson meets with SIYAC members Isabella O’Connor and Jessica Moonjely, as well as IYC member Ellie Miglin. Rep. Matson had a nice visit with them Thursday afternoon as they discussed a possible bill concerning feminine hygiene products availability in public schools to increase the health and safety of young woman.

Rep. Matson speaks with IYC member Christopher Martin of Ankeny on the House Floor on Thursday afternoon. Martin advocated for mental health literacy and sexual violence and consent programs in schools.

Rep. Matson tours the History 101 Mobile Museum over her lunch break Thursday after hearing about the opportunity from Dept. of Cultural Affairs Director Chris Kramer during an Economic Development Appropriations subcommittee meeting. Rep. Matson’s favorite subject in school was history, so she was thrilled for the opportunity to take a quick look at Iowa’s past.

On Tuesday, January 24, 2019 Sonia Reyez-Snyder and her son spoke to Rep. Matson about the Central Region Iowa Youth Congress.

On Tuesday, January 24, 2019 Rep. Matson spoke with Christy Halverson, Whitney Rogers, Erin Smith, and Roger Gibson of the Des Moines Area Community College.

News from the Statehouse

Veterans Day on the Hill; Condition of the Iowa National Guard

This week, veterans and their families traveled to Des Moines for Veterans Day at the Capitol. Throughout the day, veterans met with legislators to discuss the priorities of the Veterans Commission.  

The Veterans Commission is a group of representatives from various veterans’ organizations across Iowa who work collectively to develop and advance policy ideas to assist veterans and their families.   

For the 2019 Legislative session, the Veterans Commission will work to protect programs and agencies such as the Iowa Veterans Home, the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund, and the Military Home Ownership Program.  The Commission is also interested in supporting any legislation regarding helping veterans with mental health issues and increasing the Military Property Tax Exemption from $1852 to $3700. 

Condition of the Guard

As part of his annual Condition of the Guard, the Adjutant General, Major General Orr spoke of the continued work of the Iowa National Guard.  More than 19,000 soldiers and airmen from the Iowa National Guard have been mobilized around the globe since the start of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.  Currently, there are approximately 300 members of the Iowa National Guard deployed around the world.  

Major General Orr reiterated the importance of young Americans choosing to serve in the National Guard. Right now, only three of ten 17 to 24 year-olds are eligible for military service. This low number could impact the readiness of military forces to defend the nation in the future. National Guard members are able to get leadership and training opportunities, learn occupational skills for future careers, and can graduate debt-free with a two-year, four-year or technical school degree, making the Guard a great option for some young adults.

The Iowa National Guard also worked to strengthen the Midwest Counter Drug Training Center and their Counterdrug program.  This federally-funded program began in 1989 and works to reduce the supply and demand of illegal substances in our state. The program also provides training to local law enforcement personnel and drug prevention and treatment professionals at no cost. This has been especially important in the fight against opioid abuse in Iowa. In partnership with Counterdrug specialists, the National Guard were able to seize one pound of fentanyl (or about 180,000 fatal doses), and almost fifteen pounds of heroin. More than $63 million in drugs were taken off the streets because of the men and women of the Iowa National Guard.   

Finally, General Orr highlighted the Guard’s partnership with Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs. The Guard offers a variety of educational and career opportunities for those students interested in a STEM or CTE career.  This is funded by the Iowa National Guard Educational Assistance Program (NGEAP), which provides around 1,200 Iowa Guard members with an education at Iowa colleges, universities, and community colleges every year.

MG Orr concluded his condition with reiterating that the Iowa National Guard is ready to rise to any challenge the nation or state faces in the future.

Chief Justice Highlights Diversity of Court

Chief Justice Cady delivered his annual Condition of the Judiciary, where he took the opportunity to praise the diversity of Iowa’s Courts.  He noted that last year the number of female and male judges appointed was equal.  In addition, Justice Susan Christensen was the first woman appointed to the Iowa Supreme Court in nearly a decade.  The Chief Justice stressed that Iowa “has a strong, national reputation for fairness and impartiality.”

Iowa utilizes a merit selection process for selecting judges.  The merit selection process is required by the Iowa Constitution.  The judicial nominating commissions review each applicant for their background, education, and experience, and then nominate a slate of qualified candidates to be appointed.  The law requires judicial candidates to be chosen by the commissions based upon their qualifications without regard to party affiliation.  The goal of the merit selection process is to emphasize professional qualifications and minimize partisan politics.

Judicial appointees serve an initial term of office that is one year from the appointments.  Judges must then face a retention election.  If a judge is retained by the voters in the state, the judge then serves a term of 6 to 8 years before facing retention elections after each term.  A judge must retire by age 72.

Read More News from the Statehouse

Higher Education Budget Proposed by Governor
For-Profit College Agrees to Terms for Students
Significant Increase in Consumer Complaints During 2018
National Youth Science Camp Scholarship Available
Changes to State Park Camping Fees

Contact Representative Heather Matson

1009 Grand Ave
Iowa House of Representatives
Des Moines, IA 50319
1802 SW Prairie Trail Parkway
Ankeny, IA 50023
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