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 Statehouse News

Week 10 has come to a close and my thoughts are on a whole host of issues. In this week’s column, I’d like to specifically touch upon the power of student activism, the environment and children’s mental health care.  

As a parent, I look for ways to engage my children in conversations about what’s happening in the world around us, so I am a strong advocate for student activism.  I am particularly proud of one of my constituents, 8th grader Lydia Pesek, for organizing a climate strike rally at the Capitol last Friday, March 15.  This event was part of a nationwide student movement to advocate for policies to combat the devastating effects of man-made climate change.

I was honored that Lydia asked me to speak at the rally and was proud of all the students who attended and spoke passionately about one of the biggest issues facing their generation. My message to students: never let anyone tell you that your voice doesn’t matter because you aren’t old enough to vote. You have more power than you realize.   

I believe we have a moral and economic imperative to take action on climate and protect our environment. Science-based, data driven policy on conservation and the promotion of renewable energy technologies should be at the forefront of what we do in the Legislature.  Unfortunately we continue to see legislation that seeks to take us backward.  

We see this today with attacks on the solar industry.  Across the state, homeowners and businesses have made private investments in solar installations that not only generate clean energy for them, but through a connection to the grid, also share the extra energy produced with their neighbors. The energy consumers add to the grid is known as net metering. This is a win-win for consumers and the environment.

Unfortunately, HF 669 and SF 583 would allow the large investor-owned utility companies to impose additional costs on new solar installations. Increased levies would make it harder for small solar businesses around Iowa to do installations because it would be less economically feasible for new customers.  Is that really how we want to treat our emerging technologies and our small businesses?  

The bill would also circumvent a pilot program that is collecting data to determine the benefits of solar net metering.  The pilot program has one year left and I find it disingenuous that large utilities are seeking to disregard the information before the evidence is collected. There is no reason to pass this bill this session.  Let’s follow the data.  

As I was knocking doors throughout my campaign, one issue I heard over and over again, at door after door was the need for a children’s mental health program in Iowa. I have heard tragic stories from parents who are left helpless as their children suffer. Communities across Iowa have been begging for something – anything – that will help ensure kids receive the care they so desperately need.

HF 690, previously, HSB 206, the Governor’s children’s mental health bill, was passed by House on Thursday. I was pleased to vote for the bill in the Human Resources Committee and then again on the House Floor as it’s a positive first step in establishing a structure for a children’s mental health system.

Unfortunately, this bill is not as robust or comprehensive as it really needs to be.  Although there was some good bipartisan work done on this bill, I am disappointed that none of the Democrats proposals on suicide prevention or addressing our provider shortage were included in the bill.  And because it is a policy bill, it doesn’t outline how a children’s mental health system will be funded.  We need to keep pushing to ensure adequate funding is included in the Health and Human Services budget later this session. Because this bill would overlay a children’s system with the regions adult system, we must make clear that new money is needed and not allow for a shell game that would simply move resources from one program to another.  Health care is an investment.

As a reminder, my next listening post will be on Saturday, March 30 at 9:30am at Woodside Middle School in Saylor Township. I hope to see you there!  

On a final note, my thoughts are with the Iowans whose lives have been devastated by the massive flooding across the state, particularly in Western Iowa. My heart goes out to all who are suffering.  Iowans will stand together as we work to rebuild. 

Representative Matson speaks at a climate strike rally at the Capitol on Friday, March 15, 2019. Representative Matson spoke about the importance of student activism as well as our moral and economic imperative to take action on climate.

Representative Matson stands with a giant lightbulb at the REC Day on the Hill in the Rotunda at the Capitol on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Representative Matson also visited with advocates from the Central Iowa Power Cooperative (CIPCO) whose region includes Polk County. It was a good opportunity to learn more about the energy and electricity providers across Iowa.

Representative Matson stands with eighth grader, Lydia Pesek at the climate strike rally she organized as part of a nationwide, student-led movement. Representative Matson was so proud of her young constituent for organizing an entire rally and actively engaging with her community to make a difference in the conversation around climate change. 

Representative Matson stands amongst an advocacy presentation from Area Agencies of Aging at their lobby day at the Capitol on Tuesday, March 19, 2019. Written on the plates were stories of how important meal on wheels or community meals are to seniors across Iowa and a plea not to cut funding to these meal programs.

Representative Matson visits with constituents Andrew Fisher and Chris Matson at Electric Car Drive Day in front of the Capitol on Thursday, March 21, 2019.  They were sharing their knowledge of the benefits of solar and electric cars.  Andrew works with a great local small business in Ankeny, 1 Source Solar.  Chris is Rep. Matson’s husband and he is very passionate about advancing renewable energy technologies. This was his first time as a citizen lobbyist!

Representative Matson meets with Dave Bartemes, a Legislative Liaison from Iowa Woodland Owners Association at the Capitol on Thursday, March 21, 2019. Representative Matson was happy to visit with advocates from Trees Forever as she is a strong supporter of planting as many trees as possible.  Fun fact: a 100 year old Hickory can pay us back $26,674  in real benefits during its lifetime!

Representative Matson was thrilled to have her kids, Emma and Henry, visit her at the Capitol on Wednesday, March 20, 2019 during their Spring Break!  She was also very happy to welcome her mother-in-law and father-in-law, Lynn and Bud Booth, who were visiting from Maryland. 

News from the Statehouse

Assistance Available for Iowans Impacted by Severe Flooding

Assistance is now available to Iowans who are impacted by severe flooding.   Last week, the Governor issued a disaster proclamation for numerous counties across Iowa and also activated Iowa’s State Emergency Operations Center to coordinate flood emergency response.

The proclamation allows state resources to be utilized for response recovery and activates the Iowa Individual Assistance Grant Program for qualifying residents, along with Disaster Case Management Program for 41 counties, including: Adair, Bremer, Buena Vista, Butler, Cerro Gordo, Cherokee, Clay, Clayton, Crawford, Dallas, Delaware, Dickinson, Emmet, Fayette, Franklin, Fremont, Guthrie, Hancock, Hardin, Harrison, Humboldt, Ida, Iowa, Kossuth, Mills, Monona, Montgomery, O’Brien, Page, Palo Alto, Plymouth, Pottawattamie, Shelby, Sioux, Tama, Webster, Winnebago, Winneshiek, Woodbury, Worth, and Wright.

Individual Assistance Grants

The Individual Assistance Grant Program provides grants up to $5,000 for household incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level or a maximum annual income of $41,560 for household of three. These grants are available for home or car repairs, clothing or food and temporary housing expenses. Original receipts are required for those seeking reimbursement for actual expenses related to storm recovery.

The grant application and instructions are available on the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) website and potential applicants have 45 days from the date of the proclamation to submit a claim. The link to the application can be found here:

Disaster Case Management

The Disaster Case Management is a program designed to provide assistance for a disaster-related hardship, injury, or adverse conditions. Disaster case managers work with individuals to create a disaster recovery plan and provide guidance, advice, and referral to obtain a service or resource. There are no income eligibility requirements for this program and it closes 180 days from the Governor’s proclamation date. The Disaster Case Management Program is administered through local community action associations, which Pottawattamie’s local agency contact information can be found here:

Extension on Income Taxes

The Iowa Department of Revenue has granted a 30-day extension and suspension of any penalty or interest for taxpayers whose principal residence or business is located in a disaster area and whose payment or return is due on or before March 31 as a response to the Governor’s disaster declaration.

Lifesaving Emergency Insulin Bill Passes the House  
A bill designed to allow patients to receive a 30-day emergency insulin supply with an expired prescription has passed the House.  The bill also includes lifesaving medications like Epi-Pens and rescue inhalers.

House File 700, is intended to prevent situations when a patient is unable to receive medications because they can’t reach their doctor and they have an expired prescription.  Lifesaving medication like insulin needs to be taken every day at regular intervals. Any deviation from this routine could be fatal to the patient.  

HF 700 now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Read More News from the Statehouse

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Reserve Memorial Day State Park Camping
New Student Assessment Implementation Begins
February Snowiest Month Ever on Record

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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