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 Statehouse News

As the weather begins to cool off, many people are getting their furnaces tuned up for the winter months, and some are concerned about the cost of their heating bills.  Beginning November 1 (October 1 for households with elderly/disabled member), residents that qualify can sign up to receive assistance through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).  Households that qualify are protected from natural gas or electric service disconnections from November 1 through April 1. In order to qualify for LIHEAP, the total household income must be at or below 175% of the federal poverty level. 

Homeowners may also consider applying for the Weatherization Assistance Program. This program helps Iowans reduce the heating and cooling costs for low income persons, particularly the elderly, disabled, and households with children by improving the energy efficiency of their homes, thereby reducing the households’ energy bills.

Those interested in either program can visit or contact our local Community Action Agency in Jefferson County at 641-472-6140, Davis County at 641-664-1911, and Van Buran County at 319-293-3722.

Since taking office, I’ve had many people contact to me concerned about the privatization of Medicaid.  A new survey by the Des Moines Register found that 70 percent of Iowans think the state should NOT continue having private companies run Medicaid. My continuing concern has been that we haven’t seen any cost savings and many people have been denied critical care, essential medical equipment, and have had their services severely reduced or cut altogether.

A recent report released by the State Ombudsman Office, the independent department responsible for investigating complaints against the state and local governments, found that there has been a 157% increase in Medicaid-related problems reported to the agency in 2017.  This crisis can only be solved by working together to develop bi-partisan solutions that makes Medicaid accessible and reliable for all Iowans.  It’s time to work together to fix the Medicaid privatization mess. 

I was also disappointed to hear our university schools including the University of Iowa and Iowa State University have slipped in the national ranking according to U.S. News.  As Iowans, we have always had great pride in our universities and our school system. With the highest graduation rate and ACT scores near the top nationwide, we should continue to invest in our schools to be able to compete with other states to bring and keep the best and brightest.

A lot of focus has been given to the growing concern over access to mental health services in Iowa. Even after we passed new legislation last year that added more services to the list of core services that all Mental Health and Disability Service regions must provide, the majority party made the decision to cut state mental health providers without a plan to increase the services within community settings or strengthen existing providers with highly skilled professionals.  I think it’s imperative that we find a predictable funding stream for mental health services while ensuring that all Iowans, especially children that suffer from mental illness have access to treatment.

I’m working hard for you.  I listen and learn.  I will always fight for you and do what is right.  Thanks for letting me serve you. 

State Representative Phil Miller

News from the Statehouse

Iowa Needs a Skilled Workforce, Higher Wages

According to a new report, wages in Iowa continue to slide for all but the wealthiest Iowans with real average hourly earnings decreasing 0.2 percent since last year.

Since Iowa remains a low wage state and also faces a skilled worker shortage, making additional job training available to Iowa workers is one way to give people more opportunities to land a good paying job.  In Iowa, three out of every five jobs require some training beyond high school but only a third of our workforce actually meets those requirements.  

Over the last several years, new tax breaks for the wealthiest Iowans and corporations have made education after high school more expensive and limited job training opportunities for Iowans who need it the most.

Next session, House Democrats will work to get the Legislature back focused on the basics and make sure every Iowan can get some education or training after high school to land a good-paying job.

Last session, lawmakers worked together and took a small step to boost our skilled workforce. The Future Ready Iowa program was created to reach a goal of having 70% of Iowa’s workforce with education or training beyond high school by the year 2025.  

The legislation creates a new apprenticeship program designed to incentivize small and medium sized programs to create new or more apprenticeships and creates a volunteer mentor program; a summer youth intern pilot program for at risk youth; an Iowa Employer Innovation Program focused on training for high demand jobs and a Future Ready Iowa Skilled Workforce Grant Program for state universities or accredited private colleges.

Great Iowa Treasure Hunt; Do You Have Unclaimed Money?

A Des Moines class-action fee lawsuit has required $11 million to be returned to Polk County residents. Thus far, only 10,000 of 60,000 Des Moines residents owed money have been collected, leaving $8 million unclaimed. These unclaimed funds are listed on the State Treasurer’s Great Iowa Treasure Hunt website.

Every year, millions of dollars gets turned into the State Treasurer’s office as lost or abandoned property.  This property comes in the form of safety deposit box items, dormant financial accounts, unclaimed utility refunds, uncashed checks, and stock certificates and dividends.  The State Treasurer’s office becomes the holder of these assets and keeps track of these items on the website.

The Treasurer must give away the remaining $8 million by April 2019, or the remaining funds are returned to the City of Des Moines.

To date, the State Treasurer’s office has returned $251,916,659 back to the rightful owners. To see if you have unclaimed property or money visit:  

Read More News from the Statehouse

Input Sought on Children’s Mental Health Services
Books Closed on Fiscal Year 2018 Budget    
Iowans have Above Average Student Loan Default Rate    
Tree Stand Hunting Safety
Work Group Addresses School Health Requirements   

Contact Representative Phil Miller

1009 Grand Ave
Iowa House of Representatives
Des Moines, IA 50319
902 S. Suncrest Drive
Fairfield, IA 52556
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