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 Statehouse News

Dear %%First Name%%,

Many bipartisan bills were passed this week in the House Chamber in Des Moines.  It is great to see all my colleagues working together to solve problems and improve the lives of we Iowans.  A bill to address and slow the opioid epidemic was passed.  It contains language to limit access of prescription narcotic drugs and also supports treatment programs.  Another major piece of legislation that passed in the House was a mental health care bill.  Much work went into writing this good piece of legislation that will improve the lives of those currently struggling with mental health illness and expands education and awareness in identifying problems. 

I traveled to Bloomfield on Friday, February 23, and discussed the drought of last summer with many cattle producers of Davis County.  I will continue to fight for fairness with drought relief.  I plan on having more federal officials become knowledgeable of what happened to see if we can find a solution. 

I was assigned to an education subcommittee that met this week to discuss extending school bus ride time from 60 minutes to 75 minutes, two times per day.  This was proposed as a cost saving measure for rural school districts.  I voted against moving the bill to the Education Committee.  I feel school boards should look at other ways to reduce spending.  Preschool and elementary children should not be on a 75 minute bus ride every morning or afternoon.  I think we are trying to solve chronic underfunding of public education at the expense of what is really best for our kids.

The majority party has still not brought up deappropriation for the current year.  We also do not have a budget for next year.  What the majority party now wants to talk about is a $1 billion tax cut! 

I continue to work very hard for you.  When I vote I do what is right for all of the people who live in House District 82.  Stay in touch.

Farm Bureau member John Moritz of Bloomfield was at the Capitol to visit with Representative Phil Miller.

As a proud Iowa State University graduate, Representative Phil Miller was happy to participate in his first ISU day at that Statehouse.

Stephanie Hawkins, Nutrition Director at Fairfield Community Schools was at the Statehouse on Tuesday morning to talk to Representative Phil Miller about healthy school lunches with the School Nutrition Association of Iowa.

Dr. Scott Bohner with Iowa Academy of Family Physicians was at the Statehouse Wednesday morning to chat with Representative Phil Miller. Dr. Bohner practices at the Winneshiek Medicaid Center in Decorah.

Kirby Johnson, CEO of Davis County Hospital in Bloomfield was at the Statehouse this week for Hospital Day on the HIll to visit with Representative Phil Miller and Representative Mary Gaskill.

News from the Statehouse

House Passes Long Awaited Mental Health Bill

After years of bipartisan work, the Iowa House has passed a bill to begin reforming the mental health system in Iowa.

One of the most important provisions of the bill is the addition of more services to the list of core services that the Mental Health and Disability Services (MHDS) regions must provide for. These services include Access Centers that provide immediate short-term assessments to people who do not need inpatient psychiatric treatment, Intensive Residential Service Homes that are comprehensive, 24 hour facilities that coordinate community living services for persons with serious mental illnesses, and Assertive Community Treatment Teams that provide flexible treatment for individuals that have transferred out of an inpatient program.  

The MHDS regions will now be able to contract with transportation service companies to transport patients under this bill. Currently, patients are transported by law enforcement or an ambulance service, and by contracting with an outside vendor, it will free up law enforcement to do other important work.  Mental health professionals will also be able to disclose mental health information to a law enforcement agent to prevent a serious threat to the patient or to others.

While the bill is a great first step in improving the system, many Iowans and lawmakers are concerned it does not include any additional investment from the state, causing a bigger strain on existing services and resources.  The regions are being asked to fund most of the bill without receiving any sort of financial assistance.  In order to truly make meaningful and lasting changes to the system, it needs to be fully-funded.  

HF 2456 will now go to the Senate Human Resources Committee for consideration.

K-12 School Aid Falls Short Again

The Senate has passed the K-12 school funding bill and sent it to the Governor.  With another year of low funding on the way for public schools, students in K-12 schools will likely find higher class sizes and fewer opportunities next year.  When adjusted for inflation, public schools have received just a $33 per student increase over eight years, which is less than 1% each year.  Iowa’s per pupil funding is now $1,111 below the national average.

Last year, the Majority Party got rid of the law requirement that schools be provided funding a year in advance to give them time to plan their budgets.  Instead they established a 30-day deadline from when the Governor submitted her budget.  

With feuding between the House and Senate on a transportation plan tied to school aid, the Majority Party missed their own 30-day deadline, and schools will not receive their school funding quickly like they wanted.  Legislators finally settled on a 1-year plan for transportation costs, instead of a long-term plan previously passed by the Senate.  Both bills have now been sent to the Governor for her signature.

Upcoming Events

March 17--Fairfield Legislative Forum, 7:30am-9:00am, @Best Western, 2200 W Burlington Ave

March 24-- Keosauqua Legislative Listening Post, 9:00am @Keosauqua Great Day Café, 202 Main St
March 24-- Bloomfield Legislative Listening Post, 12:00 pm @Rancho Centinela, 102 South Madison

April 21-- Fairfield Legislative Forum, 7:30am-9:00am, @Best Western, 2200 W Burlington Ave

April 28th-- Keosauqua Legislative Listening Post, 9:00am @Keosauqua Great Day Café, 202 Main St
April 28th-- Bloomfield Legislative Listening Post, 12:00 pm @Rancho Centinela, 102 South Madison

More News from the Statehouse

Opioid Legislation Passes House Unanimously
Regent Presidents Present to Legislators, Address Student Debt
Fair Goers Get the OK to Use Credit Cards
Derelict Building Grants Available to Help with Abandoned Buildings

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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