FEENSTRA COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS
Iowa 4th District US Representative Randy Feenstra has been named to two key committees in the House this year.
One committee is the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.
The other is the House Agriculture Committee…
Rep. Feenstra says exports and energy are two key elements to the Farm Bill.
Two more issues are conservation and accountability of trading partners.
Legislation to rein in meat packers in the livestock industry will also be a key discussion point on the Farm Bill. Rep. Feenstra says he is working on legislation with Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley to provide more transparency in the marketplace. That may be part of the Farm Bill, or it could be introduced as a separate bill.
IOWA COURT TEXT REMINDERS
The Iowa court system is trying a pilot project in six counties where text message reminders are sent out for some court services. Polk County District Court Clerk, Anne Sheeley explains.
Sheeley says the pilot is up and running in Shelby, Sioux, Marshall, Dubuque, Davis, and her county with the hope the texts help the system run better.
Sheeley says having people fail to show up for a court date pushes everything back for everyone, and can lead to an arrest.
You have to sign up to get the text reminders. Sheeley says they have been getting a good response when they ask people if they want in.
Sheeley says it’s become pretty common now to get texts from your dentist or doctor or others who you have appointments with. She says they have not had any problems with the text system in Polk County, and anticipate the court system would expand it to all 99 counties if the pilot continues to go well.
TRUCKING INDUSTRY LIABILITY
Iowa’s trucking industry would get significant liability protection from lawsuits under a bill that’s cleared a House Committee. David Scott — a lobbyist for the Iowa Motor Truck Association — says the 804-thousand commercial vehicles in Iowa would be covered, including delivery trucks, construction vehicles and pick-ups owned by businesses as well as semis. The bill would exempt businesses from paying damages in cases where their employee was found negligent in an accident. Kellie Paschke, a lobbyist for the Iowa Association for Justice, representing trial lawyers. She says the bill protects bad actors who fail to maintain trucks or tell drivers to stay on the road when they’re supposed to be resting — and makes the employees the scapegoats. The proposal was one of Governor Kim Reynolds’ legislative priorities last year, but ran into opposition in the House
A broken heating system has forced students at Clark Elementary School in Le Mars to go elsewhere for classes today. Superintendent Dr. Steven Webner says Preschool classes have been cancelled at Clark today. All Clark students will go to the school as normal this morning. Kindergarten and 1st grade will have classes in the heated gym. Students in grades 2,3,4 and 5 will be bussed to other buildings for their classes:
2nd Grade- Franklin Elementary music room and library
3rd Grade- Franklin Elementary Gym
4th Grade- High School Little Theater
5th Grade- High School Library
These students will be returned to Clark at the end of the day to be dismissed as normal.
The Clark Elementary office will remain open during the day. Breakfast will be served as normal at Clark Elementary. Lunches will be provided to students at their class locations.
WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT
The family of a Le Mars man who was a patient at Sioux City’s MercyOne Hospital has filed a wrongful death lawsuit, alleging medical negligence against Mercy.
The lawsuit, by the family of 65-year-old Michael Dreckman, claims Dreckman died in the intensive care unit at Mercy after he flatlined. Staff did not respond for over five minutes. Dreckman had been admitted on September 10th of 2021 for acute coronary syndromed and underwent successful surgery five days later.
The case was filed Tuesday morning in Woodbury County District Court.
HOUSE GENDER IDENTITY BILL
Republicans on a House committee have passed a bill that requires educators to notify parents if their child asks to be known by a different gender at school. Representative Skyler Wheeler of Hull is chairman of the House Education Committee.
Democrats oppose the bill. Representative Art Staid of Cedar Rapids says students who fear their parents’ reaction need to talk with a trusted teacher.
Representative Sharon Steckman, a Democrat from Mason City, says the bill sends the wrong message about Iowa.
Representative Steven Holt, a Republican from Denison, replied.
The bill passed the House Education Committee Tuesday night. It’s now eligible for a vote on the House floor. A Senate subcommittee has passed a bill that would ban Iowa schools from having materials or instruction about gender identity in K through 8th grade classes.
IOWA NURSING HOMES CLOSE
Seventeen Iowa nursing homes closed last year. Iowa Health Care Association C-E-O Brent Willett says all but two were in rural communities.
The Medicaid program pays for the care of over half of Iowa nursing home residents. Governor Reynolds is recommending an increase in Medicaid daily rate for nursing home care. Willett says he’s optimistic legislators will increase that reimbursement rate.
Medicaid reimbursement rate currently covers about 80 percent of the daily cost of care for a nursing home resident.
About seven out of 10 Iowa nursing homes are holding beds open as a way to deal with the staffing shortages and budget shortfalls according to a recent Iowa Health Care Association survey. In the past two years, 39 Iowa nursing homes have closed — reducing the number of nursing home beds in the state by more than 800. Facilities are required to provide 60 days notice of a closure and help residents find care in another nursing home. Willett says it means residents have had to move farther away from family and friends — and they often have to adjust to a new primary caregiver.
Nationally, 129 nursing homes closed in 2022 — 13 percent of them were in Iowa. According to the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, 17 Iowa nursing homes closed in 2022: Touchstone Health Care Community in Sioux City, and Morningside Care Center in Ida Grove