RURAL EMERGENCY HOSPITALS
The Iowa House this week gave final passage to a bill which creates licensure for Rural Emergency Hospitals.
Representative Tom Jeneary of Le Mars says this keeps small, rural hospitals open for emergency care.
Rep Jeneary says this bill is aimed at rural areas whose hospitals have closed, or are seeing declining patient numbers.
The designation of Rural Emergency Hospitals also allows these facilities to be reimbursed by Medicare and Medicaid at a higher rate.
The bill passed 48-0 in the Senate, and passed in the House 97-1
The bill now goes to the Governor, who intends to sign it.
GENDER PROCEDURES ON MINORS
House Republicans passed legislation to prohibit doctors from performing gender transition care on minors.
Representative Tom Jeneary of Le Mars says the bill was a subject of a long debate this week in the House.
Rep. Jeneary refutes concerns that this bill overrules parental rights. He says the legislature has passed many laws which prohibit certain activities, procedures, or materials to minors.
Rep. Jeneary describes some of these procedures as life-altering surgery, and they cannot be reversed.
A bill to set up a new, quicker routes for getting a license to teach in Iowa cleared the Iowa House this week. Representative Henry Stone, a Republican from Forest City, says when a teacher shows up in a classroom, the kids aren’t asking them what path it took to get there and the alternative licensing proposals would help ease the teacher shortage. The bill would let a college graduate take an online course to get a temporary teaching license rather than enroll in a teacher prep program at a college or university. Sixty-one Republicans voted for the bill. Two Republicans and all the Democrats in the House voted against it. Representative Molly Buck, a Democrat from Ankeny who’s a teacher, says you don’t want to ride in an airplane with a pilot who’s never flown before, and the bill should require student teaching under the direct supervision of an experienced educator before someone leads a class on their own. Bill backers say Wisconsin and Missouri programs are successfully licensing teachers who get their license after completing an online program and Iowa should give it a try, too.
DRUNK DRIVER CRACKDOWN
Saint Patrick’s Day is next Friday and next week is traditionally one of the deadliest weeks of the year for motorists and pedestrians in Iowa and nationwide. Sheri Krohn, program administrator of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau, says they’re partnering with local law enforcement to launch a nine-day effort this weekend, spreading the message about the dangers of drinking and driving — and to take impaired drivers off the road. The program starts this Saturday and runs through next Sunday, March 19th. Krohn says if you’re at a St. Pat’s party on foot, you’ll need to be especially cautious by limiting your drinking, staying alert while walking, using crosswalks and staying off the phone. Drivers, too, should stay alert, slow down and stay off their electronics. During the week of St. Patrick’s Day last year, 48 people were either seriously injured or killed in car crashes on Iowa’s roads.
U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra Thursday voted with the House majority to approve a resolution to rescind the EPA’s Waters of the US rule. Feenstra is an original cosponsor of this joint resolution. In January, Feenstra joined 195 of his Republican colleagues in sending a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan demanding that the Biden Administration rescind its final and destructive WOTUS rule. Under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), Congress has the authority to hold the Executive Branch accountable for its rulemaking procedures and review onerous rules, including the new WOTUS definition.
Rep. Feenstra introduced bipartisan legislation to modernize the National Weather Service’s (NWS) outdated communications network – NWS Chat. The service disseminates critical, time-sensitive information to broadcasters, emergency managers, and the general public during severe weather events. NWS has identified several systematic upgrades critical to its emergency communications operation, including the need to replace NWS Chat. The NWS Director will review and select an off-the-shelf commercial alternative to NWS Chat.
BRANSTAD PROMOTES PIPELINES
Former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad says the proposed pipeline projects that would capture the carbon dioxide emissions from Iowa and other Midwest ethanol plants will help Iowa agriculture and biotechnology level up. Branstad is the senior policy adviser for Iowa-based Summit Carbon Solutions, which is proposing one of the pipelines. He called Summit’s project “critically important.”
Branstad made his remarks during the Iowa Biotech Showcase and Conference in Ankeny Wednesday. The ethanol industry supports the proposed carbon pipelines because they say carbon capture will make them eligible for tax credits under the Inflation Reduction Act. A coalition of environmentalists, farmers and landowners oppose the projects because of concerns about their safety and their property rights.
STATE DROUGHT PLAN
The Iowa D-N-R has finalized its state drought plan. D-N-R hydrology coordinator, Tim Hall, says the plan is a resource for state, county and local use — and should give them a better opportunity to stay in front of drought conditions. Hall says the plan also draws from the longtime U-S Drought Monitor and provides a more localized version of that national program. He says it provides schedules and structure for having discussions and meetings and providing information to local decision makers during times of drought. The plan divides the state into five regions, and will provide information on the drought status in each area. You can see the full Iowa Drought Plan at the D-N-R’s website: iowadnr.gov.
BILL AIMED AT STATE AUDITOR
The head of the U-S Government Accountability Office and auditing officials from other states are raising concerns about a Senate bill that would limit the Iowa State Auditor’s ability to investigate state agencies. The president of the National State Auditors Association says limitations in the bill should be eliminated to protect the auditor’s ability to investigate waste, fraud, and abuse. State Auditor Rob Sand says the bill guts the ability of the professionals in his office to conduct audits and Sand calls it the single most pro-corruption bill that has ever come out of the Iowa legislature. Republican Senator Mike Bousselot (BOOSE-uh-loh) of Ankeny says after consulting with the State Treasurer, the governor’s budget office, and private sector accounting firms he is confident the bill complies with accounting standards and gives the auditor authority to do his job.
U-I WILL COVER LEGAL SETTLEMENT
The University of Iowa’s Athletic Department will be covering the entire cost of this week’s legal settlement with ex-football players letting taxpayers off the hook for two million dollars. The announcement came at a House subcommittee meeting on a bill to force the university to make that move. Board of Regents chief government relations officer Keith Saunders (SAWN-ders) read legislators a statement from University of Iowa president Barbara Wilson that said she listened to concerns about the settlement.
They were Wilson’s first public comments on the settlement. Attorneys for a dozen former University of Iowa players who alleged the Hawkeye football program was a racially hostile environment will be paid about half of the settlement and the 12 players will split the rest equally.