Rep. Tom Jeneary: End of Session Message
COVID-19 Response Funding and Small Business Relief Grants:
Before the Legislature suspended its session in mid-March, legislators passed a package of emergency tools and funding that the Governor could utilize as the Covid-19 pandemic quickly evolved. As part of the Governor’s response to the emergency, many small businesses were required to temporarily close their doors to prevent the spread of the virus. In response, a small business relief program was established using resources provided by the Legislature to assist small business owners who were significantly affected by the virus.
Protecting Health Care Workers and Job Creators from Frivolous Lawsuits:
Throughout the Covid-19 emergency, frontline health care workers, essential small businesses and generous Iowans did their part to keep us healthy, provide necessary supplies and support our communities. These selfless Iowans need to be protected from frivolous lawsuits seeking to capitalize on the Covid-19 pandemic. That’s why House Republicans passed legislation that will provide limited liability protections for health care providers, businesses, churches, schools and others who acted responsibly during the emergency by following pubic health guidelines and taking reasonable precautions to keep people safe. This legislation will not provide blanket immunity to bad actors who failed to keep workers and customers safe.
Workforce and Economy — Expanding Broadband Service:
Reliable and high speed internet has become a necessity in today’s economy. It’s important for employers and workers but far too often, a steady connection is hard to find in rural areas. House Republicans worked closely with stakeholders to find solutions and spur broadband development to each corner of Iowa through several pieces of legislation this session. In addition the Federal Cares Act will provide another $ 25 Million for broadband development.
Removing Barriers to Employment:
Iowa is one of the most strictly regulated states in the country when it comes to occupational licensing, which demonstrates that reform is sorely needed. House Republicans passed legislation this session that will streamline occupational licensing requirements and reduce costs for Iowans, while still maintaining high quality health and safety standards that protect Iowans.
Budget and Taxes — A Conservative Budget Plan:
While many other states are in bad financial shape due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Iowa’s budget is in a strong position. The Legislature passed a responsible budget plan for the upcoming fiscal year that spends less than projected revenue, doesn’t rely on rainy day reserve funds, and leaves a healthy surplus. It provides additional resources for key programs like K-12 education and health care. This is a budget plan that has the ability to withstand unforeseen circumstances without resulting in tax increases or deep cuts to things Iowans value.
Education — Additional Investment in K-12 Education:
The Legislature passed a K-12 funding plan that provides schools with an additional $100 Million next school year. This package includes an increase in general aid while also targeting resources to reduce high transportation costs in rural districts and reduce a long-standing inequity in the school funding formula by an additional $10/ student. Under House Republican leadership, total state investment is at an all time high of nearly $3.4 billion, an increase of almost $1 billion over the last decade.
School Choice Tax Credit Expanded:
The School Tuition Organization( STO) is a great way to encourage school choice for Iowans while using private funds. House Republicans fought to expand the STO program
Health Care — Increased Access to Telehealth for Children and Adults:
During the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth and its importance has been pushed to the forefront. Legislation passed this session ensures that Iowa kids can access mental health treatment ( with parental involvement) while at school via telehealth. Additional legislation requires telehealth services be reimbursed at the same rate as an in-person visit to the doctor.
Prescription Drug Affordability and Transparency:
House Republicans addressed the .high cost of prescription drugs by limiting practices from Pharmacy Benefit Managers(PMB’S). These entities often serve as “middlemen” between doctors , pharmacies and insurance companies. This legislation will bring access to prescription drugs in all Iowa pharmacies and prohibit a PBM from charging patients inflated prices. Also, House Republicans limited the amount charged to a diabetic patient for the ever increasing costs of insulin, and prohibited pharmacies and health insurers from charging duplicative fees that cost families and seniors more for critical medicine.
Safety — Ensuring EMS in Rural Iowa:
Legislation passed by the House this session would designate emergency medical services(EMS) as an essential service so that local governments have the resources and certainty to make long- term investments in EMS infrastructure.
Safe and Secure Elections:
The ability to vote is one of our most sacred rights, and something that House Republicans take seriously. House Republicans want to ensure that every Iowa is able to vote in the manner that they prefer and with more Iowans moving towards vote by mail, we must ensure that our absentee voting system is secure and free from fraud. Legislation was passed which strengthen the security of our election system, increase access to the polls and keep voters and poll workers safe.
While this legislative session was cut short by the Covid-19 pandemic, we were still able to pass significant legislation that benefits the vast majority of Iowans.
It is an honor to serve as the Representative for District 5. If you has questions or concerns, please contact me at tom.jeneary@legis. Iowa.gov.