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Rep. Tom Jeneary — 2022 Legislative Session, Week 12

Greetings from the Statehouse,
As we are nearly to the end of session, budgets are passing the House. However, negotiations are on going with the Senate, so the figures presented in this letter may not be accurate. I will provide updates as they come. The Health and Human Services budget and the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund both passed the House this week. The Health and Human Services Budget generally focuses on community based-services for Iowans with intellectual disabilities in addition to mental health services. The Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund priorities funds to maintain and improve state facilities.

Through the Health and Human Services Budget, we were able to allocate state funds to aid those with disabilities. This budget provides a $14.6 million investment in home and community-based services rates. This allows for a $2 raise to all direct support professionals, and this bill requires this increase to go towards our front-line workers wages. It also provides a $7.4 million state investment to reduce the waitlist on the intellectual disability services waiver. This appropriation should add an additional 250 ID waiver slots.

The Health and Human Services Budget also aids those who are struggling with mental health issues. The bill provides funding to increase access to mental health care by expanding the workforce and increasing beds for the most difficult to serve patients. It also completes the state’s transition of taking mental health funding off of property taxes, completely phasing out the mental health property tax levy and allocating an additional $71 million from the general fund for mental health regions. Further, it provides $3 million of state funding, and a total funding increase of $7.9 million, to behavioral health intervention services. This is a 35% increase because there are currently lengthy waitlists for individuals to get services due to staffing shortages. This bill also allocates $1.1 million of state funding and almost $3 million of total funding to increase residential substance use treatment rates.

The Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund (RIIF) will allocate $28 million in FY 23 and will go toward addressing major structural issues at state facilities. Another big focus of the RIIF budget is increasing quality of life for Iowans. The bill triples the amount of infrastructure funding for state parks, and doubles the funding for the Community Attractions and Tourism (CAT) grant program and the Great Places program.  It also increases funding for the Dept. of Transportation’s trails program.

The Capitol was also full of great visitors this week. The Orange City Tulip Queen and her Court were in town. Naomi Mellema was this year’s queen. Queen Mellema’s Court includes: Maren Beaty, Chloe Bilby, Catherine Hummel, and Kate Van Der Werff. Thank you for representing Northwest Iowa! Keep up the good work!

We also received a visit from this year’s Miss Rodeo Iowa, Emma Blair from Keswick. She came along with Lil Miss Iowa Caitlyn Barr from Spencer. It was great to meet you girls, congratulations on your success!

As always, if you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me. I can be reached at my email: tom.jeneary@legis.iowa.gov.

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