Hite Capitol Update: March 28, 2019

Rep. Dustin Hite (R-District 79)

Rep. Dustin Hite (R-District 79)

by Rep. Dustin Hite

Another week has come and gone in Des Moines, and the Statehouse is buzzing with debate. We’ve passed some important pieces of legislation already, and this week featured some key bills that will help Iowa.

First, I would like to follow up on last week’s newsletter, which focused on flooding relief efforts across the state. Over the last few weeks, much of the state has experienced severe flooding which doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. The western part of Iowa has been impacted significantly compared to the rest of the state with several towns being evacuated.

Governor Reynolds requested an expedited Presidential Disaster Declaration for $1.6 billion in aid which President Trump quickly approved for 56 counties, making them immediately eligible for federal disaster relief.

Eligible counties include: Adair, Allamakee, Audubon, Boone, Bremer, Buena Vista, Butler, Calhoun, Carroll, Cass, Cherokee, Clay, Crawford, Dallas, Decatur, Dickinson, Emmet, Fayette, Franklin, Fremont, Greene, Guthrie, Hamilton, Hancock, Hardin, Harrison, Howard, Humboldt, Ida, Iowa, Jasper, Kossuth, Lyon, Madison, Mahaska, Marshall, Mills, Monona, Montgomery, O’Brien, Osceola, Page, Plymouth, Pocahontas, Polk, Pottawattamie, Sac, Shelby, Sioux, Tama, Union, Webster, Winnebago, Winneshiek, Woodbury, and Wright. (Additional counties could be added later)

I would like to once again express my gratitude to the first responders and volunteers that are working so hard to relive the damage. I am confident this funding will help those facing this tough time.

Mental health, particularly children’s mental health, is one of the issues voters in the state care about most. That is why I am happy to share the House passed the Children’s Mental Health bill with strong bipartisan support. House File 690 is a bill by Governor Reynolds based on recommendations from children’s mental health providers, parents, and advocates. This bill ensures that there is local access and coordination to mental health services for children, and that parents have a place to turn when seeking treatment for their child.

The bill codifies a Children’s System State Board to act as the central entity advising on the administration of the children’s mental health system throughout the state, and establishes local governance based on the existing community-based adult mental health system with the 14 MHDS Regions. Each Region must hire a children’s services coordinator who will serve as the subject matter expert and focus solely on the development of children’s mental health services in that area. Importantly, the bill also follows the process used for adults by establishing eligibility criteria for children and core services that will be provided to eligible children including crisis services, inpatient treatment, and outpatient therapy.

This bill is a part of many proposals in the legislature to expand access to mental health services for children. The Governor’s Budget and the House Republican HHS Budget include funding to expand the statewide crisis hotline to children’s mental health services, provides additional funding for developing mental health professionals in rural areas, and eliminate the waiting list for the Children’s Mental Health HCBS Waiver.

Additionally, the felon voting rights restoration bill passed the House of Thursday with bipartisan support. House Joint Resolution 14 allows felons to have their right to vote restored once they have completed their sentence. It still remains up to the legislature to define completion of a sentence, and I predict that issue will be brought up in next year’s session.

The Governor also signed into law the Campus Free Speech Bill this week. The signing ceremony for the event was the first I have ever had the opportunity to witness. This bill will guarantee First Amendment rights to our students in the State’s public universities and community colleges by ensuring that student organizations are given the freedom to decide the criteria for their leaders. I am thankful for everyone that helped pass this legislation, and it was an honor to floor manage a piece of legislation I feel so strongly about.

Finally, I would like to highlight Fr. John Spiegel from St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Oskaloosa and Pella who came to the Capitol to give the opening prayer on Tuesday. He seemed like an old hat at the Statehouse, as he knew many of the legislators from his time serving other parishes across the state. As always, I encourage anyone making a trip to the Statehouse to reach out to me at dustin.hite@legis.iowa.gov.

Posted by on Mar 28 2019. Filed under Local News, Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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