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Iowa House of Representatives finishes its budget bills

By State Sen. Mike Sexton

We just finished week 13 and on one hand, time has flown by very quickly, but on the other hand, it seems like we have been here way too long. We finished our last budget bill in the House last Wednesday afternoon. Having done that, we have run out of things to do so we adjourned for the week. I made it home Wednesday night, which is a nice treat. We are now waiting on the Senate. They have not passed one budget yet. Some of you have heard me on the radio complaining about the Senate. To say I’m disappointed in them is an understatement, but I’m going to leave it there so I don’t make a bad situation any worst.

Agriculture

This week, the House Ways and Means Committee passed Senate File 2376 to establish a new 90,0000-pound all-systems permit, allowing trucks that receive route approval from the Iowa DOT to transport 12 percent more than normally allowed. This legislation will support moving products quickly throughout the state and help our supply chain, especially with the current difficulties in our economy.

The bill establishes a fee of $500 for the new permit, which will be split 75 percent to the county bridge construction fund and 25 percent to the road use tax fund.

This bill will specifically help the agricultural industry, which is often allowed to carry these heavier loads only during harvest season when the governor signs a proclamation. This bill will make permanent the option to run heavier trucks, as long as they pay the fee and receive route approval from the DOT.

Budget update

Last week, the House passed our final two budget proposals, Health and Human Services and the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund. Negotiations are ongoing with the Senate so these budgets may change before final passage.

RIIF budget highlights

The RIIF Budget focuses on infrastructure funds to maintain and improve state facilities. $28 million in FY 23 will go toward addressing major structural issues at state facilities. Another big focus of the RIIF budget is increasing the 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. This also increases funding for the Dept. of Transportation’s trails program.

Health and Human Services budget highlights

The Health and Human Services budget prioritizes community-based services for Iowans with intellectual disabilities as well as mental health services.

Disability care

Provides a $14.6 million investment in-home and community-based services rates. This allows for a $2 raise for all direct support professionals, and this bill requires this increase to go towards our front-line worker’s wages. 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.

Mental health

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. Provides $3 million of state funding, and a total funding increase of $7.9 million, to behavioral health intervention services. This is a 35 percent increase because there are currently lengthy waitlists for individuals to get services due to staffing shortages. Provides $1.1 million of state funding and almost $3 million of total funding to increase residential substance use treatment rates.

Adding protections for mobile home residents

After years of work, this week the Iowa House passed a bill to add meaningful protections for Iowans in mobile homes. Recently Iowa mobile home residents have seen an increase in out-of-state groups buying mobile home parks and making this affordable housing option less attainable. This bill provides protections for residents against retaliation from landlords and requires a 90-day notice of any rental fee increase or cancellation of a rental agreement. It also gives legal remedies to residents if the landlord is not providing essential services, such as water.

State Rep. Mike Sexton, R-Rockwell City, represents Calhoun, Humboldt and Pochontas counties, plus western Webster County.

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