Amid a challenging Legislative Session, I remain committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find common ground and advance policies that will improve the lives of all Iowans. Unfortunately, extreme bills and amendments that do not reflect the priorities of Iowans keep coming. One positive from this past week was the passage of an eminent domain bill, which protects some Iowa landowners (HF 603). The next few weeks the Iowa Legislature shifts gears from mostly policy and moves more to legislation that deals with the overall state budget.
As always, it is an honor to work for you and my gratitude for your support continues. If you have any comments or suggestions on issues, or need assistance with state government, please contact me by email Kirsten.Running-Marquardt@legis.iowa.gov or by phone at 319.330.9899. I look forward to hearing from you.
Local Linn County Events
Thursday, April 6th, 12:30 pm
Linn County Board of Health Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Linn County Public Health & National Public Health Week
IBEW Local 405
1211 Wiley Blvd SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404
Saturday, April 8th, 9 am – 3 pm
Cleveland Elementary School PTA Vendor and Craft Show
Cleveland Elementary School Gym
2200 1st Ave NW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52405
Sunday, May 7th, 2 – 4 pm
Cedar Rapids CROP Hunger Walk
Corner of Midway and Johnson Ave, Cedar Rapids, IA
Session in Photos
March 28, 2017 was Iowa Regents Research in the Capitol Day. Representative Running-Marquardt met with Josie Laska of Iowa State University, and Nate Weger, Laura Fischer and Evan Lamb of the University of Iowa, all from Linn County. These students shared their research presentations with Rep. Running-Marquardt and her colleagues. From left to right: Laura Fischer, Josie Laska, Evan Lamb, Rep. Running-Marquardt and Nate Weger.
Left: Representative Running-Marquardt welcomed the Jansa Family to the Capitol on March 21, 2017 for Brain Injury Alliance of Iowa Day on the Hill. From left to right: Andrea Jansa, Patti Jansa, Ryan Jansa and Rep. Running-Marquardt. Patti and Ryan are constituents from Cedar Rapids.
Right: Representative Running-Marquardt visited with Amy Gilbert and Shawna Meyer on March 21, 2017 for Planned Parenthood Day on the Hill. Shawna and Amy are health care professionals in Cedar Rapids and they discussed the importance of protecting women’s access to health care. From left to right: Rep. Running-Marquardt, Shawna Meyer and Amy Gilbert.
Representative Running-Marquardt toured the Catherine McAuley Center on March 17, 2017, where she talked about the AmeriCorps RefugeeRISE Program and the crucial work the center does for the Cedar Rapids community. Rep. Running-Marquardt is pictured here with AmeriCorps RefugeeRISE Coordinator Leya Neema, Executive Director Paula Land, Rep. Running-Marquardt, AmeriCorps RefugeeRISE Coordinator Clark Covington-White, Refugee and Immigrant Services Coordinator Shana Kargbo.
March 22, 2017 was Boys & Girls Club Day at the Capitol. Representative Running-Marquardt met with John Tursi, Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Cedar Rapids, Teacher Colin Eakins and children from Cedar Rapids.
Representative Running-Marquardt met with advocates and volunteers from the Brain Injury Alliance of Iowa on March 21, 2017 to discuss the current status of brain injury service programs in the state and how to prevent brain injuries by addressing distracted driving and concussions in youth sports. Rep. Running-Marquardt is pictured here with Paul Hunter, Annie Streng, Heather Walker and Scott McDowell
Deficit Forces Governor to Update Budget Recommendations
According to new budget documents released this week, Governor Branstad is recommending the state borrow from their savings accounts to cover for a $131 million state budget deficit this year. When the state’s non-partisan budget experts met in mid-March, lawmakers learned the Republican Majority and the Branstad-Reynolds administration have turned a $927 million state surplus (FY 13) into a $130 million deficit this year (FY 17).
The state budget deficit is largely the result of new corporate tax giveaways that have increased exponentially and now top $500 million annually. According to state experts, those giveaways have not produced the economic growth Republicans promised and instead, have slowed the state’s economy. For the last three years, Republican lawmakers have also spent more than the state collected and used one-time money to fund on-going needs.
The lack of fiscal discipline by Republican lawmakers and the Branstad-Reynolds administration over the last several years creates significant challenges for the 2018 state budget. The budget documents provided by the Governor also include recommendations for further cuts next year to Iowa’s most vulnerable citizens – seniors, the disabled, and children. The next few weeks is when the budget process kicks into high gear. I truly believe we need to check our “Tax Credits gone wild” to begin the process of getting our budget under control. Below is an article I am quoted in: http://siouxcityjournal.com/news/state-and-regional/iowa/iowa-lawmakers-brace-for-tough-budget-choices/article_c5937ecc-97e1-5ad6-ae14-04a2b07fda7d.html
Bill Lowering Wages for 65,000 Iowans Signed by Governor
Instead of increasing the minimum wage, Senate Republican lawmakers have approved a bill that lowers wages for 65,000 Iowans. The bill passed the House earlier, and was signed into law on Thursday. The bill preempts local ordinances on wages and products sold. After waiting for Iowa lawmakers to act for nearly a decade, four counties, including Linn, have recently increased the minimum wage in their own communities to finally give a boost to the lowest wage earners. The bill, House File 295, takes away the minimum wage increases already approved in some Iowa communities.
Now set at $7.25 per hour, Iowa’s minimum wage was last increased in 2008 and every state surrounding Iowa (except Wisconsin) has increased their minimum wage above $7.25. To meet basic living expenses, a single person in Iowa resident should make at least $13.16 an hour and that rises to $21.52 an hour for a single parent with one child. One of the counties that took action to increase the minimum wage is Wapello County, which has the 3rd highest poverty rate in Iowa and 2nd lowest per-capita income.
Rural Iowans Lose Under CAFO Legislation
A bill that limits damages from confined feeding operations (CAFOs) to Iowa homeowners has been signed into law by the Governor. Under the legislation, if a CAFO moves next to your property and lowers the value or ruins the enjoyment of your land, damages are capped and no further legal action is possible.
Under Senate File 447, a confined animal feeding operation that is found to be a nuisance will be conclusively presumed to be a permanent nuisance. A permanent nuisance is expected to continue unabated, while a temporary nuisance occurs occasionally and could be the basis for a number of lawsuits. This change caps the damages due to a homeowner and prevents any further action against the CAFO.
The capped damages fall into three categories: damages for any diminution in the fair market value of a person’s real property; damages due to a person’s past, present and future adverse health conditions based on medical evidence; and special damages for intangible injuries such as annoyance or the loss of comfortable use and enjoyment of real property. For special damages, the total awarded cannot exceed one and one-half times the combined amounts for property and adverse health condition damages.
Iowa raises about 21 million pigs per year. Of the roughly 6,300 hog operations in the state, 2,840 house more than 2,000 pigs and 1,000 house over 5,000. Despite these numbers, there are only 5-7 nuisance lawsuits a year on average. There are currently nuisance protections for CAFOs in code, but they were found to be unconstitutional on a case-by-case basis in 2004. The constitutionality of this legislation was also questioned at the subcommittee and committee level. Below is an article I am quoted in from debate on this bill: http://www.thegazette.com/subject/news/business/agriculture/iowa-house-sends-ag-nuisance-bill-to-governor-20170322
Bill Making Asbestos Lawsuits More Difficult Signed by Governor
Governor Branstad signed a bill this week that will make it more difficult for survivors of asbestos related diseases to sue companies that caused their illnesses. The bill will likely delay cases and could deny certain victims suffering from asbestos diseases any recovery. The bill was opposed by every Democrat in both the Senate and the House.
Senate File 376 will prioritize claims from people who have a physical impairment because of asbestos exposure before people suffering from other nonmalignant conditions. A victim has to provide a detailed narrative medical report and diagnosis to show that the person is sick enough to bring the suit. This requirement to prove how sick a plaintiff is must be established for each company that is being sued. The bill will be effective starting July 1, 2017. Below is a link to some of my comments on the floor of the house during debate on this bill: http://www.radioiowa.com/2017/03/24/branstad-approves-new-rules-for-asbestos-related-lawsuits/
Legislature Continues to Combat Opioid and Heroin Overdoses
Eastern Iowa has been experiencing a significant increase in overdoses from both opioids, whether the opioid was a prescription or heroin, and Iowa needs to address this issue before its gets worse. According to the Department of Public Health (DPH), opioids were the leading cause in 67 deaths in 2016, up from 28 in 2005. Opioid related deaths (where opioid was referenced in the examiner’s report and could have contributed to the death), went up from 59 to 146 in 2005 and 2016, respectively. While there isn’t a silver bullet to solve the problem, the Legislature continues to pass legislation that is chipping away at the problem. This issue affects so many Iowans, not only the addicted Iowan but the family, friends and community they leave behind.
Drug Monitoring Programs
The drug prescription monitoring program is under the purview of the Department of Public Health and is used by doctors and pharmacists to report when and who they prescribe or fill a controlled substance prescription. One piece of legislation will require pharmacists to update data to the program on a daily basis rather than once a week. The Department of Public Health is also authorized to expand the number of states that enter into a data sharing agreement from just the states bordering Iowa to any state.
This year, the Iowa House passed legislation mandating practitioners that prescribe controlled substances, including opioids, to register with the Iowa Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP). Currently, only 40% of practitioners that are able to prescribe controlled substances are registered. The PMP allows authorized prescribers and pharmacists to view information about their patients’ use of controlled substances. This is a tool and is used as a tool in determining appropriate prescribing and treatment of patients without fear of contributing to a patient’s abuse of or dependence on addictive drugs or diversion of those drugs to illicit use.
Preventing Overdose Deaths
In 2016, the Legislature began addressing the opioid epidemic by passing a law which permits the possession and administration of opioid antagonist medications by authorized persons and distribution by pharmacists. As a next step, Dr. Quinlisk, the Director of Iowa’s Department of Public Health, issued a standing order to allow pharmacists to dispense naloxone to any eligible recipient. This standing order from DPH is to be used if the customer cannot get a prescription from their health care provider, and persons must complete training regarding recognizing and responding to suspected opioid-related overdoses. CVS Pharmacies have agreed to have naloxone available to those persons who would like to purchase a dose from a standing order.
Next Steps in Iowa
Democrats are ready to take additional steps that will be more noticeable to the public such as adopting what is known as a Good Samaritan Law, allowing someone to call 911 and wait with a person who is experiencing a drug overdose without fear of criminal prosecution. Another additional step is having more substance abuse treatment available for addicts. Family members of victims, health care professionals, and former addicts all report on the need for more, in-patient treatment. Insurance companies vary on the how much treatment they will cover, if at all.
Spring Turkey Seasons Fast Approaching
The first of Iowa’s spring turkey seasons begins on April 8th for hunters younger than 16, and the first regular season begins on April 17th. Hunters are required to report their harvest by midnight of the day after it is tagged. Reporting can be done through the website (www.iowadnr.gov), by using the phone number listed on the tag, or through a license vendor. The legal hunting time is one-half hour before sunrise and sunset, and resident hunters may obtain a maximum of two spring turkey licenses. For more information regarding the spring turkey seasons, please visit: http://www.iowadnr.gov/Hunting/Turkey-Hunting.
Youth (Gun/Bow) Apr 8 – 16
Season 1 (Gun/Bow) Apr 17 – 20
Season 2 (Gun/Bow) Apr 21 – 25
Season 3 (Gun/Bow) Apr 26 – May 2
Season 4 (Gun/Bow) May 3 – 21
Resident Archery Apr 17 – May 21