Highlights with Henry

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Week two of session was busier and more down to business than the first week. While there has been no floor debate yet, I stayed busy looking over future legislation for this session and taking part in committee meetings. This year I am the Vice-Chair of Economic Growth and I’m on the Education, Labor, and Veterans Affairs committees. Committees are important in making sure good legislation makes it to the house floor for debate.
Below you will read about some of the most impactful things that happened recently.
Governor Reynolds proposed transparency in public school classrooms. Parents should be able to know exactly what curriculum their children are being taught. Also, House Republicans laid out a plan for better mental healthcare in our state. This is a problem that takes time to correct, but bipartisanship will play a great role in expanding mental healthcare in our state.
Governor Proposes Curriculum Transparency for Parents
In Governor Reynolds’s Condition of the State Speech she spoke about the pleas from parents for more transparency in education. During the pandemic, parents were able to see in real time what was being taught in the classrooms and it raised questions. Parents have made their concerns crystal clear to Democrats, Republicans, school board members, superintendents, principals and teachers. Along with Governor Reynolds, Republicans will work towards a solution that supports parents and students while integrating the concerns of teachers.
Governor Reynold’s proposal includes three things:
* Public schools will be required to publish their class materials on school and/or district websites where parents and families can view/read it. Information shall include course syllabuses or written summaries, state academic standards, and titles of or links to textbooks used for classes.
* Public schools will also be required to publish a comprehensive list of books available in their libraries and provide information about the process for filing a concern about a book. If the concern is not addressed by the school district within 30 days, it can be appealed directly to the State Board of Education.
* State funding will be withheld from schools that do not comply with these requirements.
As the 2022 legislative session gets underway, House Republicans have heard about questionable topics, materials, or books being taught and used in schools with parents feeling that it is outside their reach to simply be aware of what is taking place inside the classroom. It is not an unreasonable request by parents or an unreasonable legislative push from House Republicans to require school districts to transparently provide the topics and material taught to students.
House Republicans Continue to Expand Access to Mental Health Care
Over the last 5 years, the legislature has passed bipartisan mental health reform, created the state’s first ever children’s mental health system, provided significant funds to mental health providers through Medicaid rates, and expanded access to mental health care through telehealth.
However, too often we continue to hear that there are open beds at the other 27 hospitals with inpatient psychiatric units, yet no where to put difficult mental health patients. Iowa House Republicans are committed to always working towards additional ways to treat mental illness like any other health care condition.
That’s why this week, the House Human Resources Committee introduced four pieces of legislation to address mental health workforce and additional beds for Iowa’s most difficult patients.
Mental Health Institutes: HSB531 will increase the current capacity at the Independence and Cherokee Mental Health institutes by 50%. This bill will add 32 adult beds and 14 child/adolescent beds for Iowa’s most difficult-to-place mental health patients.
Adding Psychiatrists: HSB532 is legislation to fund 12 psychiatric residents per year. Iowa ranks 44th in the country in psychiatrists per capita. This bill will help increase the number of psychiatrists trained in Iowa.
Mental Health Provider Loan Forgiveness: HSB537 adds $1 million per year to expand loan forgiveness opportunities to continue to retain new prescribing mental health providers in Iowa.
Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit: HSB530 is a bill to require the Department of Human Services to establish a Medicaid rate for those needing a higher level of inpatient psychiatric care.

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