DHS, Updates from Legislative Session
ATTACK ON WORKERS: SLASHING WAGES & PROTECTIONS FOR JOB INJURIES Legislative Republicans recently approved two more bills that will hurt Iowa workers. The Branstad-Reynolds Administration plans to sign them into law on Thursday.
House File 518 cuts protections for Iowans hurt on the job through no fault of their own, reduces an employer’s liability for injuries, and encourages employers and insurance carriers to avoid on-time payment of claims.
Proponents of the bill say Iowa has an unbalanced worker’ comp system and that premiums are high. Here is the truth:
Iowa has the third-best workers compensation system in the country.
The Insurance Journal gives Iowa’s system an “A” grade.
Premiums in Iowa have remained relatively stable.
Iowa’s Economic Development Authority touts our low workers’ compensation premiums, which are 11 percent below the national average.
Iowa’s work injury claims are down, dropping by more than 21 percent in the last eight years.
House File 295 rolls back minimum wage increases already in force in four counties—including Polk, Johnson, Linn and Wapello—and prevents cities and counties from making other decisions that would best serve their communities. This bill amounts to a pay cut for 65,000 Iowans.
Iowa’s minimum wage has been at $7.25 since 2008, while 29 other states have raised their wages. Legislative Republicans and the Branstad-Reynolds Administration, however, think they know what’s best.
They’ve decided local governments can no longer set better standards for minimum wage, hiring practices, leave, benefits, scheduling or other terms of employment. Any local laws will be void the minute the Governor signs the bill.
INSURANCE TO COVER AUTISM TREATMENT
Years of work by advocates for people with autism, medical professionals and lawmakers has paid off with the Legislature’s recent vote to require many employer-provided health insurance policies to cover treatment for children with an autism spectrum disorder.
Applied behavior analysis treatment must be provided by a board-certified behavior analyst, licensed physician or psychologist. Known as ABA treatment, it is shown in national studies to be most successful in young children. That’s why House File 215 encourages early treatment by setting maximum annual benefits by age.
The legislation includes large employers (more than 50 full-time employees) and public employee group policies, but does not apply to individual health insurance plans or small employer group plans.
House File 215 now goes to the Governor. If signed into law, the provisions take effect in January 2018.
NEW HURDLES WILL MAKE IT HARDER FOR ELIGIBLE IOWANS TO VOTE
I want more eligible citizens to legally exercise their right to vote. That’s why I opposed a bill that creates new government barriers to voting.
HF 516 eliminates straight-party voting, reduces opportunities to vote by mail, establishes a costly registration card program, requires voters to present specific photo ID at the polls, restricts access to the polls for many college students, and requires poll workers to verify the signatures of voters.
This is unnecessary. The Election Integrity Project gives Iowa the second highest score nationally. Secretary of State Paul Pate himself has said Iowa is one of the best states for voter integrity and participation. So why did he propose a bill that will deter voting among minorities, low-income Iowans, older Iowans and those with disabilities?
The League of Women Voters of Iowa, Iowa State Association of County Auditors and other advocates for citizen participation oppose the bill. Most states have rejected restrictive ID requirements because they are costly, deprive citizens of their right to vote and reduce participation in the democratic process.
As a more cost-effective alternative, I voted for a proposal to allow Iowans to present poll workers with common forms of identification, including driver’s license, military or veterans ID, Social Security card, weapons permit, hunting or fishing license, or college ID. Unfortunately, this proposal was defeated.
If you think HF 516 is a bad deal for Iowa voters, contact the Governor’s office and tell the Branstad-Reynolds Administration to veto this bill. Call 515-281-5211 or send them a message at www.governor.iowa.gov/constituent-services/register-an-opinion.
DON’T MAKE IT HARDER FOR KIDS TO GET HEALTH CARE
Because of bipartisan efforts in the Legislature, Iowa is a national leader in making sure children have insurance to get the health care they need.
Republicans and Democrats have worked together at the Statehouse to expand Medicaid and hawk-i, Iowa’s successful child health insurance program. It’s a national model in providing low-cost health care for kids. It allows families to focus on their many other responsibilities without worrying that a trip to the hospital or sudden illness could bankrupt them.
These programs have been especially successful because we’ve made sure Iowans know about them. A big help in this effort is a check-off on Iowa’s income tax forms. With a simple check box, the state can find out if a taxpayer has children who need health care coverage and if the taxpayer’s income qualifies them for programs like hawk-i.
Unfortunately, Senate Republicans want to get rid of this successful initiative. Without it, many Iowans will no longer know they’re eligible for services their tax dollars pay for—and more kids will be without the coverage that can ensure they grow and develop properly by getting good health care at the right time. This is a legislative update from State Senator Matt McCoy, representing the west part of Des Moines, portions of West Des Moines and northwest Warren County. For bio, photos and further information, go to www.senate.iowa.gov/senator/mccoy. Follow Senator McCoy on Facebook at www.facebook.com/senatormccoy. To contact Senator McCoy when the Legislature is in session, call the Senate Switchboard at 515-281-3371. Otherwise he can be reached at 515-274-0561. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Senator McCoy is an Assistant Leader, as well as ranking member on the Transportation & Infrastructure Budget and the Government Oversight Committee. He also serves on the Appropriations, Commerce, Local Government and Ways & Means committees.