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Week 11 Recap: Vouchers Pass Senate Subcommittee, Mental Health Bill Passes Unanimously

Republicans pushing vouchers again which would undermine our already underfunded public school system.

Senator McCoy discusses Republicans’ push for vouchers in the Iowa Senate and a mental health bill that passed unanimously in both chambers. Watch Brief Remarks Video Here.

As the 2018 legislative session comes to a close, Senator McCoy will be holding a FB Live public forum next Thursday, March 29th at 7pm. Iowans can ask questions ahead of time or LIVE during the Facebook forum.

Pose a question here

Click here for more details WHAT: Facebook LIVE forum with Senator McCoy WHERE: On your computer or phone via Facebook LIVE WHEN: Thursday, March 29th at 7pm WHY: Senator McCoy wants to hear directly from YOU. Ask questions about a certain bill or his stance on an issue, and he will answer them live.


It’s hard to believe that legislative Republicans are just now deciding how they will balance this year’s budget, which has been in the red for months. And they haven’t even started working on next year’s budget!

Why are they struggling when Iowa is not in a recession? Because they failed to keep their promises to raise family incomes by 25 percent and create 200,000 new Iowa jobs within four years.

They could have worked with legislative Democrats on a mid-year correction.

Instead, their priorities have made life worse for Iowa families and their communities by inadequately funding our schools; turning Iowa’s respected, state-run Medicaid safety net into a national disaster; stripping Iowans of workplace rights; and showering out-of-state corporations with tax breaks.

The latest round of budget cuts (SF 2117) will:

  • Make a college education more expensive and less accessible to children from working families. That’s bad news when we’re trying to boost our number of skilled workers to fill immediate job openings.

  • Limit Iowans’ access to justice – especially in rural areas – by forcing many courthouses to close their doors.

  • Put Iowans in danger with more cuts to public safety and corrections.

I voted “no” to these cuts. Our state budget should be in better shape than it is, and Iowans should not have to keep footing the bill for mismanagement of their tax dollars.


This week, the Senate approved a plan to make Iowa more “Future Ready.”

Iowa business leaders have said for years that their biggest challenge is finding enough skilled and qualified workers to fill immediate jobs openings. The goal of HF 2458 is for 70 percent of Iowa workers to have education or training beyond high school by 2025.

I fully support this bipartisan bill. At the same time, the Legislature must follow through by increasing its investment in education, job training and infrastructure so that Iowa’s people and communities have the resources to become Future Ready.

Registered apprenticeships are expected to play a key role in achieving Iowa’s Future Ready goals. Apprenticeships are a proven solution for recruiting, training and retaining Iowans for good jobs in energy, information technology, healthcare, financial services, transportation, advanced manufacturing, food and beverage preparation, and building trades.

A new website can help employers understand how apprenticeships work and find resources to set up an apprenticeship program at their business. Job seekers can learn how an apprenticeship allows them to earn a paycheck while preparing for their careers. Go to www.earnandlearniowa.gov.


Iowa’s lack of adequate mental health services is a big concern for most Iowans, according to an Iowa Poll earlier this year.

Extensive bipartisan work established Iowa’s regional Mental Health and Disability Services (MHDS) system a few years back. This week, the Iowa Senate approved the next step to providing the right services at the right time to those struggling with severe, complex mental health or substance abuse needs.

HF 2456, based on recommendations from a Complex Needs Workgroup, adds more “core services” that the Mental Health and Disability Services regions must provide, including:

  • Immediate short-term assessments for people who do not need inpatient psychiatric treatment.

  • Comprehensive, 24-hour facilities that coordinate care for those with serious mental illnesses.

  • Treatment teams that provide flexible help for those leaving an inpatient program.

In addition, the MHDS regions can work with transportation companies to get patients where they need to go. Currently, law enforcement or ambulance services do the transporting, which hampers their ability to respond to emergencies and do other important work.

Finally, the bill will allow mental health professionals to share certain information with law enforcement that will help prevent tragedies that have become all too common when people can’t get the help they need.

This summer, a committee will study how Iowa can pay for these and other improvements to ensure our mental health system can meet Iowa’s needs for the long term.


March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. One way we’re working to prevent and better treat brain injuries is by updating how we respond when student athletes suffer a concussion.

HF 2442 brings together the Department of Public Health, the Iowa High School Athletic Association and the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union to develop training materials for schools and coaches on proper concussion protocol.

Following a concussion, students should be evaluated by a trained health care provider before returning to school or sports. The legislation also recommends having a health care provider or athletic trainer on hand at all junior high and high school sports events.

VIDEO: See what Senator Bowman, a Maquoketa High School teacher and former football and wrestling coach, had to say about the bill.


Iowans who carry stun guns for protection may be breaking the law.

Stun guns—which are different from Tasers—are promoted as effective self-defense tools, particularly for women. However, under current law, stun guns are considered dangerous weapons and require a permit to carry.

I voted to correct that oversight in Iowa law. SF 2321 will allow Iowans to carry a concealed stun gun (in a purse, for example) without a permit to carry. Under the legislation, stun guns will continue to be considered dangerous weapons if they are used to commit a crime.

SF 2321 has passed the Senate and is now eligible for debate in the House.


The Legislature’s most recent deadline for pending legislation brought some good news. Some bad bills didn’t make the cut, and several bipartisan proposals still have a chance of making it to the Governor’s desk. Here are a few examples:

Good bills move forward

  • Developing a comprehensive plan to combat opioid addiction (HF 2377)

  • Keeping sex offenders off school property (HF 2276)

  • Guaranteeing insurance coverage for telemedicine services (HF 2305)

  • Expanding Safe Haven laws (SF 360) and Good Samaritan protections (SF 415)

  • Helping more veterans in need through the Veterans Trust Fund (HF 2471)

  • Creating security plans for every Iowa school (SF 2364)

  • Training school employees on suicide prevention (SF 2113)

Bad bill that have died

  • Ending retirement security for teachers, fire fighters, police and other public employees (SF 45)

  • Meddling with the Iowa Supreme Court by requiring a super‐majority vote on decisions (SF 2282)

  • Giving Iowans a “license to discriminate” against fellow Iowans (SF 2338)

  • Removing state accreditation for community colleges (SF 2272)

  • Eliminating the Department of Public Health (HF 2017)


The Ray Center at Drake University annually recognizes Iowans who show the Six Pillars of Character: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and good citizenship. Since 2005, the Character Counts awards have honored more than 100 Iowans.

Do you know someone who deserves recognition for their good character? Nominate them by May 1.

Award recipients will receive a trophy, tickets to the 2018 Iowa Character Awards, and a special hometown visit from KDSM 17 for an interview, which will be played at the awards ceremony.


Until May 4, Iowa Communications Network is accepting student applications for its Statewide Youth Broadband Advisory Council (SYBAC) for the 2018-2019 school year. This is a chance for tech-savvy young people to help us identify trends and strategies to improve broadband, wireless access, infrastructure and cybersecurity in Iowa.

Students entering 10th through 12th grades may apply. Meetings take place monthly from September 2018 through May 2019 via video conference, teleconference or in person.

Additional information

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/mccoyforiowa.

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 matt.mccoy@legis.iowa.gov.

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.

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