Sen. Edler: Cornfields, Common Sense and Community
The seventh week of session was busier as many bills moved out of committee. Next week is the first funnel week of this legislative session, meaning all Senate policy bills need to be out of Senate committees in order to be considered for the rest of the year. This deadline will narrow the focus to the bills remaining.
One of the key concerns to solving workforce issues in Iowa has been the availability of child care. House File 260 allows a person or program providing childcare in someone’s home for five or fewer children. It also would allow six or fewer children if at least one of the children is school-aged. Currently, a childcare home providing childcare to more than five children must register as a child development home. Finding affordable childcare in Iowa, especially in rural areas, has been difficult, and even more so this last year.
This week in Human Resources we passed a bill that will help Iowa hospitals. This bill directs DHS to examine a rate for administrative bed days to cover costs on individuals who have stayed beyond the medical necessity, yet have nowhere to reside for proper treatment. These are usually patients with a mental illness, substance abuse, or behavioral disorders. This will be one of four bills I am bringing forward this year to address complex needs patients with mental illness.
Improving the Administration and Security of Iowa’s Elections
The Senate debated Senate File 413 this week, making a number of improvements to Iowa’s election law to make it clearer, stronger, and more secure for election officials across the state. Over the years, Senate Republicans have been making improvements to election law in Iowa like requiring a voter ID to vote and request an absentee ballot. Each time a bill comes before the Senate, opponents throw wild claims such as, new laws will suppress voters or make it harder to vote in Iowa. In every election since these reforms began, Iowa has had record voter turnout. In 2018 and again in 2020 more Iowans voted than in any previous election, even amid a public health disaster. The claims of voter suppression are simply and blatantly false.
This legislation will not punish auditors who simply make mistakes. This legislation will only punish those auditors who openly defy the election law as written by the Iowa Legislature. Auditors found to be intentionally violating state law are subject a fine up to $10,000 from the Secretary of State and the county attorney will be notified to investigate possible election misconduct.
This legislation does not inhibit any voter from requesting and voting by absentee ballot. Iowans will still have all avenues to request an absentee ballot as they did in previous elections. Request forms can be found on the Secretary of State’s website, at the county auditor’s office, or even by mail if a campaign, organization, or political party decides to send them out or if a voter requests one from their auditor.
Senate File 413 continues the legislature’s work in bringing more integrity to elections in Iowa, ensuring it will always be easy for Iowans to vote, but hard to cheat.