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Bill will fund mental health redesign

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013 12:17 p.m. CST

This week we had floor action on a handful of bills. The one we spent the most time debating was HF 160, a bill for making appropriations for the Mental Health Transition Fund.

As you may remember, last year’s legislature created this Transition Fund in order to establish a redesign of Iowa’s mental health system. However, no money was appropriated at that time and was left to this year’s session.

All county administrators, supervisors and auditors were encouraged to review the Transition Fund rules, application process and application form. Counties that needed to apply for Transition Funds were required to submit their applications no later than Nov. 1, 2012.

Thirty-two counties in Iowa submitted timely applications and of that, 26 qualified to receive funds based on each county’s need. In Iowa House District 28, Lucas County will receive $333,544, Marion County will receive $366,429 and Jasper County did not apply.

After all qualified counties were tallied, an independent DHS audit found that in order to meet the needs of mental health redesign, $11.6 million would be necessary. A vote was taken to set aside these funds as one-time money to assist those counties that applied and whose applications were accepted. The bill passed 58-42.

I introduced two bills this week. House File 216 allows parents to teach their children drivers education with an approved Department of Transportation curriculum. House File 235 removes the requirement placed on taxpayers to indicate mandatory healthcare information on their 1040 tax form in order to file their tax return.

Another bill that I co-sponsored this week was HF 219. This bill corrects the infamous 2005 Kelo decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that allows municipalities to condemn private property and award it to another private individual or corporation. I am particularly pleased that this bill has received broad support from both sides of the aisle, as this evidences that it is not a partisan issue, nor should it be.

Looking forward, I will continue to work on House Study Bill 23. This bill deals with Iowa’s voter ID laws. This should come as no surprise as ensuring election integrity was a key issue that I campaigned on.

Despite what critics have said, proof has been coming out of what we suspected all along — voter fraud does exist in Iowa. If even one vote has been cast with intention to defraud the system, then our system has failed those that actually have the right to vote. This bill begins to take steps necessary to correct our voting system that is curently ripe for fraud.

If you have thoughts or concerns that you would like to share, please contact me at (641) 218-0185 or greg.heartsill@legis.iowa.gov. I appreciate hearing from you and take serious the responsibility to represent you in the Iowa Legislature.

God Bless!