Mental health reform signed into law

The governor signed into law two important bills last week that will greatly benefit Jasper County residents. Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a mental health bill, House File 2456, and a teen suicide prevention bill, Senate File 2113, on Thursday. HF 2456 concerns provisions relating to mental health, including involuntary commitments and hospitalizations, the disclosure of mental health information to law enforcement professionals and mental health and disability services. It also sets up six mental health access centers around the state so Iowans have more and closer opportunities for mental health care.

I’m thankful for the collaborative efforts of many mental health stakeholders in Jasper County who helped accomplish the passage of this important bill.

SF 2113 requires school employee training and protocols relating to suicide prevention and the identification of adverse childhood experiences and strategies to mitigate toxic stress response. I received numerous emails from parents, school counselors and mental health experts from House District 29 and across the state urging this legislation get passed.

Newton Fire Chief Jerrod Wellik came to the Capitol to take part in the bill signing ceremony for HF 2285 which concerns ground emergency medical transport. GEMT is a federally-funded supplement to state Medicaid payments to EMS providers transporting Medicaid patients. Under GEMT, eligible providers throughout Iowa could seek additional reimbursement for their uncompensated transport costs. These funds would help fill the financial gap now shouldered by public providers, and ultimately, the taxpayers. The bill would not create a new federal program, nor increase costs at the state and local level. But legislation is needed for GEMT funding that would require DHS to submit an amendment to Iowa Medicaid plan.

This week, the House of Representatives passed a resolution that honored two Iowa police officers who perished in a crash two years ago. In March 2016, Des Moines police officers Carlos Puente-Morales and Susan Farrell died when a drunk driver, traveling more than 100 miles an hour going the wrong direction on Interstate 80, crashed into their police vehicle as they were transporting a prisoner. The wrong-way driver and the prisoner were also killed. Family members and friends were present in the Chamber as lawmakers took turns reading the resolution. Legislators stood as a moment of silence was observed to honor the officers for their service and sacrifice.

As our session continues we hope to see solid numbers for budget appropriations and any tax changes that may be considered during this session. It’s my hope that we can work in a bipartisan fashion to put forth a budget and tax plan that is fiscally responsible for the benefit of all Iowans.

Rep. Wes Breckenridge, D-Newton, serves House District 29, encompassing the majority of Jasper County. Contact Breckenridge at 515-281-3221 or