Mental health, opioid epidemic and water quality bills pass

CAPITOL LETTERS

BY STATE REPRESENTATIVE DAN A. HUSEMAN

R-District 3, Aurelia

At this writing, it would appear March will come in like a lamb. That is great news for people and animals. I have talked to some cow/calf producers who are into the calving season, and the little critters could use some help from Mother Nature. Calving season is always a sign Spring is near, and that makes everyone happy.  Hopefully, attitudes will change here at the Capitol as well. 

This week, U.S. News and World Report named Iowa the number one state. This should be viewed as great news. Are we perfect? No. Can we do better? Yes. Is everyone happy and in agreement? Probably not. But there are a lot of positive things to build upon. We were rated on eight different categories. These include: healthcare, education, economy, opportunity, infrastructure, crime, fiscal stability, and quality of life. These are definitely categories that are important to Iowans. We did not score number one in each category, but rated high enough in each one to grab the overall top spot. We should be proud.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey finally won approval in the United States Senate for a position at the United States Department of Agriculture. He was nominated by President Trump some time ago, and won unanimous approval from the Senate Ag Committee.  His vote by the entire Senate was being help up by Senator Ted Cruz of Texas because of issues he has with the Renewable Fuels Standard. This is baloney, and had gone on long enough. I am not sure what broke the logjam, but Northey is well-qualified for the position, and I am happy for him. We will miss him here in Iowa. He is a good friend of mine, and I know he will serve with honor and dignity, and I wish him well.

The House passed quite a few bills this week, and there were some pretty big ones. We approved a comprehensive mental health measure that will go a long way in improving both access and care. The House also passed legislation dealing with the opioid epidemic which affects too many Iowans. A measure that will improve the water quality bill we passed earlier also gained approval. Finally, the K-12 funding bill was sent to the Governor for her approval.

There was a report this week that showed evidence that the Russians were involved in a plot to mess with American agricultural production. Iowa State University said the Russians are tinkering with our GMOs. In other words, they are trying to convince the rest of the world  that our food products are unsafe for consumption. They want to do damage to our export markets. It makes sense for them to do this since they cannot compete with us on much of anything. What will they think of next?

Finally, it was reported this week that 157 Iowans have died this year as a result of the flu. This number is higher than normal, so let us hope we are on the down slope of this.

You may reach me at the Capitol during the week by phoning me at 515-281-3221, or at home is 712-434-5880. You may write me at the State Capitol, Des Moines, Iowa 50319. My home address is P.O. Box 398, Aurelia, IA 51005. If you have email, please contact me at dan.huseman@legis. iowa.gov.