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Capitol report: A look at goings-on the week of April 26 in Des Moines

The Hawk Eye - 4/1/2018

April 01--Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a host of bills into law last week, including a $35.5 million de-appropriation bill, mental health care reform and suicide prevention.

Here is a look at a few of the 28 bills Reynolds approved over the last few days in Des Moines:

House File 2456

In a ceremony last Thursday at the Capitol, Reynolds signed an expansive mental health care bill aimed at improving Iowans' access to much needed services across the state.

The legislation, which unanimously passed the House of Representatives and Senate, laid the groundwork to establish short-term, 16-bed care centers for mentally ill patients who do not require inpatient psychiatric treatment but need significant support services before transitioning back to living independently.

It requires daily reporting of open mental health care beds at public and private facilities and allows mental health care professionals to more easily discuss patients' issues with law enforcement without violating medical privacy laws.

Mount Pleasant Rep. Dave Heaton worked extensively on the wide-ranging legislation as chairman of the Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee.

Heaton said at a legislative forum last weekend the bill does not set aside funding for its initiatives, but he will put forth $876,000 of funding in his Health and Human Services budget for fiscal year 2019 and $6 million for FY 2020 to fund the legislation's goals.

Senate File 2117

Lawmakers split their votes largely along party lines when approval for the de-appropriation bill was finalized March 20.

Reynolds signed it into law last Wednesday, authorizing $35.5 million worth of spending cuts across government agencies for the remainder of fiscal year 2018, which ends June 30.

Budget reductions include $500,000 for community colleges; $8.1 million for the Board of Regents; $4.3 million for the Department of Human Services; $1.6 million for the Judicial Branch; and $3.4 million for the Department of Corrections.

How your lawmakers voted:

House

Rep. Dave Heaton, R-Mount Pleasant -- Yes

Rep. Dave Kerr, R-Morning Sun -- Yes

Rep. Jerry Kearns, D-Keokuk -- No

Rep. Dennis Cohoon, D-Burlington -- No

Senate

Sen. Tom Greene, R-Burlington -- Yes

Sen. Rich Taylor, D-Mount Pleasant -- No

Senate File 2113

The bill has been described as an effort to address mental health care needs in children and prevent the illness from ruining their lives as adults.

According to state officials, suicide is the second-leading cause of death in Iowa for 15 to 34-year-olds and third-leading cause of death for children 10 to 14 years old.

The legislation does not allocate any money toward training, but requires education for teachers to help them "recognize the signs of a mental health crisis and to refer those children to the appropriate services."

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(c)2018 The Hawk Eye (Burlington, Iowa)

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