The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

March 30, 2013

Big steps on health care, education

Rita Hart
The Clinton Herald

---- — This week the Senate passed some very important bills. On Monday, we debated and passed SF296, which will expand access to affordable health care. This was an exciting day in the Chamber with Iowans from across the state on hand to listen to the debate. This bill has received a ton of publicity and attention from many of Iowa’s citizens.

I supported the bill because it will make affordable health care available to many Iowans who are working full time — or maybe more than full time – and their employers do not provide health insurance. For those whose income is low enough to qualify, this bill will increase family financial security by reducing costly health problems that can cause home foreclosures and bankruptcies.

The hospitals in our area have made it very clear that passing this bill will shrink Iowa’s $1 billion annual bill for unpaid medical care – costs that everyone must pay through higher medical bills and insurance premiums. This bill now goes to the House for consideration, so we’ll see what happens as the Governor, Senate and the House continue to work on what’s best for Iowa and health care.

The other big bill that moved through the Senate was the education reform bill. This is a work in progress, as the Senate bill contains items that are in both the Governor’s plan and the House’s bill, and somehow these versions must be resolved in the end.

Senate File 423 contains many provisions. I believe that the goal should always be to boost student achievement, and many of the components in this bill will hopefully do just that. The bill also provides for a 4 percent increase in basic school aid, which is critically needed. I am looking forward to the next steps in the process as the Senate and House work to resolve the differences and come up with legislation in the end that is good for Iowa’s children.

The week’s debate was lively and thought provoking. In addition, I worked on lots of committee bills. Visitors included students from Central DeWitt and Scott Community College.

I really encourage people (especially students) to come to Des Moines and let us show you around.

Please stay in touch with me either by visiting the Capitol, calling me in Des Moines at (515) 291-3371, calling me at home at (563) 210-1252 or e-mailing me at rita.hart@legis.iowa.gov.

Senator Rita Hart represents Clinton County and northern Scott County in the Iowa Senate.