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Hans in the House - Week 6, 2024

PMIC BILL

  • As some of you might be aware, I am running a bill, HF 2402, that deals with psychiatric medical institutions for children, or PMICs. This was the first bill that we ran in subcommittee for this Legislative Session, so we were hoping to have it out on the House floor sooner, but we needed to make some changes to make sure that all the stake holders in the process felt comfortable with the bill. This was truly a bipartisan effort and was the first time that MCOs, or Managed Care Organizations, the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services, and PMICs all sat down at the table to figure out a solution to the problem. The bill ended up unanimously passing the House this week and will serve as a starting point as we continue to address this issue in the future.

     

  • This bill provides for an enhanced rate for psychiatric medical institutions for children that care for children with specialized needs and makes regulatory changes to PMICs based on feedback from providers. This piece of legislation establishes an enhanced per diem rate for higher acuity needs of $763 and ensures that kids are not placed with PMICs that are out-of-state. It would require therapy and Behavioral Health Intervention Services to be a required service while a child is at a PMIC. It would also standardize between all MCOs the authorization for PMIC placement including length of stay and concurrent reviews and also require those MCOs to offer support for families. Finally, it would also allow for step-down PMIC placements or supervised apartment living for a child to utilize programming at the PMIC will living independently.

     

UPDATE ON THE AEAs

  • You asked and we listened!! The House has been engaging in conversations with the AEAs, teachers’ union, superintendents, and parents to develop bills to improve special education outcomes and increase teacher pay.

  • This month, we have introduced three bills as a result of these in-depth discussions. One on AEA reform, one on increasing teacher pay, and one on a 3% SSA increase. I want to emphasize that these bills are not set in stone and discussions are ongoing. However, these will be the bills we work off of after the funnel deadline.

     

  • HSB714: Increasing Teacher Pay

 

  • We have taken feedback from the teachers’ union, superintendents and more as we crafted this legislation to responsibly raise teacher pay. Our bill increases the minimum teacher salary from the current amount of $33,500 to $47,500 beginning next year, and then bumps it up again to $50,000 the following year. This bill also increases the minimum wage for education support staff to $15/hour. Our teachers are doing essential, important work. We want our teachers to receive the compensation they deserve and incentivize more people to enter the profession. While some may say this bill may not directly address veteran teachers, our plan includes additional TSS money and increasing State Supplemental Aid by 3%, both of which would give schools additional money to spend on teacher salaries how they see fit.

 

  • HSB713: Improving Special Education Outcomes

 

  • While the Governor’s original AEA reform proposal did not passed committee, we have continued discussions with stakeholders to draft our own legislation to improve outcomes. The goal of our bill is to improve special education outcomes. We believe it does this by providing accountability over the AEA’s services, creating a task force to review the current system and look for areas for improvement, and giving more flexibility to the school districts on how to spend their money. A couple important things to note that are different about our bill from the original proposal you may have heard about previously. The goal of our bill is for there to be no disruption to special education services. This bill does not terminate any employees of the AEA’s. This bill does not prohibit the AEAs ability to perform any of the services they do now.

     

    • Here are some highlights of what the bill does do:

       

  • Ties the salary of each AEA’s chief executive to the average salary of the superintendents of the districts they cover.Currently, the 9 chiefs each make around$300,000 annually. It puts the Department of Education in charge of professional development and gives the DOE true oversight over the AEA’s budgets. It creates a legislative task force to review the AEA system and make recommendations. The money devoted to special education will stop at the school district, but school districts will be required to contract with the AEAs to provide those special ed services. This bill gives school districts more control of media services and education services money over time. Many districts may continue to use the AEAs for all services. However, if they can provide those same services for less money, or more effectively through other means, they will have that flexibility. Starting in school year 2025-2026, the media services money would stop at the school district. Beginning in school district 2026-2027, both the media services money and the education services money would stop at the school district. The school district would then have discretion over how best to spend those funds and provide the services they need to their students.

     

  • This is just a quick summary of this bill and we will continue to dig into the details as this bill works its way through the legislative process.

CREDIT UNIONS

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Committee to Elect HANS WILZ
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