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Iowa Session Finally Ends on May 25

The Iowa legislative session finally ended shortly after midnight on Wednesday, May 25, a month later than planned. The delay was caused by a divide in the Republican Party over using public taxpayer money to pay for students going to private schools. While the Senate Republicans and Governor wanted this, the House Republicans did not have the votes to pass it. In the end, these “private school scholarships” did not pass.

The end of session happened fast, after two very long debate days where all ten budgets, a second tax bill, changes to our state’s 44-year-old bottle bill, and dozens of other bills flew through the process. The Health & Human Services Budget took less than 15 minutes to pass the Iowa Senate, surely a new record.


While your elected legislators are now back on the campaign trail, the very last phase of the 2022 session has started.  The Governor now has 30 days to review and act on the bills passed by the Iowa Legislature. Bills do not become law until the Governor signs them, so she will have to make some choices in the next few weeks. She can sign a bill (making it law) or veto it (stopping it from becoming law). On budget bills (bills that spend tax dollars), she has the added option of taking out some parts of a bill, while signing the rest into law. This is called a “line item veto.”   The Summer issue of infoNET will be sent out after the Governor has taken action on all the bills sent to her. 

If you see something in this report that you want signed into law (or NOT signed into law) - you can email the Governor about it easily using our Grassroots Action Center.

A Lot to Celebrate in 2022

The year started off rocky, with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) report on the problems at Glenwood State Resource Center and the decision a few months later to close it in 2023. Because of issues at the Center, the DOJ is requiring Iowa to enter into an agreement to show how it will better serve Iowans with disabilities, and ways it will develop alternatives to living in state institutions.  The Legislature addressed the challenge this year by making changes they hope will develop community capacity to better serve people in homes and in the community. 

2022 Wins

  • Almost $30 million in new money to make it easier to find and keep the services that allow people to live, work, and be involved in their community (HF 2578, federal ARPA plan*):
  • $14.7 million to increase wages for direct staff working for Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) providers, including habilitation, consumer choice option, and consumer directed attendant care.*
  • $7.4 million to take up to 250 more Iowans with intellectual disabilities off the HCBS/ID waiver waiting list.*
  • $1.3 million to increase direct support staff wages at Intermediate Care Facilities for individuals with Intellectual Disorders (ICF/ID). 
  • $1.8 million so that rural Iowans can better access home health care services.
  • $3 million to increase rates for those that provide behavioral health intervention services to children.
  • $385,000 to increase rates to autism providers (for applied behavior analysis).
  • Access to mental health services was improved by: 
  • Creating two new residencies for psychiatrists in rural areas and 12 more in state-run institutions (HF 2578).
  • Paying mental health providers more for more complex patients, aka “tiered rates” (HF 2546).
  • Establishing a new Mental Health Professional Loan Repayment Program open to social workers, psychologists, marriage/family therapists, and mental health counselors, with $520,000 added to begin paying off student loans for those who practice in rural Iowa (HF 2549HF 2575).
  • Requiring insurance companies to include out-of-state telehealth companies that provide services (like behavioral health) to Iowans (as long as the providers have an Iowa license) (HF 2578).
  • Updating the definition of “autism” so mental health parity applies to it (HF 2167).
  • Adding $200,000 more (for total of $3.8 million) for school-based mental health services to children (HF 2575).
  • Vocational rehabilitation services that help individuals with disabilities with employment was losing out on federal funds because the state did not provide enough money to match; the Legislature increased their funds by $120,000 so they can bring in more federal funds (HF 2575).
  • Better screening of newborns to identify more genetic conditions at birth (SF 2345).
  • More resources for parents of deaf or hard-of-hearing children to help make sure they are on track (and stay on track) developmentally (HF 604).
  • Review of state special education services to ensure uniformity in access regardless of whether services are received onsite in public or private schools (SF 2197).
  • Making sure police reports on people experiencing a crisis are confidential (SF 513).
  • Allowing physical therapists and occupational therapists to authorize accessible parking permits, so you don’t have to return to physician (HF 2259). 
  • Updating the definition of “intellectual disability” and putting more checks in place before someone with an intellectual disability is admitted to a state-run mental health institution (HF 2578).
  • Successfully stopped legislation that would have required mail-in voters to include their voter verification number in order for their vote to be counted.

*NOTE: DHS worked with legislators to use $22 million in federal money from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to start paying for the HCBS rate increases and the ID waiver waiting list buy-down. DHS is currently reviewing all of its waiver programs with hopes over the next few years to transform the system so it is more user-focused and based on the needs of the person, not their diagnosis. Some of those changes they hope will reduce waiting lists while still making sure people have the services they need to live safely in the community. Legislators will eventually have to replace these short-term funds with state tax dollars, but it will be included in a larger bucket that will need to be filled once the extra federal COVID dollars coming into Medicaid goes away.

2022 Losses

  • Scholarships for college-age students with disabilities who attend an alternative post-secondary transition program (like REACH at the University of Iowa, or NEXT at Northwestern College) - including the $200,000 that would have helped start it. Look for this to have a lot more support in 2023. (HF 2495)
  • Require insurance companies to pay for hearing aids for children (HF 2568).
  • Allow voters with disabilities to request and vote an electronic absentee ballot (HF 2075).
  • Balance the rights of landlords and renters who have service animals, and making it a crime to lie about a pet being a service animal (HF 866).

It is important to note that many of the “wins” this year all started with a parent or self advocate talking to their legislators, who then talked to other legislators, who then sponsored a bill. Advocacy does work, but it takes time. As we found out earlier this year, the bill developing milestones for deaf and hard-of-hearing children took decades to pass. Not all take that long, but when you look at the “losses,” many of these issues are in their first year of advocacy. That means they are ready for more action next year - if advocates push for something to happen. 

So do not be upset that something didn’t pass this year, it just means you need more time to build your case, find your champions, and grow more support for it in your community. The Iowa DD Council has many options to help you self-advocate, and you can learn a lot at their annual Make Your Mark! Conference - so think about attending on September 14-15 at Prairie Meadows in Altoona.  Click here for more information.

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May Capitol Chat

Watch the Iowa DD Council's May Capitol Chat for a review of the 2022 Iowa Legislative Session, which ended on May 25. The Capitol Chat was taped just a few hours after the Legislature finished on May 25, and is available in ASL format.

Watch Capitol Chat Here!
Click here for ASL
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June 24 (11 am - Noon)

We’ll talk about what the Governor signed into law, and what is still pending (as this is the last day for the Governor to sign bills).

Sign up now!

VOTE June 7, 2022

Primary elections are open to any person registered with a political party (so if you have “Republican” or “Democrat” listed as your party on your voter registration card).  Only people who are members of a party can vote in the June 7 Primary Election.  

This is when the members of a party pick who they want to represent them in the November election.  Remember that you can change your party as often as you want - and switch back to “no party” or another party after you vote.

  • Polls open June 7 (7 am - 8 pm).

  • Check your polling site - it may have changed during redistricting.

  • Because of redistricting, you may not be voting for the people you know. Check out your new district here, and who is running in it here. Many county auditors already have sample ballots on their websites.

  • All county courthouses will be open this Saturday (June 4) and Monday (June 6) for early voting! 

You can find more information on voting on the Secretary of State’s website.


Advocate Resources

Bill Tracker

Action Center

Calendar & Legislative Town Halls

Guide to the Iowa Legislature

Advocacy Toolkit

infoNET is a disability policy newsletter of the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council and its network of Iowans with Disabilities in Action.

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This project is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $774,176 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.