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Statehouse News, October 8, 2014

October 8, 2014

Protecting Seniors, Children and Vulnerable Iowans
Weight Limit Lifted on Roads for Iowa Farmers
Funding Available for Organic Certification
Do Not Call Registry and Robocalls
Healthy Behaviors Mailing Sent to Health & Wellness Plan Members
State Seeks Feedback on Criminal and Juvenile Justice

Protecting Seniors, Children and Vulnerable Iowans

Iowa’s older population is expected to grow significantly over the next decade. In the next three years alone, Iowa’s over 60 year old population is set to increase by 2.6% in Iowa for a total of nearly 637,500 Iowans.

In an effort to protect seniors, Iowa has begun to implement new elder abuse laws. Prior to this year, Iowa didn’t have any specific elder abuse law. We need to work together to continue to protect seniors from fraud and financial exploitation. The Legislature should also take additional steps to crack down on neglect and abuse of Iowa seniors.

Iowans with disabilities, mental health needs, or chronic health conditions also deserve access to quality, affordable care regardless of where they live in Iowa. We need to finish the redesign of Iowa’s mental health system to improve access and affordability. We also need to remove the strain on many seniors and disabled Iowans by providing more access to services in their home instead of being sent to a more expensive care facility.

After many years of work done by the Legislature to improve the health of children in Iowa, the work is finally paying off. Iowa is ranked first in the nation for children’s health by the Kids Count project by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. But the work is not over; we need to continue our efforts to guarantee every Iowa child has access to quality, affordable health care.

Weight Limit Lifted on Roads for Iowa Farmers

As of October 1, 2014, Iowa farmers have 60 days to transport overweight loads of soybeans, corn, hay, straw, silage, and stover. The proclamation is meant to aid farmers in hauling their harvest in an efficient and effective manner.

The proclamation allows vehicles to haul harvest up to 90,000 pounds gross weight without a permit. Loads may be transported on all highways in Iowa, excluding the interstate system. They must also not exceed the legal maximum axle weight limit of 20,000 pounds.

The proclamation expires after November 29, 2014.

Funding Available for Organic Certification

Iowa’s Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship announced that $501,500 in cost share money is available to help farmers with organic certification expenses. The deadline to apply for the assistance is November 3, 2014.

The organic certification cost share program is part of the 2014 Farm Bill and is intended to assist organic producers and handlers by offsetting costs associated with organic certification. Applicants are eligible for 75% reimbursement of eligible certification-related costs paid between October 1, 2013, and September 30, 2014. Additional funds will be allocated for the subsequent years covered by the Farm Bill.

Application forms can be downloaded from the department’s website: http://www.iowaagriculture.gov/AgDiversification/organicCostShare.asp. If you are unable to download the forms, a copy can be mailed to you by contacting Tammy Stotts at 515-281-7657 or tammy.stotts@iowaagriculture.gov.

Iowa has approximately 800 certified organic operations and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship certifies about 400 of those farms. The funding is part of the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program, which distributed $11.5 million to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the five U.S. Territories. Only five states were awarded more funding than Iowa’s $501,500 allocation.

Do Not Call Registry and Robocalls

It’s frustrating when you continually receive robocalls or automated calls, even after you have registered your phone number with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) “Do Not Call Registry.” Attorney General Miller recently released information about a couple of options for Iowans, which can be found at http://www.state.ia.us/government/ag/consumer_advisories/telephone/Robocalls.html.

First, if you haven’t already registered your phone number (either landline or cell numbers) at https://www.donotcall.gov/ or calling 1-888-382-1222, you should do so. There are exceptions under federal law as to when telemarketers aren’t subject to the rules and regulations, including tax-exempt and non-profit entities; businesses contacting you regarding an existing debt; political campaigns; and marketers that you have conducted business with in the past 18 months.

If you answer one of these robocalls, never give out information to verify to the caller who you are or any other personal or financial information. If you think that the caller is violating the “Do Not Call” law, you have the option of writing down the time, date, and caller ID information (if it’s available) and a summary of the call or saving any recorded message and reporting that information to the Do Not Call registry. More information about the registry and what steps Iowans can take can be found in the information produced by the Attorney General.

Healthy Behaviors Mailing Sent to Health & Wellness Plan Members

The Iowa Department of Human Services is beginning to send out mailers to members of the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan (IHAWP) that have not completed either or both of the healthy behavior requirements to avoid paying a premium in 2015. As part of the IHAWP, members were not charged a monthly premium during the first year of the program. In order to avoid a premium for the subsequent years, a member has to complete a health risk assessment (HRA) and a wellness exam.

The folded mailers are customized based on which activity the member has completed. If the member has completed a wellness exam, but not the HRA, the mailing encourages completion of the HRA (and vice versa). The mailings will be sent to members who will owe a premium in their second year of enrollment if the activities are not completed. Members who will not owe a premium and will be excluded from the upcoming mailing are: Wellness Plan members with income below 50% of the Federal Poverty Level, medically exempt members, and members that are American Indian or Alaskan Native. Also excluded from the mailing are members who have already completed both healthy behaviors.

For more information or questions call Iowa Medicaid Member Services at 1-800-338-8366 or visit http://www.iahealthlink.gov.

State Seeks Feedback on Criminal and Juvenile Justice

The Iowa Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning Advisory Council (CJJP) is seeking input on determining long-range goals for Iowa’s justice system. The council is working on the 20 year justice plan for the state and citizens are asked for their ideas or issues that should be addressed in the criminal and juvenile justice systems.

CJJP is within the Iowa Department of Human Rights and is tasked with identifying and analyzing the operation and impact of the state’s criminal and juvenile justice policy.

A public hearing is scheduled for October 14th from 6-8 pm at the DMACC Center for Career & Professional Development (Southridge Mall), Room 20A, 1111 E. Army Post Road, Des Moines.

Individuals may also participate in the meeting by webinar at https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/86939467. Individuals will have to register at the link before the meeting and will then receive a confirmation email with information on joining and participating in the webinar.

Comments may also be submitted in writing, postmarked by October 14th, by sending comments to the Iowa Department of Human Rights, CJJP Advisory Council, 321 E. 12th St., Des Moines, IA 50319. Email comments may be sent to dhr.cjjp@iowa.gov.

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