During Iowa’s 84th General Assembly’s second yearly meeting, which ended on May 9, AARP staff and volunteers were busy advocating for legislation that helps Iowans stay healthy, remain independent as they age, and protects them from higher energy costs.
Below are some our highlights from the legislative session. Be sure to check out the AARP Iowa Blog for status updates and additional information on these and other important issues that affect older Iowans and their families.
Protecting Iowans from Higher Energy Costs
For the second consecutive year, through the great work and backing of Iowa’s energy consumers, AARP Iowa scored a victory in the fight to protect ratepayers from higher energy costs. The proposed legislation, House File 561, would have shifted the high costs and risks for possible nuclear power plant onto consumers, and allowed rates to be raised upfront, before a plant was even built. Because of the outcry of Iowans’ opposition, the Iowa General Assembly adjourned with H.F. 561 left untouched by the Iowa Senate.
“We especially thank the Senate for listening to concerns of their constituents about the negative long-term financial consequences for ratepayers that advance ratemaking could have had for this state,” said Anthony Carroll, AARP Iowa Associate State Director for Advocacy. “We commend the Iowa Senators who stood strong to protect consumers from the repercussions of this bad bill,” said Carroll.
If passed, H.F. 561 was expected to cost Iowa electric consumers an initial estimate of $1–$3 billion over the next decade, which the Iowa Utilities Board estimated would have amounted to an average increase of $7 a month for residential customers for every $1 billion spent.
AARP opposed H.F. 561 not because of nuclear power, but because of the cost and risk shift for a possible nuclear plant from the company and shareholders to consumers upfront, before the plant was built. The bill failed to cap costs and required consumers to pay costs and profit to the utility, even if development was cancelled. “Recent events in other states where consumers have been forced to pay millions of dollars of cost overruns, upfront, for uncompleted power plants, illustrates why this is bad public policy and why we fought against it,” said Carroll.
AARP thanks the more than 10,000 members and other Iowans who contacted their legislators through calls, letters, emails and meetings for their involvement in helping stop this legislation again this year.
Supporting Caregivers and Increasing Funding for Home and Community Based Services
In partnership with Iowa’s Direct Care workforce leaders, AARP staff and volunteers helped advance legislation to professionalize Iowa’s direct care workers, Iowa’s single largest occupation.
Despite the fact this bill ultimately did not pass the 2012 General Assembly, AARP and advocates plan to work in the 2013 session to build on Senate File 2298’s passage by the Iowa Senate and hearings in the Iowa House this year.
“AARP thanks everyone who helped state lawmakers focus attention on this issue, and especially members of the Iowa Senate for recognizing that improving and supporting Iowa’s direct care workforce will help better prepare Iowa to meet our future long-term care needs,” said Kent Sovern, AARP Iowa State Director. “We’re looking forward to working with members and advocates next session to continue to support the wishes of direct caregivers for passage of this legislation.”
A task force made up of members of Iowa’s more than 73,000 direct care workers, the largest segment of Iowa’s workforce, along with industry provider representatives, spent more than two years developing their recommendations for legislative approval. Senate File 2298 would have established core state standards for training, created career pathways for advancement and specialization, and created a Board to oversee these professional standards. Currently, Iowa has professional oversight boards and requires qualitative credentialing for all plumbers, hair stylists, massage therapists and a host of other occupations, but does not require a similar credentialing for all direct care workers.
Moreover, demand for direct care services is high and growing. Iowa will need an additional 12,000 direct care workers by 2012. High turnover is a persistent challenge.
"This legislation is the first step toward giving Iowa’s direct care workers the recognition and professional status they want and deserve, and creates the environment to meet the growing health care needs of our state,” said Sovern.
In addition to advancing attention for direct care worker professionalization, another highlight of the 2012 Session was passage of increased funding for Home Health Care Services in Iowa.
Get Involved, Stay Informed
Check out the Latest News headlines at the top of the AARP Iowa web page for the most up-to-date information on these and other legislative and budget-related issues.
Become an Advocate
If you’d like to learn more about any of the issues we are working on or are interested in learning more about becoming an advocacy volunteer with AARP Iowa, please call us toll-free at 1-866-554-5378 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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