• Guarantee access to women’s health services and protect women’s reproductive health choices. Women should have access to contraceptive services, including emergency contraception, and other reproductive health services. One in ﬁve women are uninsured, making access to high quality, comprehensive care even more difﬁcult.
• Implement the Affordable Care Act in a manner that is coordinated, transparent and encourages public participation and comment. Iowa’s “essential health beneﬁts” plan should include disease prevention, preventative screenings and testing, health promotion and education, primary care (including prenatal and reproductive health), acute care, long-term care, and mental health care. In addition, family planning agencies should be included in ACA-accessible provider lists, so that women can continue to see their current providers.
• Develop and implement strategies at the state level to improve the health status of women, including both diagnosis and treatment. These strategies should be incorporated into “health home” initiatives.
• Fully fund the state’s redesign of the mental health and disability services so that all Iowans have convenient and equitable access to core services, no matter where they live or who pays for the services. Because funding inequities have historically driven service inequities, the Legislature must address disparities in mental health and disability services property taxes and provide reliable state funding streams so the list of core and core plus services can be offered to all Iowans with disabilities, including Iowans with developmental disabilities and brain injuries. Appropriate levels of care should be available that meet people’s needs in or near their home communities.
• Guarantee Iowans with private health insurance have access to a comprehensive menu of mental health services, including treatment for substance use disorders. Iowa should enact the Affordable Care Act in such a way that requires all insurers to pay for mental health treatment, including establishing a “benchmark plan” that includes comprehensive access to such services. Addressing mental illnesses directly through appropriate care as needed cuts the overall costs of health care by preventing unnecessary institutionalization and emergency care.
• Encourage citizen participation and restore the integrity of our electoral system by protecting Iowa’s strong voter laws and implementing sound campaign ﬁnance reforms that move toward a transparent publicly- ﬁnanced election system. Voting is a right, and Iowa does not have a problem with voter impersonation at the polls. To require voters to show a state-issued photo ID will disenfranchise the poor, college students from out-of- state, minorities, persons with disabilities, and others. The funding needed to enact this could be put to better use in addressing the real problems this state faces (the Iowa State Association of County Auditors estimates the cost to be $1.7 million in document costs alone). Elected ofﬁcials must continue to be accountable to voters, and the proliferation of corporate and third-party organization spending on elections has disenfranchised voters.
• Preserve Iowa’s fair and impartial court system by supporting the current process for judicial selection and retention, and support efforts to improve the process by making better public information about judge performance available to Iowa voters.
• Fund the newly created Public Information Board. The board was created to enforce open records laws and make sure governmental agencies at all levels follow the state’s open meetings laws, but was not funded.
• Fund new or expanded Judicial District Community Based Corrections (CBC) residential facilities. These include: First District (Waterloo), 45 beds (new facility); Second District (Sioux City), 42 beds (new facility); Sixth District (Cedar Rapids), 26 beds (ANCHOR mental health treatment center); Seventh District (Davenport), 40 beds; and Eight District (Ottumwa), 26 beds (expansion).
• Advocate for alternatives to incarceration for offenders with mental illness. Provide statewide funding for jail diversion programs, a mental health core service. Adequately fund facilities and treatment for offenders with mental illness who do require incarceration. • Prohibit the shackling of pregnant women in correctional settings.
• Equalize the crack and powder cocaine penalties to the lower amount.
• Expand funding for victims of violence against women, to include sexual assault and domestic violence.
• Reduce or eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders.
• Legislate common sense gun laws that protect the public, including child safety locks, restrictions on the size of ammunition magazines, closing gun show loop holes, and banning semiautomatic assault weapons. No retreat laws and laws that increase the use of concealed weapons do not bring community peace. Less than 1% of all gun deaths involve self-defense; 99% of gun deaths are suicides or homicides.
• Protect Iowans from predatory lending practices that contribute to the cycle of debt by limiting payday lending fees to 36% APR, as 16 other states and Washington D.C. have done, and Congress did for loans to military families.
• Support immigration policies that promote reuniﬁcation of immediate families, penalize employers that hire unauthorized workers, and ensure due process for all persons (including the right to a fair hearing, right to counsel, right of appeal, and right to humane treatment). State lawmakers should resist policies that lead to racial proﬁling and violate constitutional rights. Children’s interests should always be safeguarded. Policies should be developed to promote the well being and ensure the safety of all children.
ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY POLICY
• Expand Iowa’s use of sustainable, renewably-powered energy sources, such as wind energy. Use existing technologies to make current power plants more efﬁcient. Initiate a moratorium on new coal-ﬁred power plants so as to reduce greenhouse gases which are linked to global warming. Initiate a moratorium on new nuclear plants until a proven method can be found to deal safely with low level spent nuclear waste.
• Strengthen Iowa’s environmental programs, especially efforts to prevent pollution in our water sources, and to clean up state waterways. Iowa’s waterways are an important part of the state’s economic development, attracting both tourists and businesses that want to offer workers a high quality of life. The Legislature needs to invest in these programs and provide a dedicated stable source of funding.
• Expand Iowa’s bottle bill to include additional containers. Iowa should increase the return fee to encourage more recycling and pay for additional environmental programming. Studies show doing so will provide a strong economic return for the state.
• Expand access to quality preschool education for all four-year-olds. The state should continue to provide adequate funding that guarantees every four-year-old has access to quality preschool education. Childhood experts agree that attending a high-quality preschool prepares children for Kindergarten and beyond. The National Institute for Early Education Research found that well-designed preschool education programs produce long-term improvements in school success, including higher achievement test scores, lower rates of grade repetition and special education, and higher educational attainment. They also found that some preschool programs also reduced delinquency and crime in childhood and adulthood. Thirty-eight states now offer some form of state-funded preschool programming.