The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Politics Notebook | Iowa Senate passes bill to expand postpartum medicaid services

Also, Senate lawmakers advance a bill to allow state agencies to contract with private CPAs to perform audits.
Ayrton Breckenridge
Lawmakers sit in the house chamber during the first day of the 2024 Iowa legislative session at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024.

Under a bill approved by the Iowa Senate Monday 1,700 mothers and babies would lose access to post-birth care. The bill expands the length of time that moms and babies that qualify can receive follow-up post natal care but lowers the income threshold to qualify.

The bill, Senate File 2251, would expand the length of coverage for babies and moms from six months to a full year after birth, but would also change income requirements from 375 percent of the federal poverty level to 215 percent of the federal poverty level.

The proposal is intended to be cost neutral for the state, hence why the income thresholds were changed when the length of coverage was extended.

The bill takes advantage of a federal program, authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, that allowed states to expand the length of coverage. Iowa is one of three states that has yet to take advantage of the program.

According to analysis by the nonpartisan legislative services agency, 1,300 moms and 400 babies would be kicked off of the coverage, under the bill.

Sen. Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines, said

“Senate Democrats believe that we should not be taking care away from pregnant moms and their babies,” Petersen said in floor debate. “Let me just remind you, the governor does not put one dime of new money in her bill to extend postpartum coverage. She pays for extending postpartum coverage to a few members that still remain eligible for pregnancy care by dropping 1000s of pregnant moms and their babies off of Medicaid.”

Petersen proposed an amendment to the bill that would keep the income threshold at 375 percent of the federal poverty level. The amendment was defeated in a party line vote, with Republicans opposed.

Reynolds said the bill will help women with the greatest need and will help with recovery from childbirth.

“Building a culture of life in Iowa means getting families off to the right start, but two months of postpartum care isn’t enough,” Reynolds said. “For our state to be strong, our families must be strong.”

Bill to allow state agencies to hire private CPAs for audits passes senate

A bill to allow state agencies to hire private Certified Public Accountants to perform audits required by law passed out of the Iowa Senate, along party lines, 31-16, with all Democrats opposed.

The bill, Senate File 2311, would permit the state to contract with private accounting firms instead of using the State Auditor’s office.

The floor manager for the bill and the author of the legislation, Sen. Mike Bousselot, R-Ankeny, said the bill would give state agencies “important flexibility” when complying with statutory audit requirements. Currently, local governments can contract with private auditing firms to perform audits that are subject to review by the Auditor’s office before they are certified and local governments must comply with competitive bidding processes for the audits.

Bousselot cited the lateness of the state’s comprehensive financial report, which is prepared annually by the state auditor’s office, to show the need for the bill since the state faces a shortage of CPAs. Bousselot said the bill would allow the state government to leverage national accounting firms for audits.

“The bottom line is that Iowans deserve better — innovation and efficiency can occur by leveraging national CPA firms that have extended expertise, can draw on a national footprint of independent nonpartisan, certified public accountants, and do so in a cost effective way that delivers value for taxpayers, just like local governments do today,” Bousselot said in remarks on the Senate floor.

Democrats argued that the bill is an effort to circumvent oversight by the only statewide elected Democrat: State Auditor Rob Sand.

Sen. Tony Bisignano, D-Des Moines, said the bill attacks the only Democrat controlling a state department and the bill aims to take more power away from the auditor’s office.

“It’s the auditor we’re concerned with and we’re only concerned because the auditor — in your paranoid opinion — is of the opposite party and therefore would be peeking in to your department’s appointed by the governor,” Bisignano said.

Bill allows failed anti-abortion program to be run by state

A bill approved by the Iowa Senate would allow the Iowa department of Health and Human Services to administer the “More Options for Material Support” or MOMS program if it failed to find a third party administrator for the program.

The state has twice failed to find a third party administrator for the program that was created in 2022. Previous requirements required the administrator to have three years experience running a statewide pregnancy support program.

The bill passed on party lines Monday afternoon, with Republicans supporting the bill.

Bill to increase fines for failure to register foreign-owned land passes senate

A bill to increase penalties for foreign land ownership passed out of the Iowa Senate on Monday afternoon, with bipartisan support, passing 47-0.

The governor’s proposal, Senate File 2204, would require non-citizens, foreign-owned companies, and foreign governments that own farmland in Iowa to register twice a year with the secretary of state’s office and would increase the penalty for not registering in a timely manner to 25 percent the assessed value of the land.

Reynolds said the bill helps adapt Iowa’s laws to the growing threat that foreign owned land holds.

“Iowa plays a major role in feeding and fueling the world, and it is important we maintain our dominance as the leading agricultural powerhouse,” Reynolds said in a news release on Monday. “American soil should remain in American hands.”

Iowa House schedules public hearing on AEA proposal

The Iowa House Education Committee has scheduled a public hearing for Iowa House Republicans’ proposal to overhaul Iowa’s Area Education Agency.

The public hearing will be held on Wednesday at 5 p.m. in the old Supreme Court Chamber in room 103. The hearing will also be live-streamed online and a link will be available on on the day of the hearing.

The hearing will last an hour and speakers will be given two minutes to speak. Speakers will alternate between pro and con until the hearing is over.

Those wishing to speak can sign up here. Those wishing to submit online comments can submit those here.

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About the Contributors
Liam Halawith
Liam Halawith, Politics Editor
Liam Halawith is a third-year student at the University of Iowa studying Journalism and Mass Communication and minoring in Public Policy. Before his role as Politics Editor Liam was a politics reporter for the DI. Outside of the DI Liam has interned at the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Southeast Iowa Union. This is his second year working for the DI.
Ayrton Breckenridge
Ayrton Breckenridge, Managing Visuals Editor
Ayrton Breckenridge is the Managing Visuals Editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and cinema. This is his fourth year working for the DI.