Helping veterans, reigning in state agencies, improving mental health services and combating the opioid epidemic highlight a busy Week 8 in the Iowa House.

Looking forward to the second half of the 2018 legislative session, important work remains with major legislation still to be considered.

Also this week, the rest of the nation found out what Iowans already know: Iowa is the best state in the nation!

• HF2355: As chair of Veterans Affairs, I am excited by the prospects of HF2355 (Veterans Pilot Recovery Program). This bill was passed with all Republicans and Democrats in support, and would establish a pilot program and fund for the reimbursement of expenses related to providing hyperbaric oxygen treatment to eligible veterans suffering from PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

This treatment has shown promise for these conditions in test programs in several other states and this legislation establishes a right to try and potential funding for veterans and their doctors who believe it could be beneficial. The legislation now moves to the Senate for consideration.

• HF2343: This bill passed the House on February 27 and will now be considered by the Senate. It prohibits state agencies from adopting any rule not explicitly required by state law, federal statute or regulation. We believe this legislation is needed to prevent un-elected bureaucrats from enacting rules that exceed their authority and the intent of the Legislature, sometimes intruding into the lives of Iowa citizens without input from elected officials who must answer to the people every election cycle. This is an important component of my pledge to work for smaller, smarter government and reforms to promote economic growth.

• HF2456: One of the most important bills we will pass this session is HF2456 (Mental Health Services). The objective of this bill is to improve access and outcomes in mental health services. It will expand services along the continuum of care to include evidence-based preventative services to de-escalate mental health patients before the crisis point. The bill passed the House February 27 and is headed to the Senate.

• HF2377: Combating the opioid epidemic was a top priority this year. I attended the Governor’s Opioid Summit a few months ago and served on the sub-committee for this important legislation. This legislation will prevent doctor shopping, increase accountability for prescribers and provide support to Iowans suffering from opioid addiction. The bill passed the House on February 26 with all Republicans and Democrats in support. It now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Much work remains for the second half of the 2018 legislative session. We must set the FY19 budget as well as consider numerous pieces of important legislation. These include tax reform to promote economic growth and provide tax relief to hard-working Iowans; prohibiting sanctuary cities in Iowa that pose a risk to our citizens and our immigrant population; historic legislation to protect the unborn from the moment the life-affirming heartbeat is detected; state constitutional recognition of the right to keep and bear arms; and licensing of genetic counselors in recognition of this important advancement in medical technology and expertise.

This week U.S. News & World Report’s Annual Best States Ranking placed Iowa in the No. 1 spot, the best state in the nation, based on a number of factors, including infrastructure, health care and education. This report comes on the heels of numerous reports from a variety of organizations in the last six months, placing Iowa at or near the top in nearly every category measured. Hard working Iowans with strong values and efficient government operated on sound budget principles and common-sense standards have combined to make Iowa the envy of the nation. House Republicans will continue to do the work necessary to ensure Iowa remains the standard for others to emulate.

To review legislation, go to legis.iowa.gov and type in the bill number (HF2343 for example) in the Bills Block in the left-hand corner. I am honored to serve as your state Representative. You can call me at 712-269-4042, or email me at steven.holt@legis.iowa.gov.

Upcoming legislative forums

• Denison, March 10, 10 a.m., Cronk’s Cafe

• Harlan, March 17, 10 a.m., Shelby Chamber of Commerce

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