Heather has always approached problem-solving by seeking to find common ground while holding true to her progressive principles, understanding that good ideas can come from anywhere if you are willing to listen and learn.
I’m running for the Iowa House to bring honesty, transparency, and a commitment to our shared values back to House District 38. We have a crisis of leadership at the Capitol and the 2017 legislative session saw my worst fears realized as hyper-partisanship became the norm and transparency went out the window. We must do better. We must put people over politics.
Elections should be about forward-thinking ideas and an agenda to improve the lives of every member of our community. I could discuss policy positions for hours, especially with all that we have going on in Iowa! Here are a few of my top priorities and what I hope I will have the opportunity to work on as your next State Representative.
Clean Water & Conservation
It’s past time to get real about the needs in our communities with a commitment to clean water, conservation, renewable energy, and infrastructure. Clean water and conservation are not rural vs. urban issues; they are “all Iowa” issues and must be treated as such in the Legislature. I will work for dedicated funding of the Natural Resources & Recreation Trust Fund, as passed by voters in 2010, in order to clean up our waterways, protect our land and wildlife habitat, and grow outdoor recreational opportunities. This will spur economic development as people choose to stay in or move to Iowa and seek us out as a vacation destination.
Putting people over politics must include a commitment to economic security for working families. As a mom of twins, I understand the struggle families face when the reality of the high cost of childcare hits home. I’ve also felt the anxiety of using all of my unpaid time off while on bedrest before my children were born. Our labor force has changed with the majority of parents in the workforce. I will work to find consensus on policies that make life easier for working families, including paid family medical leave, sick leave and affordable child care.
The last legislative session also saw the gutting of collective bargaining, a system that was created with bipartisan support and worked well for 40 years. This attack on workers was done in the dead of night with no transparency or any real input from those most affected. We owe it to public employees, educators, and all working families to restore fair collective bargaining in Iowa.
Even though Iowa has very low unemployment and our economy continues to grow, we find ourselves in the midst of a budget crisis created by the fiscal mismanagement of state government led by Governors Branstad and Reynolds. They, with the lockstep support of our current representative and his colleagues, have put corporations ahead of people with unsustainable tax cuts and a multitude of tax credits that have gone unchecked for far too long. We must be honest about how these decisions are affecting our budget and all the programs that are being underfunded due to lower revenue.
I am a long-time advocate for the rights of women to make our own reproductive health care decisions. These rights have always been tested and under fire, but the last legislative session was the worst I have ever seen. Our current representative voted for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, leaving many women and working families with no affordable options for reproductive health. He continues to put his personal ideology over the constitutionally protected rights of the women in his district. Reproductive health care decisions are intensely personal and all Iowans have the right to make these decisions for ourselves in consultation with our doctors, not politicians. I will fight to restore funding to Planned Parenthood and overturn the burdensome hurdles placed on women in the last session.
The privatization of Iowa’s Medicaid program has been a disaster for patients, providers, and the state of Iowa as a whole. Most devastatingly, the failure has had deadly results for too many of our most vulnerable Iowans whose care was delayed or terminated entirely. This is unacceptable and cannot be allowed to continue. Medicaid privatization has cost the state of Iowa millions of extra dollars in an ideologically driven attempt to solve a problem that didn’t exist, adding to the fiscally irresponsible budget crisis driven by Governors Branstad and Reynolds. Our current representative has supported this ill-conceived plan from the beginning, showing time and again that he is out of touch with the needs of his constituents and the most vulnerable across Iowa. We need real action to protect Iowans – it’s time to move back to a state administered Medicaid program which has proven to be safer for patients, more reliable for providers, and more cost-effective for Iowa taxpayers.
This is one of our greatest human services challenges and it is going to take heavy lifting on both short and long term solutions. Iowa ranks 50th in the nation when it comes to the number of available inpatient psychiatric beds, per percentage of population. The closure of the mental health institutes in 2015 exacerbated the problem and unfortunately our current representative sided with then Governor Branstad on this decision. Not only does Iowa not have enough beds, but we don’t have the right kind of beds for the patients who need them, which means people are stuck because there is nowhere else to go. Essentially, we have a continuum of care problem. And on top of that, Iowa has virtually no system for children, where the greatest needs are crisis and school-based services. Fundamentally, we need a long term funding fix because counties are getting to the point where they cannot fund core services or crisis situations. The legislature must make changes to the mental health levy to start to address this problem. Additionally, we need to build the mental health workforce because there simply aren’t enough providers in Iowa. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI Iowa) there are only 316 providers that prescribe psychiatric medications and only 146 ARNPs that specialize in psychiatry in the entire state. Some hospitals, including Broadlawns here in Polk County, are starting psychiatry residency programs, which I fully support.
As a mom of twins in second grade, I am passionate about supporting our schools and the amazing educators who work tirelessly to foster the growth of our kids. We must invest in our children and neighborhood schools by providing timely, adequate and equitable funding for public education. Funding levels over the last several years aren’t keeping up with the cost of inflation, requiring school districts to make drastic cuts, increase class sizes, or raise property taxes to make ends meet. Public education has been systematically underfunded and we must get back to the basics by prioritizing the single most important investment we can make for the future of our state. I will work to ensure K-12 funding is a priority in the House again so that all our kids have equal access to opportunity.
We also need to ensure that community colleges, like DMACC based here in Ankeny, have the resources they need to graduate even more students with the skills needed in our ever-changing workforce.