The 2010 legislative session began on January 11, and the last two weeks have been hectic. Legislation is moving at a speed normally seen toward the end of the session as we work hard to finish 20 days earlier than schedule. Two issues loom large as we the budget picture moves into focus: government reorganization and tax credits. Reorganization legislation will likely move out of committee in the House this week, and I am part of a group of a dozen House and Senate members meeting twice weekly tasked with tax credit reform. I have also been spending a chunk of time on disaster recover issues as we continue to move forward from the floods of 2008.
In This Issue
1. Expected Public Health Benefit from Smokefree Air Act Realized
2. Legislation Removing Barrier to Cancer Research Moves to House Floor
3. Scholarship for the Arts Grant Application Due
4. Capitol Visits
5. Coming Attractions
Expected Public Health Benefit from Smokefree Air Act Realized
The Iowa Smokefree Air Act, passed and signed into law in 2008, was based on research in other states showing decreases in the number of strokes, heart attacks, and coronary heart disease as a result of similar legislation. National studies show 6 to 47% decreases in the number of heart attacks after approval of smoke-free air legislation. Analysis of data collected by the Iowa Department of Public Health by Dr. Christopher Squier and Dr. William Haynes of the University of Iowa shows dramatic results.
Coronary heart disease is the largest cause of death in the United States. Subsequent to the approval of the Iowa Smokefree Air Act there was an average 24% reduction in hospital admissions for this disease in relation to the average of the previous three years. This number represents 2324 fewer Iowans with this condition. The benefit also appears to be increasing, as there were 40% fewer hospital admissions for coronary heart disease in June 2009 compared to June 2008.
Admissions to hospitals for heart attacks decreased 8% in the year following the passage of the Iowa Smokefree Air Act compared to the previous three-year average. This means 483 fewer Iowans visited the hospital because of a hear attack. Hospital admissions for strokes were down 5% over the same period. This preliminary data shows the public health benefit from the Iowa Smokefree Air Act is already here, and is likely saving taxpayer dollars, as well.
Legislation Removing Barrier to Cancer Research Moves to House Floor
I have spent a lot of time the last few months working to find consensus on legislation that will remove a barrier to patients participating in critical cancer research. HF 2075 simply requires insurance companies to continue to pay expenses for routine care (nursing services, in-patient care, diagnostics) incurred during standard cancer treatment should a patient choose to participate in a clinical trial. Research companies and/or organizations would still be solely responsible for the cost of the trial and any increased costs incurred.
Patient uncertainty as to whether benefits would be cut off is a major barrier to finding people willing to participate in a clinical trial. The benefits to Iowans of people participating in cancer research are twofold. One, the patient participating in the trial has access to a treatment that may save their life. Two, all Iowans will benefit from the breakthrough treatments (and hopefully cures) that will result from the research.
Scholarship for the Arts Grant Applications Due
In an effort to help students continue their education after high school, students planning to enter college next fall with a major in an arts discipline can apply for a 2010 Iowa Scholarship for the Arts by Monday, Feb. 8, 2010.
Offered annually by the Iowa Arts Council, the scholarship is awarded to students who will graduate from an Iowa high school during the 2009-2010 academic year and plan to pursue a proven artistic ability in dance, literature, music, theater, traditional arts, or visual arts at an Iowa college or university. The application is available at www.iowaartscouncil.org.
Each recipient will receive $1,000 to $2,000 toward his or her 2010-2011 college tuition and related expenses as a full-time undergraduate at a fully accredited Iowa college or university with a major in one or more of the disciplines considered for the award.
To be considered for the award, students must complete the scholarship application, write an essay about their future career goals in the arts, and include two letters of recommendation. Applications and attachments are due by 4:30 p.m., Monday, Feb. 8, 2010, in the Iowa Arts Council offices at 600 E. Locust Street, Des Moines, IA 50319. Contact Sarah Ekstrand at (515) 281-4657 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Folks from Cedar Rapids and Linn and Johnson counties have already been visiting the Capitol and stopped to say hello. A week ago Tuesday saw visits from Peggy Whitworth and Kay Baty for the Governor’s Condition of the State address. Charlene Shurtz was also there and was highlighted in the Governor’s speech as someone working hard to recover from the flood. Bryan and Amanda Regier and David Estrem were there that day and talked to me about marriage. Kristine Donehoo, Nancy Cleary and Carole Schmidt visited to talk about FaDSS. I also saw Kim Colberg, Steve Carroll and Marshall Peterson at an event with rural electric cooperatives and ran into Liz Mathis in the hallway.
Judges McPartland and Thornhill visited a week ago Wednesday for Chief Justice Ternus’ Condition of the Judiciary address. Gary Streit, Christopher Squier and Eileen Fisher with the American Cancer Society visited a week ago Thursday along with Jack Evans with the Board of Regents. Sue Olson, Ben Rogers, Craig Wood, Dan Strellner, Jim Ernst, Don Karr, Chuck Wieneke, Jim Houser, Betsy Huston and Susie Weinacht were also at the Capitol to highlight our community’s rebuilding efforts.
Last week saw visits from Tim Semelroth with the Iowa Association of Justice, Sarah Olson with the United Way of East Central Iowa, Doug Martin of Wendling Quarries and Mike Carberry. Dale Todd also came to the Capitol to discuss a patient safety initiative I am working on and Tim Wilson with Willis Dady was there to highlight homelessness and related issues. If you visit the Capitol, please send me an email in advance so I can plan to say hi or just send a note into the House chamber.
ImpactCR, an organization of young people dedicated to strengthening our community, is holding its annual meeting Saturday, January 30 at Gatherings (905 3rd Street SE). The event begins with mingling and entertainment at 6:30PM followed by a short program around 7PM. Representatives from the Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce and the current ImpactCR board will highlight progress of the new group as well as exciting new programming for 2010. DJ and other activities will follow the short program to get the celebration in full swing! The event will also feature the 2009 COTY (Corridorian of the Year) awards. Honorees will be recognized for their outstanding commitment to connecting the now and next generation through a variety of programming and initiatives throughout the Corridor. Tickets are $25 for members, $35 for non-members that will include heavy appetizers.
Friday February 5, 2010 at 7PM the African American Museum of Iowa and Living Waters continue their First Friday series. The first Friday of each month, Living Waters along with the African American Museum of Iowa will host an evening of networking, food, entertainment, and socializing. This is intended to bring young adults and professionals together in a setting conducive for building positive and productive relationships, while having a good time! The cost is $10 per person for those who RSVP by email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org by February 4th at midnight. The price is $15 there after and at the door. The attire is business casual, but no hats or t-shirts. The event will be at Celebration Hall located in the Museum, 55 12th Ave. SE Cedar Rapids.
Have a great week!