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Can tax credits save child care?

The shortage and expense of child care in Iowa has real-life consequences for many families — and lawmakers are looking for solutions. Some have their eyes on child care tax credits, which are designed to offset the high cost of child care by giving families, employers and developers a break on their taxes. This week on the podcast, Amy Matsui with the National Women's Law Center give the lowdown on these credits — what they are, how they work and just how helpful they are.

 
 
 

Around the Capitol

Physicians representing Blank Children’s Hospital and Iowa Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics visited the capitol Wednesday to talk child health with lawmakers. Many of these experts meet with legislators throughout session to advocate for smart policies that reflect what they see every day their clinics and hospitals. 

EMBARC, Iowa's first refugee-led social services organization, set up shop at the capitol during Lutheran Services in Iowa's day on the hill. Their work is centered around helping refugees, many of whom have little support when they settle in Iowa, connect to resources like education, community services, food, employment and fellow refugees. State lawmakers play an integral role in supporting these new Iowans.

 
 
 

Bills worth a note

Last week marked the first legislative deadline for bills to remain alive — the so-called "funnel." Here are a handful of other bills that made it through. 

First some good stuff: 

SF 2317 would develop an actionable strategic plan to promote and support breastfeeding in Iowa. The quality of breastfeeding support is not only important for babies, but also for maternal mental health. There’s a link between breastfeeding difficulties and postpartum depression, so it will be important for this play to address external factors that hinder breastfeeding and support both mom and baby. 

SF 2128 and HF 2215 would require Medicaid to cover breast pumps. Breast pumps can be medically necessary for both the baby (for example, a premature baby who can’t properly latch) or the mom (to help increase milk supply). Breast pumps are also critical for moms who are working outside the home — important in a state with one of the highest rates of mothers in the workforce in the U.S. 

HF 2270 would increase the reimbursement rate for providers accepting child care assistance to the 50th percentile of the market rate, up from around the 35th percentile. This would be a good step for Iowa’s child care system. Our only quibble is that the bill would increase rates for all providers, whether licensed or registered or not. Increases should reward health, safety and quality by focusing on the licensed and registered providers who make up the vast majority of those participating in CCA. 

HF 2271 would direct DHS to amend rules to define “infant and toddler” as a child between the ages of two weeks and three years for purposes of child care assistance reimbursement rates. Another good step toward increasing child care access that would in practice increase reimbursement for some children in that age group. 

Now some less good stuff: 

SF 2302 would require death certificates for children under age 3 to include information on the child’s immunization history—a ploy to increase vaccine hesitancy among parents. No other states currently mandate vaccine history to be included on death forms; if warranted, medical examiners can already request this information. Including this information without context could lead the public to draw inaccurate conclusions about the safety of vaccines, which research overwhelmingly finds to be safe and effective.

HSB 581 would charge a re-enrollment fee to members of the Medicaid expansion population. Premiums and cost-sharing serve as barriers to obtaining and maintain Medicaid coverage for low-income individuals. By definition, this population is very low-income (0 to 138% of the federal poverty level, or less than $16,753 annually for an individual). Implementing this fee will simply serve as another barrier to accessing necessary medical services. 

HSB 657 and SSB 3116 (the governor’s tax proposal) seek to raise Iowa’s sales tax to fund water quality and mental health efforts, while cutting income taxes for the rich. The result would be a reduction in general fund revenue of around $80 million, which will force cuts in other services. Low-income Iowans will be disproportionately hurt by a sales tax increase, since a larger share of goods and services they buy are subject to sales tax. There are better ways to fund water quality and mental health services. 
 

 
 

Find your legislator

Not sure who represents you? With 50 senators and 100 representatives, it can be hard to keep tabs. Visit our Legislator Lookup tool to find out who represents you in the state house and senate, biographical information about each one and a link to their legislative websites, which list contact information and committee membership. All you need to do is enter your home address and zip code. 

505 5th Ave., Ste. 404
Des Moines, IA 50309

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