One of the best parts about the legislative session is getting to see firsthand the powerful activism of Iowans. On Monday, youth from AMP (Achieving Maximum Potential) made their presence felt at the Capitol at their annual Day on the Hill. After recognition by both the House and Senate, AMP membersyouth who have been involved in foster care, adoption or other out-of-home placementsspent the afternoon educating lawmakers on shelter needs, affordable housing, sexual abuse education and homeschooling. On Thursday, immigrants and allies gathered for the first Immigrant Advocacy Day, a standing-room-only event that ended with a strong call to action. Scroll down to the end of this email to see photos of both events.

This week also saw a series of useful presentations during budget subcommittees. The Department of Human Services gave a primer on the state's child care assistance to the HHS budget subcommittee Wednesday. On Thursday, there was a discussion with the Department of Human Services and the Iowa Association of Community Providers on the new Medicaid Tiered Rates structure. Also Thursday, the Education budget subcommittee learned about the work of the Iowa Reading Research Center

Here are three more things to know this week. 

Budget 'deappropriations'

When we released our legislative priorities earlier this month, we asked our elected officials not to balance the budget on the backs of children. Unfortunately, yesterday, the Senate Republicans introduced SF 2117, a deappropriations bill for this current fiscal year (FY18) that would do exactly that. 

The bill would cut about $52 million in spending, including $19.3 million for the three state universities ($8.7 million from the UI, $6.9 million from ISU and $3.7 million from UNI) and $5.4 million for the community colleges. The Department of Human Services would see a $10 million cut; the Department of Education a $1.7 million cut; the Department of Public Health, a $1.4 million cut. Other departments face cuts as well.

The Senate bill cuts deeper than Gov. Reynolds proposal for about $19.4 million in deappropriations, $10 million in Medicaid reductions and other revenue adjustments. House Republicans said they are still working on their own deappropriations bill. 

As our partners at the Iowa Policy Project said this week, “You cannot cut your way to prosperity, no matter how hard you try.” After years of budget shortfalls, we are already past the place where we can keep slashing without causing real harm to our families and children, to our state as a whole and to our future prosperity. Education, health, human services—these are the tools we have as a state to invest in our people. A real conversation about how to bring more revenue into state coffers is overdue. 

Please continue your advocacy—we need your voice. Iowa’s children need your voice!

CFPC at the Capitol

The Center hosted a legislative breakfast on Thursday. It was so lovely to see friends, fellow advocates and lawmakers and to share information about child well-being in our state. We didn't catch photos of everyone, but below are snaps with some of the legislators who joined us yesterday.  

Top row: CFPC policy associates Mary Nelle Trefz and Angelica Cardenas with Rep. Michael Bergan (Dorchester); Sen. David Johnson (Ocheyedan) with CFPC executive director Anne Discher; Anne with Rep. Jon Jacobsen (Council Bluffs); Rep. Dave Heaton (Mount Pleasant) with CFPC Kids Count director Mike Crawford. Middle row: Rep. Sharon Steckman (Mason City) with Anne; Anne with Rep. Jo Oldson (Des Moines); Sen. Bob Dvorsky (Coralville) with CFPC policy director Sheila Hansen. Bottom row: Sheila with Rep. Marti Anderson (Des Moines); Rep. Dave Maxwell (Gibson) with Mary Nelle; and Mary Nelle with Sen. Liz Mathis (Robins). 

Grade-level reading

On Tuesday, the national Campaign for Grade Level Reading honored Iowa as a State Pacesetter for its efforts to assure that every child is reading proficiently by third grade. Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign, presented the honor in a ceremony in the Governor's office. Twelve Iowa communities participate in the initiative, promoting third grade reading through a range of community-wide efforts to improve school readiness, school attendance and summer learning. 

One of those communities is Waterloo. Darren Hanna, director of elementary education for the Waterloo Community School District, and Lekeisha Veasley, coordinator of Cedar Valley Readers, spoke about one of their campaign efforts, a summer reading program they organized in partnership with the YMCA of Black Hawk County. Instead of thinking of the effort to prevent summer learning loss as "summer school," they treated it a "summer camp," a six-week, full-day program chock full of activities—including reading activities led by education students at the University of Northern Iowa—that addressed the whole child. "Everybody played to their strengths," said Hanna.

Assessments showed that participating students generally held steady or gained in reading skills over the summer (typically students see declines), and 100 percent of parents who completed a survey at the end of the camp said they'd send their child again. Here's a nice Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier piece on the "Y Believe Summer Learning Academy" from July.

Lekeisha Veasley, coordinator for Cedar Valley Readers, speaks at a Campaign for Grade Level Reading event Tuesday in the Governor's office. Behind her, from left, are: Darren Hanna, director of elementary education for the Waterloo Community School District; Becky Miles-Polka, Iowa lead for the Campaign for Grade Level Reading; Ralph Smith, managing director of the national Campaign; and Gov. Kim Reynolds.  


Another view

Here are those inspiring Iowans we mentioned at the top of this update. Above, youth in action at Immigrant Advocacy Day; below, AMP youth at the Capitol for their Day on the Hill.


Bill tracker

With session in full swing, the list of bills in our bill tracker has grown again this week. Check it out. 

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. 


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Des Moines, IA 50309
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