2020 Iowa Legislative Session Comes To An End
The nearly three month long “pandemic pause” will certainly be what is remembered most about the 2020 Session of the Iowa Legislature.
Monday, March 16 was the day lawmakers hit the “pause button” on activity at the Statehouse. They returned on Wednesday, June 3 and initiated a schedule that compressed the missed time into 11 days of work.
With state revenues down due to the forced closure of most businesses, budget decisions were even more difficult. Most proposed changes to tax policy were also not acted upon.
Student Mental Health Funding Approved Again!
The ISSWA, School Psychologists Association, Iowa Nurses Association, Iowa School Nurses Organization and Mental Health America all joined forces to successfully push for the continuation of the state’s Student Mental Health School Based Program.
The program, which was initiated last year, will again receive an appropriation of $2.1 million in the omnibus spending bill, House File 2643.
Of the $2.1 million dollars appropriated, $1,200,000 will be allocated to the area education agencies to provide mental health awareness training for educators and schools.
$750,000 will be allocated to the area education agencies to be used to identify a range of approaches to best meet the mental health needs of students and to strengthen community support for students.
Finally $150,000 will be used by the area education agencies to create a clearinghouse of mental health resources for use by schools and community providers.
Disruptive Student Bill Heads To The Governor
After months of sometimes heated debate, Senate File 2360, a bill focused on disruptive students, is headed to the desk of Governor Kim Reynolds.
The Iowa School Social Workers Association, working with Representatives Cecil Dolecheck, Dave Kerr and Mary Masher, was able to secure significant changes to the controversial proposal.
The changes include:
· Requiring the bill’s grant program provides opportunities to access funds for school districts of all sizes. Specifically requiring that the available funds be distributed equitably between small, medium and large school districts (small = under 600 students, medium = 600 to 2499 students, and large = 2500 students and up.)
· Removal of corporal punishment language from the bill because current law already allows for the removal of a disruptive student from class or any area of a school premises or from school sponsored activities. The removal of the duplicative language eliminates an area of potential confusion.
· Adding greater clarification to what is defined as “retaliation.” The amendment now specifies that the protection from “retaliation” is specific to coming in contact with a student.
Thanks again to all the ISSWA members who contacted lawmakers regarding the needed changes to the bill.
Telehealth for Schools Approved By Lawmakers
A major move forward for providing mental health services in schools is on it’s way to the desk of the Governor.
Senate File 2261, allows behavioral health services to be offered in schools, either in person or by telehealth. Further, the bill prohibits private insurance providers from denying coverage of school delivered behavioral health services.
Bills of Interest:
This is the final disposition of bills of concern/interest.
(SF = Senate File, SSB = Senate Study Bill, HF = House File, HSB = House Study Bill)
Awaiting action by the Governor:
SF 2360 (formerly SF 2190 and SSB 3080) - Disruptive Students (M) - The bill does all of the following: a) Provides for the development and distribution of guidelines for schools to use in response to student behaviour that presents an imminent threat of bodily injury to a student or faculty; b) Establishes a Therapeutic Classroom Incentive grant program and appropriates money for student transportation to therapeutic classrooms; and c) and protects school employees from charges of “corporal punishment” if they are attacked or defending themselves.
Passed the Senate 50-0. Amended and approved by the House 95-3. Approved by the Senate 48-1.
SF 2261 (formerly SF 2100) - School Mental Health via Telehealth (F) - The bill would allow behavioural health services to be offered to students via telehealth at schools.
Approved by the Senate 49-0. Amended and Approved by the House 92-4. Passed by the Senate 50-0.
HF 684 - Alcohol Overdose Immunity (F) - The bill provides immunity from prosecution for any person who reports an alcohol overdose emergency, especially those who are under the legal drinking age.).
Passed the House 95-3. Amended and approved by the Senate 47-2. Approved by the House 96-1.
Not approved by both chambers of the Legislature:
SF 2331 (formerly SF 2138) - School Employee Protections (M) - The bill provides that a public school official or employee shall not be dismissed, suspended, reassigned or otherwise punished solely for acting to protect a student’s freedom of expression or a student’s first Amendment rights.
On Senate debate calendar
SF 2155 (formerly SF 2065) - School Resource Officer Funding (M) - The bill authorizes school districts to raise additional funds via property taxes and income surtaxes under the instruction support program to fund a school resource officer.
Approved by the Education Committee and referred to Ways and Means Subcommittee: Chapman, Quirmbach and R. Smith
SF 2081 (formerly SSB 3020) - Student ID’s Suicide Prevention Number (F) - The bill requires schools to include the national suicide prevention hotline telephone number on student ID cards.
On Senate debate calendar
SF 2067 - Excused Absences For Mental Health Treatment (F) - The bill requires schools to adopt policies permitting a student to take excused absences from school for mental health treatment.
Subcommittee: Sinclair, Behn and Celsi
SF 2027 - Student ID’s Suicide Prevention Number (F) - The bill requires schools to include the national suicide prevention hotline telephone number on student ID cards.
Subcommittee; Cournoyer, Edler and Wahls
SF 376 - Mental Health Education Requirements (F) - The bill adds mental health awareness, coping skills and suicide prevention to the subject matter that must be included in a unit of health education.
Subcommittee: Sinclair, Behn and J. Smith
SF 342 - Immunity For Reporting Alcohol Injuries (F) - The bill provides immunity from certain alcohol related criminal offenses and prohibits certain disciplinary actions for persons who seek or require emergency assistance for alcohol overdoses.
Subcommittee: Zaun, Nunn and R. Taylor
HF 2521 (formerly HF 2120) - School Suicide Prevention Program Reporting (F) - The bill would require school districts to report to the Department of Education what types of suicide prevention training they are providing employees
On House debate calendar
HF 2201 - Gender Identity in Schools (M) - This bill would allow parents to have their children excused from any program, curriculum, material, test, survey, questionnaire, activity, announcement, promotion or instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Approved by subcommittee
HF 419 - Music Therapist Certification (M) - This bill would require a person claiming to be a music therapist to hold a board certified credential or a professional designation by the National Music Therapy Registry. The bill needs clarification as it is unclear if providing therapeutic music services is also covered in the bill.
Passed the House 96-3 on 4/3/19. On Senate debate calendar