Provisions in new bill hope to curtail opioid epidemic



District 11, R-Storm Lake

Chairman of the Justice Systems Appropriations Subcommittee

Iowa is the best state in the nation according to a “U.S. News and World Report” survey ranking the states on over 80 separate factors. Iowa ranked in the top 20 in infrastructure, health care, opportunity, education, quality of life, crime, economy and fiscal stability. We were in the bottom ten in only two categories, business environment and entrepreneurship. We have always known that Iowa is a great place to live, work, and raise a family and now we have confirmation from a reputable source that is respected nation-wide. As legislators, we will continue to work to improve all aspects of Iowa life, and continue to focus on improving the business climate to grow Iowa businesses and attract new companies from across the nation.

Governor Kim Reynolds just happened to be in Washington, DC for the U.S. Governor’s Conference when the rankings were released by U.S. News and World Report. She appeared on the CBS Morning Show where she stated, “What an honor it is to recognize Iowans that are making a difference in communities every single day all across our state, and Iowa truly is a place where if you work hard and dream big, anything is possible.” All in all, it was a day for all Iowans to be proud of our state and our Governor.

There was other big news on the national scene this week with an Iowan in the spotlight. On Tuesday morning, the United States Senate voted to confirm Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey as the Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It has been a long road for Northey to get to this point. Immediately after his appointment, a Senator from Texas put a hold on his nomination in a dispute over the Renewable Fuels Standard. For reasons yet untold, that hold was released and the Senate promptly voted to confirm Secretary Northey. With Northey in this very important position, Iowa agriculture will be well represented as Congress writes the next farm bill and faces challenges to renewable fuels and renewable energy. Governor Reynolds will name a replacement to fill the Secretary of Agriculture’s seat until Northey’s term expires at year’s end.       

Two very important bills were approved in the House this week, one addressing the opioid epidemic and a second that modernizes mental health services. The misuse of opioid pain killers leading to addiction, and in many cases, advancing to the use of heroin is affecting every community in the state. While we may think that it’s not happening here in Storm Lake or Sac City, statistics tell us otherwise. The bill passed this week puts opioid painkillers on the prescription management (PMP) plan that was established to track sales of pseudoephedrine, an ingredient in the manufacture of methamphetamine. Pharmacies will be required to report opioid prescriptions filled to a data base within one business day. This will prevent abusers from going to multiple doctors for prescriptions.  Electronic prescriptions will be required to prevent abusers from copying or forging prescriptions. Prescribers will face sanctions for over prescribing addictive drugs. Immunity will be provided for those calling 911 in the case of an overdose unless they are dealers or second offenders. These are just a few of the provisions in the bill that is hoped to greatly reduce the rate of opioid addiction and overdose in our state.

House File 2305 creates new short-term access centers, where Iowans suffering from mental illness can be stabilized and receive appropriate treatment before reaching a crisis. It ensures long-term sustainable resources for mental health and substance abuse services that will qualify for Medicaid reimbursement. The lack of mental health services in Iowa has resulted in the courts and law enforcement assuming the burden of the initial evaluation of mental health incidents. This bill will return those responsibilities to medical professionals and remove our jails and prisons as the default location for mental health treatment. House File 2305 is a landmark change in the delivery of mental health services in Iowa, and is one more step towards keeping Iowa the best state in the nation.

Please join me at my upcoming forum on Saturday, March 17 at 10 a.m. at King’s Pointe in Storm Lake.