Archive for February 22, 2008
Increased help for Veterans, Less Help for Vulnerable Children
By Keith Kreiman, Iowa Senate
The 2008 session of the Legislature is not running at a fast clip if speed is measured in the number of bills that have been debated in the full House and Senate.
On the other hand, there are many, many bills that are being debated in committees and that are being discussed with citizens at legislative forums and coffees throughout the state. It is not surprising that the Legislature does its best work when legislators listen to the ideas and concerns of the people they represent.
Veterans are likely to get more help this year. A bill passed by the Senate and signed by the Governor on February 14th requires that an employee returning from military service be given a position of like seniority, status and pay if not returned to their original position. Employers who violate the law will be responsible for reinstatement of the veteran, back pay, lost benefits, seniority and pension adjustments. They will also face misdemeanor charges.
The Senate also has approved a bill that will broaden the allowable expenses that can be paid using interest from the state's $5 million Veterans Trust Fund. Those expenses would include payment for prescriptions, in-home nursing care, and vision, hearing and dental care.
I have also drafted a veterans hiring preference bill similar to one that is in effect in Minnesota. That bill will be going to the Veterans Affairs Committee and, if passed, will strengthen Iowa's current law and will result in the hiring of more veterans into state jobs. It will also protect them from being fired for disabilities related to their service.
As your state senator, I enjoy letting you know of positive ideas I have heard and of good things that our state is doing. But, I also have the responsibility to tell you when I learn that the state is falling far short of its duty. Without a doubt, the state is not doing the best it can to protect abused and neglected children.
Social workers and contractors who provide services to abused and neglected children tell me that the State is investigating far fewer cases of children who are exposed to smoke from illegal drugs, including methamphetamine. Not because there are fewer of these cases, but because of a new policy at the Department of Human Services.
These workers also have told me that families with children over the age of six are unlikely to find mental health, family preservation help, or other assistance when those families are in crisis. This too is because of a change in policy at DHS. Unfortunately, few of these workers are complaining directly to higher DHS staff because they fear for their jobs.
As Iowans, we all have a duty to make sure that vulnerable children are protected and to make sure that vulnerable families are provided every opportunity to stay together and thrive. Better protection for vulnerable children and families is my top priority in the Legislature.
Thank you again for your help and advice this legislative session. Keep in touch!
This is a legislative update from Senator Keith Kreiman. Contact Senator Kreiman by calling (515) 281-3371 or sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. For newsletters, photos and further information, go to www.iowasenatedemoc