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Newscast 02.11.22: Bills Focusing on Workforce Development and the Cost of Insulin Discussed at the Iowa Statehouse

Iowa Statehouse2
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The Iowa Statehouse

The Iowa Supreme Court says some misdemeanor trials can be held without the defendant present in cases where the person on trial is intentionally trying to delay justice. The court upheld the conviction of a Le Mars man who was charged with driving while intoxicated in 2017. Randall Hurlbut's trial was delayed three times and he didn't show up for his trial in February 2020, saying he couldn't get a ride. The judge proceeded without him and he was convicted. He appealed, saying his constitutional right to face his accuser was violated.

A group of Iowans came to the statehouse this week to push for a bill requiring insurance companies to cap out-of-pocket insulin costs to 100-dollars per month. A second bill would allow Iowans to get an emergency prescription refill.

The Iowa House passed these bills last year with unanimous or near-unanimous support. But the Senate hasn’t brought them up for a vote.

Janelle Lutgen (LOOT-gin) of Bernard says her son died because he was rationing the insulin he used to treat his type 1 diabetes.

 “I’m willing to do whatever I have to do to get some change for diabetics. And yes, we do need far more than these two bills. We need a safety net, because neither of these bills would have helped Jesse.”

Lutgen says her son had lost his job and couldn’t afford health insurance at the time of his death. Republican Jeff Edler of State Center chairs the Senate Human Resources Committee. He says he’s “still looking at” the bills and that the price cap would only affect people with state-regulated private insurance.

A bill containing more of Governor Kim Reynolds’ proposed workforce shortage solutions has received first-round approval in the Senate.

Reynolds’ bill aims to expand work-based learning in high schools and would waive fees for veterans to try to attract them to the state. It would make changes to professional licensing laws and expand health care provider recruitment programs. Business and health care groups expressed support for the bill.

But some trade union lobbyists say they’re concerned about the provision that would establish a statewide building code.

As part of her workforce strategy, Reynolds has also proposed cuts to unemployment benefits. That separate bill has advanced in the House and Senate.

The University of Nebraska Board of Regents lifted the prohibition on alcohol sales at Husker athletic events today, according to the Lincoln Star-Journal.

Rescinding the 1999 policy, as regents did on a 7-0 vote, doesn't mean beer and liquor will automatically go on sale at Memorial Stadium, Pinnacle Bank Arena, or Haymarket Park.

Instead, by removing the old policy that was applied unevenly across the university system, NU's president and the campus chancellors now have authority to turn on the taps in the future.

Today’s vote rescinding the ban paves the way for UNL to one day join a majority of Big Ten schools -- Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio State, Purdue and Rutgers -- as well as programs across the country that sell alcohol at games.

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