From the Desk of Senator Bennett
It’s been a strange few weeks in the Capitol. To be honest, it’s a bit depressing. Normally, at this time of year, we would be debating budgets. At this time, we’ve seen no budgets and the Senate has not debated any bills in a few weeks.
The most likely cause is that the House and Senate Republicans cannot agree with one another on bills, and neither of them can agree with the Governor’s budget priorities. It appears the Senate will resume debate this coming week, but we likely will not receive the debate calendar until Sunday evening. Please stay tuned to my social media for updates on hot topics of debate.
One good thing about our somewhat odd schedule is that I’ve been able to spend more time at home. While I’m grateful to work for my friends and neighbors in Des Moines, I love our community and I prefer being at home with you all! It’s been good to run into folks at the coffee shop and the dog park, and I’ve been able to attend some meetings and do some on-site visits to learn about important efforts in the community.
Recently, I had the privilege of visiting with CRUSH of Iowa Recovery Community Center. I first met founders, Rod and Deb, at the Capitol and they told me about how losing their son, Chad, to substance use disorder inspired them to build upon their social work background to create resources to meet people where they are at in their recovery from substance use disorder.
Senator Bennett with CRUSH Founders Rod and Deb, and peer counselors
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 19.7 million Americans over the age of 12 battled a substance use disorder in 2017.
Many of us may have misconceptions about substance use disorders, and why healing from them is so difficult. Take a moment to watch this video from the National Institutes of Health to learn more.
CRUSH’s philosophy is that there are many paths to recovery. CRUSH meets people where they are at, connects them to resources, and helps them build a path that will work for them. Integral to this process are peer counselors, who are in recovery themselves. Peer counselors understand what it is like to struggle with substance use disorder and know, first-hand, what types of obstacles can present themselves as people work through recovery. The opportunity to become a peer counselor also helps the counselors, themselves, build “recovery capital,” or infrastructure in their lives to support their own continued recovery. This could mean structure, self-respect, community connection, purpose and/or the ability to help others.
I learned so much during my visit and I could write much, much more about how important CRUSH’s work is in the community, but I don’t think any of you want to read a 10-page email, so I’ll stop here. It’s important to me (and I suspect to all of us) to know, that despite the many harmful bills going through the statehouse, our folks at home are building spaces of healing and resilience for our communities.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance use disorder, CRUSH can help connect you with resources. You can reach them at Crushthestigma@yahoo.com or 319-594-3431.
Stories of Hope, shared by Iowans
A few weeks ago, we asked Iowans to share what gives you hope for a brighter future. We’ve received so many responses from folks all across the state, and your inspiring messages are important and timely as we approach the end of the legislative session.
For many of you, the answer is simple: the kids give you hope.
Many of you described your awe and admiration for the young people of Iowa, who continue to stand up for their rights despite Republican politicians passing bills to restrict the books they can read or the conversations they can have in school.
We asked what gives you hope. Here’s a sampling of the answers you sent back:
“The awareness and activism of our young people to effect the change they want to see in the world.” – Josephine O.
“The dedication and commitment of classroom teachers. They work so hard no matter what mountains they are forced to climb, all with the well-being of their students firmly in their hearts and minds.” – Nancy G.
“More than anything else, it’s the young people standing up not just for their own rights, but for the rights of all, that gives me hope.” – Liz O.
“The next election.” – Brian M.
I know how easy it can be to lose hope, but hearing from constituents inspires me to keep fighting. Iowans know that we can do better, and this sentiment unites us even through these challenges. Thank you for believing in our state and our democracy.
If you haven’t already, please take a moment to tell us what gives you hope for Iowa — and please forward this email to your friends, family, community members, or anybody who you think has a story of hope to share!
Reproductive Freedom on the Docket
The Iowa Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday about the future of reproductive freedom in Iowa.
At issue is the 2018 statute banning abortion after six weeks of pregnancy – a radical change to state law that would prohibit 98 percent of abortions performed in Iowa. That law was initially found to be unconstitutional, and has never been enforced. The court is reconsidering it now, however, after the U.S. Supreme Court and the Iowa Supreme Court struck down constitutional protections on abortion.
Tuesday’s hearing represents the latest attack from anti-choice Republican politicians despite years of legal precedent and wide public support across political affiliations for reproductive freedom in Iowa.
The tactics change, but the goals remain the same: Republican politicians want a total ban on abortion in Iowa. They’re obsessed with denying essential healthcare and stripping away fundamental freedoms for Iowans.
Senate Democrats trust Iowans to make their own choices about their own bodies and their own futures. Politicians have no business in the doctor’s office interfering with private medical decisions.
- Less support for survivors. Iowa’s new Attorney General, Brenna Bird, is suspending a program covering emergency contraception for sexual assault victims. This follows a pattern of quietly but consistently reducing access to care. It’s never been clearer that Iowa’s Republican politicians will put their ideology before women’s autonomy, safety, and health.
- Stay Active on the voter rolls. The Iowa Secretary of State’s office is sending out “No Activity” notices to registered voters who did not participate in the 2022 general election. If you receive one of these, respond quickly to return your voter status to “Active.” If you get the notice, check the appropriate box, sign your name, and return the pre-paid postcard in the mail. You can always check your voter registration status at VoterReady.Iowa.gov.
- IowaWorks for veterans. Iowa Workforce Development has announced the launch of a new online portal making it easier for Veterans and their families to find a new career in Iowa. The portal connects veterans with one-on-one job search assistance and helps employers locate and hire people with experience in the armed forces.
- April is World Autism Month. Increasing understanding of autism helps everyone gain a better perspective on how people with autism learn, interact, and communicate. Click here for ideas on how to help celebrate Autism Awareness Month.
- Get smart with your money. Money Smart Week is a national public education program coordinated by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to empower people to make better-informed personal financial decisions. Money Smart Week events for 2023 include webinars about family budgeting, debt relief, and employer retirement benefits.
- Don’t miss the Dutchman’s Breeches. Spring is here, and you can make the most of it with the DNR’s weekly woodland wildflower bloom report. This updated list tracks wildflowers in bloom by region – northern, central and southern. (Dutchman’s Breeches are one of the many already blooming across the state.) Peeping wildflowers can be a fun spring activity for kids and is a great way to spend time outdoors as a family. Wildflowers can be found by simply walking, or biking along trails, on a hike through a local or Iowa state park or by just driving slowly along a county road.