The first legislative forum of 2014 took place last Saturday morning, sponsored by the Windsor Heights Chamber of Commerce. I was joined by Senator Schneider and Polk County Supervisor Bob Brownell. Special thanks to my friend and retired statehouse reporter Mike Glover, who did a great job moderating the event.
What I found most interesting was the different issues that surfaced during the forum. We spent a great deal of time on things that have not traditionally been discussed in past community forums.
Several folks wanted to discuss what the state can do to address water quality. This is something that I have taken a greater interest in over the past couple of years. I am eager to see the impact of new resources we invested last year as part of Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey's voluntary nutrient reduction strategy. Everyone shares a concern for clean drinking water, and the underlying health of Iowa's rivers and streams.
Another issue which received lengthy discussion was how to address the tragedy of human trafficking. More and more Iowans are becoming aware that human trafficking is a real problem here in Iowa. There will be legislation moving through the process this year which will address how law enforcement handles these situations, and also to make sure that our criminal code accurately addresses the root causes of human trafficking.
Supervisor Brownell provided information on the state of mental health services in Polk County. With the state redesign of mental health services, there have been many changes to how these services are delivered and paid for. Polk County is in good financial shape, and able to meet the immediate needs of people dependent on these services. We need to continue to work on various jail diversion programs, to avoid treating people in our jails and prisions, which carries the highest cost, and provides less rehabilitative impact.
My next legislative forum will be on Saturday, February 22nd, hosted by the Clive Chamber of Commerce.