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ST. ANSGAR | Shortage of housing, IPERs and children’s’ mental health issues were some of the topics addressed by Iowa House Representative Jane Bloomingdale (R-Northwood), and State Senator Waylon Brown (R-St. Ansgar) during a legislative forum on Friday, Feb. 1, held at the St. Ansgar City Hall.

Bloomingdale and Brown agreed there is a great need for more housing in rural communities, with some state funding having been appropriated for those needs. Both legislators said providing housing in rural Iowa is a priority and part of fulfilling those needs is “the expansion and rehabilitation of existing homes,” Brown said.

Asked if there will be a change in the current IPERs Program for public employees, Bloomingdale said, “No one wants to change IPERs, as long as it is growing.”

She called reports being circulated scare tactics.

A long discussion about mental health issues provided both legislators and residents with insights as to why there is a current mental health crisis with youth in our state.

It was noted often times youth, who are adjusting to medication to deal with these issues, are sent back to a school system where there are few mental health experts.

It was suggested more mid-level mental health providers are needed in schools.

Steve Groth, St Ansgar School board member, addressed the issues of funding mental health in schools.

During the discussion on student mental health and the possibility of schools sharing a mid-level mental health provider, Groth asked the legislators if the cap on the number of qualified shared positions would be raised, so local schools would not bear the full burden of the added expense.

When asked, Bloomingdale said she favors the current proposal of an increase of 3/8 cents in the sales tax.

“I am in favor of it and would like to see it pass,” she said. “I think it will be done in this assembly, but I don’t know whether it will be this year or next.”

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