Iowans face long wait for disability services

Kyla Claussen is one of some 16,000 Iowans on waiting lists for disability services. -promoted by Laura Belin

My name is Kyla Claussen and I’m from Avoca, Iowa. I have an unknown progressive neuromuscular disorder that has been slowly taking skills away from me over the past five years. By March 2020, I was unable to walk independently anymore or work. Last August, I went on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and then applied for the Physical Disability Waiver and the Health and Disability Waiver.

I’m now waiting for services in my home, along with 15,956 Iowans on the waiting list for one of the waivers for people with disabilities. Most likely, I will be waiting for one to three years.

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A call for responsibility, accountability, and compassion in the new year

Ras Smith represents Iowa House district 62, covering part of Waterloo. -promoted by Laura Belin

Christmas, for me, is a season of spiritual tradition, personal reflection, and service to
community. Because my mom is a pastor, I had the fortune of growing up in a faith-filled church community. Today, my own children are blessed to experience a closeness to this family faith that instills in them the importance of loving and serving our fellow humans. This makes the holiday season even more meaningful.

As I reflect upon the year, I think about the thousands of Iowans who stepped up to help one another during a global pandemic. I think about people pouring into communities to clean up, provide food, build shelter, and give moral support in the wake of the devastating derecho. I think about the sacrifices of so many essential workers across the state. This is the unbreakable spirit of Iowa, and why I love living here.

But as I reflect further, my heart also hurts for families across the state who experienced preventable suffering and loss at the hands of poor leadership.

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The case for a simpler, values-driven Democratic Party platform

Jeremy Dumkrieger chairs the Woodbury County Democrats. -promoted by Laura Belin

In 2018, the Woodbury County Democrats approved the platform pasted below. It wasn’t perfect, but it was simple. It was intended to be. In fact, it could be simpler.

We wanted something we could put on a palm card to let folks know what we believe. Far too often we are bogged down by complicated rhetoric that serves only to obscure the direct message intended for everyday Iowans.

Soon the Iowa Democratic Party will host the Platform Committee’s work to finalize our state platform. I suggest they ignore specifics and finally see the bigger picture.

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The Disability Caucus: Fighting for inclusion

Eric Donat: “It’s important for inclusion to show people with disabilities in all possible roles – not just in disability-specific ones.” -promoted by Laura Belin

I’m excited to be part of the new leadership on The Iowa Democratic Party Disability Caucus as vice chair. I am Eric Donat of Waterloo and Black Hawk County.

I got my start in politics through advocacy training at the Center for Independent Living in Waterloo, Iowans with Disabilities in Action, and the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council. Consumers at the center were connected to state legislators via our work on systems change advocacy.

Through being an advocate, I supported legislation making it easier for people with disabilities, particularly those using wheelchairs, to travel about in their communities. I also supported reorganizing Iowa’s counties into today’s mental health service regions. In addition, I advocated against privatizing Medicaid in Iowa.

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Iowa's Planned Parenthood affiliate rejects Margaret Sanger's harmful ideas

“We are owning our organization’s history and are committed to addressing the implicit bias and structural racism within our organization and communities,” Planned Parenthood North Central States declared on July 24, near the top of a statement denouncing racist and eugenicist ideas espoused by Margaret Sanger. Formed in 2018 when Planned Parenthood of the Heartland merged with a neighboring organization, the affiliate operates 29 clinics in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

Many who believe in Planned Parenthood’s mission–especially the white women who have been the majority of the organization’s volunteers in Iowa–know little about Sanger other than that she established the country’s first birth control clinic. Although I’m a third-generation supporter of Planned Parenthood in Iowa, I was ignorant about Sanger’s eugenicist views for much of my adult life. Those views were repugnant, and it’s important for reproductive rights advocates to be clear about rejecting them.

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