Supervisors attend Joni Ernst town meeting as part of regular agenda

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst spoke Monday morning, August 10 to a near-capacity crowd at the VFW Hall in Waukon about a variety of issues, but focused primarily on the proposed nuclear deal with Iran and the recent Planned Parenthood scandal. More detailed coverage of her visit to Waukon is printed at right in the article covering this week's Allamakee County Board of Supervisors meeting, as part of the Board's agenda included attending the meeting. The stop in Waukon was part of Ernst’s tour of all 99 Iowa counties, which she expects to complete in September of this year. Standard photo by Bob Beach.

by Bob Beach

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors took approximately one hour out of its regular meeting Monday, August 10 to attend a town meeting with U.S. Senator Joni Ernst at the VFW Hall in Waukon. The well-attended event was part of Ernst’s tour of Iowa’s 99 counties, which she said she will complete sometime in September.
During her opening remarks, Ernst said that since taking office, she has met face-to-face with over 3,000 Iowans in Washington D.C. to discuss a wide variety of issues. She said that since Republicans gained the majority in the Senate, over 170 roll call votes have been held on amendments, compared to just 15 when Democrats were in control, and votes were held on over 70 bills, 31 of which passed the House of Representatives and were signed into law by the President. She added that Iowa’s senior Senator, Charles Grassley, has been a great partner and mentor to her.
Highlighting her legislative priorities, Ernst announced the passage of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Act for Veterans. She also said that she had introduced a bill of her own to prioritize mental health treatment for veterans and allow veterans to get mental health treatment outside of the Veterans Affairs network, which has an average wait time of 36 days for mental health treatment. She pointed out that the country loses 22 veterans per day to suicide and that her bill would address the problem by providing quicker access to mental health care.
Ernst also mentioned the Senate’s passage of the Every Child Achieves Act, which would do away with No Child Left Behind and push decision-making back to state and local governments; a six-year transportation and highway bill; and a bill to balance the federal budget within 10 years and create a path to addressing the government’s $16 trillion debt.
Ernst spoke at greater length about the proposed nuclear deal with Iran, which she called “one of the most significant votes in our careers.” She said that she has “grave concerns” about the deal, which she said she has read in its entirety. She noted that she has not read the side agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency because neither she nor any U.S. official has access to those documents, which also concerns her. She said she rejects President Barack Obama’s assertion that rejecting the agreement with Iran would lead the U.S. into war, noting that military experts have also rejected that assertion. “I have read the agreement and I’m very upset about what I’ve read,” Ernst said.
Ernst closed her opening remarks by addressing the proposed defunding of Planned Parenthood in light of recent allegations of the organization’s harvesting and selling of “baby body parts for profit.” She pointed out that the bill to defund Planned Parenthood would redirect funds to “reputable health care organizations” that provide women’s health care services.
During a short question/answer session, Ernst fielded questions about Planned Parenthood, food labeling, the Iran nuclear deal, immigration reform, the Environmental Protection Agency and renewable fuels.
During its own meeting Monday, the Board of Supervisors held a public hearing regarding an amendment to the County’s budget for the current fiscal year and, hearing no public comments, approved adoption of the amended budget and an associated appropriations resolution.
In other business, the Board set Monday, August 24 at 9:30 a.m. as the date and time to accept bids for the delivery of 16,200 gallons of liquid propane gas to eight different County property locations. The Board also accepted and placed on file the Veterans Affairs quarterly report.