MUSCATINE, Iowa–July 1, Governor Kim Reynolds appointed Muscatine County Supervisor Jeff Sorensen to the Iowa Mental Health and Disabilities Services Commission after the Senate confirmed him with at least 67% of votes in his favor. Sorensen, who has also sat on the Eastern Iowa Mental Health and Disability Service Region Governing Board since 2020, will serve on the state commission until 2023.
Sorensen applied to serve on the commission at the suggestion of Community Systems Consultant for the Iowa Department of Human Services Julie Jetter, who let him know about the opening. He saw it as an opportunity for the Eastern Iowa Region to have more of a voice in decisions regarding mental health and disabilities policies and regulations that affect the entire state. “The state board has a lot of influence on state policy, and I thought it was important for the Eastern Iowa region to have representation,” he explained. “It’s important to have our voices heard by policy makers,” he elaborated.
Approximately once a month, the commission meets to work on policies relating to providing mental health and disability supports and services in each of Iowa’s mental health regions. Though Sorensen has not yet set specific goals for items he would like to see the commission tackle, he does have several broad topics he would like to address. In particular, he wants to, “ensure every Iowan has access to the same level of services, no matter where they live,” and to, “advocate for our people–each one has unique needs.”
Sorensen would also like to focus on helping regions navigate the upcoming changes to how they receive funding. Since the creation of the regions, each has relied on member county property tax levies for funding. In the future, the state will move away from this model and use a portion of state income taxes to provide them with money instead.
To date, Sorensen has only attended one virtual commission meeting and feels that he will need some additional time to understand how the commission works and how he can use his seat on it to advocate for the needs of the Eastern Iowa Region effectively. However, he feels excited about this new opportunity and the chance it gives him to share local concerns with state level policy makers. “So far, I’m happy to participate and make an impact for Muscatine County, and as long as I feel like I’m making a difference I’ll be happy.”
Members of the public may view commission meetings online. The next meeting will take place Friday, July 30 from 9 to 10 a.m.