Abby Finkenauer, Cindy Axne Announce Their SOTU Guests

By Paige Godden

January 31, 2020

Iowa Reps. Cindy Axne and Abby Finkenauer have announced who they’ll bring with to Tuesday evening’s Presidential State of the Union Address in Washington D.C.

Shannon Baity, a special education teacher at Southeast Polk Community School District, will join Axne.

Abby King, a 16-year-old diabetic who Finkenauer met at a prescription drug roundtable in Dubuque last October, will join Finkenauer at the State of the Union Address.

Each of the guests will highlight specific needs Iowans have that Finkenauer and Axne have been trying to push for during their time in congress.

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King, for example, will use the opportunity to share her story about the need to lower prescription drug prices.

“There are some stories that you will always remember, and Abby King’s story is one of them,” Congresswoman Finkenauer said in a news release. “After a discussion about lowering prescription drug prices in Dubuque, Abby’s father came up to me and said he just hopes he will be able to walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding, and not her funeral.

“When I heard those words my heart broke,” Finkenauer said. “No parent should ever be faced with that thought. Abby King and her family, along with thousands of others who are in the same situation, are the reason we are fighting to bring down the cost of prescription drugs and make sure we protect healthcare coverage for pre-existing conditions.”

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King said in a written statement she is grateful to be Finkenauer’s guest.

“I am advocating for my future by telling my story in hopes that prescription drug prices will be lowered,” King said.

During her time in congress, Finkenauer has helped pass 11 bills related to lowering drug costs. The bills include the CREATES Act, which makes it easier for generic drugs to come to market.

Meanwhile, Baity will share how important it is to invest in mental health resources for students and teachers in order to make school a safer and healthier place to be.

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“We need to be making sure that our teachers and students are equally prepared for each day of learning, including by ensuring they aren’t overburdened by stress and other mental health challenges that undermine a good learning environment,” Axne said in a news release. “As we have the opportunity next week to reflect on our nation’s priorities for the coming year, we must not forget our teachers, their students and the need to protect their holistic well being.

“Ensuring our school districts, towns and education advocates have the tools and resources they need to support safe and stress-free education will pay dividends for our communities, economy and future prosperity,” Axne said.

Baity, who is a special education teacher at Clay Elementary in Altoona, has been advocating for students with special needs for years.

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“I have a passion for students with special needs, in particular those students with behavior and mental health needs,” Baity said. “They need someone to love them, encourage them and advocate for them — and that’s what I strive to do.”

“Mental health and behavior in education are a higher priority than ever before. I believe educators, administrators and districts care about the needs of kids but resources, curriculum and funding are limited,” Baity said. “The remaining questions to be addressed are where, when and how to provide support in these critical areas and at the different levels of need for both students and faculty.”


by Paige Godden
Posted 1/31/20



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