Students from Clarke County came to the Capitol to discuss their experiences participating in FCCLA.

Five weeks into the 2014 Legislative session, and many topics are being discussed among lawmakers. Fostering an environment that promotes job creation and strengthening Iowa’s economy have not been front burner discussions. This is unfortunate, because when we take our eye off the ball, it impacts all Iowans – and not in a positive manner.

We must create ways to help make Iowa more appealing for businesses looking to expand or relocate in our great state. Jobs are vital to our state. They are critical to those raising families, pursuing the American dream and working to make ends meet.

The people of Iowa are turning to us to make wise decisions. We should be reducing the regulatory and tax burdens on those who create jobs because those who work hard to earn their money tend to spend it more wisely than those who collect it through tax levies. These are the discussions we should be having at the Statehouse.

In the Statehouse this year, we have heard a lot of talk on the topic of minimum wage. I believe this is the wrong discussion to be having. If we, as a state, want to help both businesses and individuals thrive, the conversation we need to be having is, “How can the Legislature help individuals gain the skills they need to succeed in our ever-changing marketplace?”

I have spoken to many businesses that are ready to hire, but are unable to find workers that have the proper training needed to accomplish these tasks. I believe that our community colleges and technical programs are the champions of our state’s future economic success.

Iowa is in a great position to achieve economic success. It is imperative we create policies that embolden businesses and lead to job creation. There is a lot of work still to be done this session on behalf of Iowans, and I give you my assurance I will not give up that fight. That is the government you expect, the representation you deserve, and the leadership you elected me to provide.

In an effort to avoid a crisis, the Iowa Senate approved allocating $2 million in general fund dollars to help low income Iowans heat their homes this winter. With rising home energy costs and the high cost of propane in the Midwest, this bill would allocate money to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and assist those who have signed up for the program. In District 14, those who sign up are most often the elderly and families with very young children.

The frigid temperatures and dangerous wind chills have caused Iowans’ heating bills to soar in recent months. Approving this bill assists those faced with growing costs of heating their homes when they need it most.

Senator Rozenboom proposed an amendment to the bill, which would allocate nearly $3 million to the program, and use existing funds instead of general fund dollars. The proposed amendment would have used money paid back in the form of loan payments to the Grow Iowa Values fund. I supported this proposal as it increased the funding to those in need and did not use general fund dollars or taxpayer money. Senator Rozenboom’s amendment was defeated by a slim majority.

Many Iowa families are experiencing financial hardships as the long, cold winter takes its toll on their heating budgets and bank accounts. Passing this bill in the Senate helps alleviate those struggles for Iowans in need.

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