Last week we heard from Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and from the Iowa House and Senate leadership about their priorities. Caffeinated Thoughts asked several state legislators to share what their top one or two goals are. I’ve shared their answers below in order of response:
State Representative Ken Rizer (R-Marion): As the Vice Chair of Appropriations, I’m very much focused on ensuring we pass a budget that accomplishes the state’s priorities while adhering to the principle of spending less than we take in. I’m also sponsoring a bill to toughen prosecution of synthetic drug possession/trafficking and am excited to say we’re getting strong bipartisan, community, and law enforcement support. Finally, I’m concerned about the people with disabilities who will no longer be able to work in sheltered work sites, and want to help them achieve competitive, integrated employment. To do so, I’m sponsoring a bill to update the definition of small businesses eligible for the disability hiring tax deduction, as the current definition is 30 years old and unnecessarily limits this important hiring incentive.
State Representative Ralph Watts (R-Adel): One of my priorities is to help get a version of American Law for American Courts passed and try like heck to preserve at least a few liberties from the clutches of government.
State Senator Ken Rozenboom (R-Oskaloosa): My goals for this session are quite modest. First, I hope we leave the Capitol with a budget that is not only balanced, but also a budget that respects our taxpayers. Second, I will push for legislation that restricts the number of abortions in Iowa. I realize this is politically difficult but I will privately, and perhaps publicly, encourage Democrats to work with me to outlaw web-cam abortions. Third, I hope to help find a way to deal with our transportation/infrastructure needs in a responsible way. Beyond that I hope to limit the damage we do.
State Representative Steve Holt (R-Denison): A revenue-neutral solution to improve Iowa’s roads & bridges that does not result in a tax increase. Legislation that protects and strengthens Second Amendment rights, such as State Constitutional recognition of the right to keep and bear arms, Constitutional Carry and Stand Your Ground.
Speaker Pro Tem Matt Windschitl (R-Missouri Valley): I would like to advance Second Amendment rights by passing a state constitutional amendment protecting those rights as well as advancing other Second Amendment legislation. I also would like to ensure taxpayer dollars are not used for abortions or abortion practices while still funding the priorities of Iowans.
State Senator Brad Zaun (R-Urbandale): My goals this session are to make sure the legislature protects the citizens from any increase in taxes, create a better environment for quality job growth, enable parents the flexibility to choose the best education opportunities for their children, shut down the core curriculum, and the removal of all traffic enforcement cameras.
State Representative Peter Cownie (R-Des Moines): Two goals for me this session are to 1) cut taxes 2) pass a broadband bill.
State Senator Amy Sinclair (R-Allerton): My goals for the coming session are to make sure we properly prioritize some very tight spending conditions. I plan to work on tightening up some invasion of privacy laws, continue to work on issues within the state’s adoption processes, and begin a conversation about gifted education.
State Representative Norlin Mommsen (R-DeWitt): Two areas I see being very important for my district are additional funds for our roads and bridges. Our rural roads are in need of repair. The nutrient reduction strategy being worked on by the Department of Agriculture, Iowa State University and the DNR is another important issue facing the state at this time.
State Senator Charles Schneider (R-West Des Moines):
- Keeping the “core principles” of not spending more than we take in, not using one-time money for ongoing expenses, and not intentionally underfunding entitlement programs to balance the state’s budget.
- Reducing the state income tax so that people can keep more money in their pockets and so that our state is a more competitive place for people to live.
- Addressing our state’s unfunded pension liabilities. The unfunded liabilities make retirement less secure for state employees and will be passed on to future generations if we don’t address them.
State Representative John Kooiker (R-Boyden): My goal as a freshman legislator is to learn the ropes as quickly as possible and cling to my fiscally and socially conservative principles.
State Senator Jake Chapman (R-Adel): I continue to be focused on creating an environment that businesses can flourish and practicing restraint when it comes to spending. I will be re-introducing the Iowa Trust Act which reduces income tax while ensuring we are not increasing spending at a higher percentage than what household incomes are growing.
State Representative Sandy Salmon (R-Denver): Besides the usual (goals) of keeping the spending under control and looking for ways to cut income taxes, I would say to continue the conversation regarding protecting the inalienable right to life, eliminating discrimination based on faith convictions, and restoring local control of schools through making the Common Core voluntary and eliminating the authority of the state board of education to set statewide educational standards.
State Representative Stan Gustafson (R-Cumming): I want to help prepare Iowa for this future economic growth in as many ways as possible. We are going to have an unique opportunity to make a substantial difference for the good of the people of our State.
State Representative John Landon (R-Ankeny): I plan to support local control of Iowa schools. A second issue would relate to finding a way to repair the secondary roads and bridges without raising taxes.
State Representative Zach Nunn (R-Altoona):
Two legislative goals I’d like to focus on this session are:
- Advancing educational opportunities for Iowa’s students with a focus on pre-K development and post-secondary investment: Work with Governor Branstad & Lt Governor Reynolds, as well as bi-partisan outreach to Legislative Democrats to put advances Iowa’s educational goals, while maintaining a budget that keeps Iowa in a sound financial position.
- Ensure a responsible State budget: we will spend less than the state collects; we will not use one-time money to fund on-going needs; we will not balance the budget by intentionally underfunding programs; and we will return unused tax dollars to Iowa’s taxpayers.
State Representative Walt Rogers (R-Cedar Falls):
- Ensure a fiscally responsible budget.
- Address the infrastructure problem without raising taxes
- I have filed an bill to require an ultrasound with every abortion
- I’m working on parental responsibility bill
- I will be promoting transparency in all areas of government, especially in how money is spent.
- I have several district specific bills I am working on
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