The second year of the 87th Iowa General Assembly begins Monday, January 8th. I will highlight what I believe will be the main priorities this session.
- TAX REFORM – Iowa is ranked 40th in the nation on the competitiveness of our tax structure. The system is too complicated and the tax rates too high. To make Iowa more competitive, tax reform is vital. The historic tax reforms passed by the federal government in December give Iowa the opportunity to begin reforming our own tax structure. Meaningful tax reform will grow the economy, create more jobs, and ultimately bring more revenue for state government. We must do it carefully so as not to create deficits, perhaps by including triggers that will reduce taxes only after certain growth thresholds are met. Once a growth-friendly tax structure is created, there should be no need for the government picking winners and losers through incentives for businesses to locate in Iowa. Reducing the regulatory burden and lowering taxes will unleash economic growth and opportunity for all Iowans.
- WATER QUALITY – Iowa already spends over $40 million a year on water quality, but creating sustained funding sources to improve water quality is an important priority. I am hopeful we will pass a water quality bill early in the session that will carefully increase funding over a period of years while establishing benchmarks to ensure verification of progress.
- BALANCED BUDGET – Iowa is ranked the 3rd best-managed state in the nation for a reason. We will fund our priorities while maintaining a balanced budget that will protect all Iowans from a future financial crisis, such as currently exists in Illinois, where careless spending has resulted in a deficit that runs into the billions of dollars.
- OPIOID CRISIS – I am working on legislation to deal more effectively with the growing opioid crisis in Iowa. Consideration will be given to making the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) mandatory for all who prescribe medication in Iowa. Participation is currently optional, creating the opportunity for individuals to “doctor shop” and get multiple opioid prescriptions from different prescribers who are not using the PMP to identify this abuse. Other ideas will also be considered, such as limiting the amount of opioid medication a doctor can prescribe per prescription.
- 2nd AMENDMENT RECOGNITION IN STATE CONSTITUTION – Iowa is one of only six states that does not recognize the right to keep & bear arms in the state constitution. Amending the state constitution is a several year process, and I expect we will begin the process this year to recognize the sacred right of gun ownership in the state.
- MENTAL HEALTH ACCESS – The simple truth is that greater and greater numbers of citizens require access to mental health care, outstripping the resources available. The experts tell us this is due to the continued breakdown of the family and increasing substance abuse and addiction. Many requiring mental health care are also abusing or are addicted to alcohol and drugs. We will look for innovative ways to improve access to care within the constraints of resources available. The Director of Health & Human Services is scheduled to report to the House Human Resources Committee his recommendations for improvements.
- SALE OF FETAL TISSUE & PROTECTING LIFE – In 2016 the Iowa Attorney General stated that while the sale of fetal tissue from an aborted child was illegal by federal law, it was not illegal by state law. Pro-life legislators, including myself, will work to make the sale of fetal tissue from an aborted child illegal in the state of Iowa. We will continue to work to protect the unborn and their constitutional right to life.
- MEDICAID MANAGED CARE – I will continue to work to improve this system through constant communication with the health care providers in my district, finding solutions to challenges as they arise. Long term, the system is expected to stabilize by the third year of implementation. If not, alternative, affordable solutions must be explored.
- BOTTLE BILL / RECYCLING – Finding consensus is a challenge on this issue. I will not support repeal of the current system. I will support a solution that keeps our current system in place and provides additional revenue to recyclers, who can no longer make it on a penny per item, which has not increased since the implementation of this program many years ago.
There are of course other issues that will be considered, but all cannot be mentioned here. I can assure all the citizens of Iowa House District 18, contrary to what some are claiming, that IPERS will not be touched. Iowa has one of the most well-funded systems in the nation, and there are NO plans to change it.