The second session of the 88th Iowa General Assembly begins Monday, January 13th and is scheduled to last 100 days. We head into the 2020 legislative session with one of the healthiest state budgets in the nation. Our reserve and emergency funds are full, and we have a healthy ending balance. I want to share House Republican priorities, my priorities as Judiciary Chair, and personal priorities based upon the values I have campaigned on and conversations with constituents throughout the district.
House Republican Priorities:
- Responsible, Balanced Budget – Our healthy budget and financial outlook is a result of adhering to sound budget principles that include not using one-time money for on-going expenses, not purposefully underfunding programs to make the budget appear balanced and spending beneath the allowable level to help compensate for inaccurate revenue calculations.
- Affordable Child Care – Making childcare affordable and available through appropriate government action is an important priority for our families and for economic development across all of Iowa.
- Workforce Housing Shortage – We will work to build upon all the initiatives passed in the last few years to bring more affordable workforce housing to rural Iowa. This effort will include a careful evaluation of all existing programs to achieve the best possible result.
- Tax Relief/IWILL – Discussions are ongoing on funding Iowa’s Water & Land Legacy (IWILL). This stems from an amendment passed by voters in 2010 that required that 3/8s of a penny of the next sales tax increase be devoted to funding water quality and quality of life programs in Iowa. We must decide if it is time to raise the sales tax to fund this program, since a number of our citizens are encouraging its passage. A penny sales tax increase could be used to reduce property or income taxes. This would mean Iowans would pay less of the tax, since visitors passing through Iowa would pay a percentage of a sales tax increase. I will only support a sales tax increase if it is coupled with tax reductions elsewhere and results in an overall reduction in taxes for Iowans. I will not support it if it results in new government programs beyond the scope of IWILL. To gain my support, it must result in a tax reduction overall.
Judiciary/Public Safety Priorities:
- Stopping Drug Paraphernalia expansion in Iowa
- Education & Action Against Illegal CBD Stores – CBD products in Iowa are illegal, unless they are sold in one of the few approved dispensaries authorized in Iowa law. Unregulated CBD products are a public safety and consumer protection concern – testing of some of these products sold illegally in stores across Iowa has shown that some have no CBD in them at all and are being fraudulently advertised to consumers. Others were found to contain illegal quantities of THC, which is the component in marijuana that produces a high and can result in termination of employment if a worker tests positive in a urinalysis test. I would advise all Iowans to steer clear of these products and if you have a legitimate medical need for CBD, visit a doctor and follow the procedures prescribed in Iowa law in legally obtaining a fully tested and safe CBD product.
- Anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) Legislation – Lawsuits used to try and silence media outlets or individuals from exposing wrongdoing is a growing problem that recently impacted a newspaper in Carroll, Iowa. I have reached out to the Iowa Attorney General and he is assisting me in addressing this issue.
- Asbestos Lawsuit Reforms – Attorneys are increasingly naming numerous businesses in asbestos lawsuits, instead of doing their due diligence in identifying where asbestos exposure actually took place. This is causing businesses to pay as much as $20,000 in legal fess just to prove their innocence. I will file legislation to stop abuse of the system.
- Abortion Neutrality Amendment (Protect Life Amendment) – This should be a top priority for all Republicans in the 2020 session. In striking down our Heartbeat and 72 hour-waiting period laws, the Iowa Supreme Court created a fundamental right to abortion subject to strict scrutiny, giving rise to the possibility that Iowa could end up with the most liberal abortion laws in the nation. If this is not responded to, every protection currently in place could be struck down, with even taxpayer funded abortion being mandated. The Protect Life Amendment would simply make Iowa’s Constitution silent on the issue of abortion and would allow Iowa to follow suit if restrictions to Roe V Wade are ever allowed on the federal level. I will do all I can to get this amendment passed in the House so that the process to amend our Constitution can begin. I will provide more detailed information in future emails.
In addition to all the other priorities, I would offer these additional issues of importance:
- Bottle Bill – We need to make this system work again for rural Iowa.
- Managed Care – I have just been made aware of new problems with managed care organizations, cutting some payments in half in the middle of the contract year. This is completely unacceptable, as have been many of the actions that have taken place since the advent of managed care. I will push hard to fix these issues, wherever that path may lead.
I am proud to serve as a State Representative, and I ask for your prayers for all legislators as we work to uphold our founding values and make Iowa a better place for all our citizens.