This was the 13th week of the legislative session and floor debate dominated most of our time here in the Senate. We discussed a number of issues important to Iowans including expanding broadband service in the state, protecting the constitutional rights of Iowans, cutting property taxes, and giving parents more control over their children’s education.
This week the Senate passed House Joint Resolution 5, amending the Iowa Constitution to add a new section on the protection of life. The section reads, “To defend the dignity of all human life, and to protect mothers and unborn children from efforts to expand abortion even to the day of birth, we the people of the State of Iowa declare that this Constitution shall not be construed to recognize, grant, or secure a right to abortion or to require the public funding of abortion.” With the eventual adoption of this language, policy on abortion will be determined by the people of Iowa through their elected representatives and not through unelected judges.
Expanding Broadband Access for Iowans
Expanding quality broadband access has been important issue in Iowa for a while and it is even more important when many were working from home, taking online classes in their living rooms, or even attending virtual doctor’s appointments during the pandemic. This week the Senate passed House File 848, amending the broadband facility expansion grant program and allowing the state to work on bringing broadband to more Iowans.
The goal of this bill is to expand broadband access to underserved areas in Iowa and also ensure the technology is not rendered obsolete shortly after it is installed. House File 848 amends the broadband facility expansion grant program administered by the Office of the Chief Information Officer to prescribe new matching percentages for grants, establish new minimum service speeds for qualifying projects, and amend certain factors used in evaluating grant applications.
Senate Passes Property Tax Relief for Iowans
On Tuesday, the Senate also passed SF 587 which addresses two major concerns for Iowans – property tax relief and mental health funding. It provides over $100 million in property tax relief for Iowans by eliminating property tax levies and removing the tax triggers put into place in the 2018 tax bill. Additionally, it provides $60 million in state funding for mental health in Iowa in the first year, $125 million in the second, and sets up sustainable, predictable funding growth for the future.
Bold reforms have long been a priority in the Senate, and this bill continues to implement those types of reforms. It increases state funding for mental health services, simplifies the tax code, provides more certainty for Iowa families and small businesses, implements real property tax relief, and makes owning a home in Iowa more attainable for new homeowners and for seniors facing rising property assessments. I was proud to support this bill, and I look forward to seeing the House take up these critical reforms for Iowans and their families.
Aside from floor debate, I had a busy week outside of the Senate chamber. I met with a number of constituents as well as organizations out in the rotunda. I had some constituents from my district come to see me on Wednesday morning to talk about SF 587, the property tax bill that is mentioned above, and other pieces of legislation that we passed on Tuesday. On top of them visiting, I had a meeting arranged for a high-schooler who wishes to get involved in politics. He was given a tour of the Capitol as well as received the opportunity to see the Senate and House in floor debate. I think he learned a lot about what his career might look like if he chooses to pursue a path in politics. One of my favorite things is when I have constituents come to visit me, so this made for a very exciting Wednesday!
To end the week, I met with advocates for the Back the Blue, Iowa Chapter who came to show their support for our brave men and women in law enforcement. It was an honor to meet with these people and I will definitely always support legislation that will help our Iowa law enforcement.
As always, please feel free to contact me about the legislation moving through the Capitol, concerns or questions you may have, or the issues most important to you. It is an honor to serve you in the legislature and be your voice on these topics crucial to making our state better.
I serve as the vice chair of the Natural Resources and Environment Committee, and also serve on the Agriculture, Labor and Business Relations, Local Government, and Transportation committees. Additionally, I serve on the Transportation, Infrastructure, and Capitals Appropriations Subcommittee.
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Des Moines, IA 50319-1001