By Thomas Gerhold, Iowa House, District 84
Hello District 84 from the State Capitol!
The 2023 Session of the 90th General Assembly of the Iowa State Legislature began on January 9th with a whopping 39 new members in the Iowa House which includes new 24 Republicans and 15 new Democrats. Notice that most of Benton County (except for Bruce, Cedar, and Monroe Townships) is in the new District 84.
Monday, we gaveled in just after 10 a.m., took our oaths of office, then selected our seats on the House floor. We had joint session of the legislature all week. On Tuesday, we heard the Condition of the State by Governor Kim Reynolds. Wednesday, we heard the Condition of the Judiciary by Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Susan Christensen, and Thursday we heard the Condition of the National Guard by Major General Benjamin Corell.
Governor Reynolds talked about one of her major priorities – a bill to expand school choice by making Education Savings Accounts available for all students from K through 12. This proposal would allocate $7598 per year for students who attend private schools, while the public school in each child’s district would still receive $1205 per student.
Another proposal allows increased flexibility for school districts to spend their money. Currently, money designated to specific programs but not spent could for example be used to increase salaries of teachers.
Bills that were filed this week include property tax reform. House File 1 proposes to reduce the $5.40 levy and increase transparency requirements and cap assessment increases. Big increases on property taxes is a huge burden on some retirees with fixed incomes.
House File 3 intends to cut fraud in welfare by stricter verification of applicant’s identity prior to enrollment. House File 2 is intending to prevent Iowa’s money from being spent on activist Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) policies.
On January 10th, I had a good visit with constituents who were representing the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives. CEO Teresa Floyd, and Board of Directors members Jeff Elliott and Gary McKenna.
I hope this finds you healthy, safe, and thank you for giving me the honor to represent you at the Capitol again. Make it a great year!