Following the second funnel week, there is little left to do, aside from finishing the budgets. The Senate has begun to have their meetings to discuss the budgets but has yet to release any of the numbers. Budgets are an extremely important part of the Legislative process and it’s always a good idea to pay attention to them, when they are in fact released. Without the numbers released, we don’t have the full picture yet, so we will see how it will go.
I met with representatives from the Northeast Iowa Food Bank, this week. We had an important conversation in regards to SF 494, which is a bill relating to changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The Food Bank is opposed to the bill, as it will have significant impacts to the many Iowans that they serve There are 300,000 Iowans who are food insecure and 1/3 of those Iowans are children. It is programs such as SNAP and the Food Bank, that helps provide food for these Iowans. I hope that the bill does not move forward.
Caption: Rep. Kressig and Rep. Brown-Powers with representatives from the Northeast Iowa Food Bank in the House well after discussing the importance of SNAP benefits and its necessity to many Iowans
As many of you already know, I am an avid bicyclist. I am also Ranking Member of the Public Safety Committee and an important bill HF 422, was put through the committee. This bill relates to additional penalties for certain violations against drivers causing bicyclists serious injury or death. I was able to discuss this important issue with a news reporter, expressing my support for this bill.
Sadly, the bill was killed, as the majority party pulled it from debate. I was sad to see this happen, as most likely the riding community was, also.
Caption: Rep. Kressig in the midst of giving an interview in regard to HF 422 and its importance to the riding community
In the Statehouse Newsletter, you will find information about:
Lowering Costs for Iowans.
Second Legislative Deadline Passes,
Iowans Speak Out Against Taking Food Away from Iowa’s Kids.
Book Ban, Sweeping Anti-LGBTQ Legislation Clears House Again.
Property Assessments Hit Mailboxes, Appeal Webinar Upcoming.
Please share your comments!
Going forward, I will be listening and working closely with local leaders and community members, to make sure the state is partnering with those in our community who need help and assistance. I’m available by email, phone, and social media, to answer questions and listen to your concerns. You can always reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.
Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!
Apr 21-23 The Book of Mormon
GBPAC, Fri 7:30pm, Sat 2pm & 7:30pm, Sun 1pm & 6:30pm, 319-273-7469
Lowering Costs for Iowans
For too many Iowans, wages aren’t keeping up with the rising costs of healthcare, childcare, and utility bills.
To ease some families’ financial burden, Iowa House Democrats introduced a legislative policy package that would lower costs for Iowans as a part of their People Over Politics agenda.
With a month left in session, lawmakers still have plenty of time to help lower costs and reduce living expenses for everyday Iowans. Here are the ideas offered by lawmakers that put more money in the pockets of Iowans:
Expanding access to high-quality, affordable childcare
Creating more affordable housing, while providing opportunities for necessary home improvements for current homeowners
Preventing employers from refusing to pay promised wages
Lowering costs of prescription drugs for Iowans
Expanding the use of renewable energy to lower utility costs
Freezing tuition at state universities and community colleges to relieve the burden on college students
Helping volunteer firefighters purchase tires at better prices (HF 603)
Iowans Speak Out Against Taking Food Away from Iowa’s Kids
People from across the state gathered at the State Capitol on Tuesday to speak out against a bill that would take away food and health insurance from thousands of Iowa kids. Senate File 494, the Republican-sponsored bill, would kick at least 8,000 adults off of Medicaid, 600 kids off of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and stop thousands of children from receiving food through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The bill restricts access to food and medical services by creating an asset test that would include things like cash, college savings accounts, or a car.
While proponents of the bill say kicking Iowans off of these programs is necessary to achieve a balanced state budget, SNAP is 100% federally funded and the number of Iowans utilizing SNAP benefits is at a 14-year low. This bill will cost the state almost $7.5 million to implement in the first two fiscal years alone, and once fully implemented, the state will forfeit over $42 million annually in federal money. That means our tax dollars will be used to feed kids in other states, but not the kids in our neighborhood.
Lawmakers should be working together to make sure no Iowa child goes hungry. Raising the federal poverty level for SNAP from 160% to 200%, so more kids qualify for benefits, and increasing funding to food banks across the state that are experiencing record numbers of Iowans walking through their doors would be a good place to start.
Book Ban, Sweeping Anti-LGBTQ Legislation Clears House Again
In another move that makes Iowa look unwelcoming, House Republicans approved another round of harmful anti-LGBTQ+ bills this week. Despite strong bipartisan opposition to the bill, Senate File 496 created new education “reforms” pushed by Governor Kim Reynolds. Harmful components of this bill include:
Forcing teachers to “out” students and prohibiting school staff from affirming a student’s gender identity and preferred pronouns unless the teacher has written approval from the student’s parent.
Restricting school staff from offering instruction on any kind of gender identity or sexual orientation in grades K-6 classrooms.
Changing the makeup of the state board that oversees teacher licensures and endorsement requirements. Currently, two of the nine members of the board are required to be parents. This bill would change that number, requiring five out of the eleven members to be parents – severely disrupting the balance of educational expertise with those with no educational training or experience.
Eliminating the requirement to instruct on specific sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS/HIV, and the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in schools. According to the National Cancer Center, Iowa currently leads the nation in oropharynx cancer which is preventable with the HPV vaccine available to teens.
The bill now goes back to the Senate for consideration. Iowa Republicans have offered over 32 bills that attack LGBTQ+ rights this session.
Property Assessments Hit Mailboxes, Appeal Webinar Upcoming
As property assessments hit mailboxes, a free online presentation to help property owners understand how to protest their property assessments will be offered on April 12th. The presentation will include an introduction to how property is valued for taxation, how to understand your assessment, and the basics of protesting the assessed valuation of your property.
The first step in determining property taxes in Iowa is for local assessors to establish the value of the property. Every two years, the county assessor estimates the market value of a property. After assessments are done, the “assessment limitation” is applied every year. More commonly referred to as the rollback, the assessment limitation is intended to help to control inflation in property assessments. For example, the residential and agricultural property is limited to 3% growth annually.
The webinar is presented by the Property Assessment Appeal Board (PAAB) in conjunction with the Iowa Department of Revenue and the Center for Business Growth and Innovation at the University of Northern Iowa. The PAAB is an independent board that hears contested cases of property assessments following decisions from local assessors and boards of review. The PAAB is focused on providing a consistent, fair, and equitable property assessment appeal process.
Court Case Jeopardizes Free Preventative Health Services
Last week, a Federal Judge in Texas ruled that health insurance companies no longer need to cover certain preventative healthcare services required under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This decision could affect millions of Americans’ access to no-cost, preventative health care, including pregnancy-related care, cancer screenings, domestic violence counseling, postpartum depression counseling, breastfeeding support, treatment for heart disease, HIV prevention pharmaceuticals, and more.
In 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that private employers may object to the ACA’s birth control mandate for religious or moral reasons based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Now, conservative business owners and Republican lawmakers use this same federal law to challenge more components of the ACA’s preventative care mandates because they “violate their religious beliefs”.
Numerous medical groups, including the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Medical Women’s Association, and more, warned that a nationwide order would lead to preventable deaths and higher costs.
Because of the ACA, more than 152 million Americans are enrolled in plans that provide free preventive services, including 133 million people with employer coverage. Iowa’s exchange enrollment just reached a record high for 2023, with nearly 83,000 people signing up for private plans during open enrollment.
At least 15 states have enacted ACA-style laws ensuring continued access to preventive services for consumers if the federal law is nullified. Rather than pass legislation that would guarantee Iowans free preventative care, the majority party continues to focus on divisive, culture war issues and pass only legislation that caters to their extreme base and special interests.
Iowa House Democrats will continue to propose legislation ensuring Iowans’ access to preventive health services and consistently fight against the majority party’s failure to lower healthcare costs.
Other Iowa News
NO BUDGET NEGOTIATIONS IN SIGHT: Before the legislature can adjourn for the year, the Legislature must pass a budget to keep the state operational. Unfortunately, instead of working together, Republican lawmakers have decided to fight amongst themselves and leave everyday Iowans out to dry. Both the House and Senate Republicans have released different spending targets, with little to no details. Even though budget details haven’t officially been released, Iowans can look to previous budgets to get an idea of Republican priorities. Instead of lowering costs for Iowans and investing in our public schools, GOP legislators will continue to give handouts to millionaires and the biggest corporations. Under Republican control, state revenue growth has gone from 11.4% to -1.0% in just two fiscal years, meaning the state has less and less money to invest in the priorities of actual everyday Iowans.
NEW CHOOSE IOWA PROGRAM ENCOURAGES IOWANS TO ENTER CALENDAR CONTEST: A new program, established to promote Iowa-produced foods, is now inviting Iowa school-age children to participate in the 2023 Choose Iowa calendar contest to promote Iowa’s agricultural industry. Winning drawings will be included in the 2023/2024 Choose Iowa calendar that will be handed out at the Iowa State Fair. Artwork submitted for the contest should feature at least one aspect of Iowa agriculture, emphasizing food, livestock, or crop production. Entries can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship by June 1st. The Choose Iowa program allows companies that participate to sell their products with the Choose Iowa logo so consumers know they are buying a local product. More information can be found at chooseiowa.com.
PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT SOLIDIFIES VOTING AGE: Iowa voters will have a chance to approve a Constitutional Amendment during the 2024 election regarding the voting age in Iowa. The Senate Joint Resolution 9 will solidify the voting age to 18 in the Iowa Constitution. Currently, the constitution stipulates the voting age as 21. This is the second consecutive General Assembly that this amendment has passed, and now requires Iowa voters’ approval. The proposed amendment also allows for 17-year-olds to vote in a primary election, so long as they will be 18 in time for the General Election. This will not change current practice in the state, as the federal voting age is 18, but will update the state constitution to reflect current practice.