Greetings to you all,

I hope everyone is doing great. Fingers are crossed that spring has finally arrived and hopefully warmer weather will be here soon!

On Monday, the House debated and passed eight bills. Here are some of the highlights, and you can find the full list of bills here:

  • SF 2260: An act which requires research facilities receiving federal funds to participate in an adoption program for cats and dogs no longer confined at the research facility
  • SF 2290: An act which establishes a fund for the development of dairy processing and milk production innovation
  • HF 803: An act which adds physician’s assistants to the list of healthcare professionals who can perform certain duties, such as attending at certain athletic events

Representatives from Iowa Credit Unions visited the Capitol Tuesday, and we discussed their current legislative priorities. Thanks for taking time to visit with me.

Debate continued on Tuesday, where we debated an additional seven bills. This marked the end of our debate on the state’s budget bills, summarized below:

  • HF 2578: An act appropriating funds for the Department of Health and Human Services. Among other things, this bill authorizes the merger of the Iowa Department of Health and the Department of Human Services.
  • HF 2579: An act appropriating funds for the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund (RIIF). This bill increases funding for state parks, adds $1.5 million in appropriations for recreational trails, and allocates funds for the UNI Industrial Technology Center.

You can view the full list of bills debated here.

On Wednesday I welcomed UNI student groups to the Capital. I had the chance to meet with UNI Legislative Liaison team members Zach Zippe, Mason Miller, and Parker Daniels on their last visit to the legislature to lobby legislators on issues important to UNI. I also met with UNI professor Dr. Chris Larimer and his Iowa Politics class. We held a short Q&A session and met with other legislators to discuss the work that goes on at the Statehouse. It was great to see so many dedicated UNI students in Des Moines, and I wish them all the best for the end of the semester!

On Wednesday, the House debated five bills. You can review the highlights below and see the full list of bills here.

  • SF 581: An act that institutes rules related to deer population management
  • HF 604: An act that creates measures aimed at improving language and literacy development for deaf and hard-of-hearing children

This was a short week at the legislature and there was no debate or committee meetings taking place on Thursday. Going forward, we’re waiting on the Senate to pass the budget bills that have gone through the House process. Though the session is close to finishing up, we still have a lot more work to do before we can adjourn for the 2022 legislative session.

In the Statehouse Newsletter, you will find information about

  • Measures needed to address Iowa’s housing crisis
  • Changes lawmakers are considering to Iowa’s Bottle Bill
  • Iowa’s slow economic momentum
  • How the Choose Iowa program promotes Iowa’s small businesses
  • Free income tax filing options

Please share your comments with me.

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 FacebookTwitter, 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! I hope everyone stays safe.

Upcoming Events

Apr 7, 9-10 Cinderella Strayer-Wood Theatre, Thu & Sat 7:30pm; Sun 2pm, 319-273-2311

Apr 8 Waterloo Black Hawks Hockey vs. Fargo Young Arena, 7pm, 319-232-3444

Apr 8-9 Judy Moody and Stink Hope Martin Theatre, Fri 7pm; Sat 2pm, 319-235-0367

Apr 9 RodCon Rod Library, 10am-4pm, 319-273-2311

Apr 9-10 Iowa 7 v 7 Football Back 2 Ballin Tournament UNI-Dome, 573-467-0130

Apr 9-10 UNI Women’s Softball vs Loyola Robinson-Dresser, Sat 12pm & 2pm; Sun 12pm, 319-273-4849

Apr 13-14, 16 Cinderella Strayer-Wood Theatre, Wed & Thu 7:30pm; Sat 2pm, 319-273-2311

Apr 19 UNI Women’s Softball vs Drake Robinson-Dresser, 4pm & 6pm, 319-273-4849

Apr 21-23 Day Zero UNI Interpreters Theatre – Lang Hall, 7:30pm, 319-273-2311

Apr 22 Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, 7pm, 319-273-7469


More Work Needed to Address Iowa’s Housing Crisis

Iowa is facing an affordable housing shortage. According to a national housing organization, the state has a shortage of approximately 53,135 affordable and available rental units for Iowans.

Forty percent of Iowans spend over 30 percent of their income on housing, which means they are “housing cost-burdened”. For Iowans earning the minimum wage, there is not an affordable bedroom apartment anywhere within the state that would prevent them from being cost-burdened.

In 2019, news was released that an out-of-state corporation had begun buying manufactured housing communities in Iowa and drastically raising rent in parks across the state, further exacerbating the housing crisis.

Residents rallied at the Statehouse in 2020 seeking to draw attention from lawmakers – highlighting blind spots in the state’s current landlord-tenant laws, including allowing unreasonable rents and fees, short eviction notices, and retaliation against the tenant. Unlike Iowa apartment renters, manufactured housing owners are not automatically refunded security deposits or prepaid rent after lease termination. The Iowa Attorney General’s Office reported this surge in complaints from mobile home park residents last year, mirroring the aforementioned grievances.

This week, after three-years of work, House File 2562 was approved by the Iowa House. While the bill makes some subtle changes to Iowa’s manufactured housing law, it does not go far enough to protect Iowans living in mobile homes and manufactured house parks from rising rent, eviction, and bankruptcy at the hands of out-of-state corporations.

There are currently at least 550 manufactured housing communities in Iowa: encompassing 35,443 units, in 80 Iowa counties. Of these communities, 414 are owned by in-state entities and the remaining 136 are owned by out-of-state corporations.

Democratic lawmakers will keep working to provide real protections for renters in manufactured housing communities and provide property tax relief for renters to offset some of the skyrocketing rent being charged.


Lawmakers Consider Changes to “Bottle Bill”

The Iowa House and Senate Republican legislators have competing proposals in terms of bottle and can redemption programs, and are yet to find a solution.

Known as the “bottle bill”, the Senate passed Senate File 2378 that would allow retailers, like grocery stores, to opt-out of redeeming cans and bottles. While Iowans would still pay the 5-cent deposit, distributors would pocket the unredeemed deposits. Overall, this version would reduce the number of places for consumers to return their containers and claim nickel deposits across the state.

The Iowa House is considering a different version of this proposal in House File 2751. This bill would allow fewer retailers to opt-out of redeeming cans and bottles. The bill also requires stores that reject bottle returns to post on the front door the location of the nearest redemption center. The 5-cent deposit Iowans already pay also remains the same but it is distributed differently between retailers and distributors. The bill also allows for mobile redemption systems but it has yet to be approved by the Iowa House.

A recent poll found 84 percent of active Iowa voters say the bottle bill has been good for the state. Eighty-six percent of Iowa voters want there to be more places to return bottles and cans to redeem their five-cent deposit.

Earlier this week, Majority Party lawmakers said they may consider repealing Iowa’s popular redemption program if they cannot come to an agreement.


Iowa Economic Momentum Near the Bottom in the Country

While hard-working families in other states are reaping the benefits of steps taken by the Biden Administration, new data out this week shows that too many Iowans are still being left behind.

According to the Index of State Economic Momentum by the nonpartisan State Policy Reports, Iowa ranked 49th in the country in “Economic Momentum” behind only Kansas and Washington D.C. Iowa also ranks 49th in personal income growth, once again ahead of only Washington D.C. and South Dakota.

Last week, new data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis found Iowa’s GDP, which measures the strength of our economy, was the lowest in the country and one of only two states that suffered from negative growth.

The studies back up the reality many Iowans are facing balancing their family budget while they watch republican lawmakers continue to invest in tax cuts for millionaires, prioritize their hardworking public tax dollars for someone else’s private school tuition, and refuse to invest the state budget into working Iowans.


Choose Iowa Program Promotes Iowa Made Products

Iowans increasingly want to know where their food is coming from. In an effort to promote Iowa produced food, the House passed House File 2572 this week, which creates the Choose Iowa Program under the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS).

As part of the Choose Iowa Program, IDALS will provide a logo that can go on Iowa produced food. Companies that participate in the program can then sell their products with the Choose Iowa logo so consumers know they are buying a local product. If the bill passes the Senate and becomes law, IDALS will set an annual fee for companies to participate in the program. To learn more about the Choose Iowa Program that will help Iowans buy Iowa produced food, go to: chooseiowa.com.


Income Tax Filing Deadline Approaches – Free Filing Help Available

The deadline to file both state and federal income taxes is approaching. Iowa state income taxes for 2021 must be filed by May 2, 2022. The deadline is in May because Iowa’s typical filing deadline April 30th falls on the weekend. The deadline for filing federal taxes is April 18 this year. Federal tax deadlines observe holidays celebrated in Washington, DC, so because of Emancipation Day and the following weekend the federal tax filing deadline is not until the following Monday.

For taxpayers that have already filed their state taxes, refunds can be tracked at tax.iowa.gov/wheres-my-refund. The anticipated time frame for refunds is 30 days. The majority of refunds are issued each year before the end of May.

The Department of Revenue provides a variety of options for tax filers to pay their taxes, including many free filing options for low- and moderate-income tax filers available on their website at tax.iowa.gov/file-for-free. In addition, AARP Foundation provides free tax preparation for low and moderate-income taxpayers, especially those 50 and over – through their Tax-Aide program. The Tax-Aide program includes over 5,000 locations nationwide.  Additional information can be found at aarp.org/money/taxes/aarp_taxaide.

For more information on individual state taxes, including filing an income tax return and other income tax information visit tax.iowa.gov/individuals.


More Iowa News

FINANCIAL LITERACY MONTH, SIGN UP FOR COLLEGE SAVINGS IOWA: The month of April serves to highlight the importance of financial literacy, which includes sound resources and promotes financial empowerment at all stages of life. In an effort to encourage more families and individuals to start saving for college, state officials are reminding Iowans to sign up for College Savings Iowa. Often called a 529-College Savings Plan, Iowans can start saving with a minimum investment of $25. These accounts are tax-deferred, and participants are able to put in up to $3,319 per account, per year. Iowa State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald is encouraging people to go to the College Savings Iowa website at collegesavingsiowa.com to learn more.

APRIL 30th IS PRESCRIPTION DRUG TAKE-BACK DAY: In a continued effort to fight prescription drug abuse, communities across the country are participating in the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, which takes place on Saturday, April 30. Since the first Take-Back Day, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has collected nearly 179,000 pounds of unused prescription medications in Iowa. Nationally, there have been over 15 million pounds collected. Several sites across Iowa will be available on April 30, from 10 am to 2 pm, for people to drop off their prescription medicine- no questions asked. Most of these sites are located at pharmacies and law enforcement agencies. Site locations can be found at: takebackday.dea.gov. For more information about the safe disposal of prescription medication, please visit: safe.pharmacy/drug-disposal.

By | 2022-04-07T19:46:54+00:00 April 7th, 2022|Newsletters|