Bob Kressig Newsletter February 9, 2024

Greetings to you all!

It has been a busy couple of weeks here at the Iowa Capitol! It’s Week 5 and things are ramping up as we look ahead to the first Funnel Week. I have been able to meet with some outstanding individuals from all over giving their input on some important topics! We’ve had some bad bills and passionate rallies as Iowa citizens came together to speak out on what they believe in. I hope we can move in a better direction than the one we are in now.

One of the most important bills out there right now is the AEA Bill, HSB 542. This bill was paused in the House subcommittee and passed through in the Senate subcommittee. This bill will hurt both schools and students who rely on the AEA and the programs they provide. I am hosting a forum, along with my fellow Black Hawk County lawmakers, on Saturday, February 10th at the Central Rivers AEA. Please join us to ask us your questions and learn more about the importance of AEAs, and how this bill might affect you! View the graphic below for more information. RSVP at: (not required).

Northern Iowa Student Government came to the Capitol Wednesday, January 24th, to speak to me about a very important matter: Mental Health. We spoke at length about the necessity of mental health services in Iowa specifically for colleges and K-12 schools. UNI presently is using the Tell-Us app which is available 24/7 and completely free to students. It offers a crisis line for students in need, day or night, along with appointments for mental health checkups. They also utilize the Jed Foundation, an outside party, to fill the gaps of any insufficiencies within their program. I hope to see more support for students and mental health!

I had the amazing opportunity to meet with the Iowa Realtors Association from Black Hawk County, alongside Representative Timi Brown-Powers! We spoke on some very important topics including the Real Estate Transparency Act and the Real Estate Wholesaling Consumer Protection Act. Both of these bills help to protect Iowa homeowners! I hope for the best regarding HSB639 and HF 2221!

In the Statehouse Newsletter, you will find information about:

  • Lowering Costs & Raising Wages for Iowans
  • Governor’s AEA Bill Stalls in House, Moves Forward in the Senate

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!

Upcoming Community Events: 

Feb 9-10 Come From Away
Gallagher Bluedorn, Fri 8pm, Sat 1pm & 7pm

Feb 13 Metro Community Concerts: Kiss Me Once
Gallagher Bluedorn, 7pm

Feb 15 Opening Reception: The Rosenthals: The Show Must Go On! 
Victorian House Museum, 4pm

Feb 15-16 Tallcorn Jazz Festival: Sinfonian Dimensions in Jazz
UNI Russell Hall,

Feb 17 Kevin Burt & Big Medicine
Gallagher Bluedorn, 7pm

Lowering Costs & Raising Wages for Iowans 

Too many Iowans still struggle to make ends meet today. Their wages simply aren’t keeping up with the rising costs of healthcare, food, childcare, and utility bills.

To provide some relief, Iowa House Democrats released four things we can do in this session to help Iowans. This is just the first set of multiple proposals that will be introduced this session to lower costs and raise wages.

Raising Iowa’s minimum wage

Today, 231,000 Iowans make less than $15 an hour. Last raised in 2007, the current $7.25 minimum wage is causing Iowa to lose workers to bordering states. All but one other state has a higher minimum wage than Iowa. Our proposal will raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour over three years to make Iowa more competitive.

Expand Iowa’s tax-free holiday to two weeks

Since 500,0000 Iowans received no benefit from recent income tax changes, expanding Iowa’s tax-free holiday will put more money in the pockets of Iowans to purchase necessities like school supplies, clothing, work boots, and uniforms. Iowa’s sales tax-free holiday currently only runs for two days in August. We want to expand the tax-free holiday to two full weeks so more Iowans can afford clothing, school supplies, art supplies, instructional materials, and musical instruments.

Clear the waiting lists for Iowans with disabilities

Some children with severe mental health needs, Iowans with intellectual disabilities, health disabilities, or brain injuries have been waiting five years or longer to get services like personal care, preparing food, home repairs, and modifications to stay in their homes. While these Iowans are waiting, they may be forced to go without care, pay for services out of their own pockets, end up in the emergency room, or stay in a more expensive institutional setting.  It’s time we commit to clearing the waiting lists so that 20,468 Iowans with disabilities can receive services.

Affordable childcare for childcare workers

Many Iowans cannot afford to work in a childcare setting while also having to pay for childcare for their children. Given Iowa’s severe childcare worker shortage, the state should partner with childcare providers to make childcare affordable for workers in this essential industry.

Rather than fighting the endless culture wars and creating more division, House Democrats believe we should work together to support Iowans and improve their lives.

Governor’s AEA Bill Stalls in House, Moves Forward in the Senate

Instead of listening to the thousands of Iowans who have spoken out against changes to Iowa’s Area Education Agencies (AEAs), Governor Kim Reynolds is still pushing her bill that would cut mental health, disability, behavioral, and reading recovery services to kids in public, private, and home schools.

Currently, school districts are partnered with the AEAs and divert their federal and state special education funds to the agencies. Under the Governor’s proposed bill, critical services provided by AEAs would be eliminated, and other services. In addition to special education, which would now put it under the control of the Governor in Des Moines, services provided range from grief counseling following a school shooting, most recently in Perry, to providing early access services to infants and toddlers with disabilities.

While the bill is on pause in the Iowa House, it did pass a Senate subcommittee and it could be debated in the Senate Education Committee as early as Wednesday, February 7. Iowans have time to keep the pressure on Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate to let them know how important AEAs are to our students.

Capitol and Community Updates

MORE INVESTMENTS IN AFFORDABLE HOUSING: To help build more affordable housing, a bill to provide more money to the State Housing Trust Fund has moved forward.

STRIPPING GENDER IDENTITY IN CIVIL RIGHTS ACT HALTED: A Republican proposal to remove gender identity as a protected class in the Iowa Civil Rights Act failed to advance.

IOWA LIQUOR LAW CHANGES IN THE WORKS: New legislation that would make it easier to get beer and liquor delivered directly to a person’s home is being considered by lawmakers.

CARRIE CHAPMAN CATT AWARD: Iowa high schools are encouraged to participate in a voter registration program to help register eligible 17 and 18-year-olds to vote.

KEEPING OUR SCHOOLS SAFE FROM FALSE REPORTING: A proposal hopes to combat hoax public safety threats to law enforcement. Last year, 89 false threats were investigated in Iowa.

NEW TRAINING FOR COUNTY VETERANS OFFICERS: County Veteran Officers will now receive more funding to attend national training under a new bill.

WATER QUALITY PROJECT MONEY: The state offers no-interest loans for water quality improvement projects through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund.

2024 LATINOS UNIDOS OF IOWA SCHOLARSHIP AVAILABLEApplications for scholarships to Latino students studying at Iowa colleges and universities.