2022 Legislative Session Starts, Fixing Workforce Crisis Top Priority for Lawmakers
The 2022 Iowa Legislative Session opened on Monday at the State Capitol. A top priority of Democratic lawmakers this year is rewarding the hard work of Iowans and addressing Iowa’s workforce crisis.
Iowa is facing a workforce crisis and too many Iowans have been left behind as our economy recovers. The Legislature must stay focused on taking bold steps to grow our workforce and keep the next generation in Iowa.
Our plan to address Iowa’s workforce crisis includes: affordable and accessible child care; lowering the cost of healthcare, while putting more money in the pockets of everyday Iowans; boosting wages and benefits for working folks; increasing affordable housing; and returning to Iowa’s roots in strong public schools.
The 2022 session is expected to end on April 19. Iowans can log on to legis.iowa.gov to watch livestreams of legislative action, including committee meetings and debate.
We Want to Hear from You
Lawmakers are still asking for feedback from Iowans and requesting they participate in a brief survey about the upcoming legislative session. Complete the survey here and share your views.
Democrats Double Iowa’s Energy Assistance Program
Iowa families that might be struggling with home heating costs this winter will see some additional relief this year thanks to President Biden and Iowa Democrats. Another $128 million in Low-Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) is now available to Iowans, more than doubling the amount available last year.
Despite opposition from the Governor and Iowa Republican lawmakers, the new funding will help close the energy assistance funding gap. This is the highest amount Iowa has ever received.
In a speech earlier this week, the Governor did not outline any plans to address increased utility costs.
Iowa homeowners and renters at or below 200% of federal poverty guidelines are eligible for the program. Those needing help with past-due utility bills, avoiding shut-offs, or keeping current on expenses can apply for home energy assistance at and learn more at: humanrights.iowa.gov/dcaa/where-apply.
Governor’s Budget Proposal Leaves Working Families Behind
For frustrated Iowans who are being left behind in Iowa’s economic recovery, Governor Reynolds offered little to alleviate their worries in her annual budget address before the Iowa Legislature this week.
Instead of constructive ideas to grow Iowa’s workforce, the Governor introduced another tax break for corporations and millionaires while also proposing to shift money from public schools to private schools through vouchers.
While lawmakers all agree surplus tax dollars should be returned to Iowans, Democratic lawmakers said they want to make sure tax dollars are returned to the middle class and working families.
A top priority of lawmakers, the Governor did not offer any solutions to raise wages across the state or lure more workers to Iowa. Right now, less than 30 percent of jobs available in Iowa pay a living wage for a family of four and Iowa has the second-lowest family income of all our neighboring states.
While there are some areas of agreement in the budget, lawmakers will be reviewing the proposals over the next few months as they develop their own budget plans for the state.
Chief Justice Highlights Improvements to Courts and Justice for Families
Chief Justice Susan Christensen delivered the Condition of the Judiciary to the Legislature this week focusing on the delivery of justice, and accomplishments of the courts over the last year for juveniles and Iowa families.
The Chief Justice expressed that Iowa is a leader in research and access to justice. She noted that the courts have developed a comprehensive educational program for all judges and judicial branch employees that includes key components on race and disproportionality.
Chief Justice Christensen addressed efforts to improve juvenile justice. The Judicial Branch has recently established a Juvenile Justice Task Force to do a holistic review of the juvenile justice system in the state. The task force includes voices from every step of juvenile justice in the state.
The Iowa Courts System is also committed to continued implementation of Family First Program, which is based on the belief that keeping kids with their families is the best option. The courts have focused on reducing removals of kids from their homes and Iowa’s program has been recognized by other states at reducing the number of moves of kids in the state’s foster care system.
More Iowa News
INSURANCE WILL NOW COVER AT-HOME COVID TESTS: Thanks to the Biden Administration, insurance companies and group plans will be required to cover the cost of up to eight over-the-counter home COVID-19 tests per person per month beginning January 15, 2022. These at-home tests will need to be authorized, cleared, or approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). For a list of approved testing kits, visit: fda.gov/medical-devices/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-emergency-use-authorizations-medical-devices/in-vitro-diagnostics-euas-antigen-diagnostic-tests-sars-cov-2. These tests can be found at various chain pharmacies like Hy-Vee, Walgreens, and CVS. Be sure to call a location close to you first to ensure tests are in stock.
IOWA HISTORY 101 SERIES: The State Historical Society of Iowa is putting on one-hour virtual programs to tell the stories of Iowa history. For 2022, nine new Iowa History 101 online presentations are scheduled from now through the end of March. The programs are free but do require a registration. Information about upcoming programs and to register visit, iowaculture.gov/history/iowa-history-101-series.
MORE CHANGES TO UNEMPLOYMENT: Starting this week, Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) is implementing changes to unemployment benefits. Career planners with the Reemployment Case Management (RCM) program will begin to reach out to those receiving unemployment benefits in the first week of unemployment. The goal of the career planners is to help unemployed Iowans with training and educational opportunities in high-demand careers. Most people receiving unemployment benefits will be required to meet with a career planner to continue to receive benefits. IWD is also increasing the number of weekly work search or reemployment activities a person must do, from two to four. They have narrowed the list of what counts as a reemployment activity down to twelve items. Members of a labor union will be excluded from these requirements due to Iowa law. More information on the new requirements can be found on IWD’s website, iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/rcm-faq?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery. These changes will not fix Iowa’s workforce crisis, as there are currently more job openings in Iowa than people looking for jobs. To address Iowa’s workforce crisis, lawmakers must remove barriers for Iowans to join the workforce, like accessible, affordable childcare and safe, good pay jobs.
HUMAN TRAFFICKING AWARENESS MONTH: A proclamation was signed designating January as Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention and Awareness month. The National Human Trafficking Hotline is a national anti-trafficking hotline serving victims and survivors of human trafficking and the anti-trafficking community. The toll-free hotline is available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year at 1-888-373-7888.