Bob Kressig Newsletter January 26, 2023

Bob Kressig Newsletter
Greetings to you all,

Monday was an extremely eventful day, as we debated the school voucher bill for over 5 ½ hours. I voted “no” and spoke of the impact of this bill on Iowa students and it’s limit to all students within the state and their ability to receive a quality education. Only 42 of Iowa’s 99 counties have a private school and each of those private schools is able to pick and choose the students they want to attend their school. Following this debate, the bill was signed into law.

Along with the school voucher bill debate, my clerk, Campbell Stepan started her first day. She received the full capital experience, as she navigated through a very active House Chamber day. Campbell is a Third-Year student, studying Public Relations and Strategic Political Communications at Drake University.  I look forward to working with her in the current session!

On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to meet with a group advocating for Reproductive Justice. Reproductive Justice is the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy. Hopefully, they are able to protect their rights.

Another incredible group I was able to meet with today were the members of the UNI Student Government. They are advocating for adequate funding for UNI and making sure that mental health care is accessible for all students. Thanks for their advocacy.

In the Statehouse Newsletter, you will find information about:

  • Despite Strong Opposition from Iowans, Vouchers Now Law
  • Iowa Speaker Sponsors Bill to Cut Food Assistance, Prevents People from Buying Iowa Meat and Vegetables
  • Report Shows Iowa One of Worst States to Work
  • Become a Precinct Election Worker

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

Jan 28 wcf symphony Music Lab: Percussion
Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center Lobby, 10am, 319-273-4849

Jan 28 UNI Wrestling vs Oklahoma State
McLeod Center, 7pm, 319-273-4849

Jan 29 Double Whammy Iowa Games & UNAA Ninja Warrior Competition
Ninja\U, 8am, 319-224-0836

Jan 29 UNI Wrestling vs Oklahoma
McLeod Center, 2pm, 319-273-4849

Feb 1 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Drake
McLeod Center, 6pm, 319-273-4849

Feb 3 Jazz at the Black Hawk: Simon Harding & Bob Washut
Black Hawk Hotel, 7:30pm, 319-277-1161

Feb 3 UNI Wrestling vs Cal Baptist
McLeod Center, 7pm, 319-273-4849

Feb 4 UNI Men’s Basketball vs Bradley
McLeod Center, TBA, 319-273-4849

Feb 4 ICE Harvest Festival
McLeod Center, 7pm, 319-273-4849

Feb 4 wcf symphony Concert: Creation Du Monde
Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, 7pm, 319-273-4849

Feb 5 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Indiana State
McLeod Center, 2pm, 319-273-4849

Feb 10 UNI Wrestling vs Iowa State
McLeod Center, 7pm, 319-273-4849

Despite Strong Opposition from Iowans, Vouchers Now Law

Despite Iowans speaking out in record numbers in opposition, the Iowa House and Senate Republicans approved the Governor’s voucher bill that takes away resources from public schools and gives it to private schools instead.

In just two short weeks, Iowans registered in strong opposition to vouchers through thousands and thousands of emails, calls, and visits to the State Capitol.

Over 10,000 Iowans signed a petition before the bill came up for a vote and cited a variety of reasons in opposition, but most centered around too many kids being left behind. There was especially strong opposition in rural areas because 75 percent of public schools are in rural areas without any access to private schools.

According to fiscal estimates received just hours before debate, the voucher plan costs $108 million the first year and almost $1 billion in less than five years. To put that in perspective, the state’s annual budget is $9.4 billion.

Opponents argued that every kid in Iowa deserves a world-class education regardless of their zip code, and public money belongs in public schools where all kids are accepted, as opposed to private schools that pick and choose the kids they want to take. Local elected citizen volunteers oversee public schools, whereas private schools do not have the same mandated requirements for accountability and transparency.

The bill specifically states that the vouchers will not place any undue burden on the private schools for accountability or standards. Public schools, for example, protect kids’ safety by requiring background checks for educators, but private schools do not.

Many Iowans were frustrated that the bill was rushed through the Iowa Legislature without the appropriate time for such an expensive proposal to be analyzed carefully. The Governor proposed the measure just 12 days prior to signing the bill, and key legislative leaders skipped two key fiscal committees that ensure bills considered by lawmakers are financially responsible.

While the Governor has introduced similar bills in the past, her voucher bill approved this year was expanded to include wealthy kids and families already attending private schools.  With those income limits removed, millionaires in big cities will be receiving an additional $100,000 per kid of our public tax dollars. That change also significantly increased the total cost of the bill to almost a billion in the first four years.

House Democrats listened to Iowans and even shared many of Iowans’ stories on the floor of the Iowa House during debate. They pledged to keep fighting for Iowa’s public school kids.

After the majority party in the House and Senate approved House File 68 on Monday, the Governor signed the bill on Tuesday. There were 12 Republican lawmakers who joined Democratic lawmakers and also voted against the bill.

Iowa Speaker Sponsors Bill to Cut Food Assistance, Prevents People from Buying Iowa Meat and Vegetables

It has been a tough few years for all of us and some families are still trying to get back on their feet from the pandemic. Currently, 300,000 Iowans are facing food insecurity, and one-third of that number are children. Food banks across the state have seen a massive influx of people needing food assistance, many who have never had to utilize these services before.

Instead of making sure Iowans have enough food, a bill co-sponsored by the Speaker of the Iowa House and other state republican lawmakers made national headlines this week. The bill not only takes away food from some of Iowa’s most vulnerable citizens, including children and seniors, it also bans families from purchasing items like canned fruits and vegetables, soup, sliced cheese, and even meat produced by Iowa farmers.

The bill, House File 3, has several provisions that restrict access to not only food, but also medical services. The bill would kick Iowans off the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by implementing an asset limit of $2,750 per household. That means that if a family is fortunate enough to have two vehicles to get to and from work, one of those vehicles would count against the asset limit. Vehicles are often essential towards maintaining employment, especially in the rural parts of the state. By including this asset test, the Majority Party is discouraging people from establishing a savings account for emergencies and would actually be keeping Iowans in poverty, not helping them out of it.

While the sponsors of the bill claim it’s about the state budget, SNAP is 100 percent federally funded, with a 50-50 cost share program for administration. The number of Iowans using SNAP benefits today is at a 14-year low.

Lawmakers should be working together to protect Iowa kids this session, not playing politics to punish Iowans who may need food or health care.

Report Shows Iowa One of Worst States to Work

A new report confirmed what too many Iowa workers are feeling these days: Iowa isn’t currently a friendly place to work. Workers continue to feel the brunt of Governor Reynolds’s policies that put corporations and the richest Iowans ahead of working Iowans.

According to a 2022 report by OXFAM, Iowa is 39th in the country overall, including ranking 37th in the nation for wage related policies in 2022. This puts Iowa behind every state in the region besides Kansas, and behind every state that shares a border with Iowa. House Democrats have long supported policies that make life and work better for everyday Iowans, by supporting their right to organize, making child care more affordable, and increasing wages.

The 2022 study uses wage policy, worker protections, and workers’ rights to organize to determine the rankings. Wage policies include things such as accommodations for pregnant workers, a heat safety standard for outdoor workers, and some form of paid sick leave.

Become a Precinct Election Worker

While the general election may be over, the need for poll workers for local elections remains. In a normal general election year, it can take up to 10,000 dedicated Iowans to make our elections run smoothly.

This year, several counties across the state will be holding local elections on March 7th, with statewide city and school board elections occurring in November. The work of a precinct election official includes: checking in voters, issuing them ballots, and answering questions that voters may have.

In order to be a poll worker, the interested person must be a registered voter, at least 17 years old, be a resident of the county, and complete the required training.

Those interested in getting paid and serving their state can get more information here:

Other Iowa News

EMERALD ASH BORER SPREADS IN IOWA: The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has recently been discovered in Monona, Osceola, and Woodbury Counties. Iowans are asked to take precautions to prevent the spread of EAB by not transporting firewood across counties. EAB is an invasive wood-boring beetle that kills ash trees. The beetle is native to East Asia and came to the U.S. through trees from the region. EAB was first discovered in Iowa in 2010 along the Mississippi River and has since moved westward into all but three counties. EAB is spread by humans through transporting firewood and buying ash trees grown in infested regions. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and local governments are working together to prevent the spread of EAB. Visit the DNR’s website for the recommended steps for preventing EAB at:

GROUNDWATER HAZARD STATEMENT STREAMLINING GOES INTO EFFECT: Following legislation passed last year, starting on February 15th the process of filing Groundwater Hazard Statements will be streamlined. In 2022, the Legislature no longer required a full Groundwater Hazard Statement to be filed if there is no condition present on a property that is considered a hazard. Instead of having to fill out the full statement if no hazard is found, the Legislature allowed just a statement to be included that there is no private burial site, well, solid waste disposal site, underground storage tank, hazardous waste, or private sewage disposal system on the property. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) rules implementing this change will go into effect next month. The DNR’s updated rules include new forms and provide a procedure for county recorders to submit these statements to the DNR. The updated form can be found at: The full DNR rulemaking on the changes can be found at:

DO YOU KNOW ABOUT IOWA’S INTERNATIONAL TRADE OFFICE? The International Trade Office (ITO) is housed in the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) and provides various services to Iowa companies interested in, or currently involved in exporting goods and products. The ITO hopes to work with more Iowan companies to surpass the $18 billion in manufactured goods and agricultural products that were exported in 2020. In addition to individual assistance with items such as documentation and logistical assistance with international trade fairs, the ITO has programs that provide financial support to increase export sales and the number of exporting companies. They also hold training sessions on topics such as finance, documentation and marketing. More information about the ITO and the services that they provide can be found at: