On Tuesday, I met with Exceptional Persons, Inc. Exceptional Persons, is a private non-profit charitable organization. At EPI, they foster active community participation of the individuals and families we serve while respecting and encouraging their preferences and choices. They came to speak to me in order to close the gap between Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) and other entry level jobs. A DSP is an individual who provides necessary supports to people with disabilities of all ages including employment related support. DSPs are one of the largest and fastest growing professions out their today, yet they lack good financial support in order to attract and keep quality DSPs. I completely support this issue and hope to see more financial aid given to this profession and organizations such as EPI.
Rep. Kressig and Rep. Brown-Powers with representatives from Exceptional Persons, Inc today. (EPI) speaking on closing the gap for Direct Support Professionals (DSPs).
Along with meeting groups from around the state, I met with some from across the globe. Officials from India visited the Capital today to speak to me about trade and a bunch of other issues. It was exciting to speak to these officials from India and hear about the differences and similarities which our countries share with one another. This discussion was insightful and it was great speaking to them.
Rep. Kressig and Rep. Jacoby speak to officials from India regarding trade
I met with a group from Dubuque this week talking about continuing the Historic Tax Credit. This program gives tax credits to developers who “sensitively rehabilitate” historic buildings bringing them back to life in order to keep the unique and vibrant qualities these building bring to Iowa from disappearing. We had discussions about the positive impacts that the tax credit has on communities and the State. I learned a lot about this important topic and look forward to seeing what comes next!
Rep. Kressig with a group from Dubuque discussing the positive impact the Historic Tax Credit has and is continuing to have on both Iowa and its communities.
On Wednesday, I was able to speak about Governor Reynolds realignment of state government. I spoke about the harm the changes will make to the department of the blind. My father was blind and we dealt with challenges of his loss of eyesight. We need to support our blind people of Iowa. Along with this, this bill will create a host of new problems which will only hurt Iowa. It will give the Governor control over currently independent offices and allow her to appoint people who lack the necessary knowledge and expertise. It will allow her to set up sweet-heart salaries for cabinet-level directors which will in turn taking away retirement and workplace protections. Furthermore, it will give the Attorney General expanded power to pursue political lawsuits over the top local county attorneys. At the end of the day, we need to put people over politics, not the other way around.
Rep. Kressig speaking out against Gov. Reynold’s government realignment bill and the harm it will cause on the department of the blind during debate.
In the Statehouse Newsletter, you will find information about:
Iowans Deserve a Government that Works for Them.
Job Boom Hits Nationally, while Iowa Job Growth Continues to Slow.
Bill Aims to Protect Consumer Data.
Same Pay for Same Work Benefits Families.
Safe Haven Law Expands Abandoned Newborn Protection..
School Employee Training for Seizures Passes the House
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!
Last year, Governor Kim Reynolds gave $1 million of taxpayer money to an out-of-state consulting firm to develop a plan to consolidate Iowa’s state government.
When the 1,600 page bill, Senate File 514, was introduced earlier this session, it was clear GOP leaders did not listen to any Iowans about how to make state government work better for them.
The Governor is calling this a “realignment,” but in reality, this bill is all about politics and consolidating her own power. Here are just a few examples:
Gives the Governor control over currently independent offices and agencies, and provides her more power to appoint friends who are not required to have experience or expertise.
Allows the Governor to set up sweetheart salary deals for her cabinet-level directors, while at the same time eliminating certain workplace and retirement protections for other employees.
Gives the Iowa Attorney General expanded powers to pursue political lawsuits over the top of local county attorneys.
Iowans deserve a government that works for them, and not special interests.
Job Boom Hits Nationally, while Iowa Job Growth Continues to Slow
This week, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the U.S. economy has added more than 12 million jobs, including 800,000 manufacturing jobs. The unemployment rate has fallen to 3.6 percent, the lowest in 54 years. The average hourly earnings climbed 4.6 percent compared to last year.
However, Iowa employers continue to struggle with filing positions locally. Iowa’s labor force participation rate remains down compared with January 2020, before the pandemic. Despite Iowa’s gross domestic product growth, the state ranks 30th nationally.
As Iowa’s population growth continues to trail behind other states, some Iowa policymakers and business leaders are looking to roll back child labor laws for younger Iowans to fill the employment gap instead of growing and diversifying the job market. Last week, the House majority party advanced legislation out of committee that drastically weakens Iowa’s current child labor protections, which could jeopardize Iowa businesses with federal labor regulations.
House File 647 would allow 14-and-15-year olds to work six-hour nightly shifts in industrial laundries, meat freezers, or on manufacturing lines; allow 16-and-17-year olds to serve alcohol at businesses with an alcohol retail license; and employers may recruit 14-18-year olds for a “work-based learning” program that could potentially include hazardous job requirements.
Two of the most extreme proposed changes to Iowa’s child labor laws include eliminating the Iowa Labor Commissioner’s authority to require work permits for minors in certain occupations and allowing the state new discretion to waive, reduce, or delay civil penalties if an employer violates any child labor law.
Iowa House Democrats will continue to fight for fair wages, benefits, and a safe working environment.
House File 647 passed the House Commerce Committee on a party line vote and is pending full House consideration.
Bill Aims to Protect Consumer Data
Many Iowans continue to be concerned about their personal information or data being sold, breached, or stolen.
This week, the House passed Senate File 262 which allows consumers to opt-out of companies selling their data. Under the bill, customers can submit a request to the company to confirm whether the company is processing their personal data, request the controller delete their personal data, obtain a copy of their personal data, or opt-out of the sale of personal data. The company must comply within 90 days of receiving the notice, and must also give customers a way to opt-out of personal data being sold to third party companies.
This bill applies to companies that control and process personal data of 100,000 or more customers and businesses who derive most of their revenue on the sale of personal data. Iowa’s Attorney General will investigate and enforce the provisions in the bill. Companies that do not comply will be subject to a civil penalty of $7,500. The bill now goes to the Governor and if signed, will become effective on January 1, 2025.
Same Pay for Same Work Benefits Families
Iowa women working full time are paid 79% on the dollar of what men earn – for the same job.
This year, March 14th was Equal Pay Day, which symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. Iowa is 32nd worst in state-by-state comparisons of the pay gap, with women earning $10,000 less than men, on average.
Nationwide, women on average earn just 83 cents for every dollar earned by men. For women who represent minority communities, the gap is even worse. “Equal Pay Day ” for black women doesn’t happen until July 27th, LGBTQ+ is June 15th, and coming in last, is Latina and Native women who will wait until December 30th, almost a full year to receive equal pay for equal work.
The needs of working families, from the costs of healthcare, childcare, food, and shelter have increased, but the wages and equity in the workplace has not kept up. Forty-one percent of women with children are the sole or primary breadwinner in the United States. Research has shown that hiring managers are less likely to employ mothers compared to women who don’t have kids. When employers do make an offer to a mother, they offer women with children a lower salary than they do other women.
Closing the gender pay gap could add billions of dollars in wage or salary income to Iowa’s economy and could decrease the number of Iowa women living in poverty at around 13 percent.
Safe Haven Law Expands Abandoned Newborn Protection
A law that was designed to protect abandoned newborns was expanded this month in the Iowa House.
The bill, House File 425, expands the locations where an individual can turn over an infant as part of the Newborn Safe Haven Act. The Newborn Safe Haven Act currently allows parents, or someone authorized by the parents, to leave an infant up to 90 days old at an institutional health facility or to a first responder who is responding to an emergency call. The person can only relinquish a newborn without fear of persecution for abandonment if the newborn is directly handed to someone at one of the eligible facilities or if the parent immediately calls the facility where they took the newborn.
This bill will now allow individuals who wish to remain anonymous to place the newborn in a safety device box, which will be located at some fire stations or emergency medical care provider locations. The safety device box is climate-controlled and required to have an alarm that sounds once the newborn is placed in it to alert the medical staff.
Iowa implemented the Safe Haven law in 2001, and since its inception, more than 50 infants have been relinquished to the state’s care.
The bill now goes to the Senate for approval.
School Employee Training for Seizures Passes the House
Under a new law, school employees will now be trained on a lifesaving course of action if a student is having a seizure.
House File 608 allows for a “Seizure Action Plan” that will be a written set of instructions to direct caregivers and staff actions to intervene in the event of a seizure emergency. All Iowa schools will now provide training to every school personnel on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of seizures, and the appropriate steps for seizure first aid.
Advocates, including those supporting students with epilepsy, have been trying to get such a bill passed for five years. Prior to school personnel administering a seizure rescue medication, the school is required to obtain from the student’s parent or guardian, a signed and dated authorization for the school registered nurse to administer medications.
The bill now heads to the Senate for debate.
Other Iowa News
DEPT. OF EDUCATION DIRECTOR HAS BEEN A PROPONENT OF VOUCHERS: After the current Department of Education Director Lebo resigned amidst a personnel decision lawsuit, the Governor has appointed Chad Aldis to be the new head of the department. Most recently Aldis was Vice President for Ohio policy at the Fordham Institute, a conservative education policy group. In Ohio, he worked and advocated for charter schools, and he served as the executive director of School Choice Ohio. Aldis has a law degree from Florida State, and is a native Iowan from Clinton.
STATE DROUGHT PLAN RELEASED: The Iowa Department of Natural Resources announced the drought plan has been finalized for the state. The drought plan is intended to help local governments and the state determine what to do in future droughts. The plan is intended to give statewide drought condition evaluations and provide risk assessment and mitigation measures. The plan creates five drought regions around the state. The regions will be each independently evaluated for four levels of drought: normal, drought watch, drought warning, or drought emergency. The Drought Coordinating Team will include the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The plan will be updated comprehensively every five years. The plan was developed over several years with input from state agencies as well as local governments and agricultural stakeholders. Meetings were held around the state to gather additional input on the plan. The development of the plan started during the summer of 2022, and input was collected throughout 2022 until the release of the plan. The full plan can be found at: iowadnr.gov/Portals/idnr/uploads/files/2023-iowa-drought-plan.pdf.