Bob Kressig Newsletter March 30, 2023

Bob Kressig Newsletter
Greetings to you all,

The Second Funnel week has been in full swing, giving a second chance to some of the bills. The First Funnel week is when a bill will need to make it out of committee within the House or Senate in order to survive, otherwise, that bill is considered dead for this session. The Second Funnel week, requires a bill to pass out of either the House or the Senate chamber to stay alive for the session.  Keep an eye out to see which bills make it past this week!

Wednesday, I was able to meet with Brian Schoon from the Iowa Council of Government (ICOG), alongside Rep. Brown-Powers. We discussed the extremely important work that ICOG does for communities. This can include community planning, rural housing, grant writing, and public transportation, to name a few. They are the rural economic backbone of Iowa. They are your partner in rural economic development, planning and protecting in disaster recovery, and moving Iowa forward. It was great to hear from them and about the incredible work they have done so far!

Rep. Kressig and Rep. Brown-Powers standing alongside a representative from ICOG to discuss their integral role in Iowa.

I have been in committees discussing a variety of bills, but one stands out. In Transportation, we were able to pass SF 547, a bill that prohibits any use of an electronic device while driving. This includes holding, viewing, or manipulating any electronic device, but this does not include voice commands or single-touch uses. As a bicyclist myself, I understand the importance of such a bill and its survival, as I believe many other bicyclists do as well. This will help to protect a lot of people, but especially those of us who do not have the same protection as a car does. I’m happy with the outcome and I will continue to support bills such as these that help to protect both pedestrians and bicyclists.

I was able to meet with Kaye Englin from the Iowa Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa at the Capitol,  on Wednesday. We discussed the type of work that community foundations provide countrywide, as well as in Iowa specifically.  A community foundation is defined as “ a tax-exempt, charitable nonprofit organization established to serve a specific geographic region.” They work with donors to grow assets for the community through the donations given, they provide grants to help non-profit or charitable causes in the community, and they work as community leaders in order to help address some of the most pressing issues within the community. Iowa has over 130 community foundations that serve over 99 counties and 17 of those community foundations are nationally accredited. I love the work that these individuals are doing and what this organization does for the state!

Rep. Kressig and Sen. Giddens alongside Kaye Englin, a representative from the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa discussed the type of work that their non-profit does for communities

In the Statehouse Newsletter, you will find information about:

  • Rolling Back Child Labor Laws Will Put Iowa’s Kids at Risk.
  • Majority of Parents Against Statewide Book Banning.
  • Commercial Trucker Liability Limits Passed by House.
  • Making Prescription Medication Available and Affordable for All.
  • HANDS-FREE Driving Clears First Legislative Hurdle.

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 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

Apr 1 IOWAEATS | food & drink festival
Waterloo Convention Center, 11am, 319-234-4567

Apr 1-2 All the King’s Women
Oster Regent Theatre, Sat 7:30pm, Sun 2pm 319-277-5283

Apr 6 Hops – A Craft Beer Tasting Event
Cedar Falls Downtown District, 5:30pm 319-277-0213

Apr 10 Film Screening: Storm Lake
Tama Hall, Hawse Auditorium, HCC, 6pm, 319-296-4464

Apr 11 UNI Softball vs Drake
Robinson Dresser Sports Complex, 5pm, 319-273-4849

Apr 13 The Reminders
Tama Hall, Hawse Auditorium, HCC, 7pm, 319-296-4464

Apr 14-16 UNI Softball vs Southern Illinois
Robinson Dresser Sports Complex, Fri 5pm, Sat 2pm, Sun Noon,  319-273-4849

Apr 15 Trout Stocking Family & Kids Day
North Prairie Lake, 10am, 319-464-6223

Rolling Back Child Labor Laws Will Put Iowa’s Kids at Risk 

Rather than address our state’s labor shortage by offering fair wages and comprehensive benefits, Iowa Republican lawmakers are working on a bill to relax child labor laws, forcing younger Iowans to fill the employment gap by working dangerous or hazardous jobs.

House File 647 drastically weakens Iowa’s current child labor protections:

  • Allows 14-and-15-year-olds to work six-hour nightly shifts in industrial laundries, meat freezers, or manufacturing production lines;
  • Allows 16-and-17-year-olds to serve alcohol at establishments unsupervised;
  • Employers can now recruit 14-to-18-year-olds for a “work-based learning program” that may require hazardous job duties.

Some 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 that are currently required in more dangerous jobs. It also would allow the state new discretion to waive, reduce, or delay civil penalties if an employer violates any child labor law. Essentially, this would exempt employers from liability if these young workers are sickened, injured, or killed on the job.

Nationally, child labor law violations have seen a 37% increase in 2022, including 688 children working in hazardous conditions, with the number likely much higher as the recorded violations stem from labor inspections.

These protections were implemented to ensure children are working in age-appropriate work activities and abiding by age-appropriate working hours. This law transcends current jobs like helping on the farm, being a cashier, or working at the local ice cream shop.

Iowa House Democrats joined rallies, roundtables, and press conferences around the state last weekend to protect Iowa kids and fight for fairness in the workplace.

Majority of Parents Against Statewide Book Banning 

School library book bans continue to be at the forefront of the Republican agenda as conservative parents and lawmakers push to censor books, saying the material is inappropriate for children and should be removed from schools.

Despite a majority of Iowans opposing parental consent for books banned in other schools, Legislative Republicans continue to push legislation that would ban books from school libraries and classrooms that contain race, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Under the bill Senate File 496, age-appropriate books would only apply limitations to literature assignments and library books, but not to human growth and development textbooks in grades 7-12.  It’s still unclear what the final form of this ban will look like once through the committee process. Or if it will contain a Florida-style “black list” of books that would affect school libraries across the state that was originally proposed by Governor Kim Reynolds.

Book bans are a form of censorship, suppressing ideas and information. Each parent deserves the right to decide which books their child gets to read or not. Iowa’s public schools already have a process in place that allows any parent to request a book be removed from school.

The book bans are part of a national movement to censor books that discuss race, sexual orientation, and gender identity. More than 1600 book titles across 32 states were banned from public schools during the 2021-22 school year.

Iowans can leave a comment telling Iowa lawmakers to stop censoring books at:

Commercial Trucker Liability Limits Passed by House

A bill that limits the ability to sue commercial truckers, including capping damages at $5 million if a loved one is killed, was approved by Republican lawmakers this week.

Senate File 228 would create a cap on damages for accidents involving commercial vehicles for “noneconomic damages,” such as pain and suffering, physical impairment, and mental anguish for the surviving family. Provides civil liability protections for damages against the employer for negligent hiring of the employee if the employer stipulates that the employee’s actions were within their scope of employment.

With bipartisan opposition, the legislation passed the Iowa House on a vote of 58-42 and now returns to the Senate for approval of the changes made by the House.  If the Senate agrees to the changes, the bill will be sent to the Governor for final approval.

Making Prescription Medication Available and Affordable for All

With Americans paying two to three times more for prescription drugs than citizens in other countries, Iowa House Democrats are working with President Biden to finally lower prices.

Under a bill approved last fall by the President, Iowans are already noticing lower costs from allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices for seniors; capping the cost of insulin at $35 for seniors; making recommended vaccines free for Medicare beneficiaries; and requiring prescription drug companies to pay rebates to Medicare if they raise their prices faster than inflation.

There have been countless stories across the country, including Iowa, of people dying from rationing their insulin or not taking it altogether due to the high cost. After the bill was approved last year, the largest insulin manufacturer in the country, Eli Lilly, announced that they would be capping the cost of insulin for everyone who buys their products. Also, Novo Nordisk, a Danish drug maker, lowered the U.S. list price of some of their insulin products by up to 75%.

In a move to make prescription drugs more accessible to Iowans, the Iowa House Human Resources Committee considered legislation to make both epi-pens and self-administered birth control more accessible for all Iowans. Senate File 326 allows pharmacists to order and administer both of these medications without a prescription. This means that Iowans can go directly to a pharmacist for these medications, and not have to see a doctor first. This is especially important for rural areas of the state where there is a shortage of doctors, but usually a pharmacy close by.

Iowa House Democrats will continue to fight for affordable and accessible prescription medication for all.

Governor Wastes Millions of Iowa Tax Dollars

After years of development and controversy, Governor Reynolds unexpectedly terminated a multi-million-dollar contract with a technology company with deep ties to former members of the Governor’s staff.

After avoiding the state’s normal bidding procedures, the Governor signed a $40 million contract with Workday in 2019, a technology company specializing in human resources. In 2020, the Governor was forced to return more than $20 million in pandemic relief dollars when she improperly used relief dollars to pay Workday instead of helping Iowans during the pandemic.

It is unclear how much money is left of the more than $40 million that was awarded to Workday, and if the state had to pay a cancellation fee. To save taxpayer dollars, Democratic lawmakers called for the cancellation of the contract in 2021 as soon as it was discovered the normal bidding process was not followed. The state has signed a new contract with CGI, Iowa’s current vendor for enterprise software, to implement the cloud-based information technology infrastructure.

More Iowa News

HOME HEAT ASSISTANCE ENDS SOON: Iowa’s annual winter home heating moratorium ends on April 1, 2023. The Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) reminds energy assistance customers currently protected from service disconnection through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), to contact their local utility company immediately to discuss payment options and avoid disconnection that could begin as soon as April 3. Iowans should remember: consumers can still apply for LIHEAP through April 30, 2023; local community action agencies may have additional resources; and 211 Iowa is a resource for assistance with utility payments, housing, and other information that may provide financial relief to customers. IUB Customer Service staff is available to assist consumers with questions about utility service disconnection or other issues that are not resolved directly with their utility company. Call 877-565-4450 or email Additional information about low-income energy assistance is available on the IUB website LIHEAP page.

IOWA WESLEYAN COLLEGE TO CLOSE: Founded four years before Iowa became a state, Iowa Wesleyan College has provided higher education to students for 181 years. They are a non-profit private college and will close its doors after this school year due to financial issues. In an open letter provided to the community, Robert Miller, Chair of the Iowa Wesleyan Board of Trustees, pointed to increased operating costs and changing enrollment trends that led to this profound decision. He said there was a significant drop in philanthropic giving, and Governor Reynolds rejected a proposal for federal COVID funding. He stated that the decision to close, “will be deeply felt by everyone in our community and throughout Southeast Iowa.”  However, he provided that they have secured four teach-out agreements with William Penn University, Upper Iowa University, University of Dubuque, and Culver-Stockton College so students can complete their degrees. The Governor took a less consolatory tone in a statement, where she pointed to Iowa Wesleyan having a $26.1 million loan from the USDA, using their campus as collateral.

HANDS-FREE DRIVING CLEARS FIRST LEGISLATIVE HURDLE: To decrease distracted driving and the number of traffic deaths, this week the House Transportation Committee passed prohibiting the use of electronic devices while driving. Under Senate File 547 Iowans can still use electronic devices using voice commands or single touch to activate or deactivate the device.  Using an electronic device as a GPS is also allowed as long as the destination is entered before the car moves or the location is entered by voice commands. Non-navigational video content, video calls, video streaming, gaming, and reading messages are prohibited, however, there are exceptions for emergencies. The fine for not complying is a moving violation and a $100 fine.