The unfavorable winter weather continues throughout the state, and some lawmakers are worried about making it home for the weekend. Poor road conditions also make it hard for constituents who want to visit the Capitol.
Wednesday was Veteran’s Day here on the Hill, and although the crowd was pretty good, it was definitely smaller than in previous years. Also, there were several community college groups who could not make the trip to Des Moines because of slick roads.
The Iowa Pork Producers are in town this week as well, so I hope their turnout will not be hurt too much by the weather.
Since this is only the second week of the session, we have had no floor debate. Bills are being read in and assigned to committees, so the pace is beginning to quicken. We are spending most of our time in committee meetings with an occasional caucus thrown in.
Since we have no bills ready for floor debate, I thought I would provide you with some background information on a couple of issues Legislators are discussing, and that were mentioned by the Governor in her Condition of the State speech.
We have been talking about workforce issues for several years. One of the greatest barriers to entering the workforce is the availability and affordability of childcare. Over the last five years, Iowa has lost 40% of its childcare businesses, and it is estimated there is a shortfall of more than 350,000 childcare slots across the state. The childcare problem affects families and the economy.
It is estimated that Iowa is missing out on $675 million in annual Gross Domestic Product because of a shortage of employees. Another issue that impacts families is the childcare cliff effect which often discourages someone from taking a small raise or promotion at work for fear of losing their childcare assistance.
The Governor has proposed raising income levels of eligibility from $45,000 to $90,000 for childcare tax credits. She has also proposed changing some definitions which will make more children eligible for assistance. Our caucus is going to continue working on this issue throughout the coming weeks.
In 2019 Iowa was tested by historic floods on both sides of the state. In some areas, entire communities were wiped out. I visited with one of my fellow lawmakers from Southwest Iowa and he said in some places, the water has still not receded. We know how much damage was done in our area, but in some locations, broken levees have not been repaired. If these repairs are not made soon, we will see more flooded fields and the closure of Instate 29 again.
Therefore, the Governor has proposed another $20 million be appropriated for flood relief. We need to get this money flowing quickly to prevent further devastation.
You may reach me at the Capitol during the week by phoning me at 515-281-3221, or home at 712-434-5880. You may write me at the State Capitol, Des Moines, Iowa 50319.
My home address is P. O. Box 398, Aurelia, Iowa 51005. If you have email, please contact me at [email protected]