The Alons Archive by Senator Kevin Alons
We just finished week three in the Senate and the pace hasn’t slowed down with a wide range of issues to learn about, debate and potentially advance to law in Iowa. I met with, discussed and emailed many constituents on a variety of topics, met with an array of staffers, lobbyists and fellow member of the Iowa House and Senate, and read through an endless list of bills, opinions and commentary.
The big event was the passage of the Students First Act, otherwise known as school choice in Iowa. This important legislation has garnered a large amount of interest, both for and against, and I have previously commented on the pros and cons and the rationale for my support. Obviously not everyone is happy about what this bill will do with many predictions of doom and destruction for rural public schools – a prediction I do not share. I will be attending multiple forums this coming weekend where constituents will have opportunity to dialog about the new law.
I chaired my first bill, a nonpartisan rule change concerning controlled substances, to ensure the definitions, schedules and penalties for these dangerous substances remain current, relevant and aligned with federal definitions. It was a great chance to directly participate in the process and get more familiar with how it all works.
One of the committees I am assigned to is the newly formed Technology Committee, which fits well with my background as a software developer and database architect. There are several bills in the works that I will co-chair including a bill regarding personal data privacy and another defining ransomware being illegal in Iowa. We heard multiple presentations from multiple state offices, including the Office of the Chief Information Officer. Broadband is another important topic that continues to receive attention and funding in the state.
This week I met with a large number of Iowa citizens concerned about the use of eminent domain in conjunction with the multiple pipelines proposed to transport CO2 from ethanol plants out of the state for sequestration underground. Two of these pipelines are planned to traverse land residing in my Senate district and the projects are all “private for profit,” transporting a payload which is not directly consumed or utilized like electricity, natural gas, etc. I am not convinced the use of eminent domain is appropriate for these pipelines.
We all hear about the difficulty many businesses face finding qualified workers. The impacts of the lack of workers is felt far and wide, with many stopgap solutions proposed and considered. A couple things stand out to me, including a recent report from the Federal Reserve highlighting the large number of Americans who are now considered disabled (an increase of two million or close to 40% post pandemic) and the sharp increase in all-causes mortality in our state (most pronounced in the ages 35-44). My goal is to raise awareness of this crisis and further investigate the root causes.
Finally, this week marked the 50th anniversary of the infamous “Roe vs Wade” ruling that legalized abortion in the United States, which was ultimately reversed by the same Supreme Court less than a year ago. Fighting for the right to life for all Iowans is more important than ever, and I am thankful this important decision has been returned to each state.