Keeping Training and Education Affordable After High School
With help wanted signs out and so many businesses of all sizes struggling to find workers, Iowa is facing a critical workforce shortage.
While it’s true we need more people to come to Iowa, it’s also essential that our students get the skills or education they need to fill open jobs.
Most jobs today require some training or education after high school, so the Iowa Legislature should make sure job training and higher education is affordable for every student in Iowa.
Over the last decade, the opposite has happened. Tuition at Iowa’s community colleges has risen almost 70 percent, while tuition at Iowa’s three state universities has gone up as much as 25 percent. This fall, the Iowa Board of Regents, which governs Iowa State University, University of Iowa, and University of Northern Iowa, has approved another 4.25 percent increase.
Those rising costs have left Iowans with more debt and have even prevented Iowans from getting the skills they need to land a good job.
With students now paying about $300 more per year under the new tuition rates of 2022, it remains to be determined if additional cuts to programs or services will be needed - despite these tuition increases placed on students and their families.
House Democrats are committed to making sure that every Iowa student has access to affordable job training and higher education after graduation.
Recognizing Iowa Workers at Labor Day Celebrations
From better wages to the weekend to safe working conditions, all Iowans benefit from the hard work of the labor movement over the years. On Monday, September 5th, we will again recognize the women and men who work in our factories, our hospitals, our restaurants, our cities, our schools, and everywhere that a service or product is produced or sold.
Labor Day has its roots in trade union celebrations in the 19th Century. Unions began choosing days to celebrate each year, and these celebrations grew until states began recognizing the days as state holidays. These celebrations spread nationwide with many states adopting the holiday. By the time congress passed Labor Day legislation, 23 states already had celebrations.
While we’ve made great progress in the last century improving the lives of workers, it’s important to recognize the new challenges Iowa workers face today. Too many Iowa families are being squeezed by growing income inequality and wages that aren’t keeping up with the rising costs of raising a family. We need to ensure that all hardworking Iowans have a say in their own workplace.
To find Labor Day events near you visit: iowaaflcio.org/labor-day-events.
Applications Open for Legislative Page Program
Each year the Iowa Legislature employs Iowa high school juniors and seniors to serve as Legislative Pages. Positions are now open for the Legislative Page program and students are encouraged to apply to learn more about the legislative process during the 2023 Legislative Session. Legislative Pages provide invaluable assistance to representatives and staff at the Iowa State Capitol building.
The Iowa House Chief Clerk’s office will be accepting applications until Friday, October 14, 2022. Guidelines to the program include:
For more details on the page program and how to apply go to, legis.iowa.gov/careers.
- Students must be 16 years of age by January 3, 2023
- Parental permission is required to participate in this program
- Uniforms are provided
- Living arrangements are unsupervised and must be found on their own
- Students are responsible for transportation to and from the State Capitol
- This is a paid position and excused absences are permitted
- Students are expected to be able to handle any school responsibilities
Public Hearing Held on Repealing Firearm Background Checks
Last week, the Iowa Secretary of State’s office held a public hearing to allow Iowa voters a chance to comment on a proposed constitutional amendment ballot summary relating to the repeal of firearm background checks that will be considered this November.
The ballot summary states the following:
Provides that the right of the people of Iowa to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The sovereign state of Iowa affirms and recognizes the right to keep and bear arms as a fundamental right. Any and all restrictions of this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.
During the hearing, Iowans from every corner of the state expressed concerns that the Secretary of State’s ballot summary is deliberately vague and inadequately explains the term “strict scrutiny” and its far-reaching consequences to the public.
“Strict scrutiny” is the most severe form of judicial analysis when ruling on challenges to firearm-related laws, rules, and regulations. Iowa judges would be forced to apply the highest judicial standard when analyzing any firearm-related laws, something that is not even required by the U.S. Supreme Court.
If adopted, “strict scrutiny” will apply to any firearm “restrictions” and could overturn even the most common-sense firearm regulations. This term also directly threatens Iowa’s current laws that keep firearms out of domestic abusers and underaged individuals’ hands.
A state constitutional amendment is not like passing a law – something that can be changed if leaders come together and realize the danger posed to the public. If this amendment becomes part of the state constitution, there is very little Iowa lawmakers and judges may do to reverse the consequences.
Iowa House Democrats support Iowans second amendment rights, which are already protected under the U.S. Constitution. This ballot measure will exceed U.S. Constitutional gun rights and place the lives of Iowans at risk.
Protecting Iowans’ Reproductive Rights
Every Iowan should have the right to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions, and a majority of Iowans think so as well. A recent Des Moines Register poll that found that 60 percent of Iowans believe that abortion should be legal in most cases.
Instead of listening to a majority of Iowans, Governor Reynolds recently asked the Polk County District court to overturn their injunction stating the 6-week ban passed by Republican lawmakers 2018 could not be enforced. If the injunction is lifted, the 6-week abortion ban could go into effect immediately, which will limit almost all abortions because women rarely know they are pregnant before that time.
In late June of this year, the federal Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe vs. Wade, which sent the question of abortion rights up to each individual state. Right now, in Iowa, abortion is still legal up to 20-weeks of pregnancy.
Iowa House Democrats believe that everyone deserves the right to make their own health care decisions, especially when it comes to abortion access. In 1977, Democrats in the Iowa Legislature codified Roe v. Wade into Iowa law, which was signed by Republican Governor Robert Ray.
New Construction at Regent Universities
Many alumni or supporters are proud of our Iowa public universities. The Iowa Legislature and House Democrats have made investments in the infrastructure on campuses to make sure the needs of today’s college students are being met.
Some of the major projects include the Student Innovation Center and Veterinary Diagnostic Lab at Iowa State, the Industrial Tech building at Northern Iowa, and the Long Hall Renovation at the University of Iowa. The renovations are a great investment to make sure our universities remain world class institutions that attract not only Iowans but students across the globe.
In the most recent budget year, the General Assembly appropriated more than $57 million for building projects, after investing more than $36 million the previous year.
Other Iowa News
INVASIVE SPOTTED LANTERNFLIES FOUND IN IOWA: Iowans are asked to be on the lookout for insects known as the Spotted Lanternfly. The insect is not native to the U.S. and is considered an invasive and destructive species that can seriously impact the country’s grape, orchard, nursery, and logging industries. Two spotted lanternflies were found in Dallas County this summer. If Iowans find the insect, they are asked to report it to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. More information can be found online, iowatreepests.com/slf_home.html.
ATTORNEY GENERAL STOPS COMPANIES FROM SOLICITING IOWA FARMERS: This week, the Attorney General’s (AG) office announced three out-of-state companies that solicited rural Iowa landowners with below market value land purchase offers through the mail have agreed to cease their business in Iowa. Several complaints were made to the Attorney General’s office during late 2021 and early 2022 that unsolicited land purchase agreements were mailed by CRT Acres, Land Acquisitions, and Westward Land Holdings. These solicitations included a proposed “Purchase Agreement” and offered an amount to buy the property at a small fraction of the fair market value. The recipients were invited to sign and return the offer to the company for acceptance. Iowa’s farmland averaged $9,400 an acre this year, a 21 percent increase from 2021 per this month’s USDA Land Values report. The Iowa AG alleged these companies were in violation of the Consumer Fraud Act as their business model constitutes “unfair conduct and reminds Iowans to be wary of land grab proposals that provide low-ball offers to buy rural Iowa farmland.” Iowans who have a similar report should contact the Iowa Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at email@example.com or (515) 281-5926.
DROUGHT EXPANDS ACROSS STATE AFTER DRY JULY: Drought conditions across the state continued to expand and worsen as July’s precipitation total was lower than average. The total July precipitation was 0.78 inches below normal at 3.39 inches total, and some areas of the state saw rainfall 4 inches below normal. Sixty percent of the state is now considered abnormally dry or in drought. This is an increase of 10 percent from the beginning of July. Streamflow across the state are generally considered normal, but there are areas of low streamflow in specific watersheds. Groundwater levels were generally normal across the state, but some areas are exhibiting increased water stress and declining levels. In July, the Iowa Department of Homeland Security held a Drought Preparedness Stakeholder meeting. Several state agencies sought input from stakeholders to help develop a state drought preparedness plan. Additional stakeholder input meetings are intended to be held around the state. The Water Summary Update is published every two weeks or as conditions significantly change. Information on the Water Summary Update can be found at: iowadnr.gov/Environmental-Protection/Water-Quality/Water-Summary-Update.
I have been honored to represent all of you in house district 68 for this last session as well as those of you in my future senate district 37.
I thank you for your support as your State Representative, and I look forward to your continued support as I work to become your new State Senator next session.
I understand there are some who have a different opinion about the legislation and choices made on the floor, but I hope to keep communication lines open for all to continue to share their concerns with me.
It is my plan, as always, to work with everyone in the Capitol to better my district and the state. I look forward to bipartisan efforts that I know we will have to move Iowa forward. But I am also up for the fight to push for a better Iowa and different priorities for Iowans.
Please follow my Facebook page for updates on what’s happening around the district. I will do my best to kept events listed there over the coming months.
Go to the link below and like my legislative page to keep up to date:
As your representative, I am available throughout the year for questions, concerns, and suggestions. Please contact me if you have any concerns, questions, or comments:
It is truly an honor to serve you and I am looking forward to what the future brings in senate district 37 in 2022.