Follow what's happening
The Iowa Legislature will resume our 2020 session at 9 a.m. Wednesday. We suspended the session in March in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Since then, nearly every aspect of our lives—at home, work, school, worship and play—has changed dramatically. More than 20,000 Iowans have been infected with the virus, and more than 550 Iowans have lost their lives. A record number of Iowans have filed for unemployment, and thousands have had their paychecks reduced.
The list of stressors Iowans face right now is lengthy. We deserve honest leadership to safely guide us through these trying times.
State leaders must be laser-focused on solutions that address Iowans’ concerns; use available resources to protect education, health care and employment security; and press our federal delegation to provide continued assistance that meets Iowa’s unique needs.
When we reconvene, my top priorities will be:
- Passing a balanced budget based on the latest revenue estimates.
- Fighting for the short-term and long-term needs of Iowans, businesses and communities impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
- Pushing for laws to address racial inequities in Iowa. Many bills have been proposed. I’m hopeful that recent events will motivate all legislators to act.
I encourage you to follow what’s happening at the Statehouse and offer your input:
- Get information on each day’s schedule and the bills to be taken up, as well as a live stream of Senate action, at legis.iowa.gov.
- At facebook.com/iowasenatedemocrats, we will provide updates on the session, and share videos, photos, news and additional resources.
- Our caucus website, senate.iowa.gov/democrats, will have bill summaries, news releases and relevant analysis.
- To share your concerns and ideas, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ACTING ON YOUR PANDEMIC PRIORITIES
Thank you to all who took our Coronavirus Impact Survey. Your responses have helped Senate Democrats develop our COVID-19 Recovery Agenda.
These charts give you a glimpse of Iowans’ survey responses:
It’s clear from the responses to these questions and the additional comments provided by many, that most Iowans have sacrificed a lot, and they are doing what they can to stay healthy and stop the spread of the virus. Iowans are concerned about transparency and want straight-forward, easy-to-find information to protect your families, do their jobs and live their lives responsibly. You also want to know that your hard-earned tax dollars are being spent wisely.
When the Legislature gets back to business, I’ll be pushing for a recovery plan that addresses these concerns by:
Keeping Iowans healthy through:
- Affordable health care and mental health care
- Access to COVID testing, contact tracing and protective equipment
- Free coronavirus vaccinations when they’re available
- Support for local and regional mitigation efforts
Opening businesses and protecting workers:
- Testing returning workers, and retesting at workplaces when an employee tests positive
- Expanding whistleblower protections, workers compensation and paid sick leave during pandemics
- Enhancing protections for renters and homeowners during severe economic downturns
- Developing more community college opportunities to help Iowans get back to work
Ensuring safe learning environments:
- Giving schools and families timely guidance on reopening
- Expanding access to technology and home-based Internet for students
- Providing protective equipment for educators and students
- Increasing child care options throughout the state
Increasing transparency and accountability
- Expanding vote-from-home opportunities
- Providing oversight of Test Iowa and other no-bid contracts
- Requiring public notification of COVID outbreaks
- Ensuring OSHA inspections and enforcement during health care emergencies
To end racial disparities
Problems that have plagued our nation and state for generations are demanding attention, especially following the death of George Floyd, a black man killed last week by police in Minneapolis.
Iowans and Americans everywhere are coming together to say “enough is enough.” It’s time that our actions condemn hate and racism. It’s time that our actions advance equality and justice for all.
There is so much work to be done here in Iowa, but we don’t need to start from scratch. Many bipartisan bills have been proposed and are just waiting to be called up by legislative leaders.
We can start right away by passing criminal justice reforms before the Legislature adjourns the 2020 session. Iowa has significant disparities in arrests and incarceration of black citizens—only 4% of Iowa’s population is black, but more than 25% of our prison population is black.
There is strong bipartisan support to restore voting rights to felons who’ve served their sentences. Many of these Iowans have returned home; they’re working, paying taxes and contributing to their communities. They’ve served their time and deserve to participate in their government.
HJR 14 would amend the Iowa Constitution to do just that. The resolution passed the Iowa House during the 2019 session, 95-2. In the Senate, unfortunately, it stalled in Judiciary Committee.
We have a lot of work ahead of us to ensure all Iowans are truly free. We must fix unequal treatment under the law, curb racial profiling and improve community policing. We need to address health disparities, income inequality, educational opportunities, access to voting and more.
Senate Democrats are ready to make racial justice a reality for all Iowans.
NEWS YOU CAN USE
Get the help you need in trying times
It’s normal to be stressed and anxious during uncertain times, and 2020 has presented us with plenty of uncertainty!
If you’re struggling, don’t go it alone. There are many free resources available for all Iowans.
Free counseling is available to any Iowan affected, in any way, by the COVID-19 public health emergency. Counseling, through COVID Recovery Iowa, is offered via virtual sessions, chat or phone. People of all ages can join online groups to find support and learn new coping strategies.
Iowans can access services by:
- Calling 800-447-1985 to connect with a counselor specializing in rural issues and agriculture 24/7.
- Calling the Iowa Warm Line, 844-775-9276, to connect with a peer counselor or request a COVID Recovery Iowa counselor.
- Submitting a contact form at COVIDrecoveryiowa.org. A counselor will get back to you.
Additional mental health crisis services
- Disaster Distress Helpline (SAMHSA): Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Link): Call 800-273-8255 or Chat with Lifeline
- Crisis Textline (Link): Text HOME to 741741
- Veterans Crisis Line (VA): Call 800-273-8255; Text 838255
- Your Life Iowa (Link): Call (855) 581-8111; Text (855) 895-8398
If you need immediate assistance, contact the Iowa Victim Service Call Center at 1-800-770-1650 or text IOWAHELP to 20121. Helpline and textline services are available in English and Spanish.
Eviction and foreclosure help
A new program will provide short-term relief to income-eligible renters and homeowners at risk of eviction or foreclosure because of a loss of income related to COVID-19.
For more information or to apply for the COVID-19 Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Program, go to iowafinance.com/covid-19-iowa-eviction-and-foreclosure-prevention-program.
If you are at immediate risk of eviction or foreclosure and need legal assistance, Iowa Legal Aid may be able to assist you at no cost. Call them at 800-332-0419.
Eviction Info for non-payment of rent
Free fishing weekend
Iowa residents can try fishing without buying a license on June 5, 6 and 7 as part of the annual free fishing weekend sponsored by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. It’s a great time for kids to get started.
Find a list of stocked lakes and ponds that are easily accessible in parks and along trails on the Iowa DNR’s interactive Iowa Community Fisheries Atlas at iowadnr.gov/Fishing/Fish-Local.
Get tips for taking kids fishing and catching crappie and bluegills at iowadnr.gov/Fishing/Ready-to-Fish.