State Sen. Zach Whiting (R-Dickinson) is returning to the legislature after his freshman year in 2019. Whiting said he feels ahead of where he was this time a year ago.
“The biggest difference for me going into year two versus year one is, when I first went in, I didn’t know where I was supposed to sit or where the pens were, let alone getting up to speed on all the policy that we consider,” he said. “This year I feel just having one year under my belt like I learned a lot and, more important for my constituents, I have a greater degree of confidence to help push for the issues that I’m passionate about and that they’re passionate about.”
Whiting said one of his goals in 2020 is to expand the scope of practice for PAs and optometrists.
“I think that helps increase access to quality health care for Iowans, in particular, rural Iowans,” he said. “Those two bills got hung up near the end of session. I am hopeful we can come together and pass each of those bills, whether separately or together, cleanly because I think those are good ways to increase access to care for Iowans.’
Whiting said the Senate passed a clean bill to expand the scope of practice for PAs unanimously, but it did not advance on expanding the scope of practice for optometrists.
“The House, on the other hand, wanted to work to expand the scope of practice for optometrists and attached it to the PA bill at the end of session,” Whiting said. “Procedurally, that gave some heartburn to members of the Senate. What I’d encourage everybody to do here is, let’s move forward with clean versions of both of those bills. I want both of them to pass, I just want to make sure we do it the right way and that one chamber doesn’t try to trump another chamber that didn’t otherwise take it up.”
Whiting said even though he supports the policy, he needs to also support the process.
“I just didn’t think the process by which they were joined was the right way,” he said. “We could’ve stuck our welfare reform bills on another must-pass bill, but we didn’t do that because that’s not the right thing. We should allow both chambers to independently debate them and come to the conclusion that, as a matter of policy, expanding the scope of practice for both is good. I hope we can get those over the finish line this year.”
Term limits is a popular issue among voters in Iowa. State Sen. Zach Whiting said he’ll push for term limits once again in 2020.
“I’m a term limits guy,” he said. “I want to establish term limits on state legislators, statewide offices and members of Congress. I’ve introduced a resolution to do that. There are some other resolutions out there on similar issues. But I think it’s very important that elected members, elected public servants, understand that their job is to serve the people for a period of time and then go home and live their life.”
Whiting called term limits a sensible check.
“The system, the institution will endure without them being there for 30 or 40 years in some cases,” he said. “We’ve seen that in the state legislature with folks who have been there for decades and we’ve seen examples of it in Congress in both parties.”
Whiting said he has a great deal of support and encouragement from his constituents on term limits.
“What we’ve run into is, there are a few people who are stirring the pot and presenting what I think is misinformation about term limits and the Article 5 process,” Whiting said. “That is giving some members of the legislature some pause on advancing it. So, what I want to do with that newfound confidence and ability to work with my colleagues is press forward and try to push this and see if we can not only get a committee hearing on it but maybe even a floor vote on it.
“This is one of those issues that is critical.”
Whiting mentioned other Article 5 measures such as balancing the federal budget and efforts to reign in the federal government.
“Those are sensible checks on federal overreach,” he said. “The growth and size of the scope of the federal government vis-a-vis the states is staggering. It’s wrong and I think it conflicts with the vision of the Founders in giving the states an equal role. The federal government runs roughshot over the states. This is just one way that the Founders, in the Constitution itself, gave the states an additional check. So, to me, term limits is just one of those pieces and something that I personally think is very important and I think it’s my job to go out and dispell the misinformation and help inform my colleagues on why I think it’s a sensible policy for Iowa.”
Whiting is also hoping the legislature gets creative in finding solutions for the workforce shortage in Iowa.
“I think the best way to grow the economy is to cut taxes and to reduce burdensome regulations,” he said. “That would ensure Iowa is an attractive place for workers to move, and it allows businesses to grow.”
Whiting introduced three bills last year in an effort to attract workers from other states.
“There’s really a small universe of people that we can attract from to fill our workforce needs,” Whiting said. “It’s people from other countries, which is immigration law and that’s federal law. They don’t seem to have any interest in doing anything remotely sensible on immigration, and by that I mean securing our borders and building a wall.
“Then there’s a universe of people who live outside of the state of Iowa and that’s the group of people I’m trying to attract. I want to attract from sister states that are highly taxed and highly regulated to come to Iowa.”
Welfare reform was another area Whiting wants to address.
“We passed four really good welfare reform bills in the Senate last year,” Whiting said. “The big one would require able-bodied individuals on public assistance to work, volunteer or attend school for at least 20 hours a week to receive assistance. Those got hung up in the House and I really would encourage the House to press forward and pass those bills.
“We need to make sure that the limited dollars we have for public assistance in our $8 billion budget go to the people who need it the most, not the people who don’t.”