***The Iowa Standard is an independent media voice. We rely on the financial support of our readers to exist. Please consider a one-time sign of support or becoming a monthly supporter at $5, $10/month - whatever you think we're worth! If you’ve ever used the phrase “Fake News” — now YOU can actually DO something about it! You can also support us on PayPal at [email protected] or Venmo at Iowa-Standard-2018 or through the mail at: PO Box 112 Sioux Center, IA 51250

Republican State Rep. Tom Gerhold highlighted eight areas that he considers legislative priorities entering the 2021 legislative session.

Without listing them in any particular order, Gerhold said he is focused on continuing to improve broadband access to help people in more rural areas part of the state with jobs and education.

Improving mental health access for students in schools is another priority.

“Unfortunately, there is a growing need for this that needs to be addressed,” he said.

Another area of focus is creating stiffer penalties for violent protestors who physically assault law enforcement officers or anyone else. He also wants stiffer penalties for protestors who vandalize property or disrupt commerce.

He promised to continue to work on lowering taxes — throwing out the idea of reducing or eliminating inheritance taxes.

Gerhold listed a pair of proposed constitutional amendments. He wants Iowans to have the opportunity to amend the Iowa Constitution for the right to keep and bear arms, noting Iowa is one of six states or less that does not have the constitutional protection for firearm ownership in the state constitution.

He would also like to see movement on the Life Amendment.

Helping those hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic and/or the derecho are important for Gerhold, as well as improving childcare access for Iowans who want to go back to work.