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We’re now just over a month into the legislative session. While a handful of bills have been approved, there’s still a lot of time to get some good things done. 

There are a host of issues that I think can find strong bipartisan support if lawmakers can put politics aside, work together, and develop some Iowa solutions that build on our strengths and values. 

We need strong communities, rural and urban. We should build on our long history of top-rate public schools that guarantees every kid in every community gets a solid education. We need good-paying jobs with benefits and a great quality of life. 

We’ve got to make Iowa a welcoming place where people want to live and raise their family. 

I’ll be honest, I’m worried that the ideas and headlines being pushed at the Statehouse this year are doing the exact opposite. And it comes at a time when Iowa doesn’t have enough workers to fill the jobs we’ve got open today.

Book bans that deny kids opportunities to learn about themselves and our history. Taking away the ability of Iowans to make their own health care decisions. Stripping away civil rights protections for some of our fellow Iowans. Vouchers that strike right at the heart of our storied history of strong public schools.

In just the last few weeks, we’ve seen other ideas pop up that are just plain shocking. One of the bills won’t allow educators to talk about HIV/AIDS or the HPV vaccine that prevents cancer. A group of GOP lawmakers even hosted an Oversight Committee hearing for a Florida-based special interest group that tried to stop a school in Tennessee from talking about Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I have a dream speech.”   

While we may not agree on all of these things, I can guarantee you that every one of these ideas makes Iowa feel unwelcoming to someone in your family or one of your friends. 

Having only been in office for a few terms, I can honestly say it’s been a bit of a shock this session to see so much time and energy used by some lawmakers for political gain or to appease a special interest group. That isn’t what Iowans want or deserve.

The good news is there is still time to change course and get things done this year. 

We should have a hearing with Iowans and find out how we can work together to build stronger communities. We can listen to small businesses and find new ways to fill our skilled worker shortage. And we’ve got to do more to generate affordable housing. 

With a little bit of Iowa common sense, we can make Iowa a more welcoming place for everyone.


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