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We’re back in action! After the uncertain circumstances surrounding last session’s unexpected close, and the ensuing quarantine, I can’t tell you how much of a relief it is to be serving the people of Iowa with my friends and colleagues once again.

2020 will forever be remembered as a year that tried our resilience financially, physically, and spiritually. It also was a year that once again demonstrated the resilience and determination and compassion of the people of Iowa.

However, I do believe the light is at the end of the tunnel, and as we continue to march forward into 2021, Iowans should do so with our heads held high, as we always have.

Along with my colleagues, I return to session with a heart full of gratitude and priorities in mind: connecting Iowans to vital broadband services, working to protect mobile home residents, and working to patch and repair the state’s economy.

In this issue, I hope to provide an initial update on some of the other priorities pressing lawmakers this session, as long as some of the measures and precautions we at the Capitol are taking to curb the spread of COVID-19.

As always, please take care of yourself, and if you have any questions, concerns, or comments, don’t hesitate to reach out.

2021 Legislative Priorities: A Snapshot

Child Care

  • Our state is facing a child care crisis that has only intensified because of COVID-19.
  • Parents across the state struggle to find a safe and affordable place to send their kids.
  • Our Legislature is committed to finding ways to increase access to quality, affordable child care in every corner of the state.

The Cliff Effect

  • Often times, parents who are looking to grow in their career reject a pay raise or promotion because it could result in the loss of their child care assistance.
  • This “Cliff Effect” is holding our workforce and our families back. Addressing this is an important step in our efforts to grow and improve our workforce.
  • We don’t want a system that forces Iowans to stay on government assistance. We want to provide an off-ramp, so that parents can accept that promotion, take that pay raise, grow in their career and phase off of government assistance.

Budget

Where we’re starting from…

  • We are in a strong position heading into the 2021 session, where we can take bold steps forward for our state because of the responsible budgeting practices of Republicans in the legislature.
  • Our reserve accounts are full, we have a healthy ending balance, and our commitments were fulfilled.
  • Iowa was ranked the most fiscally sound, most resilient state in terms of our budget’s ability to handle the pandemic. We are bouncing back quicker than other states like Illinois who has mismanaged its budget for decades.

Fiscal Year 2022

  • As we address the budget for FY 2022, we must continue to provide the same level of disciplined budgeting that set us up for success in years past.
  • We will fund Iowans’ priorities, meet our commitments to the taxpayer, and we will do it in a responsible way.
  • Because of COVID-19, it will likely be an even bigger task than ever before.
  • But it is our responsibility to use the same common-sense approach everyday Iowans use when they maintain their own budgets back home.

Frequently asked questions regarding the legislature’s COVID-19 efforts:

What is the Legislature doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19?  

  • We are taking precautions to mitigate concerns about COVID-19 while maintaining transparency and continuing to do our jobs on behalf of the people of Iowa.
  • We are live-streaming committee and subcommittee meetings, utilizing the bigger spaces to be able to remain spaced out during meetings, and a variety of other changes.
  • It’s important that we show up to perform the service we were elected to do. There is still work to do and Iowans are counting on us to show up and do our jobs.

Do you feel safe in the Capitol with the recent and upcoming protests at Capitols across the country?

  • Safety precautions are taken at the Capitol every day, regardless of the circumstances.
  • Every door is locked, aside from the secure entrances, which are manned by security guards. There are also state troopers present at the building.
  • When it is determined that it’s necessary by Iowa State Patrol, an increase in law enforcement is present at the Capitol.
  • This was the case for the first few days of session, and during the protests last June.

That’s all for this week. Please be sure to tune in next week, and if you have any questions, my contact information is included below and in the links provided. Stay Safe!

Author: Brian Lohse