We just wrapped up work after the first legislative deadline, known as the funnel, which helps narrow down the number of bills eligible for debate as we get closer to adjournment. In my view, it was a mix of good news and bad news.
First, the good news is that one of the top priorities in our COVID recovery Build Back Iowa plan was adopted by the full House. Senate File 364 provides $128 million in tax relief to Iowans and small businesses that have received COVID assistance.
While the original bill from the Iowa Senate assured that Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans used by Iowa businesses to stay open are not taxed by the state, we added our plan from last month to exempt pandemic unemployment from state taxes as well. It’ll be another boost for Iowans still trying to get on their feet after losing their job due to the pandemic.
I’m hopeful the Senate will approve this bill quickly and get it to the Governor’s desk.
There were also some other bipartisan bills that made the first deadline, including:
- Creating more affordable housing options (HF 582/ SF 295)
- Expanding protections to prevent sexual abuse (SF 253)
- Doubling tax credit for volunteer EMS/fire fighters (HF 563)
- Tax credits and grants for business to build on-site child care (HF 606 / SF 176)
- Capping cost of insulin to $100 for month supply (HF 263)
- Encouraging more OB/GYN doctors to locate in rural Iowa (SF 129)
Unfortunately, the Governor and majority party’s agenda so far this session has been too focused on divisive bills that will make Iowa’s recovery even more difficult.
Lawmakers have been hearing more and more from Iowa business leaders who have deep concerns about several discriminatory bills that are making it more difficult to get businesses and workers to locate in Iowa.
One business leader said the bills don’t make Iowa look like a welcoming state to entrepreneurs who can work remotely and live anywhere. Another said Iowa lost three projects recently to other states and two specifically cited bills being considered at the State Capitol.
With Iowa’s workforce shortage and aging population, anytime Iowa lawmakers send messages that make Iowa look unwelcoming to others is bad for business and Iowa’s future. We should be working together to make sure Iowa is an attractive place for businesses and the best and brightest to live.
It’s time for GOP leaders to take these divisive bills off the table and get the Legislature back to work on COVID relief and recovery. It’s the best thing we can do to aid recovery in the short term and put Iowa on the path for long-term growth.