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As I begin my third term in the legislature (fifth session/year), I want to thank you all for your support and understanding, and to let you know my goal is to represent you all fairly and openly. I’m some of y’all will disagree with one or more of my votes, and that’s fine, I just ask that you aren’t a one issue voter, step back, take your emotions out of it and look at the facts.

I represent nearly 30,000 people in southwest Iowa with two whole counties of Adair and Madison, with portions of Dallas, Union and Clarke. You all, like the rest of the country, have a wide spectrum of interests passions and opinions, and although I encourage you to reach out with those thoughts, I hope you understand it is impossible make all 30,000 happy with every vote I take. I take my role occupying your desk in the People’s House seriously and each vote, even the so called “easy ones” I weigh carefully. I appreciate hearing the pros and cons of each bill so I can be your voice at our Capitol and in our majority caucus. I look forward to our discussions at forums and welcome our new Senator, and new Senate President, Amy Sinclair to the territory.

This year I am Chairman of the combined committees of Economic Growth and Information Technology (Economic Growth & Technology), I will again sit on Appropriations and Education, and this year will be a newbie on Transportation. Some hot topics I see this coming this session are; Property Tax Reduction and Local Accountability for Bonding, Welfare Programs Reform, Housing, Childcare, Education Reform and Transparency, Workforce Retention and Modernization, Eminent Domain, Strengthening Health Systems, Cybersecurity and and I will continue to work on ways the legislature can help improve the broadband deficiencies across the state.

My hope is that the legislature will continue to focus on the challenge of recruiting and retaining healthcare professionals, truckers, educators, and just our workforce in general. Every district and industry across the country is reporting workforce shortages, the solution for each state might be different, and present unique challenges.

As for our Governor, she hit the ground running with a bold agenda. Some of her Condition of the State highlights include; Education Savings Accounts, Teacher’s Salaries, Tort Reform, Workforce through Apprenticeship, Government Reorganization and combating the Fentanyl Crisis.

I know a big issue for our district will be the Education Savings Accounts. I’ve reminded folks that elections have consequences, and the Governor, who made this a big priority, won with large margins, as did the Republicans where she got involved in primaries. There were a large number of House Republicans either unsure or against the ESA bill last year, but with a large number of retirements and many new members, this bill (ESAs) now has the votes to pass with or without me. I assume it will be passing the House even as soon as this week. With that said, how can we continue to bolster all of our schools and make sure they have the tools and resources they need to succeed. My hope is to find those solutions with my colleagues on the Education Committee.

A couple of other big bills coming are, Property Tax Reform (HF1) and Welfare Reform (HF3).

House File 1 looks to reduce the $5.40 levy by 50 cents, will require local governments to have 10% of a project cost set aside before bonding, will have a bonding referendum notification requirement increase, will close loopholes allowing local government debt financing without 60% voter approval, and leave current assessment system in place except adding that no parcel’s assessment (in any classification) can increase by 3% each assessment year.

House File 3 would ensure Iowa’s welfare programs are available for truly eligible Iowans by codifying practices to authenticate the identity of applicants and verify information prior to enrollment, would require a single eligibility system for all programs, require assets to be reviewed prior to enrollment in SNAP, require cooperation with child support enforcement to be eligible for SNAP, requires those on SNAP to be seeking employment, and for DHHS to seek Federal approval to make Medicaid changes.

Author: Ray Sorensen


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