I hope you all had a relaxing and enjoyable Christmas and New Year’s! It was wonderful spending time with my family and thanking God for another year of life in America.We will be back in action on Monday morning, with plans to listen to Governor Kim Reynolds speak at 6PM on Tuesday, Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Susan Christensen on Wednesday, and Major General Benjamin Corell on Thursday. This week, I wanted to give you a preview of some of the issues that could be up for debate this session. INCOME TAX Probably the issue I’ve been discussing most is the abolition of the income tax. In 2018, we passed a massive tax cut package, but it could only go into effect if the revenue growth targets were met. Thankfully this past session several of us made a push to eliminate these triggers and allow the tax cuts to take place in 2023 no matter what. But, I argue we can and should do more. In 2023, our highest income tax bracket would be 6.50%. If you compare that to area states, we are still behind North Dakota, Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, and of course, South Dakota. Our corporate income tax rate, which moved from a top level of 12% to 9.80%, which ties us with Minnesota, is still last when comparing to area states. Though we should absolutely be happy that we are moving in the right direction, our 2021 General Fund finished with a surplus of $1.2 billion! Two things are clear from this. One, we aren’t kidding when we talk about budgeting conservatively. And, two, we are overtaxing Iowans. Our Cash Reserve Fund and Economic Emergency Fund are both full and above the maximum amount they can hold. If we look at future projections, it’s quite possible that we could have close to another $1 billion surplus in 2022. I’m sure there are legislators, interest groups and bureaucrats who would love to spend this money and grow the budget. But, I believe this provides us with the best possible economic situation to either immediately, or over time, abolish the egregious income tax. WORKFORCE/DAYCARE It’s no secret that we are significantly short workers in Iowa. Every business I’ve visited over the past year has brought this up almost immediately. Governor Reynolds has indicated to the media that she plans to have a robust bill working on this issue. Here are a few ideas I hope we look at:
- Welfare Reform–we’ve had several bills over the years I’ve been in the Legislature to look at ways of getting folks off of welfare who should not be on it
- Work-Based Learning–potential expansion here?
- Workforce Housing–expand the program further for rural Iowa
- Daycare–repeal regulations holding churches back from getting involved
- Daycare–opening economic opportunities for mothers to work at a daycare, and to bring their children with them
As we discuss this issue further, and wait to see what the Governor announces on Tuesday evening, I will be able to shed some more light on what ideas we have to help combat these staffing shortages in Iowa.REJECTING WOKEISM It’s become clear over the last few years that “wokeism” is all around us and is out of control. From Critical Race Theory, to biological males competing against biological females, to pornographic content being distributed in school libraries, we have seen things happen across our state and country that are unacceptable. Last year, we passed legislation to prohibit the teaching of critical race theory in our schools, and what we categorized as “divisive concepts” in government-related diversity trainings. This was a good first step, but we can not be finished there. Some of the ideas I have to pushback on wokeism include:
- Expanding our CRT bill from last year to include actual punishments for violators, and including any entity that receives state grants as being under the umbrella of the law.
- A commonsense ban on biological males competing against biological females in their sports. Our female athletes should not lose varsity spots, scholarships and/or championship trophies to biological males. It’s baffling I even have to say that.
- Defending biology by prohibiting anyone who works on the taxpayer dime from posting their preferred pronouns to anything that identifies them at their workplace (email, name tag, etc.).
It’s time we combat this craziness head-on. The culture war matters.OTHER ISSUES Though we have lots of issues we will look at, here are a few others that either I personally feel strong about, or I feel will come up:
- Expanding parental choice and control in education
- Banning vaccine, testing and mask mandates/requirements
- General discussion on our state budget
- Making Iowa a Second Amendment Sanctuary State
- The carbon sequestration pipelines (potential use of eminent domain for a private, for-profit project)
- Bankers and credit unions tax equity bill (providing bankers the same tax breaks as the big credit unions)
- Ethanol/biofuels mandate
I hope this helps provide a preview of our work in 2022. As always, don’t hesitate to text, call, email or message me with any ideas, questions or concerns. I’m looking forward to what God has in store for us in this new year and am thankful to be able to represent such great people in the Iowa House!