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On Monday, Iowans packed into community centers, schools, and churches to participate in the First in the Nation Iowa Caucuses.  Even with President Trump in office, Iowa Republicans held caucuses and shattered the previous turnout record set by President Obama in 2012.

More than 32,000 Iowa Republicans turned out to caucus, which is 4x higher than the previous record for turnout with a Republican incumbent in office (George W. Bush in 2004).

Even more importantly, President Trump captured more than 97% of the vote, demonstrating strength in Iowa as we head into the 2020 elections.

This all bodes well for Iowa Republicans who are clearly energized to get out and vote for President Trump, Senator Joni Ernst, and other down-ballot Republicans. There is clearly hard work ahead, but if the caucuses are any indication, Republicans are in great position for success in 2020.

Childcare

One of the issues that I have heard about frequently and that my colleagues in the House Republican Caucus are hearing back home in their districts is child care. People across the state have expressed concerns with the current situation of child care and are asking legislators to help any way we can.

The main problems that Iowa families struggle with are accessibility and affordability in relation to child care. Governor Reynolds laid this out as one of her priorities in her Condition of the State speech earlier this session. The governor has put forth some ideas she believes could help address the current difficulties. Along with the governor’s ideas, the House has been working to create legislation that will hopefully ease some of the burden that currently exists.

There are multiple bills in the House aimed at addressing the child care issue:

House File 2067 and House File 2128 will increase reimbursement rates for child care providers who are part of the child care assistance program. These bills will ensure that child care providers will be able to be reimbursed at a sustainable rate so they can remain functional and affordable in their communities.

Right now, individuals who receive assistance for child care are faced with a “cliff effect” if offered a raise or promotion at work. What this means is that if someone is given a raise, there is a chance they will end up earning a higher income that would force them to lose their child care assistance benefit.

House Republicans are working on a bill, House File 2203, to address the cliff effect by extending the financial eligibility to those families receiving child care assistance with a staggered increase in payment from the family to begin preparing them to pay for child care costs without assistance. The basic premise behind the bill is to make it so that families can advance in their careers and are not discouraged from taking promotions because they are concerned with the possibility of not being able to pay for child care.

Another issue that Iowans face is having the ability to afford the current cost of child care. House File 771, which the House passed last session with strong bipartisan support of 97-1, would double the income threshold for the child care tax credit to families making less than $90,000. By implementing this new threshold for the current tax credit we hope that more families will be able to receive some assistance and make it easier for them to meet the needs of their children. This bill is currently under consideration in the Senate.

Matt Windschitl

Author: Matt Windschitl