Keep the Iowa Standard Going!
As always one of my top priorities will be a conservative budget. I serve on the Senate Appropriations Committee so I have a voice in passing our budget for the upcoming 2022 fiscal year that begins July 1, 2021. In spite of the pandemic, we are projected to end fiscal 2021 with a surplus on June 30, 2021. I expect that for the coming year we will again not spend up to the legal limit. By following that principle, we should be able to weather any unexpected shortfall in revenue.
I am re-introducing my bill to require Iowa employers to use the federal E-Verify program to be sure people they are hiring are in the country legally. E-Verify is available, online free of charge, to any employer. Employers who hire people who are here illegally are violating federal law every day. There are severe federal penalties, but violations are so widespread that the federal authorities cannot keep up. E-Verify has been in existence for many years but its use is voluntary at the federal level. Many employers use it but most don’t. According to Homeland Security, 5,202 Iowa employers currently use E-Verify. More than 20 states have some kind of E-Verify requirement but the coverage varies.
It is unfair to employers who obey the law, but have to compete with others who hire people here illegally so they can pay substandard wages, giving them a competitive advantage over those obeying the law. It is also unfair to employees who have to compete for jobs with people here illegally who will work for substandard wages.
We passed the bill in the Senate in 2019 by a 33-14 margin. A few Democrats voted for it but most didn’t. The House never voted on it.
Limited Death Penalty
I will again be sponsoring a bill to reinstate the death penalty in Iowa, for anyone who kidnaps, rapes and murders a minor. I have thought for a long time that we need an additional penalty in that case. The penalty for kidnapping and raping anyone is life in prison. The penalty for murdering the victim is still life in prison. There is an incentive to murder the victim so she cannot testify against the rapist. This is a very narrow bill. It has been hard to get legislative support for this kind of bill, even though the public supports it.
I will be supporting 2 constitutional amendments that are coming up for approval in their second session. One would place a right to keep and bear arms in the Iowa constitution. Though this right has been in the federal constitution from the earliest days, Iowa is one of 6 states that does not have this protection in the state constitution.
Another amendment states that there is no right to an abortion in the Iowa Constitution. Abortion is never mentioned in the Iowa Constitution, but the Iowa Supreme Court ruled several years ago, that there is a right to have an abortion in the Constitution.
In Iowa, constitutional amendments must pass 2 consecutive sessions of the legislature, and then be passed by a vote of the people to become part of our constitution.
I will be supporting efforts to expand the availability of Broadband in Iowa. We have been working on this issue for several years but it is not something that gets done in a year or two. The current COVID-19 crisis, with more people working at home, has created an even bigger need than before.