Condition of the State
The Governor’s Condition of the State address was delivered last Tuesday evening, at 6:00 p.m., rather than at 10:00 a.m., as in the past. She made a number of recommendations. Among them are:
Parental choice in education. She is asking for a bill to give parents the option of having their children physically in class 100% of the time. She is also asking that we make open enrollment available to all students. Another recommendation is allowing the creation of public charter schools.
Universal broadband. The Governor recommends committing $450 million over 5 years, that will leverage millions of dollars of private money, to give every part of Iowa access to broadband by 2025.
Child care. She reminded us that we created the Child Care Challenge Fund last year. This fund encourages employers, communities and others to work together to provide child care facilities. She recommends allocating $3 million to “jump-start” these efforts. She also recommends providing $25 million in block grants to promote child care startups.
Job Training. Recognizing that a college educations is not for everyone, she recommends continuing our programs for on the job training and “reskilling” to give Iowans the better skills they need to get better jobs. I have mentioned more than once that the state has listings of thousands of jobs. A problem is that not enough people have the training and skills they need to qualify for many of these jobs.
Mental health funding. The Governor recommends an additional $15 million this year for mental health funding, and another $15 million next year.
She reminded us that a year ago, Iowa had the lowest unemployment rate in the state. The virus hit us hard but we have been recovering and our unemployment rate is still among the lowest in the nation.
Most of her budget recommendations other than those listed above, are more or less status quo.
On Wednesday, January 13, at 10:00 a.m., the Chief Justice delivered her State of the Judiciary address, in the House Chamber.
On Thursday, January 14, at 10:00 a.m. we had the Condition of the National Guard address in the House Chamber.
Limited Death Penalty
The first subcommittee of the new session was a subcommittee that I chaired, on January 14, to consider approving the limited death penalty bill that I described last week. We approved the bill on a 2-1 vote with the 2 Republicans voting for the bill and the Democrat voting against it. This was the same bill we introduced last session, so it did not take long to prepare it for this session. It was a new experience listening to comments from the public virtually. We had 1 hour during which time, we allowed anyone to speak who wanted to.
Though most of the people speaking at the hearing were opposed to the bill, polls have consistently showed that a big majority of the general public favors restoring the death penalty, in general, let alone in this limited form. For example, a Des Moines Register poll in 2018 showed 58 percent of Iowans in favor and 36 percent opposed. None of those speaking against the bill had any suggestions on how to address the nasty incentive those who kidnap and rape a juvenile have to kill the victim, so she cannot testify against them. Since the penalty for kidnaping and raping a victim is life in prison, and the penalty for murdering the victim is still life in prison, it is not surprising that those committing those crimes too often murder their victims.