“The priorities of the Iowa Senate Republicans have cleared the first legislative hurdle and will continue to move through the legislative process. The results of more than 2 years of unemployment below 3% and rising wages have validated our agenda. We will continue to implement policies that reward work and investment, protect life, and eliminate burdens to economic growth.”
Those are the words of Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver. He follows by saying, “I am also pleased to report on the progress on a number of the priorities Governor Reynolds proposed in her Condition of the State speech. We look forward to working with her and the Iowa House of Representatives to complete another successful session for Iowa.”
I echo those comments. Senator Whitver’s remarks focused specifically on a number of bills that reflect Senate Republican’s 2020 priorities. Each bill has either passed at the committee level, passed the floor of the Senate, or has been signed by the governor. Now that the first legislative deadline has passed, each of us can shift our focus from our respective committee assignments and begin floor debate on these and other bills.
Senate File 2114 calls for occupational licensing reform (more on this below), SF 2313 strengthens the successful Future Ready Iowa program, and SF 2262 is the Empower Rural Iowa (broadband) legislation. We want to improve our safety net programs with SF 2272 and SSB 3158. SF 2190 is a bill to address student behavior issues in our schools, and SF 2338 is a bill to reform medical liability laws in Iowa. Senate File 2129 deals with felon voting rights, while SF 2144 is the flood relief supplemental appropriation that the governor signed last week.
Senate Republicans have also demonstrated our commitment to improve our constitution with two proposed constitutional amendments SJR 2001 and SJR 2002. The first resolution simply states that the right to abortion does not exist in the Iowa constitution, and that the Iowa Supreme Court was wrong to say that it does. The second resolution clarifies that only US citizens may vote in Iowa elections. This shouldn’t be necessary but some Iowa local governments have openly considered allowing non-citizens to vote in their local elections, and we must clarify that the Iowa constitution allows only US citizens to vote.
I list all these bills so that constituents are aware of what we’re working on, and so they can become part of the discussion as these bills move forward. Those interested in tracking our work can follow all legislation at https://www.legis.iowa.gov/
My additional assignment this year is the State Government Committee which gives me a front-row seat in our attempts to keep state government lean and efficient.
Iowa is one of the most heavily licensed states in the country. In fact, nearly one-third of Iowans in the workforce are required to maintain a license to perform their jobs. Government licensing of many industries is appropriate, necessary, and in the interest of consumer safety. However, licensing in some professions is either unnecessary, too burdensome, or too expensive. Licensing can even be a tool for some to reduce or eliminate potential competitors. It can also be a barrier to employment and, with unemployment in Iowa below three percent for more than two years, reducing the hurdles for employers to find qualified workers is a priority for legislators this session.
In order to address these problems, Senate File 2114 reforms occupational licensing in Iowa. It provides for universal recognition of licenses from other states for most licenses. With this change, someone may relocate to Iowa for family or career-related reasons and not be required to go through redundant licensing requirements.