Category: Syndicated

Rep. John Forbes Appointed as Ranking Member of Health and Human Services Budget

House Democratic Leader Todd Prichard announced today the appointment of State Representative John Forbes of Urbandale as the Ranking Member on the Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee. Representative Forbes will be replacing former Representative Lisa Heddens, who resigned earlier this summer. “I look forward to this new leadership role and working with my colleagues [...]

Senate Dem Leader on appointment of new Human Services chief

Iowa Senate News Release
For Immediate Release:  9/5/19

Statement from Senate Democratic Leader Janet Petersen on appointment of Kelly Kennedy Garcia to Iowa DHS Director

Iowans need a leader at the Department of Human Services who will stand up for people instead of for-profit companies.

Apparently Governor Reynolds shared her ‘ambitious goals’ for serving Iowa’s most vulnerable populations with newly appointed director Kelly Kennedy Garcia.

It is time for Governor Reynolds to also share those goals with Iowans.  The Reynolds Administration has been working behind closed doors on a ‘new direction’ for the department for nearly a year.  Yet Governor Reynolds has continued to keep Iowans in the dark about what to expect.

Like most Iowans, Senate Democrats are hopeful the new Iowa DHS director will have the courage to help Governor Reynolds fundamentally change course. Her to-do list should start with:

1)    Fixing Iowa’s privatized Medicaid system, a failure that is unsustainable, unaffordable and unaccountable.

2)    Reversing the policies that destroyed Iowa’s once successful family planning network.  The result has been more unintended pregnancies, more risky births, and more teenage mothers.

3)     Addressing Iowa’s maternal health crisis which has more than doubled maternal mortality in less than three years.  Reynolds Administration policies have contributed to making Iowa a more dangerous place to have a baby.

4)    Establishing a comprehensive, adequate source of funding for child and adult mental health services.

5)    Ending dangerous practices and procedures in use at Glenwood, Eldora and other state-operated facilities.

6)    Rebuilding Iowa’s child protective safety net by mending the holes that have resulted in abuse and death.

The Reynolds Administration does not have a good record on helping Iowa families. Senate Democrats hope the Garcia appointment signals real change rather than more failure.  Iowans deserve better.

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Mathis named Legislative Friend of Housing

Iowa Senate News Release
For Immediate Release:  September 4, 2019

Senator Liz Mathis receives “2019 Legislative Friend of Housing” Award

CEDAR RAPIDS: Today State Senator Liz Mathis of Hiawatha received the 2019 “Legislative Friend of Housing” award at the statewide 2019 Housing Iowa Conference currently being held in Cedar Rapids. 

The award recognizes “a legislator who has actively participated in committees involving affordable housing legislation, has developed strong grass roots initiatives and makes improving the lives of Iowans through affordable housing an integral part of his/her legislative work.”*

“There are few things more important in life than a home that is safe and affordable,” Mathis said. “Iowa communities both large and small struggle to provide families with high quality, affordable places to live.  In the State Senate, I’ve focused on housing because solving this problem will help our children succeed, help businesses grow, and improve the lives of Iowa seniors.

The specific work that led to Mathis’ nomination included:

  • Helping lead the restoration of flooded Cedar Rapids homes.
  • Expanding affordable housing for workers after the floods.
  • Working to restore single-family housing in a core neighborhood that was under stress.
  • Organizing a state-wide tour of affordable housing in the cities of Dubuque, Des Moines and Carroll.

Housing legislation Senator Mathis helped pass or fund include: the State Housing Trust Fund, the Workforce Housing Tax Credit, the creation of a new state income tax exemption for deposits in a First-time Homebuyer Savings Account, Workforce Housing Set-Asides for Iowa’s smaller communities, the Home Ownership Assistance Program for military service members and veterans, and Redevelopment Tax Credits.

Senator Mathis is the ranking member of the Human Resources Committee and Ag & Natural Resources Budget. She also serves on the Agriculture, Appropriations, Commerce and Ethics committees.  Additional information and photos of Senator Mathis can be found at http://www.senate.iowa.gov/senator/mathis/

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* https://www.housingiowaconference.com/awards/legislative-friend-of-housing-award

Labor Day: Iowa workers are our best asset

Labor Day is about recognizing the contributions workers make to their communities and our state. It really can’t be overstated: Workers are the backbone of our way of life.

A thriving workforce is a sign of a strong economy and a successful society. When workers aren’t valued, we’re headed in the wrong direction—and that’s exactly what many Iowans are facing.

In recent years, decades of advances toward fair wages, working conditions and benefits have been lost to policies that are upending the principles that made our country strong, along with opportunities for Iowans to achieve the American dream.

In spite of record low unemployment, our economy has slowed to a crawl. Working families have been pushed aside in favor of corporations and profits.

Most GOP legislators and the Governor gutted the state’s collective bargaining law that ensured employees and public employers collaborated on mutually agreeable solutions in the workplace; slashed protections for Iowans injured on the job; put pensions in danger; and weakened wage and “Buy American” requirements.

The nonpartisan Iowa Policy Project sums it up this way: “Unfortunately, policy choices have put us on a road that prioritizes corporate profits over worker wages and corporate tax cuts over the public investments that allow for a strong, sustainable economy.”

The result is a growing inequality, with the rich getting richer. Meanwhile, many Iowans work multiple jobs and still struggle to make ends meet. That’s not right.

As we celebrate Labor Day, Senate Democrats remain committed to fighting for working Iowans, restoring and protecting workplace rights, and ensuring Iowa employees and employers have a fair shot at getting ahead.

Continuing the fight for equality

On August 26, we celebrated Women’s Equality Day, which commemorates the ratification of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote.

“It is a time to celebrate women leaders who have gone before us, paving the way toward increased opportunity for women,” writes Wendy Musgrave, a member of the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women. “However, true equality is not achieved until it is made real for women in all sectors and industries, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, age, ability or socioeconomic status.”

One way we can continue the push for equality is through equal pay.

In 2009, the Iowa Legislature approved a Pay Equity Act, outlawing wage discrimination. It is illegal for an employer to pay some workers less than others for jobs requiring equal skill, effort and responsibility.

Nonetheless, wage inequality persists. In fact, the gap for Iowa is even higher than it is for the nation as a whole when it comes to equal pay between men and women. On average, a woman working full time in Iowa earns 79 cents for every dollar a man makes.

It’s even worse for women of color: African-American women in Iowa earn 59 cents for every dollar a white man makes; and Iowa’s Latina women make 58 cents for every dollar a white man makes.

These wage disparities are enormous over the course of a 40-year career. Women overall lose more than $400,000 as a result of the wage gap, and women of color lose about $870,000.

Why should one person be awarded more purchasing power and a better standard of living for the same work? We all deserve to know our work is valued, to support our families and to get ahead.

Equal pay for equal work is simply the right thing to do. We must close loopholes that allow wage discrimination to continue. That includes allowing employees to discuss what they make with coworkers, without fear of retaliation from their employers; and narrowing the reasons an employer may pay workers different amounts.

 

2019 Equal Pay Days

Equal Pay Day is the date American women earn as much as men did the previous year. Here’s how much women earn per every dollar a man makes and how much longer it takes them to earn what a man does in one year:

Third bipartisan “Ag Day” for Iowa legislators

Iowa Senate News Release
For Immediate Release:  August 20, 2019

 

Third bipartisan “Ag Day” with Iowa legislators to take place on Monday, August 26 in Sigourney

The 3rd bipartisan “Ag Day” will take place on Monday, August 26, in Sigourney.  All members of the Iowa House and Senate have been invited.  As of August 19, 24 have indicated they will attend.  Members of the news media are welcome to attend.

“The focus of this event is helping legislators to learn more about precision farming and good conservation practices,” said State Senator Kevin Kinney of Oxford, a farmer and former Johnson County Deputy Sheriff.  In past years, Senator Kinney has organized similar bipartisan Ag Days on Iowa agricultural issues.

This year’s event will focus on new conservation technologies.  Topics will include terraces, waterways, improvements, tiling and the benefits of cover crops.  At the event, John Deere will provide hands-on demonstrations.  In addition, Ryan Vogel, the owner of a local earth moving and tiling business, will discuss the impact of recent legislation on cost sharing.

The event runs from 10 AM to 2 PM.  Participants will meet at 10 AM at Sinclair Tractor, 1407 200th Ave in Sigourney.  Sponsors of the event include Sinclair Tractor and the Keokuk Farm Bureau.  Sinclair Tractor is providing a lunch.

If you have questions or would like to know more, contact [email protected] or call (319) 631- 4667.

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Iowa Future Caucus tours renewable energy facilities


IA SEN NEWS

August 14, 2019

 

Iowa Future Caucus Launch Statewide Tour of Iowa’s Renewable Energy Industries

Four state lawmakers who created the Iowa Future Caucus this year toured statewide Iowa’s renewable energy industries on Wednesday, August 14.  Founded in 2019, the Iowa Future Caucus is a bipartisan, bicameral group of young lawmakers dedicated to finding bipartisan solutions in the Iowa Legislature.

“Protecting the quality of life for our kids and our grandchildren means we have to take seriously air and water quality, the development of clean and renewable sources of energy, and pursue policies that build environmentally friendly infrastructure for our cities and towns,” said Representative Lindsay James.  

“Solar, wind, biodiesel and ethanol are all components of progressing towards cleaner energy in our state and the energy of our future.  I’m excited to learn more about clean energy in our state and figure out ways to continue to support it.  As Iowa has been the leader in Wind Energy let’s continue to do that with other clean energy options.” – Representative Joe Mitchell 

“Iowa’s renewable energy industries create jobs, support rural communities, and provide alternatives to conventional fossil fuels. Renewables will continue to be an important part of our state’s future for many decades to come, and it’s terrific to have this tour so we can learn more about what’s in store for these Iowa companies.” – Senator Zach Wahls

“Renewable energy isn’t a partisan issue– it’s the best possible Public-Private investment in Iowa’s future.  The return on cultivating renewables helps our communities, our businesses, and our state attract long-term economic partners and retain our best workforce.” Senator Zach Nunn

 

A bipartisan group of Iowa legislators spent the day learning about Iowa renewable energy production sites in Mason City, Colo and North Liberty. This photo was taken at the Biodiesel Plant in Mason City operated by Renewable Energy Group. The group above includes workers from the plant and State Representative Lindsay James of Dubuque,  Senator Amanda Ragan of Mason City, Representative Sharon Steckman of Mason City, Representative Joe Mitchell of Mount Pleasant, and Senator Zach Wahls of Coralville. 

 

A bipartisan group of Iowa legislators spent the day learning about Iowa renewable energy production sites in Mason City, Colo, and North Liberty. Chris Hoffman of Moxie Solar in North Liberty (right) explains how the company has expanded to include offices in Davenport, Cedar Rapids, Chicago and Austin, Texas. From left to right: State Legislator Lindsay James of Dubuque, State Senator Zach Wahls of Coralville and Hoffman.   

 

The renewable energy tour on Wednesday included an ethanol plant, a biodiesel plant, a wind farm, and a solar energy facility. The full itinerary is below.

Ethanol Plant Tour – Golden Grain Energy in Mason City: Golden Grain Energy is a privately-held company dedicated to adding value to northern Iowa’s corn production by turning locally-grown corn into clean-burning ethanol.

Renewable Energy Group in Mason City: Renewable Energy Group is a global producer and supplier of renewable fuels like biodiesel and renewable diesel, renewable chemicals and other products.

Wind Farm Tour – NextEra Wind Farm in Colo: NextEra Energy Resources is a leading wholesale power generator, operating power plants and offering a diverse fuel mix to utilities, retail electricity providers, power cooperatives, municipal electric providers and large industrial companies.

Solar Installer Tour – MOXIE Solar in North Liberty: MOXIE was founded in 2008 out of a desire to bring new energy options to Iowa. With over 500 successfully completed projects and predominantly 5 star customer reviews, we’re proud of our role in creating a more sustainable future for our clients and our world.

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High School Students Encouraged to Serve as Iowa Legislative Pages

The Iowa Legislature is looking for high school students to learn more about the legislative process by applying to serve as a Legislative Page in the Iowa House of Representatives for the 2020 legislative session. Legislative Pages provide invaluable assistance to representatives and staff by running errands, delivering messages, and distributing bills and amendments.  Pages [...]