On Monday, 150 state legislators descend on Des Moines for the 2019 legislative session.
And over the next 110 days they will introduce, consider, debate, and pass policies that impact us all in every aspect of our lives: policies on factory farms and clean water, healthcare, education, working conditions, our state budget, and more. We’ll be your eyes and ears at the Capitol tracking bills – good and bad – to let you know when your calls, emails, or weekend visits with your legislator can have a big impact. To help you get ready, here is our take on what we can expect going into this year’s General Assembly.
Who’s at the table
Kim Reynolds will be inaugurated as Governor next week. We’ll know more about her priorities after Tuesday’s State of the State address, but we’ve heard she is prioritizing cutting even more taxes in spite of tight revenues – which forced cuts over the previous two years.
Republicans control the Statehouse. They will (largely) call the shots. The GOP majority in the Senate is 32-18; and the GOP majority in the House is 54-46 (pending an ongoing review of votes cast in the NE IA House District 55 race).
What’s on the table
We’ve heard bits and pieces of policy agendas from legislative leaders and the governor.
Key priorities for the Iowa GOP:
- Cutting taxes to benefit corporations and the extremely wealthy in spite of tight budgets and drastic cuts the last few years;
- Fiddling around the margins of Reynolds’s privatized Medicaid mess, but not fixing the problems with our healthcare system;
- Imposing stricter work requirements for low-income and out-of-work Iowans who receive assistance in spite of historically low unemployment.
Key Priorities for Iowa Democrats:
- Increasing funding for Iowa’s education system and addressing student debt;
- Returning Medicaid to state-run care and increasing mental health
- Restoring workers’ rights, which have been attacked in recent years.
Additional hot button issues on the table:
- Granting another power grab to MidAmerican and Alliant Energy by restricting Iowans’ access to renewable energy;
- Gutting IPERS (Iowa’s public employees earned pensions) as part of a manufactured budget crisis;
- Establishing more workforce training programs and addressing state staffing levels in the courts and prison system; and
- Altering the voter-approved funding formulas for IWILL: that means sending more taxpayer money to fix the water pollution caused by corporations with no oversight.
We could see other issues pop up, and we’ll be on the lookout for other measures that benefit corporate power and the 1% at the expense of our people and the planet.
What we’re bringing to the table
Our agenda comes from you and the issues you have been organizing on year-round. We’re pushing for:
Healthcare for all/getting profits out of healthcare. That means ending privatized Medicaid servicing, establishing the CARE Act to prioritize and support caregivers, and moving towards a single-payer style universal healthcare program that leaves no one behind.
A food & farm system that works for farmers, workers, eaters, and the environment. That means a moratorium on factory farms, local control, and more oversight of factory farms, as well as policies that support family farmers and force Big Ag to pay to clean up Iowa’s water crisis.
Racial justice. That means banning the practice of racial profiling by Iowa law enforcement. We’ll also fight attempts to force law enforcement to act as ICE agents or other policies that force those of us without documentation or in mixed status families into the shadows.
Action on climate change. That means moving to 100% renewable energy for 100% of the people and making sure that all Iowans (not just those who can afford it) benefit from transitioning to renewable energy, and fighting the power grabs by corporate utilities who seek to prioritize their profits over our lives.
Voter justice. That means removing the influence of big money on our political system and fighting any attempts at voter suppression or fiddling with Iowa’s model for a nonpartisan redistricting process.
In the future, we want to run the table
Policy making should be the people’s business, not done behind closed doors by industry insiders. We believe those most impacted by a problem should be in the driver’s seat to craft the solution. We believe in fighting for what our communities need, not what some view as winnable in the moment.
In order to win our vision for Iowa, we need to change who is at the statehouse. We need more folks like you, who come out of our work together, running for office. Our organizing work, paired with our statehouse work, paired with more work in elections will help us set the political stage on which the 2020 caucuses and elections are played out.
Before we go, what’s on our radar:
- This week, Iowa’s Ag Gag law was declared unconstitutional!
- What’s Killing Our Children? event held by the Catholic Peace Ministry on January 17. RSVP and details here.
- Curious about the work our Racial Justice team has been doing? Attend their workshop on Saturday, January 19 to plug in to the work. RSVP and details here.
- Listen to George Goehl on Chris Hayes’ podcast. Goehl is a leader with our national ally People’s Action, and speaks about his journey to organizing across race and place to lay the groundwork for radical change.
- Attend Moratorium Lobby Day in Des Moines on Feburary 21 and speak to your lawmakers about the devastating effects of this extractive industry on Iowa’s land, water, air, and communities. RSVP and details here.
As always, let me know what you are hearing in your community – from neighbors and from your elected officials.
And thanks for all you do for a people and planet first Iowa!
State Policy Organizing Director
P.S. We’ll be letting you know every week about forums in your neck of the woods. Find those, and our toolkits on our website.