by Ralph Scharnau
Iowa Republicans controlling the legislative and executive branches of state government have impacted the state in many ways. They have used their dominance to create policies, programs, and taxation schemes that favor the wealthy and large corporations.
This amounts to a classic example of supporting the haves rather than the have nots. Over the past five years, Governor Kim Reynolds and Republican legislators have erected barriers to improving conditions for large numbers of Iowa inhabitants.
Gov. Reynolds and Republican lawmakers have specifically enacted anti-union legislation. They ended state collection of union dues for public sector employees. They also limited bargaining to base wages only and not to the many other terms or conditions of employment.
When it comes to gun control, Reynolds defends Iowa’s gun laws. After a March 7 fatal shooting outside East High School in Des Moines, some Democratic legislators, pastors, and gun safety advocates called for tighter Iowa gun laws. Reynolds responded by putting the onus on the educational system for letting the students down. And she sees no need to strengthen Iowa gun laws which she finds as already unnecessarily burdensome. The state has actually enacted laws lowering the age of handgun use to 14 and removing required permits for purchasing firearms.
On March 1, Reynolds signed a sweeping tax cut into law. This lowers the state income tax rate until all Iowans pay a 3.9 percent flat rate starting in 2026. Under the new law, millionaires are set to receive an estimated $67,000 tax break but those making the median income will receive about $600 in cuts, according to Department of Revenue analysis. The measure also eliminates the state’s progressive income tax system where wealthier people pay higher rates than lower- income Iowans.
Reynolds has actually signed three major tax cuts into law during her time as governor. The tax reductions primarily benefit a moneyed elite and big corporations. In short, those with high incomes pay significantly less while those with modest or low incomes pay proportionately more.
All of this occurs in the context of rising inflation. Hardest hit are wage earners and those living on fixed incomes.
Controlled by Republicans, the state leaves workers and retirees to mostly fend for themselves, offering them little substantively to cope with their duress. Over the continued objections of Democrats, the state, then, has failed to mount support measures, monetary and programmatic, designed to help large numbers of Iowans.
On March 3, Reynolds signed a law banning transgender girls and women from female sports, making Iowa the 11th state in the nation to put some form of restriction on transgender female athletes. The legislation has drawn a firestorm of criticism from transgender Iowans, LGBTQ advocacy groups, businesses and Democrats who say it discriminates against transgender girls and violates civil rights laws. Legal experts expect the law to end up in court.
The law requires school-sponsored athletic events to be designated as men’s, women’s or coeducational sports. Athletes competing in women’s sports need to have female listed as the sex on their birth certificate. There is not a similar prohibition for men’s sports.
The above represents a sampling of the ways that the state’s dominant political party conducts its version of operating state matters. The cited items indicate the state’s Republicans penchant for favoring certain beliefs or opinions.
Depending on how state voters respond during the upcoming gubernatorial and midterm election races, there could be a political realignment. This would shift the trajectory of the state’s leadership, policies, and programs.
March 30, 2022