The pace of the legislative session is picking up with the third week under our belt. Committees are hard at work reviewing and discussing proposed legislation. We will soon begin to take up bills on the House floor that have passed out of a committee and I look forward to sending them to the Senate for their consideration.
As we move forward this session, we will continue to focus on legislation that benefits ALL Iowans, rather than proposals that pit one group against another. We will work together in a bipartisan manner to pass laws that are in the best interest for our state. Unlike the President’s declaration to circumvent Congress and enact new policies on his own through Executive Order, we will instead concentrate on working across the aisle to find compromise on the important issues facing Iowans.
We will continue to look for ways to return unused tax dollars to Iowans and to take less of your money from the beginning. We want to help those who already have too much of their paychecks taken from the government. To that extent, last year we offered a proposal to reform our income tax system which would give Iowans a choice when paying their income taxes. Under our proposal, each person would be able to choose to pay their income taxes under the current system or use a 4.5 percent flat tax with zero deductions. The bill is currently in the Senate and we look forward to further discussion.
We will also work to increase educational opportunities for those seeking upward mobility. Over the last three years, the Legislature has increased our investment in Iowa’s community colleges by 22 percent. At a time when employers are expressing their concern about a lack of skilled workforce, Iowa’s community colleges are providing a tremendous level of job training to meet those needs.
Conversations surrounding the minimum wage have been taking place at the state and national level. It has been seven years since the last time Iowa raised the minimum wage, and discussion on the issue is reasonable. We need to have these conversations in order to learn how an increase will affect our businesses and communities. No one can deny that an increase in the minimum wage has a jobs penalty. While the extent of the jobs penalty is largely anecdotal, the Employment Policies Institute recently released a study that says Iowa would lose between 5,229 and 15,687 jobs if the minimum wage went to $10.10 per hour. We will continue to listen to the discussion surrounding this issue, while continuing to consider the impact it could have on our state.
In other news, we were honored to receive a visit from Simon Estes. In conjunction with the Iowa Alliance for Arts Education Day on the Hill, Mr. Estes, along with the organization’s Executive Director Leon Kuehner and others from across Iowa, spent the day at the Capitol promoting the importance of fine arts in our state. We were blessed to have Mr. Estes begin our day by singing “God Bless America” during our opening prayer in the House. Following the prayer, the House passed House Resolution 103, a resolution celebrating the fine arts in Iowa’s schools and communities. Needless to say, it was wonderful to have Mr. Estes, a true Iowa treasure, grace us with his presence and beautiful voice.
Moving forward, as previously mentioned, we are eager to pass legislation that will be helpful to all Iowans. I always appreciate hearing your ideas on how to improve our state. If you have any feedback or would like to raise a concern, please do not hesitate to contact me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-281-4618. I look forward to hearing from you!