Dear friend,

For folks who care about equity and opportunity, Iowa legislative sessions have been tough for a while. But the level of meanspiritedness on display this session is next level — and heartbreaking. 

What brings me hope is the active resistance, including rallies held at the Capitol over the last weeks powerfully pushing back against efforts to erode LGBTQ+ rights and loosen child labor laws. Whatever issue that moves you, I hope you'll use your voice. Call your legislators, email the Governor's office, attend a legislative forum, show up at a rally. 

We probably can't stop all the damage to come, but we can make lawmakers think twice and make the bad votes hard. And we can show Iowans, including lawmakers, an alternate vision for our state that promotes true opportunity for all. 

Be well,

Anne Discher, Executive Director

Iowa HHS abandons critical adolescent mental health data collection

In the midst of a youth mental health crisis, HHS is abandoning its only source of nationally comparable data on the mental-health experiences of Iowa high school students — including those of transgender and nonbinary students.

The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services announced last month it will no longer conduct the planned 2023 Iowa Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). For 25 years, the YRBS  captured data on adolescent health topics including obesity, alcohol use, tobacco, violence, and, critically, mental health and suicide.

It’s difficult to interpret HHS’s decision to abandon the YRBS as anything but a contribution to the broader anti-trans agenda at the Iowa Capitol. From our blog:

"Astonishingly, HHS leaders are so eager to erase the health experiences of trans students that they are willing to abandon their best source of all adolescent health data to do so."

The Iowa survey decision mirrors similar moves in red states across the country. In April 2022, Florida governor Ron DeSantis pulled his state out of the YRBS, also in the midst of a flurry of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

Data from the 2021 Iowa YRBS, which was released last month, shows the scale of mental health challenges facing Iowa youth, especially LGBTQ+ youth. 

 

Child labor expansion proposal still alive

Lawmakers in both houses are moving to loosen protections for children in the workforce. Despite glossy pictures portrayed by proponents, the bill opens the door to new risks in the workplace and on the roads to and from work for 14-to-17-year-olds. Common Good Iowa will be among the advocates taking part in a Day of Action at the Capitol starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 25. 

The Iowa bill and similar proposals in Arkansas and Ohio have drawn alarm nationally, and this week U.S. Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda spoke out against them. From today's Des Moines Register

“It is irresponsible for states to consider loosening child labor protections," Nanda said. "Federal and state entities should be working together to increase accountability and ramp up enforcement ― not make it easier to illegally hire children to do what are often dangerous jobs.”

 

Income tax-cut proposal would bring draconian cuts to schools, human services, public safety

Along with proposals for property tax cuts that would hamstring local governments’ ability to provide public services, a Senate proposal would institute a new round of income-tax cuts that would decimate the state's ability to provide public services.

SSB 1126 would phase out the individual income tax, and with it half the revenues available for the state's General Fund. By phasing in the cuts well after passing the bill, tax-cut boosters can lean into promises of trickle-down prosperity that history simply does not support and avoid acknowledging the harms that will be caused by these cuts. Read more about the proposal in our blog.

Lawmakers proposing to eliminate the state individual income should at the least be honest about what services they will cut to pay for it.

In the current fiscal year, the personal income tax generates 47% of the General Fund. Imagine cutting nearly half of all services the state funds! We could eliminate all human services (27% of the general fund) — quit participating in Medicaid and CHIP, abandon child protective services, stop all public health activities — and we'd be only a bit over halfway there. If we instead eliminated every last dollar of state aid to school districts (43%)? Not enough. 

What half of the budget would you cut? 

 

Strange Brew tickets going fast! Get yours today!

We are in the midst of some dark days in Iowa, but it means coming together to laugh and encourage one another over a tankard of ale is just that much more important.

Join us on Wednesday, March 29 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at Ken's Speakeasy at the Iowa Taproom with Special Guest Rep. Molly Buck of Ankeny and comedy emcee Ty Rushing of Iowa Starting Line. Enjoy delicious appetizers, some fantastic craft beers and most of all the company of good friends as we look ahead for our state.

Hear some important updates on the work of Common Good Iowa and how you can get involved and of course, help us raise funds to support our work to research and advocate for bold policy for Iowa families and communities.

TICKETS: $40 for single tickets -- Get yours now!

JOIN OUR HOST COMMITTEE:
Community Hero ... $500
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