Buckle up, friend — the Iowa legislature is moving fast. 

When the Iowa legislature moved subcommittee and committee hearings online due to coronavirus, it looked like an opportunity to use technology to allow more Iowans to participate in the legislative process, despite the pandemic. The reality, though, has been less than fully open. On the Senate side, subcommittees, the primary place for Iowans to speak on a bill, are held online, and anyone in the public can "raise their hand" and speak — if they have a Zoom account. In House subcommittee hearings, though, only people in the room are allowed to speak and lawmakers are not considering written comments during the meeting. This means only opinions voiced in person are considered by lawmakers before they vote. 

Limited public input combined with the rapid pace of legislating to date limits the range of ideas considered by lawmakers. Below are several issues at the Capitol you should know about and ways to make your thoughts known. 


Voucher plan would undercut public schools

Every Iowa student deserves to access quality public education and an equal chance in life — regardless of their race, income or where they live. But Governor Reynolds' proposed school voucher plan (SF 159) would would deprive neighborhood public schools, and the communities that depend on them, of resources students need to learn and succeed. Lawmakers should reject vouchers.


Consensus among business and early care advocates on child care

Early education advocates and business leaders alike are sounding the alarm about Iowa families' struggle to find and afford quality child care. At a January 13 subcommittee on a bill that would expand child care assistance for low-wage families, every lobbyist present, including the Iowa Business Association and the Iowa Credit Union League, urged passage — and asked them go further, citing the direct link between families affording child care and their ability to participate in the workforce. Lawmakers should listen. 


Don't rush into inheritance tax repeal

Iowa's inheritance tax already does a good job of protecting family wealth: spouses and “lineal” descendants and ascendants pay no inheritance tax on estates of any size, and beneficiaries of estates of less than $25,000 pay no inheritance tax whatever the relationship. Getting rid of the inheritance tax would overwhelmingly benefit beneficiaries of Iowa's wealthiest estates, worsen inequality and take resources away from Iowa schools, human services and public health efforts.


Your voice makes a difference

The pandemic has made advocating directly with lawmakers more difficult, but not impossible. And it's made the voices of individual Iowans even more important. Not sure who represents you? Check out our lawmaker lookup tool to get the details — including contact information  on your legislators by clicking below. 


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