This week on Capitol Hill marked the 15th week and 100th day of the 2022 legislative session.
While the 100th day usually marks the scheduled end of the session, we will be back in the coming weeks to complete our work for the year. Until we adjourn, the Senate will continue to fight for priorities important to Iowans, such as unemployment, education and labor policy reform.
We take the time to ensure that Iowa’s money is spent wisely by developing a fiscally responsible budget and continuing to implement conservative spending practices. As Majority Leader Jack Whitver told the Des Moines Register recently, “We weren’t elected to come and spend money. We will continue to work on policy that will improve the lives of Iowans and make Iowa’s future even stronger.
Child Care Solutions for Iowans
Access to child care has been a significant issue for many Iowans for several years and continues to be one of the issues we hear the most about when speaking to voters. We believe that the simplest and most effective solutions to solving child care problems are less government intervention and less burdensome regulations. Earlier this year, the Senate passed legislation changing child-to-staff ratios for child care centers and allowing child care centers to care for more children. Iowa’s current restrictions on child care ratios are stricter than those in states around us, such as Minnesota and Illinois. They are also stricter than federal government standards.
This bill is a sensible solution to help parents who may have difficulty finding child care without enacting restrictive regulations for small businesses. It can also help child care centers increase caregiver salaries without raising prices for families.
Senate Docket 333 is a bill from last year that makes a variety of changes to current laws relating to licensed emergency vehicles, emergency management vehicles, and emergency medical services vehicles. It improves public safety by providing tools to officers and requiring additional training for officers to apprehend fleeing suspects.
There was an incident in the district I represent that demonstrates the need for this legislation as it will help protect our emergency responders when responding to incidents and align the code with current practices.
City of Dewitt Receives Housing Grant
Last week, I was notified by Governor Kim Reynolds’ office that the City of DeWitt was receiving a $600,000 downtown housing grant to support a $14 million project for 53 apartments. The newly created program provides $20 million in financial assistance for projects supporting local downtown revitalization through new and renovated housing opportunities in communities with populations under 30,000.
This funding invests in building rehabilitation projects to increase local housing options on upper floors. Projects creating or improving less than 10 units are eligible for $100,000 to $300,000 while projects creating 10 or more units are eligible for $100,000 to $600,000.
Resolution supporting the Bison Bridge
This week, I introduced Senate Resolution 115 which urges the development of plans for the new Interstate 80 bridge over the Mississippi River in Scott County, which includes the incorporation of the Bison Bridge. The Bison Bridge project would reuse the existing I-80 bridge by turning it into a national park site that would be a wildlife and recreation crossing. Supporters are calling on local, state and federal levels to support this project which is a collaboration between the Iowa and Illinois Departments of Transportation. To learn more, visit: https://bisonbridge.org/.
George Wash Carver Day: On Tuesday, the Senate passed SF 2380, a bill to designate February 1 each year as George Washington Carver Day in Iowa. George Washington Carver was an agricultural scientist, inventor, and the first African American to earn a Bachelor of Science degree. He attended Simpson College, where he studied art and piano, then attended Iowa State University, where he studied botany.
Washington Carver invented and created many new agricultural innovations, one of the most important being the idea of crop rotation, which is still used in Iowa fields to this day. He also received the Iowa Award, the state’s highest civic honor, in 2002. Through his perseverance and spirit of innovation, he has dramatically improved the lives of people around the world, helping to reduce food costs for the whole world.
As we wind down the last days and weeks of the legislative session, I encourage you to contact me on questions, budgets and bills of interest. Please feel free to contact me at (563) 289-7335 or [email protected]
State Senator Chris CournoyerR-LeClaire, represents District 49 in the Iowa Senate.