SIOUX CITY – Lawmakers in Northwest Iowa have made tax reform, tackling labor market shortages, and providing parents with greater choice in education among their top priorities as the annual session opens Monday in Des Moines.
One of the representatives from the region will begin his first session. State Senator Dave Rowley, R-Spirit Lake, won a special election for a vacant seat in District 1 in December 2021. Rowley succeeds Zach Whiting, a Republican from Spirit Lake who resigned to accept a job at Texas.
For a few other lawmakers, this will likely be their last session.
Senator Craig Williams, R-Manning, announced last fall that he would not be running after the redistribution plan passed by state lawmakers paired him with Senator Jason Schultz, R-Schleswig, in the same district.
Sen. Jim Carlin, R-Sioux City, challenges US Senator Chuck Grassley in the June primary and is unlikely to be re-elected to a new Senate seat that includes the Morningside neighborhood of Sioux City.
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15 of 17 lawmakers representing districts in the Journal’s circulation area responded to a Journal reporter request to share their top two legislative priorities for the year. Below are their answers.
Senator Jim Carlin, R-Sioux City, District 3
Was not able to respond on press time with priorities.
Senator Jackie Smith, D-Sioux City, District 7
1. Rebuild the economy – I will work for tax policy that benefits middle class families, not businesses. Investing in affordable housing and affordable high quality child care will improve the standard of living of young families.
2. Workforce Development – Higher wages help, but stopping the bills that divide Iowa and make Iowa seem unwelcoming is pushing employees and employers in our state.
Senator Dave Rowley, R-Spirit Lake, District 1
1. Tax Relief – Our state is able to provide a long term solution for Iowans by reducing individual tax rates. This is the result of a solid budget process and increased revenues.
2. Broadband Expansion – Support the connectivity needed to improve our options in Northwestern Iowa for distance education and work. This is a $ 100 million investment in our state that will make a significant difference to all rural families and businesses in Iowan.
Senator Jeff Taylor, R-Sioux Center, District 2
1. Law Enforcement – Create a Cold Case Unit within the Iowa Criminal Investigation Division
2. Parent Rights – Add language to the Iowa code to more clearly delineate the rights of parents who have children in K-12 schools.
Senator Craig Williams, R-Manning, District 6
1. Tax Reform – Iowa is not competitive with other states when it comes to income taxes, and that must change if we are to attract and retain hard workers.
2. Unemployment Benefits – We have a plethora of unfilled jobs in Iowa, so it’s hard to see why someone may need 6 months to find a job. In times of weak employment opportunities, a longer benefit period may make sense, but that is not the environment we find ourselves in nowâ¦ Changing our unemployment formula puts more money in the hands of people. Iowa employers.
Senator Jason Schultz, R-Schleswig, District 9
1. State Taxes – Continue on the path of tax reform and work towards an end goal of eliminating income tax from the State of Iowa.
2. Social protection reform – Check that the people on our lists are truly eligible and that we are eliminating fraud and waste.
Representative Jacob Bossman, R-Sioux City, District 6
1. Labor shortage – We must do what we can to remove barriers to employment. Everything from licenses and skills training to child care, mental health care and affordable housing are often barriers to employment for many people.
2. Taxation – Right now, the state of Iowa has a billion dollars surplus and another billion dollars in the taxpayer assistance fund. This is an over-take of the Iowa taxpayer’s money, and they deserve their money.
Representative Chris Hall, D-Sioux City, District 13
Was not able to respond on press time with priorities.
Representative Steve Hansen, D-Sioux City, District 14
1. Recruit Workers – This will be a multi-pronged effort where we must contend with good jobs, affordable housing, available child care and an educated workforce. With the budget surplus, we should be able to make significant progress in addressing our labor shortage.
2. Tax Help – I have no doubts that we will seek tax relief for all residents of Iowa. In the last session, I voted in favor of a major tax relief bill and I believe we can go further while remaining fiscally responsible.
Representative John Wills, R-Spirit Lake, District 1
1. Rework Tax Structures – Right now Iowa is one of the highest taxed states in the country and I believe that in order for our state to be more competitive we need to reform our tax structure and that every Iowan that pay taxes should pay less.
2. Strengthen the workforce – We have put in place some very good vocational training and education opportunities, but we need to do other things like licensing reform, child care, out-of-state recruitment, workforce housing and many other things that will attract workers to the state.
Representative Megan Jones, R-Sioux Rapids, District 2
1. Responsible Reform – People are working hard for the money they submit to the state and the state is sitting on a huge overpayment. We need to dive deep into our tax structure, especially income tax, which puts us at a huge disadvantage compared to other states.
2. Address labor shortages – We have 110,000 unfilled jobs. While it is exciting that our economy is creating jobs, we need people who are willing and able to take on those jobs. There is no easy answer here. Governor Reynolds is working on a board plan and I am delighted to hear his ideas and, of course, the ideas of the people of Iowa. However, childcare remains a significant obstacle.
Representative Dennis Bush, R-Cherokee, District 3
1. Refunds- My first legislative priority is to develop a process to return over $ 1.2 billion from the Taxpayer Assistance Fund to the Iowa Taxpayers. The money in this fund corresponds to the revenue collected by the State which exceeded the budget set for this year as well as for previous years.
2. Support for biofuels- Pa bill that supports ethanol producers and allows consumers greater access to cheaper and more environmentally friendly fuel. The ethanol industry is vitally important to Northwestern Iowa. It provides a large number of jobs, both in factories and in peripheral companies.
Representative Tom Jeneary, R-Le Mars, District 5
1. Labor issues, which include child care.
2. Broadband services to rural areas.
Representative Skyler Wheeler, R-Orange City, District 4
1. Abolish Income Tax – I have introduced a bill in the past to do this. Clearly, one of our biggest hindrances to growth is the lack of a competitive tax code. With the large surpluses that we have had as a result of our Conservative budgeting principles, there is no excuse not to do this.
2. Parental Choice in Education – From mask mandates to radical critical race theory, from boys using girl’s locker rooms to books with pornographic content, we’ve seen an outrageous amount of leftism unfold in our schools across the country. across the state. Parents need to be empowered to make the best possible decision about how and where to educate their children.
Representative Gary Worthan, R-Storm Lake, District 11
1. Courts- Continue to hire judges. We are in the process of hiring four new ones right now.
2. Department of Public Security- Keep strengthening the Department of Public Safetyâ¦ We need to keep these things front and center and move them forward.
Representative Matt Windschitl, R-Missouri Valley, District 17
1. Lighten the Tax Burden – Our general fund income is just one example of how prosperous Iowa is. The fact that we have a large revenue surplus is due to good fiscal discipline and the budget practices of Republicans. This excess taxpayer money must be returned to the hard-working Iowa taxpayers and not be spent on growing government.
2. Protect the freedoms of Iowa- It seems that we hear about new government mandates or regulations coming from the federal government every day. We must strive to protect the personal freedoms and freedoms of the people of Iowa from this federal excess. Despite the challenge this presents, it is incumbent upon us, as elected leaders, to protect the sovereignty and citizens of the great state of Iowa.
Representative Steve Holt, R-Denison, District 18
1. Greater parental choice in education.
2. End of COVID warrants.