Living in Society

88th Iowa General Assembly – Is There Common Ground?

Iowa Capitol

Voters chose Republican control of the Iowa legislature last November and elected incumbent Republican Kim Reynolds governor. When the 88th Iowa General Assembly convenes next week, Democrats are expected to have limited influence over policy and law emerging from the state house.

We’ve been to this rodeo during the 87th General Assembly, and there is no reason to believe the efforts to remake our state in a more conservative mold will end. Is there common ground?

First, there is common ground, something forgotten during the politically divisive times in which we live. Among the most discussed issues during the general election were appropriate levels of funding for K-12 schools and higher education, improving water quality, encouraging a resilient system of agriculture, and bringing better fiscal discipline to privatized Medicaid.

There are other issues with less agreement that also require work. The legislature doubled corporate tax credits over the last five years and there is no evidence they are working to create jobs or improve Iowa’s economy. In 2010 voters approved a Natural Resource and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund which hasn’t been funded by the legislature. In 2013, legislation mandated a “rollback order” shifting the property tax burden from businesses to homeowners and farms. The legislature has been budgeting a “back fill” to protect property owners and a permanent solution is needed. It seems likely the general assembly will produce an amendment to the Iowa Constitution to enshrine the verbiage found in the second amendment to the U.S. Constitution. To make any impact on these, Democrats will be required to work smart against tough opposition.

We live in a conservative part of the most liberal county in a conservative state. We have a Republican state representative and a Democratic state senator as we have since after 2010 re-districting. The message I have for them going into the 2019 session is simple. Hold the line on guns, tax cuts, worker rights, reproductive rights. Create a bipartisan initiative to help farmers produce more revenue per acre, and do things (anything) that makes sense and supports Iowa values.

We’ll see if they are up to the challenge.