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NDN Election Central Q&A: Democrat Dan Nieland

Name: Dan Nieland

City: Rural Altoona

Office sought: Iowa Senate District 15

Occupation: Co-owner, Pine Hollow Stables; adjunct instructor, Des Moines Area Community College

Education: Master's degree in business administration, public management emphasis

Elected offices held: Former city council member and board of adjustment member, St. Charles, MO.

1. Reintroduce yourselves to Jasper County voters, and explain why you want to serve in the Iowa Senate.

Who am I? I am a farmer, educator, husband and father. Working with livestock, and with that land, I realize the value of hard work in my everyday life. In my DMACC classroom, I have the ability to work with our future business people and leaders. Both of these careers keep me grounded and humble – two traits not very common in the Statehouse currently, but very much needed. I bring a unique and varied experience to this race. ​

Why do I want to serve in the Senate? In short, we currently have a broken system. I chose to seek election to the Iowa Senate because I have always believed that the people should be the beneficiaries of politics, not the other way around. The current Republican administration and majority have chosen to put people at the back of the line – behind the politics and special interests they see as more important. As such, I thought it important to step up and do my best – along with others that feel the same way – to get our state back on track. ​

2. The privatization of Iowa's Medicaid system has been plagued with administrative issues and created problems for patients and providers seeking reimbursement for services. Do you see a path forward for managed-care, or do you favor a return to the state-run Medicaid system?

Due to the administrative issues, including the problems created for Medicaid patients and providers, we need to move rapidly to fix the issues created by privatization. People are quite literally being harmed as a direct result of privatization. Moving back to a state-run system would do two things. First, it would put the patients first. Secondly, it would eliminate the profit motivation of the MCOs – thus reducing costs overall. ​

3. Has being on the campaign trail changed or altered your perspective on any one issue? If so, explain.

If anything, talking with people about the issues on a daily basis has served to cement my view that the priorities of the current majority/administration are completely backward. Republicans’ lack of funding for education, removal of workers’ rights and making it more difficult to get access to affordable health care has led to serious issues. I cannot say it often or forcefully enough: People should be the beneficiaries of politics, not the other way around. ​

4. What do you see as the biggest issues facing constituents in your district? If elected, how will you address these issues?

The biggest issue is the lack of economic opportunity for all. The things I view as most important all lead to increasing economic opportunity, and I will focus on each of the following. No. 1: Education and 21st-century job training provide a basis from which to build a meaningful career, thus leading to a better life. No. 2: I view Union membership as another opportunity for economic opportunity. The assault on Chapter 20 (and the Republican desire to ‘tweak’ IPERS) are dangerous precedents that will only continue to erode the economic opportunity provided by things such as collective bargaining. Attacks on workers’ rights need to cease. No. 3: We need to get back to focusing on small, main street businesses instead of giant giveaways to corporations – often from out of state. Most employment comes from small business. In addition, they are more innovative and inventive. Government focusing on small business will allow for more and greater economic opportunity for the business owner. Beyond the economic opportunity for the individual, all three of these priorities also have secondary benefits to the state. They will result in increased employment and expanded tax base. ​

5. U.S. Tariffs on some imported goods have caused American trading partners, specifically China, to retaliate with counter-tariffs — shrinking markets for Iowa crop and livestock producers. The Des Moines Register reported in September, Iowa farmers could lose $2.2 billion in the trade dispute. What is your position on the Trump Administration's farmer bailout, and what would you tell Washington lawmakers about a potential looming crisis?

I think our elected officials should be shouting at the top of their lungs regarding the damage being inflicted upon my fellow farmers by the tariffs. The sad thing is that it is self-inflicted. It is not being done by another country. It is being done by OUR government TO us. Ask any farmer, and they will tell you that they will take trade over aid any day. If it is not rectified soon, there will be severe and lasting effects to our farm economy here in Iowa. In addition, since agriculture accounts for such a large sector of our economy, there will be repercussions throughout our whole economy. ​

6. The first medical cannabis dispensary owned by MedPharm is slated to open this year in Iowa. Do you favor expanding the new medical cannabis law to approve cannabinoid oil for use with more medical conditions? Does Iowa's current law go far enough to allow patients access?

The current law does not go far enough to allow patients access to medical cannabis. I would vote to expand the law to provide access to cannabinoid oil as well. ​

7. Iowa's total tax revenue increased by 4 percent since July 2017, compared to 1.6 percent growth in the same time period the year prior. That's due to an automatic increase in Iowa tax withholdings after federal income tax cuts. The legislature will be phasing out federal deductibility for 2019 to return revenue increases to normal levels. With Iowa's coffers strained causing mid-year budget cuts, is this still a good strategy? How will this affect public school SSA, funding for mental health and water quality initiatives in Iowa?

One of the biggest areas in which the current Republican administration/majority have let down the state and its people is in the area of tax policy (again, putting policy before people). From the tax bill passed last year, to looking at reducing federal deductibility, it appears that they just do not have a handle on basic economics. We as a state have bills we need to pay – public school SSA, mental health, infrastructure, staff, etc. Continually cutting taxes as an exercise in getting votes is actively harming the very people they are supposed to be representing.

Once elected, I will push for a top-to-bottom review of the budget. We need to get back to prioritizing the things that are truly important – and then pay for them. That does not necessarily mean a tax increase. We need to examine where our money is going. The wealthy and big corporations that pay zero taxes should not be rewarded with even more tax breaks. The average person drives an economy. If we do not have money to spend, businesses do not exist. Again, we need to get back to providing economic opportunity and putting the people first.

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