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NDN Election Central Q&A: Republican Jon Thorup

Name: Jon Thorup

City: Knoxville

Office sought: State Representative, Iowa House District 28

Occupation: Iowa State Trooper


Elected offices held:

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

I grew up in Knoxville and I still serve central Iowa as an Iowa State Trooper. I’m running for this office because I want to keep improving Iowa. It’s a good place to live, but we still have problems. Lately, our area has seen some scary events Two of the scariest were the murder of a young lady nearby, and now an attempted child abduction in Monroe.

This type of crime will become more frequent unless we put a stop to it. My entire working life has been devoted to public safety. Naturally, that’s one of my biggest concerns, but it’s certainly not my only concern.

Another main goal is to make state politics more collegial. Partisan politics has reached a fever pitch, and at the end of the day, that’s not good for Iowa. The parties need to disagree without being disagreeable. 

To that end, I am offering something new: If elected, I will offer to attend local Democrat committee meetings, and libertarian committee meetings, at least once per year. The parties need to hear each other out. We might not agree on everything, but I think that all parties are entitled to have a dialogue with their elected officials, not just the party that the officials belong to.

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?

The citizens in District 28 are telling me that the privatized model is not working. I favor a return to the state system. However, everyone should know that it’s not going to be as easy as flipping a light switch. We no longer have the state employees that administered Medicaid. We will need to hire and train that staff again. At the end of the day, people need care, and they are not getting that care. That’s not acceptable.

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

I’m certain that my perspective has been broadened, and I think that’s important. If elected, I will not be working for a party, I won’t even be working for The State of Iowa. I will be working for the citizens of District 28, and I will be listening to what they think is important. With that in mind, every time I speak to residents about their opinions on issues, my perspective broadens in one way or another.

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

A few of the big issues are mental health, Medicaid, taxes and budgeting. However, that’s just a few of them. These are big and complicated issues. If they were simple, they would have been solved long before they became subjects of political debate. As such, the solutions to the problems can’t be boiled down to even a few hundred words. Worthwhile and considered solutions are never easy, and they can’t be stuffed into a 30-second soundbite either.

I can say this though, one thing that will help EVERY issue is an improved relationship between the parties. One thing that I would take to the Capitol would be my passion for bringing the parties together. It’s natural and proper for the parties to disagree, but it’s not acceptable for them to simply spew bile at each other.

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?

Regarding tariffs, I’m taking my advice from the farmers in District 28. After all, it’s their livelihoods that are most at stake. The majority are telling me that at present, we need to stay patient. Many are also telling me that at some point, we needed to get rid of unfair trading practices such as those used by China. While there has been some damage to our markets, we expect favorable treatment to our farmers in the future. I think that they deserve some indemnification. One-time market facilitation payments are appropriate as we strive for trade reforms.

Each facet of our state’s economy is somehow connected to agriculture. We need to make sure that farmers are doing well. Period.

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?

First, I disagree with my opponent’s suggestion that Iowa farmers should cycle marijuana in with corn and beans into their row crops. I’m sure her idea is borne of good intent, but I think that it’s bad policy. One reason is that until our state gets a handle on our opioid epidemic, we shouldn’t be bringing in acres and acres of another drug. Another reason is the effect that it would have on Iowa youth. No teenager in Iowa lives more than fifteen minutes from a farm field. If we start growing marijuana all over the state, how many more young people will start using drugs.

Having said that, I feel differently when it comes to truly medicinal uses for marijuana. Providing that medical professionals prescribe responsibly, and those that are medicated use it as prescribed, I think that it can be a very good thing. Some prescribed forms of marijuana have even been altered so that there is very little intoxicating effect. I believe that if controlled properly, it can improve a person’s quality of life without hurting society.

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?

We had major changes in our tax code this year. I don’t think it’s wise to turn around next year and make new major changes to the recent major changes. Our economy won’t have a chance to find stable footing. I’m optimistic about where we are going in this area, and I believe that we need to stay the course for now.

There is evidence to suggest that last year's tax changes are already having a positive effect. Revenues are up. Iowa has over $760 million in our reserve funds. Of all general fund appropriations, education continues to be the largest, currently at 56 percent. I think that’s a significant commitment.

If we can fund education,then we can also fund other priorities. The state budget is in decent shape, unemployment is the lowest it has ever been at 2.5 percent, and Iowa incomes are rising.

As far as water quality goes, we have two dedicated sources of funding for water quality that will continue to provide hundreds of millions for water quality initiatives over the next 15-20 years.

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