Author CS Lewis notes, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” The year 2020 will be remembered for the heroics and hardships experienced by many. To the incredible communities, our local leaders, our first-responders, our citizens calling for action, we salute you and your service to making Iowa a better place.
This year’s legislative session concluded after an historic “pause” for the COVID-19 pandemic. When Senators left the Statehouse in March, Iowa’s economy was the strongest on record, unemployment the lowest, and significant investments achieved in K-12 education. By the end of March, thousands of Iowans would be infected with the Coronavirus, and sadly many hundreds of our fellow citizens would lose their lives. Iowa’s economy faced its worst output since the Great Depression.
Working together as a State, we forged ahead. Iowa diligently combatted the epidemic at the local, county, and state-level. Together, we executed a smart phased-approach to re-open Iowa’s economy and helped save tens of thousands of small businesses and hundreds of communities across the state from long-term collapse. In June, the legislature reconvened as the nation called-out for bold leadership.
The 2020 session was an empowering reflection of Iowans helping Iowans — to recover from sickness, to reconstitute from economic damage, and to purposefully engage in policies to make our state safer, and stronger.
I am proud to have worked across the aisle with legislators from both political parties, and Governor Kim Reynolds to lead the passage of the following legislation:
COVID Health Resources:full-coverage access to COVID-19 assistance by expanding telehealth services, providing $5-million for central Iowa mental health, and leading efforts to combat drug.
COVID Work Protection: defense for employers and employees to safely return to work under health guidelines, without the fear of frivolous lawsuits, to re-open Iowa.
Police Reforms: swift and unanimous action, informed by leaders in the community for racial justice, and law enforcement, where Iowa set a new standard for the nation: banning police chokeholds in non-life threatening situations, allows the Attorney General to investigate incidents of police involved homicide, de-escalation training, and stops the “fire/rehire” of bad police officers between law enforcement departments. Iowans are stronger than anything that divides us. We must continue to work together.
Fiscal Responsibility: $7.7 billion budget passed, with the wise use of the budget surplus to reduce the hardship of COVID-19 costs without additional burden on Iowa families. Majority of state agencies and departments received no cuts. Several received new investment, including: $100 million more for K-12 Education, $32 million more for Medicaid, and $16.5 million more for HAWK-I children’s’ health insurance.
Ending Animal Cruelty: Lawful protections for owners of companion animals to prevent unlawful “puppy mills,” and stop wanton cruelty and torture by individuals later linked to crimes against people, including child abuse and elder abuse.
Judicial Reform: led legislation holding habitually violent offenders accountable — including repeat child abusers and violence against seniors — with swift prosecutions and real prison time. Equally, providing non-violent first-time offenders the opportunity for community-based rehabilitation learning an employable trade skill to help their families and save the tax-payers millions.
As ever, it is an honor to serve alongside you.