Tax cuts, changes in education among GOP legislative priorities


DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The Iowa legislature begins the 2022 session on Monday with nearly $ 2 billion in the bank and strong demand from Republican legislative leaders and the governor to cut taxes.

There will be a setback from Democrats and others calling for spending some of the excess money on priority areas such as public schools and improving child care, and leaders on both sides acknowledge that Iowa would face the shortage of workers to fill vacancies.

Controversial social issues are also likely to surface, as some of their most ardent supporters urge Republicans to ban abortion and limit access to books that some consider too salty for school libraries.


All 150 lawmakers and staff will return to Capitol Hill without a mask, vaccine or test required, as COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly throughout the state.

Here are some questions that should be given priority this session:

TAX REDUCTIONS

With Republicans in charge of the legislative branch and governor’s office, the popular political promise of tax cuts is the order of the day. Iowa and many other states saw a one-time boost in federal COVID-19 aid, which fueled an increase in consumer spending that pushed up tax collection and state revenues. The challenge is figuring out what happens to state revenues when the impact of federal funding declines, although Gov. Kim Reynolds and Republican legislative leaders say it’s their stewardship of the Iowa economy that contributed the most to the cash surplus. Iowa has over $ 2 billion in excess cash. Reynolds and Republican lawmakers say they plan to offer significant tax cuts. Democrats argue that any tax cut should target middle-to-low-income Iowans and small businesses, and go towards programs to help working Iowans, including job training, paid family time off, child care. children and housing.

LABOR

Iowa suffers from a severe labor shortage. Reynolds has said she will bring forward a comprehensive bill that includes proposed changes to unemployment benefits. “The unemployment code was written a long, long time ago, when we were in a very different position and today we have to encourage people to work, not pay people to stay at home”, she declared. Democrats partly attribute the labor shortage to Republican-backed policies on socially divisive issues such as abortion limits, restricted voting rights and ignoring a call for l action on civil rights. “Over the past five years of Republican control, these cultural warfare tactics have made it even more difficult to retain current workers in Iowa or to recruit and attract new workers to Iowa,” the leader said. Senate Democrat Zach Wahls.

VACCINE MANDATES

Instead of taking steps to further discourage COVID-19 vaccine warrants, Reynolds and GOP legislative leaders have said it’s best to wait for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on the policies of the U.S. Biden administration. Reynolds opposes vaccine warrants proposed by Biden in federal court cases. Some lawmakers want to ban companies from requiring the shots. Last year, Reynolds signed a law passed by Republicans that allows employees to opt out of vaccine requirements for health or religious reasons and makes workers eligible for unemployment benefits if they are made redundant for refusing the vaccine. Speaker of the House Pat Grassley said he agreed, but the legislature should be ready to act if the courts allow warrants to continue.

ABORTION

Republican lawmakers opposed to abortion rights are eager to push for abortion restrictions, which could include a proposal similar to a Texas law that ended abortions but is now being challenged in the State Supreme Court -United. If the court overturns the Roe v. Wade, he would send the abortion policy back to every state. Reynolds and Grassley said they were inclined to wait for court rulings before taking further action.

EDUCATION

Republicans seem poised to change laws regarding the control of books in school libraries. Reynolds said parents need more transparency in what their children are going through at school. “Parents need to know what books are in the library to give them a chance to weigh,” she said. Amy Sinclair, who chairs the Senate education committee, said her highest priority “is to talk about a parent’s bill of rights,” which may include monitoring what books are available to children and what is taught in classrooms. Democratic Representative Jennifer Konfrst said Republican rhetoric about schools, including the discussion about removing library books, has contributed to a teacher shortage.

RACIAL PROFILING

Reynolds said she plans to come up with legislation that would help tackle racial profiling in Iowa after signing a bill last year that disappointed many civil rights activists. The bill signed by Reynolds strengthened criminal penalties for certain protest activity and offered protections for law enforcement, ignoring promised racial profiling language. His proposal will likely be based on recommendations from a task force chaired by Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg, which focused on a Nebraska law that automatically collects data on the race of individuals arrested by police.


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