Iowa’s legislative session convened today, and Republicans have control of the state Senate, House, and the Governor’s office for the first time in 20 years. Governor Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, Speaker Linda Upmeyer, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Dixhave made clear they will implement sweeping far-right reforms that threaten to turn Iowa into the next Kansas or Wisconsin.
What are the biggest threats to everyday Iowans on the agenda? Here are ten policies that Progress Iowa believes Republicans will target:
1. Gut worker’s rights – Republican leaders would like nothing more than to weaken the negotiating rights of public workers. That means our teachers, correction officers, police, firefighters, and many other public workers would have lower wages and fewer health benefits.
2. Defund Planned Parenthood – Senator Dix singled out defunding Planned Parenthood as one of the Senate Republicans’ top four priorities. This would mean reduced access to healthcare for women and the Iowans who need it most.
3. Private School Vouchers – They might call it ‘education savings accounts’ but don’t be mistaken – these are vouchers meant to divert resources away from public schools. Apparently it’s not enough that business tax cuts have grown nearly 6 times as fast as funding for public schools. Now the legislature wants to do even more damage to our children’s future.
4. Lower Iowans’ Wages – That’s right, instead of growing our state’s wages, Republicans appear to be set on decreasing the minimum wage. They plan on passing a “pre-emption” measure, which would remove the local Iowa communities’ minimum wage increases (passed in four counties already). That would mean workers who just got a raise thanks to local municipal changes will have their wages lowered.
5. Voter Suppression Legislation – Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate has proposed new voter suppression legislation that would require restrictive voter identification and signature verification. That will keep many students, lower-income residents and seniors who don’t drive anymore away from the ballot box.
6. Undermining Water Quality Efforts – Rather than fund the water quality improvement effort that voters approved years ago, Republicans look to stall meaningful investment until 2029. Their plan is to extend a 1-cent sales tax starting in that year and pull money away from public schools to pay for water quality efforts at that point. Meanwhile, thousands of Iowans have their drinking water at risk from lead contamination.
7. Legalizing Discrimination Against LGBTQ Iowans – Republicans may try to undercut Iowa’s anti-discrimination laws and make it legal for employers to fire employees simply because they’re gay. They may also go after the gender identity protections in the Iowa Civil Rights Act to hurt transgender Iowans. This legislation has been passed in other states, under the guise of so-called “religious freedom” proposals.
8. Wild West Gun Laws – Iowa may follow many other states and implement “Stand Your Ground” laws, or allow guns on college campuses.
9. Rising Tuition At Iowa Public Colleges – With a $100 million budget shortfall, Republicans could take aim at funding for Iowa’s three regent universities. Even keeping funding at their current levels could mean college is that less affordable for Iowa students.
10. Weaken Iowans’ Legal Rights – One of Majority Leader Dix’s top priorities is to pass a “Loser pays” bill which forces victims to pay more legal fees if they lose a case. That could deter many people from suing companies for fraud and abuse, an important legal right for all Iowans.