Iowa 2022 legislative session kicks off with lawmakers focusing on workforce shortage, tax cuts, education

Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 7:51 PM CST
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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCRG) - 150 Iowa lawmakers gaveled in at 10am Monday morning at the State Capitol, opening the 2022 legislative session. Republicans control both the House and Senate, as lawmakers on both sides are looking to tackle a wide range of topics this year.

During opening speeches, both Republican and Democrat leaders pointed to the shortage of workers seen across the country, and in Iowa, as a key issue for the session.

Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls, a Democrat from Johnson County, says Democratic lawmakers are “laser focused” on addressing the disparity in the workforce between job openings and job seekers. “We want to make sure we’re making good investments in career and technical education,” says Wahls. “We know that our community colleges do a fantastic job of preparing that workforce, we think we have to continue to make those investments, not cut off their funding.”

Lawmakers highlighted the need to address factors contributing to the workforce shortage.

Representative Molly Donahue, a Democrat from Linn County, says it’s important to expand services like affordable childcare. “We can’t get people to work if their kids have nowhere to go,” says Donahue. “We need to make sure that those jobs those people are going to are good paying jobs, and they can afford to work one job and then go home and raise their children and not have to work 2 and 3 jobs just to make ends meet.”

Donahue is a long-time educator. She says she’d like to see school be fully funded. “We have a shortage of teachers,” says Donahue. “We need to make sure that we have a state that is welcoming, and promoting education as a number one thing.”

Representative Steven Bradley, a Republican from Jones County, is on the Economic Development Committee. He says he’s expecting to see “bold” approaches to addressing the workforce crisis. Bradley says tax reform is another priority for him this session, saying “We’d sure like to get taxes down. We have $1.2 billion in excess, we’d like to get that back to the hardworking tax payers in the state of Iowa. We also will probably have another billion this year. So we can get that back.”

Speaker of the House Pat Grassley, a Republican from Butler County, echoed a priority of getting the the $1.24 billion surplus, left from the last fiscal year, back into the hands of taxpayers in his opening remarks Monday morning, adding the relief could help Iowa families hurt by inflation.

One change this session came as journalists aren’t allowed on the Senate chamber floor. The majority Republicans said they made the decision because of the proliferation of non-traditional media outlets.

Tuesday evening at 6pm, Governor Kim Reynolds will deliver her Condition of the State address to lay out her legislative priorities.

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