Happy first week of the 2020 Iowa legislative session. Lawmakers returned to Des Moines Monday for what is expected to be a 100-day session, and Tuesday Gov. Kim Reynolds gave her Condition of the State address in the House chambers (more on that below).
That means we’re back in legislative mode at the Center, too! Here is our legislative agenda. You can expect weekly Capitol updates from us for the next few months.
I'm going into session thinking of a child care policy meeting I was lucky to attend last week in Baltimore. Organized by the smart folks at the National Women’s Law Center, state advocates from around the country plotted how to make child care more affordable and accessible, and what a truly universal child care system would look like.
Here was one speaker's challenge to the group. She posed it in the context of child care, but it’s a powerful check on our policy goals across the board. “Ask yourself this: Is this thing we’re pursuing addressing any of the structural barriers that are holding families back?”
“Ask yourself this: Is this thing we’re pursuing addressing any of the structural barriers that are holding families back?”
Isn't that the right question? Are we promoting — and holding lawmakers accountable — for acting at the structural level to improve life for Iowa families, and not just nibble around the edges?
That's doesn't mean we shouldn't take the small wins — we should! — but let's be sure our small wins are in service to a larger vision for what Iowa children and families need and a road map (and reasonable revenue structure) to get there.
Anne Discher, Executive Director
Condition of State reveals Governor's priorities
Gov. Kim Reynolds presented her Condition of the State address Tuesday morning, and we and our friends at the Iowa Policy Project spent the afternoon digging into her proposals.
Child care? Taxes? Education? Mental Health? Get your hot takes here.
Our two groups comprise the Iowa Fiscal Partnership, a joint effort to promote policies that enhance economic opportunity for Iowa’s low-income and working families and provide adequate revenue, equitably raised, for essential public services.
New on the pod
"Let's be bold and visionary"
CFPC staffers took a deeper dive into several of the Governor's proposals in this week's podcast. In her address, she charged lawmakers to "be bold and visionary" moving into the new decade. Click below to hear Anne, Mary Nelle and Sheila break down parts of the governor's agenda — mental health, child care, maternal health and taxes — and assess just how bold and visionary they are.
With the beginning of the 2020 legislative session earlier this week, we checked in with fellow child and family advocates in Iowa to learn about challenges youth and families currently face — and the solutions policymakers should focus on at the capitol.
SNAP bill would punish poor parents
Lawmakers have introduced a bill that would cause non-custodial parents who are behind on child support obligations to lose their Food Assistance. It’s a scaled-down version of a bill that got some traction, but ultimately failed to advance, last year.
There are positive, proven strategies Iowa could employ to help non-custodial parents comply with child support obligations. But this is not one of them.
We know from the experiences of states that have tried similar measures that they only succeed in punishing parents who are experiencing poverty. They do little to yield extra income for children. In fact, when non-custodial parents lose food assistance because they can't meet the child support requirements, it just makes it harder for them to find stable financial footing. These measures are also administratively complex, requiring states to develop new systems to share information between SNAP and child support recovery units.
The bill has been assigned to a subcommittee, but no meeting has been scheduled as of this writing. We’ll be working to educate subcommittee members on the reasons this bill is harmful to Iowa families.
Want to go deeper? Curious about the status of key bills? The Center maintains a bill tracker to outline the specific legislation we are following this this session.
Find your legislator
Not sure who represents you? With 50 senators and 100 representatives, it can be hard to keep tabs. Visit our Legislator Lookup tool to find out who represents you in the state house and senate, biographical information about each one and a link to their legislative websites, which list contact information and committee membership. All you need to do is enter your home address and zip code.