The last few days of the legislative session focused mostly on budget issues. This year, the legislature passed a budget of roughly $8.2 billion. This amount includes increased dollars for K-12 education, public safety, and health care. The budget passed this year reflects the priorities of Iowans and implements sustainable increases in spending in those areas.
Senate Republicans have continued to hold fast to the principles of spending conservatively and ensuring the state budget is responsible and sustainable for years to come. Every budget increase must be made carefully and in coordination with the broader goal of easing the tax burden on Iowans.
After years of discussions, the legislature came to an agreement on how to move forward with adjustments to “the bottle bill.” The bill will ensure redemption centers receive more money for the cans they redeem and will help provide Iowans with more options for redeeming bottles and cans.
In addition to improving the economic model for redemption centers, this bill also addresses the priority of getting dirty, unsanitary cans out of grocery stores and establishments where food is prepared. It encourages grocers to have safe and clean methods for redemption. This legislation is a big step toward saving the bottle bill.
A monumental General Assembly
At the beginning of the 2022 legislative session, Senate Republicans set out a bold agenda, setting out significant priorities for the year. These included lowering taxes for Iowans, growing Iowa’s workforce, and making Iowa more competitive not just with the states surrounding us, but also more competitive nationally.
These last few months saw progress on those issues and delivering on a number of promises made. We passed the governor’s workforce bill, eliminating regulations, reducing barriers to job licensure, and promoting career opportunities in Iowa.
We passed legislation to ensure Iowa girls can compete against only other girls in school-sponsored sports, promoting fairness and safety in sports.
We also passed legislation to address the child care challenges in Iowa and help families find affordable care when they need it.
We passed major changes to unemployment in the state, changing the length of benefits from six months to four months, changing the definition of suitable work, and getting more Iowans back to work faster.
The legislature also continued to empower parents by eliminating the open enrollment deadline for Iowa students to enroll in a different public school. Previously, parents had to make a decision to open-enroll their students by March 1 before the upcoming school year. This change allows parents to open-enroll any time during the school year.
We passed a number of other bills to finish out the session, including a bill to eliminate the PRAXIS exam, reducing hurdles to the workforce for teachers. Other bills passed included an update of Iowa’s alcohol laws, allowed children under 16 to accompany an adult who is hunting or trapping, and expanded operational sharing functions for school districts.
At the start of each year, we are consistently looking at how we can make Iowa the best state in the country to live, work and raise a family. The steps we have taken over these last two years have taken the state in the right direction. I look forward to talking with constituents in the coming months about these victories and how we can build on them in the future.
Republicans delivered historic tax reform this session to grow Iowa and strengthen our future. Our transformational tax relief bill will enact a 3.9 percent flat tax for Iowans, implementing a fairer and simpler tax code, making Iowa more competitive, and moving Iowa to the fourth lowest income tax rate in the country. The law also eliminates taxes on retirement income and provides a first-time pension exemption for Iowa farmers.
The 2022 session was a successful year in addressing many issues currently facing the state and is a notable conclusion to the 89th General Assembly, following the many successes we had last year. Last year we passed over $1 billion dollars in tax relief for Iowans over the next several years, including property and income tax relief, eliminating the inheritance tax, and tax relief for small businesses.
State Sen. Tim Kraayenbrink, R-Fort Dodge, represents Calhoun, Humboldt and Pocahontas counties plus most of Webster County.