Looking out for Iowans after this year's legislative session ends



The 2018 legislative session wrapped up on Saturday, May 5.

I have been listening to folks in my district who are looking for real solutions to real problems. With a few exceptions, this year’s session fell short on those solutions, and Iowans are already feeling the consequences.

Iowans deserve better, and we can do better. Here are six ways:

1. Everyday Iowans should always come first. Much of this session’s key legislation passed without bipartisan support and without public input because it was driven by special interests.

2. Health care costs should be lowered and access to quality health care should be improved.

3. College and job training must be made affordable.

4. A larger skilled workforce must be built by investing in students, community colleges, and public schools.

5. Rural Iowa needs to be revitalized by investing in small towns and local school districts.

6. The state’s budget should be restored with fiscal discipline instead of facing recurring deficits that result in mid-year cuts to vital programs.

We did work on a bipartisan basis to get a start on some critical Iowa issues this session, but didn’t finish the job. For example:

n The Legislature approved a first step toward cleaner water, but the majority party failed to follow up with dedicated funding and monitoring for projects.

n Lawmakers voted to re-shape Iowa’s mental health system, but failed to invest resources to ensure Iowans get the help they need.

n We passed a plan to train more Iowans for immediate skilled-job openings, but legislative leaders cut funding for college and job training.

For more on what happened and didn’t happen this session, check out the 2018 End-of-Session Report at senate.iowa.gov/democrats. I’ll expand on these topics in the coming months as we see how state government priorities impact all of us who live and work in Iowa.

Rita Hart represents Clinton County and northern Scott County in the Iowa Senate.