Chris Cournoyer

Chris Cournoyer

In the third week of the legislative session and members of the Iowa Senate were getting busier with subcommittee and committee work.

Last week was another full week as we debated our first bill of the year. House File 68, known as the Students First Act, was put forward by the governor, passed the Iowa House and Senate and was signed into law. The Students First Act not only allows all families to choose their education path, but also allows public schools flexibility when allocating money including raising teacher salaries with unused funds.

I have stated before that I believe that we have great public schools with great teachers in the state of Iowa and I believe that most parents, like me, will continue to choose their local public schools as the best place for their children to thrive and receive an excellent education. For students that might need another option to fit their needs, the Student First scholarship affords them an alternative opportunity. In Iowa we already fund the Iowa Tuition grant at over $50 million to help students who choose to attend Iowa’s non-public universities and we appropriate funding for students to attend private preschools, so this bill brings K-12 education into that space.

Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver had some remarks at the bill signing, saying, “…school choice means different things to different people. It might be public school to public school through open enrollment. It might mean public school to charter school, it could mean public school to nonpublic school or as we found out throughout COVID, it might mean, can my kids even go to school in a classroom. Throughout this entire conversation, we put parents and kids first. With the passage of House File 68 last night, Iowa will lead the nation in educational opportunities and school choice options for our families.”

I received a lot of feedback on this topic and I appreciate my constituents taking the time to reach out with their questions and concerns. We are working on addressing concerns related to the Students First Act in other bills yet this session.

Update on Tax Relief

Last year we delivered transformative tax relief that cut income taxes for all Iowans. Starting January 1, parts of our tax relief bill have started to take effect and Iowans are already seeing the results. One part of the tax bill passed in 2022 started reducing rates for Iowans. This year there are four tax brackets, brought down from nine, now with a top rate of 6 percent. Over the next few years, the rate will continue to be reduced until we reach a flat tax rate of 3.9 percent. This means this month, Iowans are seeing more money in their paychecks, more money in their pockets, and more money to help manage this tough economy.

Retired Iowans will also not pay tax on their retirement income starting this year. A recently retired superintendent recently contacted me and said “it’s the equivalent of the second largest raise of my career!” That is great to hear and I hope that many others who worked hard over the course of their lives earn a secure retirement. Many have asked me what counts as retirement income?

• 401k, 403b, Individual 401k, SEP and IRA withdrawals

• Deferred compensation plans (457 plans)

• Pensions (government or private)

• Annuities

• Social Security

You also need to be 55 or older or be disabled to qualify. For most retirees in Iowa, this is going to drastically reduce their tax liability and some will have no state tax due at all.

Taxable income that is still subject for retirees includes:

• Salary and wages

• Interest from savings accounts, bond interest, I bonds and money markets

• Dividends

• Capital gains

• Rental income

• Life insurance cash value

Iowa’s Safe at Home Program

Did you know Iowa provides address confidentiality for survivors of domestic violence, sexual abuse, assault, trafficking, and stalking? Safe at Home was created with unanimous support in both chambers of the Iowa Legislature in 2015. It is administered by the Iowa Secretary of State. Participants receive a legal substitute address, mail-forwarding, and confidential voter registration and absentee voting. Safe at Home has grown to nearly 1,300 participants across 78 counties. Visit to learn more.

Please feel free to contact me via email at or (563) 289-7335. It is an honor to represent you in the Iowa Senate, and I appreciate hearing from the constituents that I serve.

Sen. Chris Cournoyer, R-LeClaire, represents District 35 in the Iowa Senate.

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