From the Desk of Sen. Giddens: Week 7 in the Capitol

State Sen. Eric Giddens (D-Cedar Falls)

It’s been another busy week at the Capitol with a flurry of subcommittee and committee meetings ahead of the first legislative funnel date of March 3. Bills have to make it out of committee by the first funnel date to stay alive for the session, so legislators are pushing to keep their priorities moving forward.

On Tuesday, Cedar Falls High School senior Maren Denison shadowed me as part of the Iowa Youth Congress program. It was a great opportunity to show Maren the inner workings of the State Capitol including the best committee debate I’ve seen all session! It was also great to meet with UNI Master of Social Work students Jacie Friedrichson, Jessalyn Frenz, and Carin Davidson who came to the Capitol this week to advocate for various health-related issues and SNAP benefits.

In other news, two bills I authored related to domestic violence and alcohol licensing that are based on work I’ve done with constituents in my district made progress this week. I appreciate the hard work and collaboration from my Senate colleagues and staff and those engaged constituents who brought these issues to my attention. We’ll keep working together to advance these good bills through the legislative process.

As always, thank you for the honor of serving you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if I can be helpful with anything. Have a great weekend!

A Better Path Forward for Iowa

Since the legislative session began last month, it feels like I’ve been playing a fair amount of defense, pushing back against bills that go too far, too fast, and too often leave behind the Iowans we were elected to serve.

But that’s not all I’ve been up to. I’ve also co-sponsored or supported several good bills that offer a better path forward for Iowa this week. The following list isn’t comprehensive, but it gives a good sense of the positive change that is possible for our state.

Senate File 95: Paid Family Leave. How can we make Iowa a friendlier state for workers and families? Paid family leave would be a great first step! This bill provides up to 12 weeks of paid time off to care for a new child or to help a family member in need.

Senate File 56: Maternal Medicaid Expansion. Every parent and every newborn Iowan deserves high-quality care and a healthy start to life. This bill ensures they get it. SF 56 expands the state’s Medicaid healthcare program to cover prenatal care, labor and delivery, postpartum visits, and postpartum supplies.

Senate File 62: Childcare Assistance. Childcare is hard to find and hard to afford for too many Iowa families. That holds back moms and dads – and our economy. Our bill increases access to the state’s existing childcare assistance program so more working families can afford care for kids.

Senate File 310: Fully Funding Preschool. Right now, the state funds preschool programs in our school districts at just 50 percent of actual enrollment – limiting access for kids across Iowa. Our bill boosts state funding to 100 percent of enrollment so that every family who wants high-quality preschool can access it in their community.

Senate File 303: School Breakfast and Lunch Expansion. Kids can’t learn when they’re hungry – and way too many Iowa kids come to school hungry. This bill requires schools to provide breakfast and lunch at no cost to students, and provides state funding to cover the cost.

Senate File 82: Strengthening the Veterans Trust Fund. This bill increases annual funding for the Veterans Trust Fund to $1 million to ensure Iowa keeps its promises to those who served. The trust fund provides critical support for veterans, including emergency medical care and equipment, home and vehicle repairs, and counseling.

State Senator Eric Giddens represents Iowa Senate District 38 including Cedar Falls, Hudson, Traer, Dysart, Evansdale, Elk Run Heights, Gilbertville, Washburn, LaPorte City and Mount Auburn. Contact Sen. Giddens at 319-230-0578 or eric.giddens@legis.iowa.gov.