From the Desk of Sen. Giddens: The 2023 Legislative Session is Over

State Sen. Eric Giddens (D-Cedar Falls)

We wrapped up the 2023 legislative session on Thursday, May 4, and now I’m settling back at home in Cedar Falls for the interim. Following the legislative redistricting process in late 2021, my district now covers a lot of new territory that I will be visiting throughout the summer and fall. I’m excited to meet new constituents at your doors in Evansdale, Elk Run Heights, Gilbertville, Washburn, La Porte City, Mt. Auburn, Dysart, and Traer, and to see the constituents I’ve always served in Cedar Falls and Hudson.

I love to hear from constituents, so please reach out to me at any time to share your thoughts and concerns or to let me know how I can be helpful to you. I also love visiting with groups, so please invite me to a meeting if you belong to a group you’d like me to meet with. It is an honor to serve you, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to do so

The 2023 legislative session is over

At 12:04 p.m. on Thursday, May 4, the 2023 legislative session adjourned sine die, ending our work at the Statehouse for the year.

Unfortunately, the majority party spent this session protecting political insiders while leaving the public in the dark and eroding transparency and accountability in state government.

On education, the majority party rammed through an expensive, unpopular private-school voucher scheme that will divert $1 billion away from our public schools over the next four years. This private school giveaway will hit rural Iowa the hardest – while doing very little to make private schools more accessible to lower- and middle-income families. Already, many private schools are raising tuition in response to the coming influx of taxpayer dollars.

Beyond vouchers, the majority party passed new laws slashing educational standards, banning books from school libraries, and even micromanaging where students go to the bathroom.

They did almost nothing, meanwhile, to address Iowa’s biggest challenge: our workforce crisis.

The one major action on workforce actually takes us in the wrong direction: it weakens child-labor protections by allowing teenagers to serve alcohol and work in dangerous jobs. This will make those occupations less safe, drive down wages, and jeopardize the future livelihood of Iowa’s young people.

This session was a disappointment that did more to set our state back rather than move it forward. But in our frustration, we must not forget: it doesn’t have to be this way.

I and my Senate Democrat colleagues are committed to representing all Iowans. We’re committed to listening to you, and reflecting your interests and values in the Statehouse. We’re committed to solving the big challenges facing our state.

We’ll never give up on you, and we’ll never quit fighting for an Iowa that you can be proud to call home.

A New Deal on Property Taxes

Before adjourning, Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate came together to pass a $100 million property tax package that will provide real relief for middle-class Iowa families.

Spiking assessments and rising property taxes are hitting every Iowa community, and placing heavy burdens on middle-class Iowans – especially our seniors, veterans, and those living on fixed incomes.

The property tax package passed this week is an important, needed step forward that will provide real relief for the taxpayers who need it most. Big corporations and the wealthiest Iowans have gotten their tax cuts – it’s about time the middle-class caught a break, too.

Under this agreement, cities and counties will be able to provide the essential services that Iowans rely on, while also providing transparency to help taxpayers understand what they’re paying and what they’re getting in their local government budgets.

This has been a difficult and divisive legislative session, but I’m glad Democrats and Republicans are able to come together to address one of the real challenges facing our fellow Iowans.

Water quality cuts

Since 2013, the Iowa Flood Center at the University of Iowa has been working with the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Center on supervising water quality monitoring across the state, including the network of approximately 70 sensors on Iowa’s streams and rivers that measure nitrate levels and send real-time data to the Iowa Water Quality Information System. But now, the budget written and supported by the majority party diverts one-third of the state’s funding for water quality projects. That adds up to a $500,000 cut to the Nutrient Reduction Center funding, and is almost guaranteed to hinder the Iowa Flood Center and water quality measurement statewide. I did not support this step backwards on safe drinking water.

$30M less for AEAs

Members of the majority party are fond of claiming they don’t cut education, they just don’t fund it as much as public schools need. But this week, they explicitly cut $30 million from the state’s Area Education Agencies (AEAs), which provide special education and other essential services for students and schools across our state. AEAs have sustained cuts in funding every year, but this year’s $30 million cut could mean losing 8-12 staff members at each AEA – at a time when demand for AEA services will increase with the private-school voucher program enacted earlier this year.

Inadequate support for Iowans

I voted against the Health and Human Services budget which did not include necessary investments for maternal health, seniors living in nursing homes, and childcare. I supported amendments on each issue, but majority party members voted them down.

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.