From the Desk of Senator Giddens: Celebrating Labor Day

State Sen. Eric Giddens (D-Cedar Falls)

Greetings friends and neighbors!

As I write, the air has turned from hot and humid to mild and fall-like. I love this time of year when families and communities get back into a routine around school, work, and community activities. August was another busy month for me, filled with town festivals in Elk Run Heights and Traer, events and meetings with various constituent groups, and visiting with hundreds of individuals at their doors across our district. I enjoyed attending the Black Hawk Labor Council’s annual Labor Day picnic on Monday in Waterloo and celebrating the hard-fought gains the labor movement has brought us in worker compensation and working conditions.

On a personal note, my son Henry began his freshman year at UNI last month and I couldn’t be a prouder dad! Wishing him all the best on this next chapter of his life, and selfishly glad that he’s still so close to home. Go Henry, and go Panthers!

It is an honor to represent you in the Iowa Senate. As always, please reach out to me at eric.giddens@legis.iowa.gov or (319) 230-0578 if I can be helpful to you in any way or if you have issues or concerns you’d like to share with me.

Take care and best wishes to you all as we settle into fall!

Celebrating Labor Day

This past Labor Day, I was proud to celebrate the working people of Iowa and the labor movement, whose victories make our families and communities stronger.

Labor Day is an important reminder that our work is not done. Since 2017 when they took control of the legislature, my colleagues across the aisle have passed laws to gut collective bargaining rights, slash wages for union and non-union workers alike, and restrict unemployment benefits. Now, we are experiencing a historic workforce crisis on Governor Reynolds’ and the majority party’s watch. And instead of solving that problem, they’ve chosen to rewrite Iowa’s child labor law to allow our children to work more dangerous jobs.

But this summer, Iowans have taken a stand. From Des Moines to Dubuque to Newton, Iowans are demanding fair wages and respect – and they’re getting results! I can’t think of a better way to honor the Labor movement.

All Iowans deserve a good-paying job, a middle-class life, and a secure retirement – and that’s what I’m working for as your state senator. I hope you and your family enjoyed a safe, responsible, and healthy Labor Day.

Come see your Supreme Court

The Iowa Supreme Court kicks off its 2023-24 term this month, and will hear cases at Waverly-Shell Rock High School on Sept. 19 and the University of Iowa Law School on Sept. 29. Seeing Supreme Court arguments in person can be illuminating, but the Court also posts all of their cases on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCL6EU7W8kqDKnKPUzMdxr_g

Stay gold, Iowa

The Iowa State Capitol will be a little brighter on the Des Moines skyline when all the scaffolding is removed this fall. Workers are completing a lengthy project that repaired and refurbished the four smaller domes at the corners of the statehouse – including regilding them with gold leaf. The Neumann construction company replaced 40,000 bricks, restored the decorative toppers on the domes, repaired gutters, restored four skylights, and repainted windows. To schedule a tour of the Iowa State Capitol, call 515-281-5591 or just stop by the visitors center on the ground floor.

New test data

State-level education assessment results from the last school year were released late last month and show little to no growth across most grades in English language arts as well as persistent achievement gaps between groups of students. The statewide assessment is given every spring and affects what’s taught in Iowa classrooms. There will be achievement gaps so long as Iowa lawmakers continue to short-change our public schools and prioritize funneling taxpayer dollars into private schools. Iowa public education has been held back by staffing shortages, inadequate funding, and mean-spirited attacks schools and educators. We must support our public schools and educators and increase investments to ensure a quality education for all of Iowa’s students.

Iowa Bridges on U.S. Stamps

Two iconic Iowa bridges are featured on new postage stamps release last month by the United States Postal Service. The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge connecting Council Bluffs to Omaha and the Interstate 74 Mississippi River Bridge between Bettendorf and Moline will appear on Presorted First Class Mail stamps as part of a bridge-themed four-stamp series.

Applications open for Legislative Page Program

Applications are now open for the 2024 Iowa Legislative Page Program, in which Iowa high school juniors and seniors live in Des Moines and work at the Capitol throughout the legislative session. Pages are assigned to the Senate, the House or the Legislative Services Agency and perform crucial tasks to keep the legislature running. Refer to the Iowa Legislature’s (legis.iowa.gov) Career Opportunities page for more information.

Food Insecurity grant

The Northeast Iowa Food Bank in Waterloo will receive a $2 million grant through the American Rescue Plan to expand operations and serve more Iowans in need. The funds will allow the food bank to expand storage, cooler, and freezer space and improve its volunteer area, among other improvements.