Public Forums, Hearings & Updates
*Due to such large turnouts this session for our forums, please note the new location!* NEXT PUBLIC FORUM SUNDAY, MARCH 19th 2PM STATE HISTORICAL BUILDING 600 E LOCUST ST. DES MOINES, IA Join Senator Matt McCoy and special guest, CEO of Des Moines Water Works, Bill Stowe at the State Historical Building (auditorium) as he discusses current legislation regarding your community, your state & your country. Bill Stowe will be speaking with Iowans regarding Des Moines Water Works; what it means for all of us. FORUMS TODAY
JONI ERNST (US SENATOR) Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) will host an official town hall meeting Friday, March 17 at Coe College in Cedar Rapids. The 1,100-seat Sinclair Auditorium will be open at noon for the public to engage with the freshman Senator. MONDAY, March 20th PUBLIC HEARING WITH DHS Monday, 10AM, March 20th, Room 116 at the Iowa State Capitol. Doors open 30 minutes before as we are expecting a larger turnout. Last week, we spoke with Wendy Rickman (DHS) who promised to have answers to questions for this next hearing regarding social worker shortages, funding, & more. UPDATES THE IOWA ECONOMY NEEDS HELP Things are not good in the Iowa economy, and some of the blame rests squarely on the shoulders of failed policies at the state level.
The latest evidence of this failure came this week when Iowa’s Revenue Estimating Conference, a panel of nonpartisan budget experts, met to assess state revenues and expenses. They say Iowa has a shortfall of $131 million this fiscal year, which ends June 30; and less growth than expected for the fiscal year that starts July 1. Governor Branstad and Lt. Governor Reynolds promised to raise family incomes by 25 percent and create 200,000 new Iowa jobs in five years. Here we are, six years later, with a lagging economy that has drained our ability to invest in Iowa communities, local schools, worker training and job creation. Their broken promises and fiscal mismanagement can be seen in: 1. An expensive Medicaid mess that is forcing health care providers out of business, jeopardizing the health of thousands of Iowans and wasting our hard-earned tax dollars. 2. New laws that strip Iowans of workplace rights and protections. 3. Repeated votes for measures that drive down wages and encourage shoddy work. 4. Hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks to big corporations that could have been spent on smart initiatives to grow our economy. Senate Democrats stand ready to work with legislative Republicans and the Branstad-Reynolds Administration to restore fiscal stability to our state budget by investing in local schools and job-creation initiatives, and re-examining out-of-control spending on tax credits. 3 WAYS YOU CAN HELP STOP THE ATTACK ON IOWA WORKERS This session has been tough on hard-working Iowa families and local communities. The Republican-controlled Legislature and out-of-state special interests are pushing an agenda that will drive down wages, cut health care and workplace protections, and damage our quality of life. They started by fast tracking a bill to gut Iowa’s collective bargaining laws. HF291, signed into law on Feb. 17, will keep thousands of Iowa families from getting ahead by silencing their voices in the workplace. Limiting workers’ ability to negotiate salary, benefits, work hours and safety will make it harder to get the top-notch nurses, teachers, snowplow drivers and other public workers that Iowa communities need. Here are three issues you can take action on to prevent more bad news for hard-working Iowa families: 1. Driving down wages and quality work on local projects - HF 203 passed the Legislature and awaits the Governor’s signature. Contact the Governor’s office and tell him to veto this bill, which gets Iowa around wage and Buy American requirements for construction projects that use federal dollars. These changes could drive down construction wages in rural areas, and result in out-of-state contractors with an out-of-state workforce coming in to do Iowa jobs with materials imported from China and other countries. 2. Taking away local control on construction projects - SF 438 passed the Senate and is now under consideration in the House. Encourage your State Representative to oppose this bill, which is bad for Iowa jobs and our economy. This bill bans all government entities from using project labor agreements in publicly funded projects. These agreements are important tools to manage complex and time-sensitive jobs. In addition, government entities could no longer ask for a bidder’s safety record, tax compliance, bidding history or pending litigation. 3. Cutting protections for Iowa workers injured on the job - HF 518 and SF 435 are ready for debate in the House and Senate. Contact your legislators and tell them not to meddle with Iowa’s workers’ compensation system. Our state’s workers’ compensation system is the only recourse for Iowans injured on the job. It’s one of the best in the country, but this legislation would gut worker protections, and encourage employers and insurance companies to avoid paying claims. Please speak up and tell your elected officials to stop the attack on Iowa workers. Call and leave them messages at the House switchboard (515-281-3221) and the Senate switchboard (515-281-3371). To reach the Branstad-Reynolds Administration, call 515-281-5211. LET CITIZENS EXERCISE THEIR RIGHT TO VOTE Iowa doesn’t have a problem with voter fraud or election integrity. In October, Secretary of State Paul Pate said Iowa is one of the best states for voter integrity and participation, noting that the Election Integrity Project gives Iowa the second highest score nationally. Here are the facts: In November’s General Election, 1.6 million Iowans cast their vote. Of them, only 10 ballots were deemed “irregular.” Most of these were human error—not voter fraud. There was one case of a person deliberately attempting to vote twice (a Donald Trump supporter), but the safeguards in our current system allowed election officials to identify the person and rectify the situation. That’s why many believe a bill that recently passed the Iowa House would make unnecessary and harmful changes to Iowa's election system. HF 516 would eliminate straight-party voting, allow polling staff to use a voter's signature to determine if they are really the person depicted on their ID card, and require voters to present specific photo ID at the polls. Only 16 states have this type of strict voter ID requirement. That’s because it is costly, deprives many citizens of their right to vote and reduces participation in the democratic process. The League of Women Voters of Iowa, Iowa State Association of County Auditors and other advocates for citizen participation oppose the bill. Fewer citizens vote in the states with strict identification laws, according to a 2014 U.S. Government Accountability Office study. These laws typically require voters to produce a driver’s license, passport or military ID to register to vote, to cast a ballot or to get a special voter registration card. That’s a problem when you consider that 11 percent of Iowa adults—more than 260,000 people—don’t have a driver’s license. The Legislature should be working on ways to increase voter turnout, not creating new government barriers to voting. This bill is now under consideration in the Senate. You can help stop this bill by contacting Republican and Democratic Senators to tell them this bill is a solution in search of a problem. FORCED REORGANIZATION OF DES MOINES WATERWORKS IS BAD FOR RESIDENTS Des Moines Waterworks is right to seek accountability for the contamination of the Raccoon River, which has some of the highest nitrate levels in the nation. But a new bill (HF 316) would punish Des Moines for attempting to protect the water that almost 1 million Iowans drink each day. This legislation robs Des Moines taxpayers. It takes a major asset created and owned by the city and turns it into a regional authority without repaying the local taxpayers who created it. Simply put, Des Moines taxpayers borrowed money and built Des Moines Waterworks. Des Moines Waterworks serves the entire metro area, but it is owned by the City of Des Moines. The suburbs are customers and consumers. If this bill is approved, Des Moines taxpayers will be stuck with larger water bills, less ability to protect our drinking water, and potential costs for water plant expansions to serve outlying communities. By addressing Iowa communities with more than 500,000 residents, this legislation specifically targets Des Moines. It is appalling that the Republican members of the Iowa Legislature seek to punish Des Moines Waterworks for defending the quality of our drinking water, especially when the Des Moines metro’s economy is one of the strongest in the nation. Find out more at www.dmww.com. Additional information This is a legislative update from State Senator Matt McCoy, representing the west part of Des Moines, portions of West Des Moines and northwest Warren County. For bio, photos and further information, go to www.senate.iowa.gov/senator/mccoy. Follow Senator McCoy on Facebook at www.facebook.com/senatormccoy. To contact Senator McCoy when the Legislature is in session, call the Senate Switchboard at 515-281-3371. Otherwise he can be reached at 515-274-0561. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Senator McCoy is an Assistant Leader, as well as ranking member on the Transportation & Infrastructure Budget and the Government Oversight Committee. He also serves on the Appropriations, Commerce, Local Government and Ways & Means committees.