Statehouse News

By: 
Andy McKean
Iowa State Representative, 58th Dist.

End of Session Report

     Between the pandemic and the protests, this had to be the most unusual end to legislative session I’ve ever seen! After a three-month pause due to the pandemic, we returned to the Statehouse on June 3 to complete the session. I was hopeful that we’d take care of the budget (no small task due to decreasing revenues) and concentrate on issues that were of utmost importance as a result of COVID-19. Issues that I thought were particularly deserving of bi-partisan attention included access to affordable health care (including mental health), increased support for our first responders, child care options, water quality and support for natural resources, and help for our small businesses.

     Unfortunately, other than some tentative steps to confront racial injustice, there was little in the way of bi-partisanship. Instead, too much time was spent on divisive partisan issues that took time away from addressing the critical issues of the day. I think we missed an opportunity to come together at this critical juncture in our state’s history.

     Overall, there were some positives in the 2020 legislative session. Representing a rural district, I have made support for rural Iowa my top priority and this session was a good one for rural Iowa. We took steps to end the inequities in transportation funding for our rural school districts, extended REAP, increased availability and access to affordable child care, expanded broad band coverage, continued our efforts in mental health reform, and increased funding for rural economic development initiatives. Other positives for the session included raising the age for buying tobacco products to 21 and increasing protections for companion animals.

     There were also some disappointments. Chief among them was unfortunate legislation that will make absentee voting more difficult. With the pandemic still very much with us, this is not the time to be making it more difficult to vote absentee!

     K-12 education continues to struggle with inadequate funding. I think the best government is the government closest to the people and hate to see a continual chipping away at local control.

     I was lead sponsor of a bill to cap monthly insulin expenses and regret that this didn’t gain approval as other states have moved forward in this area.

     I am hoping that 2021 will finally be the year that we move forward with IWILL to better support our parks and natural resources.

     The failure of the Senate to pass the House bill to help make EMS an essential service was a big blow to our rural communities.

     Winston Churchill once said, “Democracy is the worst form of government – but it’s better than all the rest.” However, considering that we have 150 legislators from every corner of the state representing a wide variety of political perspectives, I’m glad that we get as much done as we do. We all want to see Iowa move forward and need to recognize that no political party has all the answers or a corner on wisdom!

     Now that the legislature is adjourned, it’s great to be back home in Jones County. Please feel free to contact me if I can be of help to you. My cell number is 319-975-0006 and my e-mail is mckeanfamily@msn.com.

     The 2021 session will be here before we know it and I’m always looking for ideas and suggestions so don’t hesitate to get in touch. Have a great summer and stay safe!

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