Condition of the State 2020

Jan 14, 2020  | 58 min  | Ep 2019 | Transcript

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As legislators gather in Iowa's capital city of Des Moines, Governor Kim Reynolds lays out her vision for the 2020 legislative session, amidst another year of full republican control at the Iowa Statehouse. It's the Governor's 2020 Condition of the State Address. From the House Chambers of the Iowa State Capitol, here is David Yepsen.

Yepsen: Welcome to the Iowa Statehouse where a newly convened legislature is gathered to hear Governor Kim Reynolds assess the condition of our state and lay out her legislative agenda. This is Governor Reynolds' third Condition of the State address and it comes in another election year here in Iowa as republicans still retain trifecta control of the governorship, the Iowa House and the Senate. Now here are some of the issues confronting Reynolds and Statehouse legislators. The state budget always dominates part of the conversation in this chamber. A potential restructuring of taxes on her property, income and sales, with new funds designated for conservation, recreation and water quality. And further examination of the state's mental health system.

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Yepsen: We're waiting for the Governor to enter the chamber.

Please escort Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg and his family to their seats.

Yepsen: Lieutenant Governor Gregg precedes the Governor's entrance.

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Yepsen: This speech is always a festive occasion for legislators, the start of a new session, turning over a new leaf. Members are here, their families are here, it's a nice ceremony and it is one that is required by the state Constitution, the Governor shall report on the Condition of the State.

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The Chair recognizes the Sergeant at Arms.

Mr. President, First Gentleman Kevin Reynolds and the Governor have arrived in the House Chamber.

Please escort Governor Reynolds' family to their seats.

Yepsen: The Governor's family now being escorted to their seats here in the chamber. The chamber gets pretty full with family members, members of their families, justices, executive council members, lots of spectators.

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The Chair recognizes the Sergeant at Arms.

The Governor is waiting.

Mr. President, your committee to notify and escort Governor Reynolds has arrived.

The committee will escort the Honorable Kim Reynolds to the rostrum.

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Yepsen: The Governor getting a warm welcome from the members. This is, like I said, the start of a new day, the start of a new session and people are in a good mood, at least for now. That may not last but it's always a fine ceremony.

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Yepsen: Here is Governor Reynolds.

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Governor Reynolds: Thank you.

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Governor Reynolds: Thank you. Thank you.

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Governor Reynolds: Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, Lieutenant Governor, legislative leaders, Senators and Representatives, Justices and Judges, elected officials, distinguished guests, family, friends and my fellow Iowans, please be seated. (laughs)

 

Governor Reynolds: Each time I enter this spectacular building I am reminded of the generation of Iowans who have come before us. And each time I walk into this historic chamber I am humbled by the responsibility of following in the footsteps of some amazing leaders and outstanding public servants. We lost a number of those leaders last year. Most notable for us today is Chief Justice Mark Cady, whose absence is felt right there in the front row. He loved his state. And he loved the law. And to his family and the colleagues in the Iowa Judicial Branch, our entire state shares your loss.

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Governor Reynolds: We also bid farewell to former Lieutenant Governor Joann Zimmerman, the first woman elected Lieutenant Governor of this great state. She brought the heart of a nurse and the passion of a mother to a distinguished career in public service.  And with shared sadness, we mourn the loss of Congressman Berkley Bedell, former Iowa Supreme Court Justices Daryl Hecht and Bruce Snell, as well as the longest-serving Chief Justice in state history, Art McGivern. We honor those leaders and so many more who committed their lives to making tomorrow a little better than today.

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Governor Reynolds: So often public service comes with sacrifice, a sacrifice that our men and women in uniform make every day. Our military, police and first responders risk their lives to protect ours. So today and every day we should thank those who serve while honoring those we lost.

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Governor Reynolds: In 2019 we saw the resiliency of Iowans tested once again as historic floods ravaged both sides of our state and parts in between. Entire communities were wiped out as the waters rose and didn't seem to recede. But that devastation was met with purpose and resolve to build and recover. To those lives who have been impacted, your state stands with you as you work and we work to return life to normal and get your homes, businesses and communities back on track. To do that, the budget I'm submitting today includes an additional $20 million for flood relief.

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Governor Reynolds: This is the third time that I've stood before you to report on the Condition of the State. As always, it's a time to reflect on what we have done over the last year and to lay out a vision for the year to come. But this year marks the beginning of a new decade. So it seems appropriate that we take stock in what we have accomplished the last ten years and more importantly, to talk about what we want for the next ten years and beyond. When this body met in January of 2010, our unemployment rate was 6.4%. Just months earlier our state faced a near billion dollar deficit. School funding was drastically cut. And Iowans were worried about their future. A decade later the condition of our state is truly strong. Because of the vision and tenacity of Iowans our unemployment rate has gone from near record high to record low. Instead of cutting school budgets we're cutting taxes. Our cash reserves are full. Wages are going up. And Iowans once again believe we're headed in the right direction.

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Governor Reynolds: Because we have such a great story to tell, last year we launched the "This is Iowa" campaign. And the goal was to show the country what we have to offer, to show that Iowa is the best place to live, work and raise a family. As part of this new initiative we created a candid camera style video where an actor playing a real estate agent shows Iowa home listings to New Yorkers so when the couples hear how big the homes are, how short the commute is, and what they can buy the properties for, they are baffled. That's not possible, is the general reaction. When the actor tells them that these homes are in Iowa and not New York, they are shocked and amazed. That's not how they envisioned Iowa. That is not what they have been told. We made that video to dispel some of the misconceptions and really to showcase what we have here. But I think that video serves another purpose. It reminds us of what we have because it can be easy to forget, to forget what it means to grow up in a safe neighborhood with a good school and a nice back yard, to spend more time with our families than we do in traffic, and to watch the sun set in our big skies and the stars shine over our beautiful fields. That is what Iowa has to offer and so much more. Those New Yorkers saw what I see, that opportunity lives here. But we can't take it for granted. If we do, if we become complacent, then the condition of the state will not be strong when this body gathers ten years from now. That's why this year, 2020, we need to plan for 2030 and 2040. We need to seize the opportunities that exist so that years from now the next generation of Iowans will inherit an Iowa whose greatness comes as no surprise to anyone, including New Yorkers. That kind of planning takes work. It doesn't happen all at once and no single policy will do. That kind of planning, it also takes a bold vision, a vision that preserves our heritage while seizing opportunities.

Governor Reynolds: My request to this General Assembly is that you join me in taking the first bold step, right now, this session. In the coming weeks I'll be introducing the Invest in Iowa Act, a bill that will significantly cut income taxes, create a sustainable funding source for our mental health system, reduce the burden of property tax payers and fund the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust.

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Governor Reynolds: These changes will make our vision a reality. It is an investment in our future and it is an investment in those who are our future. Ten years ago, Iowans voted to establish the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust. Funding the trust is no small investment but I believe that it is one that we need to make. We were given this beautiful land to work, but also to keep. And preserving what we have been given must be a responsibility of all Iowans. In 2010, the legislature established a formula for distributing the trust fund. I voted for that fund formula as did every one of my colleagues. But the challenges we face today and tomorrow are different than what we understood them to be ten years ago. So it's time to amend the formula, specifically we need to increase the amount of money that will be allocated for water quality and conservation. Under my bill, almost 58% of the trust fund, an estimated $100 million, will go towards water quality efforts every year, representing an almost 31% increasing in current funding. We also commit $52 million for other conservation and outdoor recreation efforts, representing an increase of 14.6% of current funding. These investments will not only aid in our conservation efforts, they will improve our quality of life and it will help us retain and recruit a new generation of Iowans.

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Governor Reynolds: I have no interest in raising taxes. So any increase in revenue from a sales tax must be more than offset by additional tax cuts and that starts --

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Governor Reynolds: So that starts with continuing to reduce our uncompetitive income tax rates. Two years ago, thanks to so many of you in this room, we passed the largest income tax in Iowa history. And I said then, and I've said ever since, that wasn't a one and done. I intend to make good on that promise, which is why I'm proposing to cut income tax by an additional 10% for almost every Iowan, with lower income Iowans receiving as much as a 25% cut.

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Governor Reynolds: So let me put that into perspective. Just one year ago our top tax bracket was almost at 9%, one of the worst in the country. Now, with this new round of tax cuts, our top rate will be down to 5.5% by 2023.

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Governor Reynolds: Significant progress making Iowa competitive with our peers. Mental health is becoming one of the biggest challenges of our time. Two years ago we reformed our adult mental health system and last year we created Iowa's first children's mental health system. These were important steps to putting Iowans on a path to wellness. Now, we must provide predictable funding. To date, property tax payers have supplied most of that support through their county to the local mental health regions. I'm proposing, through the Invest in Iowa Act, that we reduce property tax levees and provide the needed funding through the state general fund. No parent, family member or friend should be told that treatment isn't available for their loved one. And by establishing a dedicated and stable fund for mental health, we'll give hope to so many who are suffering in silence. It's a promise we made and it is a promise I intend to keep.

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Governor Reynolds: The Invest in Iowa Act will bring meaningful change to Iowans in the very first year. But most importantly, it looks to the future, a future that will benefit our children and theirs. If we take this bold step right now, then whoever is standing at this podium 10, 20, 30 years, republican or democrat, can proudly say what I can say today, and that is the condition of our state is strong.

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Governor Reynolds: When I look to the next decade, I am reminded that Will Rogers once said, that farmer has to be an optimist or he wouldn't still be a farmer. From weather at home to markets overseas to bureaucratic decisions made in Washington, D.C., so much of our farmers' success hinges on factors seemingly out of their control. But that doesn't mean that we simply sit back and hope someone else fights for our interest. It is up to us to shape the challenges of uncertainty into opportunities for growth. I will always be a relentless advocate for our farmers and our producers and our very way of life, which is why today I'm calling for an additional $2 million for the Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program as well as modernizing and expanding the E15 Promotion Tax Credit. This will support the sale of E15 year round and drive domestic demand for our home grown renewable fuels.

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Governor Reynolds: As we move into 2020 I am focused on the overall wellness of all Iowans in every part of this state in all stages of life. And when I say all stages of life I mean to include the unborn. We must protect life by making it clear through an amendment that our Constitution does not grant a right to abortion.

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Governor Reynolds: We must also do more to promote and support maternal health. Fewer doctors in fewer hospitals are delivering babies and providing care for mothers, especially outside the urban areas. That's why I'm taking steps to increase the number of doctors who are willing and able to provide OB services in all four corners of our state.

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Governor Reynolds: So first, I am proposing a fellowship for new family practice physicians who want to train and specialize in OB care. Each year, four new residents will complete the fellowship program and head back to their local communities, taking with them connections to OB specialists and an expertise to better treat mothers and their babies. Second, we're launching a telementoring system where OB's at our best institutions can consult with physicians across the state. With this program, a doctor in Corydon can talk with specialists in say, Iowa City, about the treatment for a mother with a high risk pregnancy. Using technology to bring cutting edge health care into every community is no longer a dream. Telehealth is reality today. But we have only just begun to scratch the surface. This year my budget includes additional funding to expand the use of these services to underserved Iowans. I have also directed the Department of Human Services to remove barriers that are restricting schools from partnering with telehealth providers, especially for behavioral health. What used to be a 70 mile drive in the middle of the school day can now be a walk down the hall. That means children receiving the care that they need with less disruption to their education.

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Governor Reynolds: These advances would not be possible without high speed broadband. And after unanimous support from this legislature last year for the Empower Rural Iowa Act, we provided $5 million to do that. That funding is now helping 17 broadband projects become reality in rural Iowa. Broadband is not a luxury, it is critical infrastructure. From the farmer checking crop conditions, to the Main Street business participating in the 24/7 marketplace, connectivity should be the expectation no matter where you live. So let's make that expectation a reality. Today I'm requesting that we appropriate an additional $15 million and adjust our state match and that will allow us to continue to leverage private and federal funding to build out broadband to every part of Iowa making us the most connected state in the nation.

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Governor Reynolds: Broadband also supports a world class education system. And if there is something that Iowans have always understood it is that there is no greater path to opportunity than a quality education. We have strong local control rooted in communities and parents who care deeply about educating their children. We have the highest graduation rate in the country with more of our high schoolers taking college courses than any other state. We have made remarkable progress in recent years putting a new focus on STEM, science, technology, engineering and math and opening doors in elementary, middle and high schools for students who want to explore fields that will best equip them to be the innovators who build tomorrow's economy. Computer science has quickly moved from a narrow elective to a basic skill that every student needs, something the people at Osage Community School district understand and have embraced with a passion. In addition to requiring computer science for students to graduate, they have dramatically increased learning opportunities for K-12 students to explore coding, design apps or to find their passion in the world of technology. And through an innovative partnership with NewBoCo in Cedar Rapids, Osage is training teachers to better integrate computer science in subjects like math, English and art. I want to recognize Osage and NewBoCo for their vision and congratulate the students for their success. You are absolutely a model for our state and for our nation. Please stand.

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Governor Reynolds: What Osage is doing is amazing and we need more of it. Currently almost two-thirds of schools teach computer science in middle and high school and about half teach it in elementary and we need that to be 100%, which is why I'm calling on the legislature to take computer science statewide and ensure every student at every level has access to this new basic skill.

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Governor Reynolds: One of the best ways for students to learn is through hands on experience, which is why we're making Iowa a leader in work-based learning. In the last year alone we have expanded high school registered apprenticeships and launched the work-based learning clearinghouse. And this year we'll be adding a million dollars for work-based learning coordinators to be covered by operational sharing agreements. Momentum in work-based learning is building across the state and Council Bluffs is a great example. The school district, Iowa Western Community College, and several local businesses have partnered to create TradeWorks Academy where high school students work with professionals to experience what it's like to have a career as a plumber, electrician or a mechanic. It's a win-win for the students in the community. The students learn skills that lead to lifelong careers and local businesses get the workforce that they so desperately needed. Emmy Myers, a junior, is using TradeWorks to learn about welding, something her dad has been doing for 40 years and she would like to follow in his footsteps. By the time she graduates high school she'll have a welding certificate that can immediately lead to a job right there in Council Bluffs. I want to recognize Emma and a number of the folks here today from TradeWorks Academy.

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Governor Reynolds: In 2019, we made historic investments in K-12 education with over $90 million in new money, including an increase in per pupil funding and transportation equity. The budget I'm presenting today makes another historic investment with over $103 million in new funding so that Iowa schools can maintain the best teachers and classrooms in the world.

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Governor Reynolds: When it comes to workforce opportunities Iowa is in a strong position. We have thousands of open jobs in rewarding careers and that is why we launched Future Ready Iowa. Three years after starting the initiative and just one year after this body overwhelmingly voted to approve funding, Iowans who are looking for a way up are finding that opportunity. Over 6,000 Iowans are already receiving the Last Dollar Scholarship, almost 80% of which are adult learners. That is 6,000 Iowans who are on their way to a rewarding career. Take Sarah Keehn, a 35 year old mother of six from Hampton, who was laid off when her employer closed its doors. Because of the Last Dollar Scholarship she is now at NIACC pursuing a medical assistant's degree and soon she will help fill the shortage of workers in our health care industry. Zach Behrensmeyer from New Liberty is another great example. So Zach assumed college was something that he couldn't afford. But the Last Dollar Scholarship has enabled and encouraged him to pursue a degree in computer software development at Kirkwood. When Zach graduates this spring he'll have a highly marketable degree in a field where the average starting salary is $55,000 a year. Sarah and Zach, please stand to be recognized.

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Governor Reynolds: Through the Employer Innovation Fund, Future Ready Iowa is also working to spur innovation among employers and communities in addressing their workforce needs. In Muscatine, the local community foundation has partnered with Muscatine Community College and Eastern Iowa Community College to create an extensive six-week program for low income parents who have children in school. They are working to become welders or certified nursing assistants, and if they stay on track in this program, a job will be waiting for them at the end. On the other wide of the state Peterbilt of Sioux City and Midwest Diesel Tech Academy developed a training program to meet the increasing demand for diesel mechanics in the area. In Oskaloosa, the school district recognized transportation as a major barrier for students to attend career academies at Indian Hills Community College so they developed a transportation program to make it happen. With all three of these and so many more, the state of Iowa, through the Employer Innovation Fund, was a partner. In less than a year, we have helped thousands of Iowans upscale for the new economy. Future Ready Iowa is working, which is why I'm proposing that we expand the Last Dollar Scholarships and the Employer Innovation Fund by $2 million each, bringing the total investment to over $20 million.

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Governor Reynolds: Child care is the next workforce issue we need to tackle. It is another barrier for families looking for a way up. For some, it is about affordability. For others, access is the issue. And for thousands of Iowans it is both. This year we need to act. First, let's make child care more affordable by expanding the Early Childhood tax credits. Currently, they are available to families making $45,000 or less and I am recommending that be doubled to $90,000.

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Governor Reynolds: Second, we must begin to address the child care cliff so that we are, hang on there, okay. I agree. So we're not punishing parents as they continue on a path to self-sufficiency. To do this, we should implement a tiered copay system that doesn't punish those who work hard enough to earn a raise.

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Governor Reynolds: Finally, we need to enlist Iowans to find common sense solutions that increase access to child care. If you consider Lee Container, it is a manufacturing facility in Centerville that employs 200 people. Since opening its doors in 2008 they have expanded but have struggled to find workers. Lack of child care was part of that problem. So Lee Container partnered with a local provider to turn a vacant elementary school into a daycare center and that is exactly the kind of innovation that we need, which is why I'm opening the Employer Innovation Fund to employers and community organizations who have ideas to expand and create child care options in their communities. I want to recognize Robert, the CEO of Lee Container, and Michelle from Curious Kids, who are with us today. Thank you for your inspiring idea. There they are, they're clear up there in the corner.

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Governor Reynolds: I have made it a priority of this administration to focus on prisoner re-entry and rehabilitation because our prisons shouldn't be one stop in a circle that leads back to prison. Those in our correctional facilities are serving time for a reason. But when they leave we want them to succeed because here's the thing, if they re-offend they land back in prison at a cost to taxpayers of $32,000 per year. But it's more than that. When someone has lost their way we are called to seek them out, to leave the 99 to find the 1. I believe in that calling, which is why I formed the Governor's Focus Committee on Criminal Justice Reform. This committee, which is chaired by the Lieutenant Governor, includes law enforcement, correction officials, the NAACP and a wide range of stakeholders. Last month they provided several recommendations and we're already in the process of implementing many of them. And last year, I signed legislation that protects employers that are willing to give returning citizens a second chance. To build on that we hosted roundtables are our correctional facilities in Mitchellville and Rockwell City where more than 80 employers stepped inside our prison walls and maybe a little outside their comfort zone. They did that to learn more about how they can meet their workforce needs and give an Iowan a second chance at a productive and rewarding life. Finally, I am renewing my support to amend our Constitution so that it no longer bars felons from voting after they have served their sentence. To see why it matters, talk to William Burt from Waterloo. He spent much of his life in and out of prison, but now a business owner working to change Iowa law to allow mobile barber shops, which I think is a good idea. I recently called William to tell him that I was restoring his voting rights and hearing those words brought tears to his eyes. You cannot imagine the gratitude and dignity that Iowans like William feel when they are told that they can once again exercise what Ronald Reagan called the crown jewel of American liberties. William, please stand so that we can recognize your efforts to become an active and productive citizen of this great state.

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Governor Reynolds: I am grateful to the House for starting this process last year by approving the Constitutional amendment with a strong bipartisan vote of 95 to 2. I also appreciate the productive conversations we're having with Senators and I look forward to continuing to work with you to pass the amendment and craft an implementing statute that lets us avoid the confusion and lawsuits that have plagued other states' restoration efforts.

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Governor Reynolds: Together we can help put returning citizens on a path to redemption. We can help them become productive members of society, reduce recidivism and make our communities a safer place.

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Governor Reynolds: Opportunity lives here because of the ingenuity of our people. If Iowa is going to thrive in the next decade we must make sure that government isn't stifling that ingenuity. I'm concerned we are. One quarter of Iowa's workforce requires some kind of professional license. If that sounds like a lot, that is because it is. It is the second highest in the nation, which puts our state and its people at a competitive disadvantage. A recent study shows that our licensing system cost Iowa 48,000 jobs and $290 million. Our licensing requirements are also the worst for low income people, meaning that those who need opportunity the most have the hardest time getting a license. We should never ever dismiss the importance of protecting the health and safety of the people. But is has been far too long since we have modernized our licensing structure. And that is what I'm asking you to do today. First, we need to adopt universal licensing recognition. Those who go through a rigorous application process in another state and meet certain conditions in our state should be able to have that license recognized here. Let's encourage these skilled workers to move to Iowa. Second, we should waive license fees for low income individuals. Now, that doesn't mean we lower any standards, it just ensures we don't deny someone a professional license simply because of their inability to pay. Third, we currently have no uniform standard for considering criminal convictions in licensure. As a result, qualified and skilled Iowans are being denied the chance to obtain a license because of mistakes unrelated to the profession they now want to enter. And this is another barrier to ex-offenders re-entering the workforce and we need to change it. Lastly, we need better oversight of the entire professional licensing process. I'm calling for the creation of a commission that will review every professional license requirement and the boards that oversee them every four years. Licensing reform is a topic that has bipartisan support, but that doesn't mean it will be easy. There will always be entrenched interests who benefit from overly burdensome regulations. But we can't let those interests stand in the way of opportunity. These reforms are long overdue and this is the year we begin to fix a broken system.

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Governor Reynolds: As we head into this legislative session, let's not focus solely on the next 12 months. This is a time to chart the path for the next 10 years, to stand together to enact a comprehensive agenda that invests in Iowa, returns money to taxpayers, preserves our land and water, strengthens our schools, looks after the health and wellbeing of all Iowans and gives every Iowan the opportunity to succeed. So as we move into the next decade, let's put Iowans first. Let's be bold and visionary. Let's seize this opportunity and make the next decade Iowa's best. It's time we show the world that opportunity lives here. Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the great state of Iowa. Thank you.

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Yepsen: That was Governor Kim Reynolds wrapping up her speech, standing there enjoying some applause from the members of the General Assembly. We're joined now by House Minority Leader Representative Todd Prichard of Charles City. Representative, thank you very much for being with us today.

Prichard: Thanks for having me again this year, David.

Yepsen: I want to ask you what is your reaction to what you heard in this speech?

Prichard: Well, there's quite a bit in the Governor's speech for us to work with. I think there's some initiatives and some starting positions, some starting proposals with IWILL, that is obviously a big topic for us that we'd like to work with her on. There's a lot to --

Yepsen: IWILL is the water quality initiative.

Prichard: Right, the trust fund for water quality initiatives.

Yepsen: What else do you view as points where you could work with the Governor?

Prichard: Obviously anything where we're going to do something that betters the lives of working Iowans. I like to hear the talk and the proposals about child care. That is something that has been a barrier for a lot of working Iowans as far as finding child care and things like that. So that is something, a specific proposal we would like to work with the Governor on. The mental health issue, last year we passed a mental health package that created a program but really didn't do a funding piece to that legislation. So finding a way through her proposal with the sales tax increase is something that we'll work with her on. We'd like to find a permanent solution for funding mental health across the state.

Yepsen: One of the things that she's trying to do with this money is to lower local property taxes. Is there some way you can assure that gets through to the local property taxpayer? Often times local governments are accused of taking state money and just continuing to spend that money.

Prichard: Property tax and increases has been a big issue, particularly in my district in rural north Iowa. And what we've seen, what I've seen over the last few years is really a property tax burden shift. We can claim victories that we have shifted and lowered income tax rates, but really that has resulted in a burden shift to property tax owners, and that is particularly tough for rural Iowans. So that is something we'd like to see what her specific proposal is and what she has in mind. But it's something that we have to stop shifting burden just because we want to lower income tax to property tax owners and the sales tax.

Yepsen: Are there places where you see any flash points with the Governor and democratic legislators?

Prichard: I think health care. I didn't, I've always listened closely to see what the Governor is proposing to do with dealing with health care in Iowa. We have had a lot of issues with the privatization and it has had a traumatic effect on small rural hospitals and health care providers across the state. And I didn't really hear much in terms of what she is doing to address health care and that is something that I think needs to be addressed and is probably lacking in the speech.

Yepsen: Also joining us is Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen of Des Moines. Senator, what is your reaction to Governor Reynolds' speech?

Petersen: I thought the Governor raised a lot of good points about keeping young people in our state. I was surprised, as Representative Prichard, about her health care message, nothing to fix the Medicaid mess that we're still facing as a state. Maternal health care is in a crisis situation. She touched on that just a little bit. But that won't stop the millions of dollars that are leaving our rural hospitals to go to these out-of-state corporations that aren't covering the cost of delivering babies.

Yepsen: What do you see, Senator Petersen, what do you see as the major flashpoints, what could be major points of disagreement with the Governor's program in the Senate? You mentioned a couple. But are there any specific ones that you can see will be problematic?

Petersen: Well, I think she talked about a huge tax package and we'll want to look at the details  on that to make sure that low income Iowans and Iowans who are retired and on fixed income don't take the biggest hit with that.

Yepsen: And how do you, let me ask you this sort of a brief question. The Constitution requires that the Governor report on the condition of the state. We don't make that requirement out of the legislature. But I'm going to ask you the question. Senator Petersen, what do you think the condition of our state is?

Petersen: That's a good question. I think that we're facing some pretty significant issues. The Governor said the condition of the state is strong. But if you look at the amount of money that they have invested in our classroom budgets we're seeing schools shutting down across our state, we're seeing rural hospitals struggling. So I tend to disagree with her on saying that the condition of the state is strong. When our smaller communities are doing better financially then I could maybe agree with her but we're not there right now.

Yepsen: And, Representative Prichard, the same question to you. What is the condition of our state?

Prichard: I really think it depends on who you ask and where they are. Right now the farm economy is in some struggles with trade and with ethanol. As the Governor mentioned she is going to propose $2 million for renewables so they can do research and development I believe. That type of investment is great. But there's a bigger problem with small ethanol plant waivers, with the trade issues that farmers are facing right now. You look at in rural communities there's a lot of struggles. There's struggles to find workers, to find people to fill jobs in critical jobs in all parts of the state. I think you look at wages, wage growth in Iowa has not been what it should be. Our median wage, we need to be focused on raising the median wage in Iowa that if you're going to come to Iowa you're going to find a job that that job can support a family. And that's, we've got too many people caught in a situation where they're having to work two jobs and they're not making ends meet. So I think it really matters on who you ask as what the state of the state is in.

Yepsen: What will democrats be doing about housing?

Petersen: I think one of the biggest issues you're going to see this year, which has bipartisan support, is to help Iowans who are living in mobile home parks. We've seen out-of-state predatory investors come and buy those properties up and then charge outrageous increases to them that they can't afford and so I'm hoping that democrats and republicans will work together to give them some more rights as homeowners.

Yepsen: And Representative, quickly, housing is an issue in small towns and in urban areas.

Prichard: It's a big issue. We're looking at proposing legislation to expand the workforce housing credit, hopefully make -- a lot of times dollars just don't make, the amount that you have to spend in rural Iowa to get something fixed isn't the same as urban Iowa.

Yepsen: I'm sorry to you both. Thank you for being with us. We're out of time today. I look forward to seeing you on the Iowa Press show and we can talk more about these things in greater detail.

Petersen: Thanks for having us.

Prichard: Always a pleasure.

Yepsen: Thanks to House Minority Leader Prichard and Senate Minority Leader Petersen for joining us. That wraps up our coverage of the 2020 Condition of the State Address. For our entire hardworking Iowa PBS crew here at the State Capitol in Des Moines, I'm David Yepsen. Thanks for joining us today.

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