Washington Evening Journal
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Washington, IA 52353
The Mt. Pleasant Area Chamber Alliance announced their 2022 state legislative agenda Friday morning, Jan 14. District 84 State Representative Joe Mitchell (R), and District 42 State Senator Jeff Reichman (R) attended the gathering to share what they plan to work on as they enter a new legislative session in Des Moines.
About 25 Chamber members were present for the unveiling of the 2022 agenda. Kristi Perry, executive director of the Chamber, introduced five principles that guided the nonprofit’s drafting of the agenda. The agenda was based on responses from a survey that was sent to local business, inquiring about issues that the business wanted to see addressed at the legislative session.
The first principle that was introduced pertained to economic development programs that attract quality jobs, foster innovation and entrepreneurship, and existing business expansions.
“I think that you are going to see a few things in the Legislature that we have an emphasis on economic development,” said Mitchell. “There will be an emphasis on bringing broadband to communities, and tax relief for individuals. Having a competitive tax rate that would bring in industries, and making sure that we have the workers for those jobs is very important. We need to incentivize developers to come to rural cities, and to make it affordable to build housing in those areas.”
“Economic growth is going to be an emphasis within the Legislature,” said Reichman. “I think that it is the workforce that we have to build. That is a shift from what we were seeing before.”
“One of the largest plans that the governor spoke of is the unemployment reform,” said Mitchell. “That is a huge plan, a reduction from 24 weeks to 16 weeks eligibility. We know that there are jobs out there in Mt. Pleasant and southeast Iowa.”
The second principle supports efforts to simplify Iowa’s corporate and personal income tax rates to strengthen Iowa’s economic competitiveness.
“The governor’s plan,” said Mitchell, “that she came out with essentially said that she wants to reduce everything to one tax bracket, so that everyone would pay a certain percentage on income, and that retirees would pay zero percent income taxes going forward. We have an older population here in Iowa, and that would help out a lot of folks. We have been talking a lot, since the last session, on how we can reduce income taxes that would make us competitive with other states.”
“Our goal, coming out of the senate, was zero percent,” said Reichman. “I think that it is an important stepping stone to get there.”
The third principle supports the efforts that prepare all Iowa students to make informed career pathway decisions aligned to the workforce needs of the future through expanded Career Technical Education (CTE), career exploration opportunities and regional planning involving both educators and employers.
“I think that this is something that I have been working on for a few years now,” said Mitchell. “Continuing to tell children that it is OK to go out and do hard work, and to be a contractor, an electrician or a plumber is important. I know that this will be a top priority this year again when you are talking about education and funding.”
“I am a big proponent of this principle,” said Reichman. “There is a need for those workers, they are valuable trades that are needed to grow here in southeast Iowa.”
The fourth principle supports the investments to ensure statewide availability of robust mental health services, including trained staff to field crisis hotlines, mobile dispatch teams, case management services and the development of a behavioral health workforce.
“There is a tremendous problem with this issue, I was really happy to see that the governor is looking at putting millions of dollars, at least, into the budget for this issue,” said Reichman.
“There will be three significant bills addressing mental health this session,” said Mitchell. “If we can commit proper health assistance to prevent such things as suicides, I’m all for that.”
“It is a change,” said Reichman. “It is going to be different, and there is a concern for that funding.”
The fifth principle supports the recommendations of the Iowa Skills2 Compete Coalition to lead efforts to increase affordable access to quality childcare and promote stabilization in the childcare workforce through increasing Child Care Assistance income limits and provider reimbursement rates.
“We are working on legislation for this issue,” said Mitchell. “We’re working on proposals that passed through both chambers last year.”