Wahls: Addressing Iowa’s stresses before session ends

The Iowa Legislature has resumed the 2020 session. Over the next two weeks, I hope we will:
** Pass a balanced budget based on the latest revenue estimates.
** Fight for the needs of Iowans, businesses and communities impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
** Push for laws to address racial inequities in Iowa.

By State Senator Zach Wahls

The Iowa Legislature resumed yesterday at 9 a.m. We suspended the session in March in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Needless to say, a lot has happened since then.

Since then, nearly every aspect of our lives—at home, work, school, worship and play—has changed dramatically. More than 20,000 Iowans have been infected with the virus, and more than 550 Iowans have lost their lives. A record number of Iowans have filed for unemployment, and thousands have had their paychecks reduced.

In addition, like so many of you, I have watched the protests that are rolling through the country and through Iowa following the killing of George Floyd by officers of the Minneapolis Police Department. If you’re white and you have not yet watched the video of the encounter, I implore you to do so. The New York Times has put together a video explanation. And it’s not just George Floyd—Ahmad Arbury, Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Laquan McDonald, Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, and so, so many more.  

Yesterday, during a debate on a firearms bill being advanced by Republicans, I proposed an amendment that should have been the easiest, most basic step forward: require that Iowa law enforcement officers receive at least as much de-escalation training as they receive firearms training. Republicans challenged my amendment and ruled it non-germane before even allowing debate on its merits. We will keep fighting as long as the Legislature is in session, and we’ll keep you up to date.

The list of stressors Iowans face right now is lengthy. We need honest leadership, clear communication, and a commitment to each other to safely guide us through these trying times.

State leaders must be focused on solutions that address Iowans’ concerns; use available resources to protect education, health care and employment security; and press our federal delegation to provide continued assistance that meets Iowa’s unique needs.

Over the next two weeks, our top priorities are:

  • Passing a balanced budget based on the latest revenue estimates.
  • Fighting for the short-term and long-term needs of Iowans, businesses and communities impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Pushing for laws to address racial inequities in Iowa. Many bills have been proposed. I’m hopeful that recent events will motivate all legislators to act. 

I encourage you to follow what’s happening at the Statehouse and offer your input:

  • Get information on each day’s schedule and the bills to be taken up, as well as a live stream of Senate action, at legis.iowa.gov.
  • At facebook.com/iowasenatedemocrats, we will provide updates on the session, and share videos, photos, news and additional resources.
  • Our caucus website, senate.iowa.gov/democrats, will have bill summaries, news releases and relevant analysis.