The Dickey Dispatch – April 29th, 2022

by Senator Adrian Dickey
As most of you are aware, my main focus this session has been our workforce and re-employment concerns. Several times this session, I have talked about these issues, largely about HF 2355. This week the House and Senate found a compromise in updating Iowa’s unemployment insurance program.

HF 2355 changed the length of unemployment benefits from 6 months to 4 months. With 85,000 job openings, tens of thousands more openings than Iowans on unemployment, opportunities are plentiful for Iowans to reenter the workforce. Research (and common sense) shows more people return to work at a higher rate as their benefits are about to expire.

Among other reforms, this bill also changes the definition of suitable work. If suitable work is offered to people on unemployment, they must take that position or lose benefits. With so many parts of the economy struggling to find workers and some employers closing their doors because they can’t find help, it’s time to address the barriers to re-entering the workforce for some of the unemployed.

Finally, this bill is expected to save the unemployment trust fund $75,000,000. Those savings will likely lead to a reduction in unemployment taxes employers must pay. Lower unemployment taxes allow them to create new career opportunities or invest in their businesses, employees, and communities.

This bill is not everything that I had in my “Iowa Re-employment to Prosperity Bill,” however it had many of the key components. It was a compromise that Republicans in the Senate made with the House to get a labor bill passed. While I am frustrated the House could not, would not, did not pass the bill in its entirety, what we agreed to pass was a historical moment in updating Iowa’s unemployment system that had essentially been untouched for 40 years.

A component of our workforce problems is the cost of child care. This week the Senate sent HF 2198 with amended language from the Senate to the governor’s desk. It allows child care center employees and substitutes who are 16 years or older to supervise school-age children. It also allows 1 adult child care worker for every 7 children who are 2 years old and 1 child care worker for every 10 children who are 3 years old in child care centers. Improving access and helping child care centers increase wages for caregivers without raising prices on hard-working families has been an important issue for many Iowans and I was happy to help deliver this solution for families in my district.

Democrats rattle on and on about the workforce shortage. But, when it comes time to put their votes where their mouths are, they oppose the policies to address Iowa’s workforce needs. Earlier this session they voted against the primary incentive to work, Iowans keeping more of the money earn for their work in the form of the largest income tax cut in Iowa history. This week they voted against easing burdensome regulations on child care providers, so more Iowans can have access to affordable child care. They also voted against HF2355 (our unemployment reform) which clearly shows that are not interested in getting Iowans back to work faster.

While those votes were easy for me, HF 2128 was not. HF 2128 implemented a new fuel mandate in Iowa requiring gas stations to sell E-15. On the surface, that sounds great. The sale of more ethanol is good for farmers, which is good for Iowa. However mandating a group of businesses (gas stations) that they MUST sell a certain product solely for the profit of another group of businesses (farmers and renewable fuel industry) simply goes against my free market ideology.

I am against mask mandates.
I am against vaccine mandates.
And I am against fuel mandates.

I am NOT against farmers.
I am NOT against gas stations and fuel retailers.

However, as much as I am against the mandate part of this bill was, my greatest displeasure with this bill is how the application of it is just not possible. The bill requires that in 3 ½ years, thousands of gas stations will have to either comply with the law or will have to find a way to be exempt. While there are a few ways for a gas station to be exempt from it, these stores will then have to sell gas that is $0.09/ gallon higher than stores that comply with the mandate.

I have 30 years of experience in owning gas stations. I used that experience to speak at length on the Senate floor expressing my concern about how difficult the governor’s bill may be to implement. I explained how 2,000 gas stations will be affected and 1,000 of them will be forced to go through a lengthy governmental process to determine if they will be exempted. For those that are mandated, they have no options. For the ones that are exempt, they must choose between spending up to $400,000 to update their pumps, tanks, pipes, etc., or risk being uncompetitive because they lack the price advantage of E-15. For some gas resellers, it is a no win situation for them. For our farmers and renewable fuel industry, it is a gigantic victory.

So why did I vote for this? Good question. Some bills are easy to vote yes or no. Others are complex and nuanced. The bill passed 44-3 and I was the very last senator to cast his/her vote, so my vote did not turn the bill one way or the other. I voted for this bill because I do support our farming community. I also know that this bill was drafted with lots of groups at the table. However, the retail fuel industry was not adequately heard, and that is part of the reason, in my opinion, it has so many issues. I hope that voting yes will allow me to be “at the table” down the road if problems need to be fixed.

Now that we are 2 weeks past when session was supposed to end, everyone asks when we will be done. I feel we were sent to the Capitol to get many things done and some of them have not been accomplished yet. Personally, I have no desire to leave until those things get completed. With that being said, I am guessing we will be at the Capitol for a few more weeks.
I ask for all of you to keep the people of Ukraine in your thoughts. Monday, I joined several other senators and representatives at Hy-Vee’s headquarters where we helped package meals to send to orphanages in Ukraine. It is such a great cause for such a sad situation.

Until then, make it a great week and thank you for letting me represent all of you and this great state!

Posted by on Apr 29 2022. Filed under News, Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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