Key Issues That Concern All Iowans
Every child, no matter their ZIP code, to have access to quality public K-12 education, and for college to be affordable for every Iowan. However, in the last few years the Iowa Legislature has failed to adequately fund our public school, berated our teachers, and taken decision-making away from our local school boards. And now, they are close to dismantling public school funding by passing a voucher bill. I could be the one vote that stops this. Let's make every school the world class, democratic institution it was meant to be.
Let’s be very clear on the issue of abortion. This very private and difficult decision should only be made by a woman, her physician and her beliefs. I respect those who oppose abortion, but their personal believes should not be imposed on another. I would oppose any legislation that would unreasonably obstruct this right. I am encouraged to hear that many Republicans would support 18 to 20 weeks as a threshold, rather than 5 or 6 weeks.
Every Iowan, no matter their race, sex, ethnicity or national origin, language, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or disability, is equal. I would oppose any efforts to discriminate or deny their rights as equal citizen. We have a long and proud history in Iowa of defending civil rights, protecting the right to vote and expanding opportunity for all.
Protecting Iowa’s natural resources and ensuring the quality of our air, water, and land for current and future generations should be a priority during every legislative session. Unfortunately, it has not. 53% of Iowa's rivers and streams and 67% of our lakes and reservoirs are considered IMPAIRED waters. The IWILL (Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy), approved in 2010 to create a protected trust fund to provide permanent funding for Iowa’s natural resources. To this day, our legislature has refused to fund this approved measure by the people of Iowa. Another example is the lack of discussion and incentives for Iowa farmers to use proven methods of reducing soil loss and soil improvement. Only 10% of Iowa farm land uses a cover crop, and 35% use no-till planting. Let’s find ways to improve these percentages and preserve our land for the next generation. Further, let's explore more "Farm to Market" opportunites.
The last time Iowa changed its minimum wage of $7.25 was in 2008. Many Iowans find themselves raising a family on these low wages and are forced to apply for government assistance. Now, unemployment benefits have been cut from 26 to just 16 weeks, with an added requirement to accept lower paying jobs, even minimum wage. I am encouraged to see many businesses in Iowa step up and increase their starting wages voluntarily. However, it's time to seriously discuss and pass legislation raising the minimum wage in Iowa.
It's time to return to good governance. Legislation should be well thought out, publicly debated and allow for public input. Democracy takes time. It must involve all viewpoints and at times compromise. Passage of laws in just a few days, with little or no public input, must stop. I agree with Randy Evans, of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, that “Government employees and elected officials are entrusted to act with the public’s best interest in mind” Let's end the arrogance of a single party dominance of the Iowa government and involve all Iowans in the process of good government.
As a fellow gun owner, I agree that Iowans have the right to defend their home, business and property. However, I also agree with former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Warren Burger (Republican) who wrote "It is.. desireable for the State to have reasonable regulation for the ownership and use of firearms in a effort to stop mindless homicidal carnage". Along with the majority of Iowans, I support reasonable regulations that can help to impair such "carnage". Iowans support background checks for all gun sales. We must fix the loop hole of unlicensed sale of guns online and gun shows. Iowan support Red Flag legislation that permits the courts to order the temporary removal of Firearmss from a person who presents a danger to others or themselves. Iowans support a ban on all "ghost" guns that are sold with no registration number. I have no doubt that Justice Burger would support these reasonable measures as a step to stop the carnage.
Who is really voting? Is it the 616 registered lobbyists that roam the Capital halls? Or, is it the 996 registered organizations that have lobbyists on staff to influence legislation? Or, is it the individuals or groups that contribute unlimited amounts of money to campaigns directly or indirectly? I was shock to find that during the 2020 election Steve Bradley's campaign raised over $650,000 dollars for a job that pays only $25,000 a year. This is obscene. It's time to have a serious conversation about campaign finance and influence in Iowa.
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Here are some questions (and responses) that Tony has been asked on the campaign trail:
What can be done about continued inflation in Iowa?
I've been asking that same question since I got into this race back in July. What has the Republican controlled Legislature and Governor's office done all these months? The party in power has refused to call a special session of the legislature to explore ways to help Iowans who are hurting. A two billion dollar surplus goes untouched, the 31 cent a gallon gas tax continues (even though a temporary suspension has been suggested), and still nothing from Des Moines, only finger pointing at others. Regardless of the election outcome, I would urge the Governor to call a special session of the legislature to explore ways to help Iowans weather this storm. It's not too late.
Do you support the use of eminent domain for CO2 pipelines?
The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution assures that "private property shall not be taken for public use, without just compensation." At issue with the proposed CO2 pipelines is the accepted view that any project given eminent domain must be for public use and benefit to the citizens of Iowa. I do not believe the proposed pipeline companies have made their case for authorization of eminent domain. They have not been transparent about the process to landowners, nor provided clear liability for owners/operators for any and all damages caused by installation, operation, or eventually removal of the proposed pipeline. Until proposed CO2 pipeline companies meet their obligation to demonstrate these projects are a benefit to the citizens of Iowa and provide fair compensation and safeguards to their land, I will oppose the use of eminent domain for these projects.
The state is projected to have a budget surplus of more than $1 billion. What would be your top priorities for that surplus?
Whether from higher than expected spending from consumers in our post-pandemic economy, or from the recent influx of federal dollars, such as the American Rescue Plan & Infrastructure Bills, Iowa now has a surplus of over $1 billion dollars. Like any surplus, these dollars should not be used to supplement on-going, approved expenses. Instead, this surplus should be used for one-time expenditures or to pay down any debt. I would support using these surplus dollars to assist those most impacted by the last couple of pandemic years. Small businesses and public schools would be my top priority for most of these dollars. We need to invest in our quality of life and things that will help our communities to grow. A thriving downtown and strong public schools are key to this end.
What are your ideas for improving public schools?
Iowa public schools, once number one in the nation, have fallen behind after financial neglect for almost a decade. Here’s what we can do now. Use a minimum 4% Supplemental State Aid (SSA) to address achievement gaps, keep up with increased operational expenses, address unpredictable enrollment numbers and allow competitive wage. Iowa public schools should have an immediate infusion of $300 million from the budget surplus to drive innovation in 21st century learning and begin to reset the gross underfunding of our education system for years. Reinstate a loan forgiveness program for current and new educators who commit to stay and teach in the state of Iowa for five years. Increase compensation for public school educators, administrators, and support professionals to retain and attract the talent we need to keep our schools operating.
What are your thoughts on the proposed amendment to the Iowa Constitution the right to keep and bear arms?
Have you ever been afraid of hidden wording in a contract that could really mess up your life? Well, this is one of those contracts, but the wording is out in the open (3rd sentence of the amendment) and it is the phrase "strict scrutiny". This phrase is not used in the U.S. Constituation, so why put it n ours? Read on as my friend Arlie Willems (Mt Vernon, IA) does a great job at explain the real dangers of this phrase. "The proposed amendment to the Iowa Constitution is labeled the “Right to Keep and Bear Arms.” This deceptively packaged proposal may sound identical to the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution - a similarity proponents of the measure are counting on - but the reality of the proposal would result in untold legal smoke and mirrors. The catch lies in the third sentence of the proposed amendment that states: “Any and all restrictions of this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.” This is not a condition included in the U.S. Constitution. In interpreting the Second Amendment, even the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to read a “strict scrutiny” standard into the protection—the highest court has opted for gun laws that are merely “reasonable” in scope. So what gives? Well, constitutional experts tell us that this hidden detail uses a legal term, “strict scrutiny,” that may negate any current restrictions and will tie the hands of future lawmakers to pass restrictions on the ownership and carrying of guns, leaving Iowans vulnerable to a Wild West, but with high-capacity magazines and sniper scopes. The NRA (National Rifle Association) is promoting the “strict scrutiny” language in order to create an “iron wall around” gun rights, leaving no room for common sense measures to keep Iowans safe. The supporters of the proposed amendment tout the claim that 44 other states have a “Right to Keep and Bear Arms” amendment in their constitutions. This is a hollow, if not dishonest argument. Only three states include “strict scrutiny” in their constitutions: Alabama, Missouri and Louisiana- three states that are often on the wrong side of history and states that we seldom choose to follow. If Iowans feel the U.S. Second Amendment isn’t enough gun rights protection, the legislature should go back to the drawing board and propose an amendment that does not include the “strict scrutiny” requirement. For now, it is imperative that Iowans vote NO on the proposed constitutional amendment." So, turn that ballot over and read it carefully. I will vote NO on this measure.
Do you support further use of state funds to help parents pay the costs of non-public schools or homeschooling for grades K-12?
Currently, non-public schools and homeschooling for grades K-12 make up only 5% of the students in the state of Iowa. Some state funds have been carefully allocated to assist students of non-public schools and homeschoolers over the years such as tuition and textbook tax credit, teaching materials, transportation, school lunch aid, and students with special needs services to name a few. However, I would be opposed to taking any per pupil public school funding and diverting to a non-public school. The funding of our public schools is based on the democratic principle that “everyone” in the community contributes to a free and public education, for the betterment of the community.