N'West Iowa lawmakers for 2022 session

Left to right: Sen. Jeff Taylor (R-Sioux Center); Sen. Dave Rowley (R-Spirit Lake); Rep. John Wills (R-Spirit Lake); Rep. Dennis Bush (R-Aurelia); Rep. Skyler Wheeler (R-Orange City).

REGIONAL—The second session of the 89th General Assembly of the Iowa Legislature starts Monday, Jan. 10, in the State Capitol in Des Moines.

The group of five lawmakers who represent N’West Iowa — all of whom are Republicans — includes newly elected Rep. Dave Rowley of Spirit Lake. Rowley won a special election held Dec. 14 to replace former Sen. Zach Whiting (R-Spirit Lake), who resigned in October after serving three years of his four-year term.

This session will be the final one in which incumbent lawmakers in the Legislature will represent their constituents according to the existing maps for the Iowa House and Senate districts.

The Legislature approved new political maps late last year in a special session, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the updated maps into law. The new boundaries were a result of the redistricting process to reflect 2020 population data.

Iowa Republicans are entering their fifth year of controlling each chamber of the Capitol: They have a 60-40 majority in the House and a 32-18 advantage in the Senate.

Thirty-seven bills already have been filed for lawmakers to consider during this year’s session. They range in topic from the use of public funds and addressing theft or fraud concerning such funds; traffic violations and enforcement of traffic laws; unemployment insurance; the state’s response to a proclamation of disaster emergency; eligibility for the Last-Dollar Scholarship of the Future Ready Iowa program; violations by a health-care facility, among others.

Gov. Kim Reynolds will deliver the Condition of the State address at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 11, in the House chamber.

SEN. JEFF TAYLOR

Jeff Taylor

Age: 60

Residence: Sioux Center

Party: Republican

Area: District 2 — O’Brien, Sioux and Cherokee counties and the easternmost townships of Plymouth County

Experience: Second year in the Senate

Committees: Judiciary, labor and business relations, natural resources and environment, ways and means, justice systems appropriations subcommittee and vice chair of education.

E-mail: jeff.taylor@legis.iowa.gov

Office phone: 512-281-3371

WHAT ARE A FEW OF YOUR BIGGEST POLICY PRIORITIES FOR 2022?

Two of my top priorities are No. 1, the creation of a Cold Case Unit within the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, and No. 2, adding language to the Iowa Code to more clearly delineate the rights of parents who have children in K-12 schools. I am also concerned about the growing power of transgender ideology. Not only is it a denial of reality, an erasing of women and a threat to freedom of speech, it is also deeply harmful to those who are suffering from gender identity disorder and estrangement from their own bodies. We need to respond with love and truth to this confusion in our society.

DO YOU HAVE IDEAS FOR HOW THE LEGISLATURE COULD ADDRESS CHILD-CARE ACCESS, HOUSING AVAILABILITY AND WORKFORCE ATTRACTION?

All of these are significant problems. Some progress has already been made during the past year. The Iowa Economic Development Authority, under the capable leadership of Debi Durham, has given Workforce Housing Tax Credit awards to communities in our area. Gov. Reynolds has also prioritized assisting with child care access. I expect that the General Assembly will consider and pass some legislation to help with these areas of social and economic concern. The topics often come up when I meet with local government and business leaders in Cherokee, O’Brien, Plymouth and Sioux counties.

WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THE RECENT FEDERAL COVID-19 VACCINE REQUIREMENT FOR LARGE EMPLOYERS?

I hope the Legislature will pass additional protections, building on the religion-and-health-exemption law we created during special session in October. Vaccine mandates — whether forced on us from above by the Biden administration or chosen as a policy by Iowa business owners — are unnecessary, unfair and unconstitutional. God-given, constitutionally-protected Ninth Amendment rights are being denied through the threat of job dismissal. It’s wrong. I would support adding vaccination status, as a protected class, to the civil rights portion of Iowa Code. I would also support a wider bill to protect health care privacy and freedom for all Iowans. Lawsuits against federal overreach, filed by Iowa and other state governments, ought to prevail in the courts and I hope they will.

WHAT DO YOU SEE AS OTHER KEY ISSUES THAT WILL COME UP DURING THE 2022 LEGISLATIVE SESSION?

I dislike “crony capitalism” (i.e., business using political connections to get self-serving favors and funding from state government in contrast to the common good). A current example of this seems to be the proposed carbon capture pipelines that are seeking permits from the Iowa Utilities Board. I hope the board will listen carefully to all voices, including those of farm families and rural residents, when weighing the risks and benefits of the proposed pipelines, and I hope it will send a clear message of opposition to the possible use of eminent domain in this context. Profit for the few should not outweigh the rights of the many. Finally, I will continue to advocate for protection of human life, for workers’ rights, for parental choice and rights in K-12 education and for greater attention to mental health.

SEN. DAVE ROWLEY

Dave Rowley

Dave Rowley

Age: 67

Residence: Spirit Lake

Party: Republican

Area: District 1 — Lyon, Osceola, Dickinson, Clay and Palo Alto counties

Experience: First year in the Senate

Committees: Human resources, judiciary and labor committee and transportation, infrastructure and capitals appropriations subcommittee.

E-mail: dave.rowley@legis.iowa.gov

Phone: 712-330-5596

WHAT ARE A FEW OF YOUR BIGGEST POLICY PRIORITIES FOR 2022?

State income tax relief is the priority for this legislature. Iowa is in a unique position to evaluate not only reducing tax rates but eliminating them altogether. Personally, to promote economic development for our rural communities. As our world transitions to new ways to deliver services and new technologies supporting the ability to work from our homes, we have an opportunity to enhance our quality of life living here in Iowa. I am also very interested in recent legislation regarding state funding for mental health services.

DO YOU HAVE IDEAS FOR HOW THE IOWA LEGISLATURE COULD ADDRESS TOPICS SUCH AS CHILD-CARE ACCESS, HOUSING AVAILABILITY AND WORKFORCE ATTRACTION?

Just recently, Gov. Reynolds announced new initiatives for 2022 to support working families to address access to child care, especially in rural Iowa communities. Iowa is investing $330 million in the next few years to alleviate the barriers to affordable housing. Many years ago, our young family was accepted for an Iowa Housing loan and it was a real help. These programs can work well to support young families. These steps can lead to a more stable, affordable environment to bring families opportunities to live and find employment in our communities.

WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THE RECENT FEDERAL COVID-19 VACCINE REQUIREMENT FOR LARGE EMPLOYERS?

I am against any form of mandates on a constitutional, as well as a moral basis. It gives far too much power to a central government in my opinion, and we should all be discerning of this, regardless of party politics.

WHAT DO YOU SEE AS OTHER KEY ISSUES THAT WILL COME UP DURING THE 2022 LEGISLATIVE SESSION?

Other issues include education and the discussion of options for students with regard to tax-funded scholarships. I fully support our local schools. All of our children and my wife and I attended and graduated from our public schools. There is interest from families in having options for their children in other districts. I think that can be discussed openly and fairly for all concerned. I see this issue, as well as the aforementioned state income tax relief, mental health services and workforce development, as being on the schedule for committees.

REP. JOHN WILLS

John Wills

Age: 55

Residence: Spirit Lake

Party: Republican

Area: District 1 — Lyon and Osceola counties and the northern two-thirds of Dickinson County

Experience: Eighth year in the House, and Speaker Pro Tempore

Committees: Administrative rules, agriculture, appropriations, education, Veterans Affairs, legislative council, studies and vice chair of administration.

E-mail: john.wills@legis.iowa.gov

Cellphone: 712-330-9492

WHAT ARE A FEW OF YOUR BIGGEST POLICY PRIORITIES FOR 2022?

My biggest priorities for 2022 include tax reform, workforce development — which include licensure reform, legal immigration to the state, workforce housing and many other issues that make Iowa an attractive place to move — and parents choice in schools (some call it school choice, and it doesn’t necessarily mean public versus private schools).

DO YOU HAVE IDEAS FOR HOW THE IOWA LEGISLATURE COULD ADDRESS TOPICS SUCH AS CHILD-CARE ACCESS, HOUSING AVAILABILITY AND WORKFORCE ATTRACTION?

Sure, I am a big believer in making Iowa a more attractive place for people to move into. I think our broadband initiative will pay dividends to attract business and individuals to our state. We invested $250 million last year with COVID money and state money and the governor just announced another $210 million in funding for broadband initiatives. Last year, the Iowa House made the commitment to spend $300 million in three years, and that investment was estimated to put Iowa into the Top 10 nationwide in internet speeds. It is these kind of investments that the state can make to provide a huge return on investment (ROI) for Iowans.

I think tax reform will be another of these things that we can do that will provide an ROI and attract workers to our state. We will, and we have to, do workforce housing, child care, licensure reform and many other things that will attract the skilled workforce to Iowa but we can also aid in training up our current citizens and provide them training so they can get a better job.

The workforce right now is such that with a little additional training, a person with few skills can gain those skills and get a better job if they want to put the extra effort in to do that.

WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THE RECENT FEDERAL COVID-19 VACCINE REQUIREMENT FOR LARGE EMPLOYERS?

The federal COVID-19 vaccine requirement is totally unconstitutional and will lose in the courts. The executive branch (the president) through OSHA has brought forward a rule that acts like legislation and attempts to do something that the executive branch isn’t able to do constitutionally. The state Legislature opposes this measure 100 percent, but if it does survive the Supreme Court for some reason the Iowa House will do all it can to defeat this executive overreach through legislation. It’s important for people to understand that if this rule stands up to court review, there is not much that the state government can do, but we will try.

WHAT DO YOU SEE AS OTHER KEY ISSUES THAT WILL COME UP DURING THE 2022 LEGISLATIVE SESSION?

I am involved in working on the Convention of States initiative that will help to reign in the federal government, which is out of control and has many problems.

REP. SKYLER WHEELER

Skyler Wheeler

Skyler Wheeler

Age: 28

Residence: Orange City

Party: Republican

Area: District 4 — Sioux County, with the exception of Floyd, Lynn, Grant and Sheridan townships

Experience: Sixth year in the House

Committees: Local government, judiciary, ways and means, justice systems appropriations budget subcommittee and vice chair of education.

E-mail: skyler.wheeler@legis.iowa.gov

Cellphone: 712-441-7444

Office phone: 515-281-3221

WHAT ARE A FEW OF YOUR BIGGEST POLICY PRIORITIES FOR 2022?

My top priorities for the session include abolishing the income tax, expanding parental choice and control in education, ending vaccine, mask and testing mandates, protecting our farmers from any radical Green New Deal nonsense coming from Washington D.C. and a heavy focus on workforce-related issues.

DO YOU HAVE IDEAS FOR HOW THE IOWA LEGISLATURE COULD ADDRESS TOPICS SUCH AS CHILD CARE ACCESS, HOUSING AVAILABILITY AND WORKFORCE ATTRACTION?

Workforce and child care are continuing issues that we’ve had multiple conversations about. We need to look seriously at welfare reform, work-based learning initiatives in schools, repealing regulations to make it easier for churches to get involved in child care and removing barriers that make it easier and more affordable for mothers to take their children to day care and work there as well. The latter may be killing two birds with one stone.

WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THE RECENT FEDERAL COVID-19 VACCINE REQUIREMENT FOR LARGE EMPLOYERS?

I believe the federal mandates on masks, vaccines and testing are egregious, unconstitutional and a direct assault on our liberty in America. I am done with all of this craziness. I am confident we will see a barrage of bills dealing with this and I plan to personally file a bill to pull the state of Iowa out of Occupational Safety and Health Administration and to not allow them to enforce any of these tyrannical mandates in our state.

WHAT DO YOU SEE AS OTHER KEY ISSUES THAT WILL COME UP DURING THE 2022 LEGISLATIVE SESSION?

Additionally, I plan to continue to work on restarting a Cold Case Unit within the Department of Public Safety, my Food Freedom Act which allows food producers to sell more types of foods and making Iowa a Second Amendment sanctuary state.

REP. DENNIS BUSH

Dennis Bush

Age: 70

Residence: Cleghorn

Party: Republican

Area: District 3 — O’Brien and Cherokee counties, eastern Plymouth County and eastern Sioux County

Experience: Second year in the House

Committees: Human resources, transportation, labor, vice chair of the agriculture and natural resources appropriation subcommittee.

E-mail: dennis.bush@legis.iowa.gov

Office phone: 515-281-3221

Home phone: 712-225-2403

Cellphone: 712-221-1784

WHAT ARE A FEW OF YOUR BIGGEST POLICY PRIORITIES FOR 2022?

I will be working to get a biofuels bill passed. The ethanol industry is vitally important to Northwest Iowa. With the mediocre support that we have seen at the federal level, Iowa needs to do as much as possible to maintain, or hopefully increase, demand for ethanol within the state, while providing consumers greater access to a cheaper and more environmentally friendly fuel.

I believe that we need to pass a cap on noneconomic damages in personal injury lawsuits. I’m not certain on what the appropriate dollar amount might be, but the uncertainty of what juries might award for things like loss of companionship and pain and suffering is causing problems, not only in the health care field, but also in the trucking industry.

I will be working on getting the funds in the Taxpayer Relief Fund, which is state revenue that is in excess of the official budget, back into the hands of hardworking Iowans. That fund has seen an unprecedented growth in the last months as revenues have greatly exceeded the official estimates.

There has been a lot of rhetoric about another large tax cut bill this session. The largest tax cut in Iowa’s history, which passed in 2018, is not scheduled to take effect until 2023. I would like to see that take effect for this tax year. I can maybe support a modest tax cut bill this year if the financial analysis shows that Iowa can meet its financial obligations well into the future.

DO YOU HAVE IDEAS FOR HOW THE IOWA LEGISLATURE COULD ADDRESS TOPICS SUCH AS CHILD CARE ACCESS, HOUSING AVAILABILITY AND WORKFORCE ATTRACTION?

The House passed 10 bills last session relating to child-care access. Only four made it into law. I expect some refinement in the six that ended up on the cutting room floor and a renewed push to get those ideas passed in the Senate.

Continued work on reducing the income tax and expanding access to broadband internet should help attract workers, as would tort liability reform. We need to continue to pursue reducing credentialing barriers for professionals wanting to come to Iowa. I don’t have any new ideas on how to address the availability of affordable housing. It is an annual topic of discussion.

WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THE RECENT FEDERAL COVID-19 VACCINE REQUIREMENT FOR LARGE EMPLOYERS?

I am opposed to any COVID-19 vaccine mandates. I believe that it should be a personal choice. If there is any further legislative action, I don’t expect it until after decisions have been rendered in the ongoing lawsuits.

WHAT DO YOU SEE AS OTHER KEY ISSUES THAT WILL COME UP DURING THE 2022 LEGISLATIVE SESSION?

I am sure that there will be renewed discussion on school vouchers. I also expect that there will be discussion about the issue of biological males identifying as females attempting to participate in girls’ sports. There will be discussion on what is appropriate printed classroom material in our K-12 public schools. I will continue to work on strengthening local control and on issues that make city and county government more efficient.