Capital Clicks

Iowa House Democrats release proposals to lower living costs

By: - April 5, 2023 4:04 pm

The House Democrats’ legislative package included multiple tax credit proposals on child care, affordable housing and utility costs. (Photo illustration via Canva)

Iowa House Democrats said instead of focusing on “culture war” issues, lawmakers need to find ways to provide relief for Iowans’ rising costs of living.

House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst and House Democrats said they plan to introduce a slate of five bills Wednesday on issues from combating wage theft, lowering utility and prescription drug costs, expanding access to affordable housing and child care and freezing tuition.

As the Iowa Legislature enters budgeting season, Konfrst said now is the perfect time to act on bills that will help Iowans’ budgets at home.

“All of these things can easily be taken up by the Legislature in a bipartisan fashion at any time,” Konfrst said. “And seeing as there’s no debate happening in the Senate this week, and two days of no debate in the House, it appears to me we have plenty of time to get this work done.”

Three of the proposals involve providing tax credits to Iowans: A child and dependent care tax credit for families making under $250,000, renewing the 2021 Iowa Solar Tax Credit program, and creating an affordable housing tax credit program.

Rep. Molly Buck, D-Ankeny, said these solutions are needed to address the issues Iowans struggle with on a day-to-day basis, like child care shortages and underpayment at work. Buck said 1 in every 7 Iowa workers is shorted $300 per week, and said the bill requires the labor commissioner give wage theft reports a higher priority.

“While I recognize that the state Legislature cannot control all of the ups and downs of our economy, we can take action to lower costs and reduce living expenses,” Buck said.

Two other proposals would freeze tuition at Iowa’s three public universities and cap the price of insulin at $25 — $10 lower than the limit set by the federal Inflation Reduction Act.

Democrats noted that the tuition freeze should be accompanied by adequate state support for public colleges and universities. “Let’s give families a break, and let’s make sure that the Legislature does our job to fully fund our regents institutions and our community colleges,” Konfrst said.

It’s unlikely these bills will be taken up by Republican leadership. Democrats also promoted reproductive health care proposals in March which did not receive committee consideration. But Konfrst called for Republicans to work with them on these proposals, which she said have bipartisan support from Iowans across the state.

Konfrst said Democrats plan to talk with colleagues across the aisle and “remind them that our job here is to work for everyday Iowans.”

“We spent a lot of time doing things that appease the right-wing base and appease a minority of Iowans,” Konfrst said. “Let’s get to work for everyday Iowans, and the majority of Iowans who want lower costs. We can come together and do this. This shouldn’t be partisan.”

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Robin Opsahl
Robin Opsahl

Robin Opsahl is an Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter covering the state Legislature and politics. They have experience covering government, elections and more at media organizations including Roll Call, the Sacramento Bee and the Wausau Daily Herald.