Legislative Newsletter - September 2021
September 1, 2021
Iowa's Legislative Services Agency released the first set of redistricting maps on September 16th, following Governor Reynolds proclamation setting a special session to begin on October 5th. Public hearing's regarding the proposed maps were held on September 20th, 21st, and 22nd. The proposed maps would create 22 open seats in the Iowa House and 11 open seats in the Iowa Senate. Additionally, 31 sitting Republican House members and 9 sitting Democrat House members would be grouped together.
In the Senate, 14 sitting Republican members and 8 sitting Democrat members would be grouped together. The congressional districts would shift substantially, with the 1st District moving to the southeastern corner of the state, the 2nd District shifting to cover the northeastern portion of the state, the 3rd District consolidating to cover the southern central region, and the 4th District expanding to cover a majority of the western part of the state. The proposed maps would not displace any current members of the federal delegation from their current districts.
During the special session, lawmakers will need to approve the proposed LSA maps or vote down the maps. If voted down, LSA will present a second set of maps for lawmakers to consider. If lawmakers again vote down the proposed maps, LSA will submit a third set of maps; lawmakers may only amend the third LSA proposal.
On September 24th, Senator Chuck Grassley announced his campaign to run for re-election to the U.S. Senate.
"It's 4 a.m. in Iowa so I'm running I do that 6 days a week. Before I start the day I want you to know what Barbra and I have decided. I'm running for re-election - a lot more to do, for Iowa. We ask and will work for your support. Will you join us?"
If elected, Grassley will serve his 8th term in the Senate. Historically, Grassley has seen some of the highest approval ratings in the state, hitting the 80% threshold. According to the latest Des Moines Register Iowa Poll, 47% of Iowans approve of the job he's doing, with 40% disapproving and 13% unsure.
Former Democrat U.S. Representative Abby Finkenauer launched her campaign for U.S. Senate in July and released the following statement on Grassley following his announcement.
"After 47 years in Washington D.C., Chuck Grassley has changed from an Iowa farmer to just another coastal elite. Over his nearly five decades in Congress, Iowa has lost over 30,000 family farms, our jobs have been shipped overseas, and decade after decade our rural communities have been hollowed out with our young people leaving in droves as he stood on the sideline."
Representative Ashley Hinson announced her bid for reelection to Iowa's 1st congressional district in late August. Hinson defeated Democrat incumbent Abby Finkenauer in 2020. Republican lawmakers including Senator Chuck Grassley, Senator Ted Cruz, and Governor Reynolds attended Hinson's announcement and praised Hinson.
Representative Marianntte Miller-Meeks kicked off her 2022 campaign for Iowa's 2nd district with a tailgate in Iowa City. U.S. Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas attended the event and endorsed Miller-Meeks.
Representative Cindy Axne has not announced her intentions for the 2022 election cycle. The incumbent representing Iowa's 3rd district has ruled out a run for U.S. Senate but is still considering running for Governor or U.S. House.
Representative Randy Feenstra, representing Iowa's 4th congressional district, announced his intention to run for a second term. Former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and former governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, endorsed Feenstra's reelection campaign.
"Randy's bold, conservative voice brings a dose of Iowa commonsense to Washington. He defends Iowa's farmers and small businesses, protect the unborn, holds Communist China accountable... I'm proud to endorse him because he's a fighter who will always get the job done for Iowa." Haley said in a statement.
On September 27th, Governor Reynolds announced the state would end Fiscal Year 2021 with a balance of $1,238.6 billion in its General Fund. This results in a surplus of $1.24 billion. Last year's budget surplus was $305 million.
"Iowa is in a very strong financial position due to our fiscal responsibility," said Gov. Reynolds. "This surplus proves we accomplished exactly what we set out to do - overcome the financial challenges caused by the global pandemic and invest in education, workforce, healthcare, agriculture and technology. We will continue to invest in these important priorities going forward to meet the needs of our citizens and state."
FY 2021 closed on June 30th, but the accrual period officially ended on September 30th.
Iowa Chamber Alliance Executive Director, Dustin Miller commented "This year's budget surplus allows Iowa to look toward its economic future and make one-time investments that support business growth that includes attracting talent to grow Iowa's workforce."
Member Spotlight: Dubuque Chamber of Commerce
Once upon a time, times weren't just bad for Dubuque...they were horrible. The highest unemployment in the nation, closed plants, a struggling downtown, disconnected neighborhoods, and a mass exodus of residents led to the infamous headline "Will that last one to leave Dubuque please turn off the lights". Thankfully community leaders from the public and private sector would not accept such fate and came together around visioning efforts that have since transformed our community. Today, Dubuque takes great pride in a new claim to fame, the Chamber-coined slogan "Masterpiece on the Mississippi" a nod to our extraordinary revitalization story made possible through the vision for a better Dubuque.
The America's River Project, a riverfront revitalization plan was the centerpiece of that vision. Transforming the underutilized, industrial, brownfield property adjacent to downtown Dubuque would reconnect citizens to the river and create an unparalleled downtown epicenter for recreation, entertainment, tourism, and business development. Officials applied for and were awarded Iowa's first Vision Iowa Grant in 2001 receiving $40M that helped contribute to the largest fundraising campaign in Dubuque history raising $188M and thus launching the first phase of the America's River Project a year later.
Three completed phases and 20 years since the original Vision Iowa Grant was awarded, Dubuque is Iowa's placemaking posterchild with over a $1B return on the original $188M investment. A community transformed for citizens and tourists alike, the America's River Project has reinvented our community creating a reawakened appreciation for Dubuque and has served as a catalyst for redevelopment of the downtown and the historic Millwork District.
- Molly Grover, President & CEO Dubuque Chamber of Commerce