NewsLocal News


IA legislators face off on COVID-19 relief, broadband & more

Posted at 6:34 PM, Feb 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-23 20:15:12-05

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Ia. (KMTV) — With the Iowa Legislature in session, lawmakers are focusing on childcare, broadband access and early voting timeframes. That's why the Council Bluffs Area Chamber of Commerce held a virtual meeting with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.

Iowa Democrats like State Sen. Zach Wahls and Rep. Todd Prichard are disappointed that the legislature isn't focusing on COVID-19 relief.

"There's not been as much bipartisan interest on those topics and frankly...most of the bills that are high-profile have been very partisan. Republicans have not been working with Democrats to introduce that legislation," Wahls said.

Legislators do agree — Iowa is not where it needs to be when it comes to broadband access.

"I think right now, we're looking at 100 download and 100 upload. That's probably a good place to start, that's probably where we need to be," Prichard said.

To ensure strong internet for Iowans, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is proposing to make an annual investment of $150 million for three years. Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver said the road ahead looks long.

"It will be one of the last bills out of here, probably both with policy and the amount of money, but it is a lot of money," Whitver said.

House Majority Leader Matt Windschitl said childcare bills are a priority for the House Republican caucus.

"One of the biggest ones is the childcare cliff effect, making sure people that are receiving childcare assistance are not penalized by advancing in their careers and advancing in their jobs by getting a higher wage and all of a sudden...they lose their childcare benefits," Windschitl said.

Still, he admits, creating strong policies for Iowans has its ups and downs.

"Not every day is the best, but not every day can be. We're doing what Iowans sent us down here to do," Windschitl said.

Another controversial bill in the Iowa legislature is legislation that would change Iowa's voting laws. It cuts early voting from 28 to 19 days and Republican legislators are hoping to get that on the governor's desk as soon as possible. Debate on the floor could begin this week.