Potential child care measures discussed at Eggs and Issues

Senator says broadband bill will be scrapped

Good child care is essential to helping parents stay in the workforce, according to state legislators who spoke at an Eggs and Issues forum Saturday morning in Fort Dodge.

”If we don’t have people to take care of our kids, parents can’t go to work,” said state Rep. Ann Meyer, R-Fort Dodge.

”It is a workforce issue,” added state Sen. Tim Kraayenbrink, R-Fort Dodge.

Kraayenbrink added that a bill that could have potentially hurt the efforts to create a municipal broadband utility in Fort Dodge is headed for the legislative scrap heap.

State Rep. Mike Sexton, R-Rockwell City, addressed work on the roughly $8 billion budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. He said he expects education will get about $103 million in new money in that budget.

Those three state lawmakers, joined by U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, spoke at a forum in the Bioscience and Health Sciences Building at Iowa Central Community College. About 40 people attended.

Eggs and Issues is sponsored by the college and the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance.

Child care

Just days after Gov. Kim Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg were in Fort Dodge for a meeting on child care, the subject emerged as the subject of discussion at Eggs and Issues.

Meyer predicted that legislation to improve access to child care will pass during this legislative session.

She said she is a member of a legislative task force assembled to address the issue.

Meyer said one aspect she specifically wants to address is what’s been called the ”cliff effect.” She said it occurs when a parent who receives assistance to pay for child care gets a raise and suddenly loses all of that help.

”They will reach a certain point in their wages and they can’t take any more because they will lose all of their child care benefits,” she said.

Meyer said she’s working on legislation that would gradually reduce the child care assistance as the parents’ wages go up so that all the assistance is not lost at once. She described at as ”incrementally stair-stepping.”

She has already introduced a bill that would increase rates paid to child care providers under the state child care assistance program. Introduced last week, the bill awaits committee action.

Broadband utility bill

On Nov. 5, 2019, Fort Dodge voters approved the concept of a municipal broadband utility when 71.6 percent of them voted to give the City Council the authority to move forward with such a utility. A consulting firm is expected to present the council with a proposed utility business model early this year.

However, a potential roadblock to a Fort Dodge broadband utility briefly cropped up in the legislature last week. Kraayenbrink said a bill was introduced that would limit the ability of cities to set up that kind of utility.

He said that within five minutes of the bill being introduced, he received a text message from Fort Dodge Mayor Matt Bemrich, advising him that the measure would be bad for the city.

Kraayenbrink said he contacted the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Dan Dawson, R-Council Bluffs. He said Dawson told him the bill is”on life support at the least.”

”Basically, that bill’s going to be killed,” he said.


Sexton said the legislature is required to set the growth figure for supplemental state aid to schools within 30 days of receiving the governor’s budget. Lawmakers, he said, are working on that now. He added that he expects a 2.5 percent increase.

Reynolds has proposed increasing the state’s 6-cent sales tax by 1 penny. Much of that increase, 5/8 of a cent, would pay for mental health services, reducing county property taxes that now pay for those services. The other 3/8 of a cent would pay for conservation programs in accordance with a state constitutional amendment approved in 2010.

”That’s a big bill,” Sexton said. ”There’s a lot of moving parts.”


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today