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Lawmakers give governor high marks

They plan to support broadband, child care proposals

Iowa lawmakers representing Webster County agree with Gov. Kim Reynolds’ proposals for improving child care, broadband service and mental health treatment.

Reacting to the governor’s Condition of the State Address, the legislators said Wednesday that they expect to get to work quickly on many of those proposals.

The governor’s call to give parents an option to send their children to in-person classes for all their schooling is also likely to get attention soon, but will have little effect on schools in the Fort Dodge area, according to state Rep. Ann Meyer, R-Fort Dodge, and other legislators.

“Our school board and our superintendent have done a wonderful job of getting our kids back in school,” she said.

State Sen. Tim Kraayenbrink, R-Fort Dodge, said Reynolds’ proposal for 100 percent face-to face learning won’t change much locally.

In her Tuesday evening remarks, Reynolds did not press for passage of her Invest in Iowa program. Introduced last year, it included a 1-cent increase in the state sales tax. It did not advance in the legislature.

Kraayenbrink said he was not surprised that the plan did not come up. He said he has not “heard any rumblings” as to why it did not.

Sexton said House Republicans received an email from Reynolds on Monday in which she said she would not push the proposal this year.

Kraayenbrink and Meyer said they were impressed with the tone of the governor’s speech.

“I felt that she was a little bit more bold than she’s been,” Kraayenbrink said.

Meyer added “I really loved the positive message she set out. I really loved how she talked about how strong Iowans are and how we’re going to get through this together.”

“I’m always heartened by the stories of Iowans helping Iowans,” she said.

Broadband

The governor proposed spending $450 million over five years to expand high-speed internet service.

The CO­VID-19 pandemic, because it has forced people to work and study remotely, “has really highlighted deficiencies in internet service,” Meyer said.

In Fort Dodge, city officials are exploring the possibility of setting up a municipally owned broadband utility after voters approved such a move in November 2019.

The lawmakers said it’s not clear if the governor’s plan would have any impact on what’s being done in Fort Dodge. Sexton said any future state broadband initiative would likely include grants that could help Fort Dodge.

Childcare

Reynold proposed a $25 million grant program for child care. She also proposed $3 million to encourage public-private partnerships to provide additional child care options.

Child care is a priority for Meyer, who introduced some bills on the subject last year.

“I really like that she’s putting money forward on that critical need,” Meyer said. “In order for rural communities to succeed we have to have accessible and affordable child care,” Kraayenbrink said.

State Sen. Jesse Green, R-Harcourt, and state Rep. Rob Bacon, R-Slater, did not return calls seeking comment on the Condition of the State Address.

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