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Senator defends voting bill

Child care, ethanol also discussed at Eggs and Issues

A bill that would reduce early voting in Iowa will become a model for the rest of the nation, state Sen. Tim Kraayenbrink said Friday.

”We will find other states that will follow what Iowa has done,” the Fort Dodge Republican said during an Eggs and Issues forum.

State Sen. Jesse Green, R-Harcourt, also commented on the measure during the virtual question and answer session.

”The worst form of voter suppression is voter fraud,” he said.

State Rep. Ann Meyer, R-Fort Dodge, did not comment on the voting legislation. Instead, she talked about bills she wrote to improve child care that have been passed by the House of Representatives.

Meyer also talked about some bills aimed at increasing the number of physicians and other health care providers in rural Iowa.

Eggs and Issues, a monthly event during the legislative session, was forced online by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is sponsored by the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance and Iowa Central Community College.

Voting bill

The voting bill championed by legislative Republicans and derided by their Democratic counterparts, would do these things:

• Reduce the number of early voting days from 29 to 20

• Close the polls at 8 p.m. for every election

• Require absentee ballots to arrive before the polls close in order to be counted

• Creates the option to charge county auditors with a felony if they do not follow the instructions of the secretary of state

The measure was passed by both houses of the legislature this week and was sent to Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Kraayenbrink said it is the third modification to Iowa’s voting laws in recent years. He said every time on of those election law changes has passed it has been criticized as a voter suppression tactic, something that hurts disabled voters and is racist. But there has been record voter turnout in each of the last three general elections, he added.

”Every time, more people are voting,” he said.

”Every change we have made, we have made it better,” Kraayenbrink said.

Child care

Meyer has introduced a bill to eliminate what she has repeatedly called the ”cliff effect” for child care assistance. That effect happens when a parent reaches a certain wage level and all of their child care assistance is taken away at once. Her bill would gradually ratchet down the amount of child care assistance as wages go up.

She also introduced a bill that would increase reimbursement to child care providers that accept the state’s child care assistance money.

Both measures have passed the House and have been sent to the Senate.

Because young doctors and other health care providers with Iowa connections are more likely to stay in Iowa, Meyer is working on some bills aimed at helping that happen.

She said one bill would require that 75 percent of students admitted to the medical and dental schools at the University of Iowa be Iowans.

The other bill would guarantee that every recent medical school graduate with Iowa connections gets at least an interview with residency programs in the state. Residency is the next stage in a doctor’s training after medical school.

Ethanol

Reynolds has sent the lawmakers a major piece of legislation intended to increase the amount of ethanol used in the state.

Green said it is a really big bill that will have to be changed a lot in order to pass.

One problem with the bill, he said, is the time frames it calls for. For instance, he said the bill envisions having all fuel pumps able to handle higher blends of ethanol by 2025. He said that is ”not logical.”

He said the bill would provide $15 million for a program to help gas stations purchase the equipment needed to dispense higher blends of ethanol.

”It should begin to help retailers improve their infrastructure,” he said.

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