To the Legislative Assembly
The fifth week of the 2022 legislative session is now over. This week has been extremely busy, as many local voters and Iowans from across the state have come to visit their lawmakers.
Tuesday was Career and Technical Education Day at the Capitol. Many students came to discuss the skills they are learning to prepare for high-paying high-tech careers. CTE encompasses a wide range of industries allowing students to get educated and trained to be ready to contribute to Iowa’s workforce.
Another of this week’s highlights came on Wednesday when many Iowa students came out to present their STEM projects. It was a very special day for me when I found out that my daughter was one of the students representing West Marshall Schools at STEM Day on the Hill. I spent time with students, discussing their robotics projects and how they compete for points to evaluate the performance of their robots. It was very enlightening!
Subcommittee and committee work continues to move at an accelerated pace as we head into the first week of the funnel, which is next week. It’s easy to see that there just isn’t enough time in the day to get it all done, so prioritization becomes a key consideration as we move forward.
During her state address last month, Governor Reynolds outlined her plan to address the labor shortage in Iowa. That bill, SSB 3093, passed a subcommittee this week and is expected to be considered by the commerce committee next week. It’s a big bill covering several topics, but the overarching goal is to help address the labor shortage that affects nearly every sector of the economy.
A policy in the bill provides for a one-week waiting period for benefits. This change helps tackle rampant and costly fraud in the unemployment benefit system. The fraud problem has become so serious that even the liberal media outlet ProPublica has written a detailed account of the fraud in the program. This story estimated that $87 billion in improper payments were made nationwide. The one-week waiting period will give workforce development officials a period to assess the claim for benefits and root out some of the fraud in this program.
SSB 3093 also moves the duration of unemployment benefits from six months to four months. Studies have shown that unemployed workers return to work more quickly as the deadline for benefits approaches. With so many parts of the economy struggling to find workers and some employers closing their doors because they can’t find help, it’s time to tackle the barriers to reintegration on the labor market for some unemployed people. It also expands the definition of suitable work. If a suitable job is offered, an unemployed person must take that job or lose their benefits.
Over the past two years, the explosion of federal spending, transfer payments and extended benefits has eroded the value and meaning of work. Government payments replacing work have negative implications not only for the economy in general (inflation), but they also have negative impacts on individuals and families in the future. Iowa companies have a way of innovating around challenges, jobs that people refuse to take today could end up being filled tomorrow by some new form of technology. It is important to get people back to work.
Work has value in many ways. This not only benefits the employer, the customer and the economy as a whole. It also provides workers with individual and social benefits such as: the satisfaction of earning a living, supporting their families, and finding purpose and reward for their work. Working hard, even in difficult circumstances, builds character, integrity and prepares us for other challenges life may throw at us in the future.
As always, please feel free to contact me with any concerns and I hope to see you on Capitol Hill!
Jeff Edler, a State Center Republican, represents Marshall County in the Iowa Senate.