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Sen. Ragan says “we could do more to build back better” as Legislature adjourns session

Amanda Ragan
The following is a legislative update from State Senator Amanda Ragan, representing portions of Franklin, Butler and Cerro Gordo counties:

The 2021 legislative session has adjourned for the year. Sine die. It’s an honor to represent North Iowa and I’m so grateful for your input and support.

The session ended with no comprehensive plan to help Iowans struggling from a global pandemic that has upended their lives and their pocketbooks.

Over the last 15 months, Iowa has seen:

* More than 370,000 documented cases of COVID-19.
* More than 6,000 Iowa deaths caused by the disease.
* Tens of thousands of workers lose their jobs and struggle to make ends meet.
* Unprecedented uncertainty among local small businesses, with many forced to permanently close their doors.
* Disruption to education at all levels, as families, educators and communities grapple with health and safety concerns.

Instead of presenting an overall vision for recovery, the Republicans focused on wedge issues, taking away Iowans’ rights, doing the bidding of special interests and settling petty grievances. Iowans were disheartened by efforts that will make it harder for them to vote, raise their property taxes and cut access to pandemic relief for those who lost jobs through no fault of their own.

Since session got under way in January, my focus has been on addressing the most pressing needs of Iowans. The Legislature took up some good proposals that I was proud to vote for—initiatives to expand rural growth, job training, child care, high-speed Internet, telehealth and mental health care.

However, these long-standing needs have reached critical levels under the stressors of the pandemic. That’s why I supported a COVID Recovery Plan that would have taken a comprehensive approach to helping Iowa build back better.

This plan included bills that aimed to get life back to normal as quickly as possible by:

* Using some of the state’s budget surplus to help county health departments get the virus under control in their local communities.

* Providing relief for struggling small businesses, communities and Iowans’ pocketbooks.

* Improving on-the-job protections for workers, and ensuring Iowa communities have the resources they need to thrive.

* Creating an independent, Blue-Ribbon COVID Commission to ensure Iowans know where their hard-earned tax dollars are going and help us better prepare for future emergencies.

I am hopeful that the American Rescue Plan and other federal initiatives will fill some of the gaps, but disappointed that the state Legislature didn’t do as much as it could to build on that help in Iowa’s hour of greatest need.

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