Policies up for discussion include state funding for abortion providers, Iowa’s voting system, collective bargaining

CAPITOL LETTERS

BY STATE REPRESENTATIVE GARY WORTHAN

District 11, R-Storm Lake

Last week the third and last joint House-Senate session of the year was held in the House chamber. The occasion was Brigadier General Timothy Orr’s presentation of the annual State of the National Guard address. General Orr, as Adjutant General, commands the seven thousand soldiers of the Iowa National Guard as well as the two thousand airmen of the Iowa Air Guard.

The National Guard’s role as a strategic reserve force, to be used only in case of emergency, is a vestige of the past. Today’s guard is an integral and important piece of strategic forces of the United States deploying individually and in tandem with units of the Army and the Air Force. Whether it be the Air Guard 185th Refueling Wing out of Sioux City, or any of the several National Guard units based in armories spread across the state, Iowa Guardsmen are deployed around the world 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Air refueling tankers from Sioux City could be anyplace in the world at any given hour supplying critical capacity to various military missions. Approximately 90 unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) operators based in Des Moines are piloting their aircraft in around the clock support of combat operations. The 132nd Security Force currently has members deployed in the Middle East on 180 day rotations. These along with 20 members of the Davenport based aviation unit supplying aviation support in Afghanistan represent the importance of the Iowa Guard in defending our country.

Iowa’s Camp Dodge, near Johnston, is the third most active guard training facility in the nation. Last year, Camp Dodge supplied over 400,000 training days for soldiers and airmen not only from the Iowa Guard but also from guard, reserve and active duty units from around the country.  The Iowa Guard brings $353 million in federal funds to Iowa while generating another $100 million in economic activity through their operations.

Currently 40% of Iowa Guard members have combat experience, the highest percentage of anytime in modern history. In response to the times in which we live, Iowa must make every effort to maintain this wealth of knowledge and experience to keep the Iowa Guard combat ready and warrior strong.  Whether it is flooding or tornados here at home or combat operations half way around the world, our guard must be ready for the mission on a moment’s notice.

As Iowans we owe a huge debt to those who sacrifice their time away from their families and careers to prepare and train to face our enemies on the battlefield or respond at home to any disaster.

The first bill off the floor of the House this session took action to reduce spending to a level that matches our income. While it is a painful process, it is necessary to balance the budget and prevent deficit spending. Iowa’s economy is still growing but at a slower pace than anticipated when revenue projections were made in December of 2015. That, along with increasing costs of Medicaid, made it necessary to reduce spending. With the de-appropriation completed we will move the K-12 funding bill through the House early next week and then begin to craft the Fiscal Year 2018 budget.

Major policy discussions currently in process include the elimination of any state funding supplied to abortion providers, an in depth look into the security and integrity of our voting system, modification of the rules of collective bargaining for public employees and changes in our second amendment laws along with a myriad of other issues. 

Please join me at my upcoming forums:

Saturday, Feb. 18 at 10 a.m. at King’s Pointe in Storm Lake

Saturday, Mar. 18 at 10 a.m. at King’s Pointe in Storm Lake