Election 2020 Q&A: Pat Grassley
Iowa House of Representatives – District 50
Name: Pat Grassley
Residence: New Hartford
Hometown: New Hartford
Education: Some college
Family: Wife, Amanda, and three kids, Indee, Reagan, and Chance
Experience: First elected to the Iowa House in 2006. Economic Growth Committee Chair (2011-13) Agriculture Committee Chair (2013-15), Appropriations Committee Chair (2015-19). Current Speaker of the House.
1. What do you feel are the three most important issues Iowa will be facing during your term as a state representative? How do you plan to address those issues?
Workforce: Making sure that businesses have skilled workers to fill open jobs has been and will continue to be a major priority for the Legislature. We have worked to connect Iowans with career training programs at our community colleges and make those programs affordable. We are also working to address some other issues that impact workforce like access to safe and affordable child care, broadband expansion, and development of affordable housing.
State budget: As the former Appropriations Chair, I take the state budget very seriously. You send me to Des Moines to spend your tax dollars wisely. Ensuring that we have a balanced budget that invests in priorities is always something that we work hard on each session. This upcoming session will be no different. Thanks to our responsible budgeting practices over the years, we are prepared for situations like we are experiencing today. We spent less than the state was projected to collect in revenue, we have built up a healthy surplus, and our reserve funds are full. A recent study done by the nonpartisan Council of State Governments says that Iowa is the #1 state in the country that’s prepared to handle the budget impacts of COVID. This is largely due to the responsible budget practices that we have implemented over the last decade.
Health care: Many Iowans are concerned about access to affordable health care. We are working on ways to reduce the cost of prescription drugs and increase access to health care services (including mental health) in rural areas of the state. We have made funding for rural hospitals a major priority in recent sessions so that folks can access care in their local communities rather than having to drive long distances. We’ll continue to work on this.
2. How would you work across the aisle with colleagues in the State House and what are you able to do to bring not only law makers, but also your constituents together during this challenging time in Iowa?
Something that most people don’t realize is that the vast majority of the work we do in the Legislature is either unanimous or widely bipartisan; around 90% actually. Unfortunately, it tends to be the controversial items that garner headlines. A prime example from this session would be the justice reforms we made that were supported by statewide police organizations. I worked closely with Democratic Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad (Des Moines), Republican Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver (Ankeny) and Governor Reynolds to craft a bill that moved through the process and passed unanimously in a single day. Establishing a good rapport with members of the other party helps build trust and makes it much easier to work together for the benefit of Iowans.
In the past, I worked with Democrats to get money for our communities in 2008 after the floods and tornado.
3. What challenges do you see small, rural communities facing in 2020 as compared to cities and suburbs? What do you plan to do to help meet those challenges as a state representative?
Access to safe and affordable child care is an issue all across the state, but particularly in rural Iowa. Oftentimes, parents struggle to find a child care provider with available space, and when they do, they have to pay an arm and a leg just to make sure their kids are safe while they go to work. This past session, the House worked on a robust child care package that would have reduced these costs for middle class families, increased access to providers, incentivized businesses to offer day care to their employees, and addressed the “cliff effect” by easing Iowans off of government child care assistance programs. Unfortunately, the pandemic forced us to sideline the issue for now, but if anything, it has brought even more attention to this issue and will be something we address next session.
Economic development is another issue that rural Iowa often struggles with. I have written and introduced legislation that would make sure that rural Iowa gets its fair share of economic development incentives so we can attract new businesses to our small and mid-sized towns. I’d like to see this legislation move forward next session.
4. Why should voters in Grundy County vote for you on November 3rd?
Over the course of my 14 years in the Legislature, I have remained open and accessible to the people I serve. During the legislative session, I make it a priority to travel to every town in District 50 so I can keep folks updated on our work in Des Moines, hear what’s important to them, and get their feedback. I ask for your vote and it’s been an honor serving you.