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Important achievements in Iowa’s 2020 legislative session

Jun 30, 2020 by AFP

The Iowa legislature recently completed a unique and challenging 2020 session. Despite a lengthy suspension due to coronavirus, there were some important policy advances that will help people in our state get ahead and build better lives.

Among the positive moves by Iowa’s elected officials this year:

Occupational Licensing: Last week Governor Kim Reynolds signed a measure to require Iowa licensing boards to accept licenses granted by other states, when newcomers to Iowa seek to work in occupations requiring licenses. And if people come to Iowa from states where no license was required in their line of work, those boards must now count that prior work experience toward satisfying Iowa’s licensing requirements.

Further, before the session was suspended in March, Governor Reynolds signed a measure passed by the legislature to legalize mobile barber shops. While that may sound quirky, our state’s laws previously made them illegal despite such shops operating safely in other states. This change allows people like William Burt to deliver worthwhile services to the homebound and to others unable to come to a barber shop.

This is important because unnecessary licensing requirements for low-income occupations prevent people from finding work, building skills, and climbing the economic ladder. At the start of this year, a national ranking found that Iowa’s average barrier to entry for such work was about $178 dollars in fees, and 288 days in education and experience required. When licensing requirements are unrelated to concerns about health and safety, their primary effect is to hold people back. Iowa is right to reconsider them.

Stimulus Payments: The legislature approved — and the governor signed — a measure exempting federal coronavirus relief payments from Iowa state taxes. This recognizes that at a time when many are still struggling to get back on their feet, the last thing they should be worried about is paying taxes on relief dollars.

Telehealth charges: The legislature rejected a proposal to raise the cost of telemedicine services to match those of in-person medical care. This is good news for those who access telehealth, especially while America continues to face challenges from COVID-19.

School Tuition Organizations: This year the state legislature expanded Iowa’s School Tuition Organization (STO) program to support private scholarships for families looking for the right educational options for their children. This flexibility is especially important at a time when millions of students are unable to return to schools as the nation struggles with coronavirus.

Lemonade Stands: Governor Reynolds recently signed legislation to make sure kids’ lemonade stands are not regulated as conventional food stands.

While there were some important advances this year, the team at Americans for Prosperity remains committed to reducing the remaining barriers that keep people from working and succeeding. That will include reform of nonsensical and costly government policies — in Iowa and nationwide.