116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The Gazette sent a questionnaire to Iowa Legislature candidates representing Linn, Johnson and surrounding counties. The responses are unedited, unless to correct spelling or punctuation.
To see other candidates' responses, visit our Election 2020 Candidates page.
Lonny Pulkrabek faces Republican Rep. Bobby Kaufmann in the election for Iowa House District 73. Kaufmann did not respond to the questionnaire.
What are the three biggest issues facing the state? How would you address them?
My top three priorities are education, access to affordable healthcare, and emergency response.
I'm a product of Iowa's public schools. Our state used to have the best school system in the nation. But after years of underfunding education, our standing dropped. We must invest in public schools and support teachers. School districts shouldn't scramble for PPE, and teachers should never have to buy school supplies with their own money.
Now, more than ever, Iowans need affordable and accessible healthcare. The cost of healthcare continues to go up and paychecks struggle to keep pace. Access to affordable care shouldn't depend on where you live, how much money you make, or whether or not you have a pre-existing condition.
Having served in law enforcement for 35 years, I know the importance of responding in times of need. We've seen many natural disasters that leave Iowans without necessary services for too long. I appreciate those that dedicate their lives to emergency and disaster response, but we must do more to plan and prepare.
What, if anything, needs to change about the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic?
Unfortunately, the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic has been inadequate. Positivity rates are still on the rise in many communities and more than 1,300 of our family, friends and neighbors have died from COVID-19.
The most important component of combatting COVID-19 is access to reliable testing. I am amazed that this far into the pandemic we don't have a testing facility in every county in the state. The challenges stemming from COVID-19 will be around for at least another couple of months. It's far past time we invest in adequate testing and an abundance of PPE for our essential workers.
Additionally, the state should defer to local school boards, city councils, and boards of supervisors when handling COVID outbreaks in their region. A one size fits all approach does not work in battling COVID-19, and we should leave decisions like resuming classes and mask mandates up to local elected officials in coordination with medical experts.
What do you consider as budget priorities? What would you do to ensure these see funding? Which areas would you target funding reductions?
My top budget priorities are education, mental health, and infrastructure.
Iowa's public schools are heading in the wrong direction because we've failed to provide necessary resources. It's time we fully fund our K-12 education system and further expand access to preschool.
We must address the lack of mental healthcare in Iowa with adequate resources. We need to dedicate permanent funding to ensure mental health services are accessible throughout the state. I've seen the results of inadequate mental healthcare, firsthand. Folks deserve access to the care they need rather than letting them fall into the criminal justice system.
Another budget priority is appropriately funding infrastructure in Iowa. For too long, our roads and bridges have gone unattended, and their condition is quickly deteriorating. Infrastructure investment also includes projects like rural broadband that create economic opportunity.
What, if any, changes would you make to the way the state funds its K-12 education system?
First, we must adequately fund our entire K-12 education system. We also need to work on making funding more predictable for the upcoming school year. Too often school boards and administrators face challenges in preparing budgets for the coming year because of a lack of predictability in the funds that will be allocated.
What should the state do to further address water quality issues? What, if anything, should the state do to increase funding for water quality improvements?
We need to ensure everyone has access to clean water. By partnering with Iowans in agriculture we can invest in conservation efforts, like soil health, that both improve water quality and farmers' bottom line.
I'd also work to fully fund the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund as voters approved in 2010.
What should the state do to address the availability of safe and affordable child care across Iowa?
The cost of childcare is rapidly rising, if it's even available. In some instances, we've seen the cost of childcare equate to a second mortgage. We should issue new grants to grow and open licensed child care facilities and expand tax credits to make childcare more affordable for working families.
What is your response to recent protests calling for racial justice? What changes to law enforcement policy or budgeting do you support?
Over my 35 years in law enforcement, I've been an advocate for reform. Law enforcement, like everyone, can always do better. We need to build on our efforts and expand Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) – which includes de-escalation - and mental health training for our officers and first responders across the state.
We must also work to reduce the burden on law enforcement. Over the years the state has cut funding to essential social services and shifted responsibility to law enforcement. It's time we expand investment in social services so folks receive specialized care.
I was proud to see the Iowa Legislature take a big first step with the 'Plan for a More Perfect Union,' and I look forward to contributing to this ongoing conversation.
Will you support a constitutional amendment to restore voting rights for felons?
Yes. I've long supported the restoration of felon voting rights. It's time we make it law rather than depend on an executive order from the Governor's office.
Will you approve the governor's IWILL tax relief/mental health plan?
No. I support funding IWILL and mental health, but not through the funding mechanism the governor proposed.
Will you seek voter approval of a constitutional amendment on abortion (SJR2001/HJR2004)?
No. I don't believe it is the governments place to make healthcare decisions for women. Decisions on abortion should be made by a woman and her doctor, as well as her family and her faith – if she so chooses.
Will you support a ban hand-held electronic devices while driving (SF2248/HF2375)?
Yes. I've been a strong proponent for a ban on hand-held electronic devices while driving. It's a serious distraction to drivers and should be outlawed.
Will you support allowing financial compensation for college athletes (SF2330/HF2282)?
Undecided. I am willing to have a conversation on name, image and likeness legislation.
Will you support making daylight saving time permanent (SF2077/HF2059)?
Undecided. I believe any action taken should be through a regional approach to ensure neighboring states are under the same system.
Will you support allowing end-of-life options for patients with terminal conditions (SF2156/HF2302)?
Yes. I support allowing end-of-life operations so long as there is a finite date and all other treatment options have been exhausted.
Will you support closing loopholes to protect mobile home occupants/tenants (HF2351/SF2238)?
Will you support increasing the state minimum hourly wage from $7.25?
Yes. $7.25 is not a livable wage.
Will you support raising the state tobacco tax by $1 to $2.36 per pack?
Will you support modifying or repealing Iowa's bottle bill law?
Undecided. I appreciate the service that Iowa's bottle bill provides but would be open to potential modifications.
Will you support requiring helmets for minors operating motorcycles/motorized bikes?
Will you support eliminating criminal penalties for possessing marijuana?
Yes. I support decriminalizing low-level possession and making it a simple misdemeanor.
Will you support establishing a moratorium on constructing large-scale animal feeding facilities?
No. I would be willing to revisit siting requirements.
Will you support creating an 'extreme risk' or 'red flag' firearms protective order?