116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Sami Scheetz, 26, of Cedar Rapids, is the Democratic candidate for Iowa House District 78 in the Nov. 8 general election. Scheetz, who has not previously served in elected office, is a political and communications adviser for Franken for Iowa.
The Gazette posed a set of questions to all area statehouse candidates. Below is the transcript of Scheetz’s answers. Polls will be open on election day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
What do you think are the three most important issues the state is facing? What would you do to address them?
Scheetz: To rebuild our public education system, we need to fully fund our schools with a 5 percent annual increase in supplemental state aid (SSA) and a one-time payment of $250 million to make up for the past decade of chronic underfunding of public schools.
To combat rising costs, we need to hold massive corporations accountable for blatant price gouging that has hurt Americans and directly contributed to rising costs. Additionally, we need to rebuild American manufacturing and make more stuff in Iowa.
Although abortion is legal in Iowa, there is no question that Republicans will try to take away a woman’s fundamental right to make their health care decisions in the upcoming legislative session; they will ban abortion without any exceptions for rape, incest, or the health of the mother.
Do you support the use of eminent domain for CO2 pipelines? Why or why not?
Scheetz: No, I do not support the use of eminent domain to construct CO2 pipelines in the state of Iowa. The purpose and intent of eminent domain use is for infrastructure and public works.
The carbon pipelines fall into neither of these categories. The Iowa Utilities Board should not allow these companies to compel unwilling landowners to allow for pipeline construction through their properties.
What restrictions or limitations should be placed on the use of eminent domain for CO2 pipelines?
Scheetz: See previous answer.
The state is projected to have a budget surplus of more than $1 billion. What would be your top priorities for that surplus?
Scheetz: Our state must use its budget surplus to rebuild our public education system, fully fund our broken mental health care system, rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, and expand our health care system to ensure that Iowans have access to health care.
Additionally, we should use our surplus to make sure that community college in the State of Iowa is free. My mom is a teacher at Kirkwood Community in Cedar Rapids, and I have seen firsthand how important our community colleges and apprenticeship programs are to Iowans. We have the money to remove this financial barrier for working-class families, and we should do so accordingly.
What changes — beyond those made in recent sessions — would you like to see made to Iowa's tax code?
Scheetz: The Legislature’s recent tax cuts for wealthy Iowans and corporations was a slap in the face to working families. Instead of using our sizable budget surplus to improve our schools, our mental health system, and our roads and bridges, Iowa Republicans chose to give $300 million of our hard-earned tax dollars to their wealthiest corporate donors.
Instead, we should have focused tax relief to working and middle-class families in this state. They are still reeling from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and historic inflation. They deserve a tax break — not the wealthiest 1 percent of Iowans.
Under what circumstances should Iowans be able to access abortion services in the state? What if any, exceptions should apply to any abortion bans?
Scheetz: Reproductive rights are fundamental to Iowans. The overturning of Roe v. Wade was a tragic mistake that has set women back 50 years.
In Iowa right now, abortion is still legal — but we are going to have to fight like hell to ensure that far-right Republicans in the state legislature can’t take away the fundamental right of Iowans to make their own health care decisions.
We must codify abortion protections into law at the state level through a constitutional amendment, and ensure that future justices nominated to the Iowa Supreme Court respect the rights and freedoms of Iowans.
What are your ideas for improving public schools?
Scheetz: 1. Fully funding our public schools ($250 million one-time payment + minimum 5 percent annual SSA increase).
2. Paying our teachers more and giving them the respect they deserve — not demeaning and attacking them.
3. Preventing the consolidation of rural school districts through increased funding and teacher pay incentives to teach in rural areas.
Do you support further use of state funds to help parents pay the costs of non-public schools or home schooling for grades K-12? Why or why not?
Scheetz: Public dollars should be used for public schools. Our public schools have been underfunded significantly by the Republicans over the past decade. Using $50 million a year from our education budget to pay for kids to attend private schools would be a disservice to the 98 percent of Iowa children that attend our public schools. Instead of throwing in the towel on our public education system, we need to significantly reinvest in our public schools and make them the best in the nation once again.
Gov. Reynold’s voucher program would cripple rural Iowa, where there are no private schools. Tax dollars would flow from rural communities to wealthy suburbs, crippling the education system that so many rural Iowans depend on.
Should Iowa ban the use of hand-held mobile devices while driving?
Scheetz: Yes, using mobile devices while driving is dangerous for everyone on the road. Exceptions should be made, however, for those who are calling for emergency services in their vehicle.
Should automated traffic cameras be banned?
Scheetz: No, automated traffic cameras should not be banned by the state legislature — it should be up to local governments to decide whether they should be instituted.
Studies have shown that speed cameras improve safety and reduce the speed of drivers, which leads to fewer deadly accidents in our state. It’s important, though, that the profits from speed camera tickets should be used by municipal governments to reinvest in public safety, and not send Iowa dollars to out-of-state firms that profit from this system.