116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Molly Donahue, 55, is the Democratic candidate for Senate District 37 in the Nov. 8 general election. Donahue, an educator and two-term state representative, is seeking her first term in the Iowa Senate.
The Gazette posed a set of questions to all area statehouse candidates. Below is the transcript of Donahue’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?
Donahue: The three most important issues in the state today are lowering costs for our families, protecting reproductive freedoms, and investing in our public schools. I will help lower costs and reduce living expenses by increasing wages and attracting good paying businesses, lower taxes for the middle class, and expanding access to affordable child care. I will work with my colleagues to stop the Governor and the Republican’s ban on all abortions, I will also work to guarantee reproductive freedom. I would renew our commitment to being best in the nation in education by fully funding public schools, giving educators a seat at the table in bargaining. In addition, I would stop the Governor’s private school voucher plan — public dollars belong in public education and The majority of Iowans agree
Do you support the use of eminent domain for CO2 pipelines? Why or why not?
Donahue: I do not support using eminent domain for the CO2 pipelines. Eminent domain is a measure used to take private property for public use with just compensation. That public use is traditionally used for roadways, water supply, constructing public buildings, and in some cases to aid in defense readiness. But in those cases it was to better the community in some way or to make it safer. The CO2 pipelines are a private business plan to remove CO2 through pipelines across the state for private profit. The CO2 Pipelines do not provide a betterment to the communities in amenities, or safety — nor is there monetary value to increase the state revenue, because it is a private for profit company. Private landowners should not fear the government taking their land for a private company’s use.
What restrictions or limitations should be placed on the use of eminent domain for CO2 pipelines?
Donahue: I worked across the aisle with the head of the state government committee and we had reached some good provisions prior to the Senate turning it down. I am pro business and capitalism, but not at the expense of Iowans and their rights. Our farmers and landowners deserve to have their freedoms and rights when it comes to their properties.
I believe that restrictions should be placed on the use of eminent domain for private business for profit. If eminent domain must be used on private land, I believe that the companies should have to reach a compromise with 90+ percent of the landowners before they can come to discuss eminent domain. I also believe that the state governing body should concede to home rule — allowing the local municipalities to make that decision for their communities.
The state is projected to have a budget surplus of more than $1 billion. What would be your top priorities for that surplus?
Donahue: Given a $1 billion surplus, I would put those dollars towards tax breaks to the working class that would alleviate some of the issues with the cost of living and inflation with stagnant wages in the state. I would also make sure that our public schools are fully funded so that we can provide a world-class education to all students regardless of where they were born and live with enough services and staff to make that happen. I would also utilize those funds to help lower the cost of higher education, increase the affordability and accessibility to child care, affordable housing, as well as increase the availability of mental health services across the state. Utilizing that 1 billion dollar surplus for people who need it will bolster the economy as well.
What changes — beyond those made in recent sessions — would you like to see made to Iowa's tax code?
Donahue: I would like to see more tax cuts for the working/middle class. I would do this with tax credit expansion for child care, lowering the income tax rates for the middle class, cutting income tax for working Iowans who sometimes work two or more jobs to make ends meet, helping with reducing cost for affordable housing through credits, and I would put an end to tax giveaways to corporations or millionaires. Finally I would increase tax credit for essential workers — like firefighters, police, and EMTs.
Under what circumstances should Iowans be able to access abortion services in the state? What if any, exceptions should apply to any abortion bans?
Donahue: I do not believe that the state or federal governments belongs in the decision making process about abortion. These medical decisions should be between a woman, her loved ones, and her family doctor. Abortion is health care, whether it be by choice or by medical necessity — and the legislature should not be able to deny women access to these services in the state or country. In the case of a ban being imposed here in Iowa, there should be exceptions for the health or life of the mother, rape, and incest. However, I am against bans on abortion.
What are your ideas for improving public schools?
Donahue: I would be begin by returning collective bargaining to educators so they have a voice at the table, and restoring the respect for the profession by stopping the attacks on public schools and educators. I would set the school funding to 4 percent, reduce the amount of state testing that takes away from learning time for students, I would fund development of programs to enhance teacher education programs to increase the number of people preparing to enter the teaching field, I would lower student to staff ratios to help with learning and behavior concerns, I would provide funding for meals to be available to all students, as well as funding to address student needs for mental health and trauma informed care, as well as programming to close the gap for minorities and lower socioeconomic communities.
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?
Donahue: I do not support expanding funding for non-public schools. Iowa parents have many options for educating their kids, with open enrollment, private schools, home schools, as well as on line programs. Ninety-two percent of Iowa kids attend public schools who are performing well given the anemic investment from the governor the last 12 years. Vouchers shift millions of dollars from public schools to private schools, and hit rural schools especially hard, including school closings, higher class sizes, and fewer opportunities for students. The vouchers would provide 100s of million more dollars for very few students. In Iowa we already spend $100 million-plus supporting private and home schooling programs, This funding has increased by 150 percent while state funding for public schools has not kept up with the rising costs.
Should Iowa ban the use of hand-held mobile devices while driving?
Donahue: Statistics say that nearly 400,000 injuries are a direct result of crashes caused by texting and driving in the US. In Iowa the statistics have found distracted driving injuries and deaths are down with Iowa’s current texting ban that took place in 2017. The Iowa Department of Transportation believes that those numbers would continue to fall if there was a total ban of the use of handheld mobile devices. I do agree that mobile devices are a distraction to drivers and as a result have caused both injuries and deaths and accidents. Because of that I do believe that Iowa should ban handheld mobile devices to prevent unnecessary accidents, injuries, and deaths.
Should automated traffic cameras be banned?
Donahue: I do not want to have a full ban on traffic cameras. I believe they are great to deter speeders and reckless drivers in areas that have high rates of accidents causing injury and fatalities — with an example being on the S-curve on Interstate 380. The funding generated from the cameras seems to be a controversial area to those who oppose them. Some states use the monies for community projects or roadways. I feel there should be a better way to fund the police department than through traffic camera fines that are inconsistent funding sources, and in the event of a camera ban hurts the sustainability of the dept. budget. So, I would not ban all traffic cameras, but I would designate them in areas with high accident rates, and I would change how we fund the police so they have the funding they need.