Government

Kayla Koether, candidate for Iowa House District 55

Kayla Koether
Kayla Koether

House District 55 includes parts of Winneshiek, Fayette and Clayton counties.

Name: Kayla Koether

Party: Democrat

Residence: Decorah

Age: 29

Occupation: Specialist, Iowa State Extension and Outreach

Education: Bachelor’s in international agriculture and rural development, Grinnell College

Website: kaylaforiowa.com

What are the three most important issues facing Iowans, and how would you address them?

• Health care. Medicaid privatization is a disaster: Let’s fix it so Iowans get quality care and providers get paid. Will work for affordable, accessible health care and make sure Iowans aren’t denied for pre-existing conditions.

• Revitalize rural Iowa: Will fight for rural Iowa residents who incubate businesses, including beginning farmers and start-ups.

• Education: Will work for well-funded, 21st-century public school system designed for student and teacher well-being, in both rural and urban Iowa.

Do you believe the state should increase the minimum wage? If yes, to what level?

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Under the current system, Iowans are working full time and still living in poverty. The Iowa minimum wage should have at least kept pace with the rate of inflation. (It hasn’t.) I will fight for a system that helps those working families. The Iowa Legislature has so far failed to do so, and instead has wrongly reversed city initiatives designed by local stakeholders to support workers in their particular economies.

Would you vote to roll back the state income tax cuts passed last session? Would you expand them?

If elected, I would seek a more balanced approach that is fair to the middle class Iowans in my district. The tax cuts passed went disproportionately to the wealthiest in Iowa and out-of-state corporations.

We should instead focus tax policy on solving the problems of working Iowans, whether by covering costs of child care or incentivizing small-town businesses and rural entrepreneurs. We must ensure sufficient revenues to provide services Iowans deserve, including world-class public education.

Would you vote to end or phase out the property tax “backfill” for local governments?

Property taxes are a three-legged stool that includes homeowners, farmers and commercial/industrial property owners. The state already shifted more burden to homeowners and farmers — ending the backfill would only intensify that burden. The state should keep the promise they made to Iowans.

Would you vote to ban automated traffic cameras/enforcement devices? If no, would you favor bringing them under state regulation?

I grew up in a county that doesn’t have a stop light, let alone a traffic camera. Any surveillance program should be regulated based on public input, including on where the cameras are located to insure they are being used for public safety. Additionally, any policy should be re-evaluated regularly to consider abuses to privacy, their real contributions to public safety and get citizen input.

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Would you vote to expand Iowa’s current medical cannabis law? Legalize marijuana?

There are judicious changes that could be incorporated into the medical cannabis law that would improve accessibility to the sick, including adding cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy to the list of eligible diseases.

Should Iowa amend the state Constitution to protect the right to bear arms beyond current language? Would you support a “constitutional carry” change to Iowa’s firearm permit system that would significantly expand gun rights?

I am open to adding the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, as it stands, to the Iowa Constitution.

Would you support giving counties local control to regulate livestock facilities? Would you favor a moratorium on new large CAFO construction?

In Northeast Iowa, we sit on karst topography-fractured limestone, and our trout streams and groundwater are particularly vulnerable. The Master Matrix has not worked for our communities, and it needs to be fixed to prevent siting in vulnerable areas. Furthermore, our communities deserve the ability to meaningfully influence permitting based on a full assessment of the impacts. I will work for meaningful reform that gives local citizens and their governing bodies a seat at the table.

What are your thoughts on increasing funding for public education? Would you vote to extend 1-cent SAVE sales tax for school infrastructure until 2049?

Despite politician claims, state funding support for Iowa K-12 public education is declining in real terms. Though funding is not the only issue that affects quality education, our failure to provide adequate financial support to public schools, especially in rural areas, will hobble futures of our young people and hamper our attracting working families to settle here. I will fight for increased funding and reforms to position Iowa as second-to-none in our commitment to children and teachers.

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Would you expand or repeal Iowa’s law barring doctors from performing an abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected?

Women should have the freedom to make their own health care decisions. This is not the role of government or politicians. The law on the books now is a serious affront to women’s constitutional rights.

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We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

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