Government

Jodi Clemens, candidate for Iowa House District 73

Jodi Clemens
Jodi Clemens

House District 73 covers eastern Johnson County, all of Cedar County and the city of Wilton in Muscatine County.

Name: Jodi Clemens

Party: Democrat

Residence: West Branch

Age: 36

Occupation: Small business owner, licensed financial representative

Education: Associate degree in liberal arts

Website: clemensforiowahouse.com

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

• Health care: Collective bargaining, workers’ compensation and Medicaid were all altered due to the rising cost of health care. It’s time for a public-option, state-run health care plan to cover anyone who wishes to buy into it. Widen the Medicaid pool, drive down the costs.

• Affordable higher education: Reverse cuts, cap interest rates on student loans, increase minimum wage.

• The political climate: Reform the campaign finance system and drive out powerful special interests so Iowans can lead again.

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

I believe anyone working 40 hours a week should not be living in poverty. I will fight for increasing to a $15 minimum over a five-year period with subsidies provided to help small business owners afford the rise by cutting tax credits and loopholes for larger corporations not currently paying their fair share. I propose capping the deductibility of exuberant salaries within a company and treating anything above a certain threshold as the profit that it is. We all do better when we all do better.

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

I would roll back the income tax cuts to higher-wage earners. Under this tax cut, the top 1 percent is reaping 32 percent of the benefits, while your average family making $60,000 will receive less than $100 off their taxes. Add in the increases in sales and property taxes, and most Iowans will not see a benefit. We need tax reform that helps narrow the margin of income inequality, not widen the gap. Our economy is 70 percent consumer demand, we need to ensure more Iowans can pay their bills and contribute.

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

Our state Legislature made a promise to local governments when it unilaterally lowered the commercial property tax rates. If the legislators wants to break that promise of backfilling the lost revenue, they should be obligated to allow local governments to raise the commercial property tax rates instead of having to pass along the burden to private landowners. Families should not have to foot the bill.

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

If used properly with frequent calibration, cameras that capture the driver and license plate, and an option for community service hours in lieu of paying a fine, I would support keeping traffic cameras and bringing them under state regulation, as long as it remains the communities decision to have them. The signage alerting drivers of an upcoming camera zone needs to be made more prominent as the goal should be to remind drivers to slow down for the safety of all, not to generate revenue.

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

Yes, expand the current medical cannabis law to remove the THC cap and allow for whole-plant medicine. I also support legalizing recreational cannabis with state regulation and taxation. Alcohol and tobacco use are the No. 1 and No. 3 preventable causes of death in the U.S. and yet both of these are legal and regulated. Cannabis is a proven safer alternative to opiates and many other prescription and over-the-counter medications. For me, it comes down to freedom and compassion. Legalize, regulate, tax.

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 support the Second Amendment, and I am all for extending that right to Iowa’s Constitution after being voted on by the people. However, I’m concerned about the use of “strict scrutiny” in the bill passed by the both houses this past session that would make passing any future gun regulation legislation nearly impossible. When most responsible gun owners I have spoken with are in favor of enhanced background checks, extended waiting periods and other safety measures, this misses the mark.

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

I support a moratorium on new CAFO construction until the Master Matrix can be revised with input from local experts on air and water quality, as well as local family farmers who are doing all of the right things but are being put at an economic disadvantage to larger factory farms who are only hitting the minimums. I believe it is possible to support both the farm economy and ensure clean air and water for our future generations. I support county control with an updated matrix and public input.

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?

Every part of our economy relies on a strong public education system. I support extending the SAVE/PPEL penny so schools can continue to improve their infrastructure and bond against it for larger projects that would be impossible to complete a year at a time. To fund education at the levels required while ensuring we can attract and retain quality teachers, we need to drive down health care costs, rework tax credits and find other revenue sources such as legalizing cannabis.

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

If by some small chance the law is not already struck down as unconstitutional by our court system, I will fight to repeal it. This bill was resurrected from the grave and passed in the middle of the night without regard to the thousands of Iowans it would impact. We need to work together to reduce abortions by raising women out of poverty, provide child care assistance, sex education, birth control and medical care, and paid family medical leave. Motherhood shouldn’t be a liability at work.

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