House District 85 covers northern Iowa City.
Name: Vicki Lensing (incumbent)
Residence: Iowa City
Occupation: Co-owner Lensing Funeral & Cremation Service
Education: Bachelor’s, University of Iowa
What are the three most important issues facing Iowans, and how would you address them?
• Education: We need to adequately fund our schools, K-12, community colleges and Regent’s universities. If we want excellence in education, we need to fund it at all levels.
• Health care: We need to end Medicaid privatization, which is not working, as reimbursements to recipients and providers are not being received in a timely manner; needs to include pre-existing conditions.
• Budget: State budget needs to reflect our priorities. Revenue and expenses must be in sync with our proposed budget.
Do you believe the state should increase the minimum wage? If yes, to what level?
Yes. Most of our neighboring states are at rates above $7.25 per hour. Iowa needs to be competitive in attracting workers but also provide wages so Iowa families are not living at or below the poverty level. Several counties had raised their minimum wage last year before the Legislature took away their local control and ability to set a county wage. Iowa therefore needs to step up and create a minimum wage of at least $10.10 to help our working families.
Would you vote to roll back the state income tax cuts passed last session? Would you expand them?
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Legislation passed last session gave tax cuts to special interest and out of state businesses — which did little for Iowa small businesses or families. I support targeting tax cuts so Iowa small business owners and homeowners can benefit. I would also support reviewing the millions of dollars in tax credits we give annually, again to many out of state corporations. We need to be smarter in our budget so we do not again force midyear tax cuts impacting many Iowa students and state universities.
Would you vote to end or phase out the property tax “backfill” for local governments?
I did not support this backfill when it was proposed, recognizing the impact it would have on local governments and their budgets. Since it is now in place, I think it would have to be phased out over time so schools, property taxpayers and local governments can adjust with minimum impact. Homeowners and farmers cannot shoulder such a burden.
Would you vote to ban automated traffic cameras/enforcement devices? If no, would you favor bringing them under state regulation?
An issue for the last couple of years, I think the Legislature should work together to create a plan that would restrict where cameras may be placed, provide for adequate signage, allow for public discussion and input and make sure that the cameras are being used to ensure safety, not to generate dollars for local entities through excessive ticket writing. It should be about safety, not dollars.
Would you vote to expand Iowa’s current medical cannabis law? Legalize marijuana?
Yes. The law passed by the Legislature is not working to benefit those Iowans suffering from several debilitating illnesses. More diseases could be added to this list and availability of the medical form of cannabis oil should be reviewed by medical professionals. They are the ones who should oversee the treatment of Iowans and their access to medical cannabis. It should be a form of treatment for Iowans, not a challenge. I do not support the legalization of recreational cannabis at this time.
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?
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Although I do not think it is necessary for clarity, I would support adding the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to the Iowa Constitution, if that is the choice of Iowans.
Would you support giving counties local control to regulate livestock facilities? Would you favor a moratorium on new large CAFO construction?
I support local control. I believe that counties know their area best. I am concerned about the expansion of CAFOs and their impact on our land, air and water.
The process in place for permitting and locating CAFOs using a master matrix system has not been reviewed since its adoption in 2002. Although this is a potentially divisive issue, I think an evaluation of the current process might be helpful to those on both sides of this issue.
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?
I support the continuation of the SAVE fund, which allows dollars to go to local school districts to use for infrastructure needs through a one cent sales tax.
Would you expand or repeal Iowa’s law barring doctors from performing an abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected?
I did not support the fetal heartbeat law, which passed last session and is unconstitutional. I support a woman’s right to make personal decisions about her own health care in consultation with her family and her physician. Government should not be making those decisions — we are not medical professionals.