Joe Bolkcom, candidate for Iowa Senate District 43

Joe Bolkcom
Joe Bolkcom

Senate District 43 in central Johnson County includes Iowa City, University Heights and Hills.

Name: Joe Bolkcom (incumbent)

Party: Democrat

Residence: Iowa City

Age: 62

Occupation: Outreach and community education, University of Iowa Center For Global and Regional Environmental Research, and the Iowa Flood Center

Education: Master’s in public affairs, Unversity of Iowa; bachelor’s in sociology, St. Ambrose University


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

The top issue facing Iowa is the shortage of skilled workers. We need to create affordable access to educational opportunities for every Iowan to gain more skills and education. I would provide more support to education.

Republicans’ decision to privatize Medicaid has been a disaster. It is costing more money; people and health care providers are being hurt. It needs to be brought back under state management.

Iowa’s water quality is lousy. We need to invest in more soil conservation practices.

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

Yes, and if the state won’t act, allow local wage increases.

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


Yes. Nearly 50 percent of the tax cut goes to just 2.6 percent of the wealthiest tax payers. And, 25 percent of all Iowa taxpayers receive no tax cut or receive a tax increase. This is not fair. Republicans have badly mismanaged the budget. The state is broke as a result. We can’t afford the massive tax cut without cutting education funding at all levels. This will hurt our economy in the long run. That is why we need to take back this giveaway to wealthy Iowans and large out-of-state corporations.

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


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

My position has been evolving on this issue. I have supported the ability of local governments to regulate automated traffic cameras. I don’t like the current financial arrangement that gives millions to out-of-state camera operators and seems to target out-of-state drivers who don’t know camera locations. This issue needs more scrutiny to make sure road safety is optimized without using predatory practices.

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

Yes, The current law is the worst in the country. It gives false hope to suffering Iowans. We need to do three things in 2019: One, we need to allow access to the therapeutic benefits of the entire cannabis plant; two, expand the medical conditions that are covered under the program; and three, expand the number of locations where people can access this medicine. The Republicans in control of the Iowa House have blocked sensible policy. They need to go if this program is going to be fixed.

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?

No and no.

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

Yes and yes.


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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?

Republicans in control of the Legislature have underfunded K-12, community colleges and public universities for the last decade. It is fool-hardy to not invest in education for our kids. It’s time to stop showering large out-of-state corporations with millions in unnecessary tax giveaways. They will be fine. Our kids and state economy will suffer if we starve educational investments.

I support extending the 1-cent SAVE sales tax.

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

I strongly support repealing this law that effectively bans abortion, a legal medical procedure.

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