JOHNSTON — Access to affordable child care is one policy item that the next speaker of the Iowa House expects on the legislative agenda when state lawmakers reconvene in January.
Pat Grassley, a Republican from New Hartford, recently was selected by his GOP House colleagues to become the next speaker.
He will replace Linda Upmeyer, a Clear Lake Republican who recently announced she is stepping down from the post and will not run for re-election next year.
Grassley, while taping this weekend’s episode of “Iowa Press” for Iowa Public Television, said child care is an issue he and his House Republican colleagues are hearing much about from their constituents.
“I was just in Black Hawk County last night, my neighboring county right next to me, and the issues of child care came up, workforce,” Grassley said. “Our caucus is going to be interested in issues of child care, not just access but affordability.”
Grassley described working on the issue of child care as something that would be “good for all Iowans and our growth moving forward.” He said the trick will be devising a plan that helps Iowa families access affordable child care while making the program work within the state budget.
Bills introduced this past session by statehouse Democrats would have increased the income eligibility levels for the state child care assistance program. Those bills were not considered in the Republican-controlled House or Senate.
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“We’re going to be addressing and trying to tackle some of those big issues that affect all Iowans in our success,” Grassley said.
Grassley declined to offer stances on myriad potential legislative issues because he said he wants guidance on those issues to come from his fellow House Republicans, not himself.
He did rule out action on one issue: Grassley said he does not support any proposals to change the way Iowa draws its political boundaries for elections.
The state will redraw those boundaries after the 2020 census, and Iowa’s process is widely praised for being more nonpartisan than most states’.
“I’ve been very clear that I will not support changing redistricting,” Grassley said. “I don’t think we should change the process. We have a good process in the state.”
Pat Grassley is the grandson of Chuck Grassley, Iowa’s longtime U.S. senator. Pat Grassley repeated, as he has in previous interviews, that he thinks his grandfather will run for re-election in 2022. Chuck Grassley, if re-elected, would be 89 years old at the beginning of his next six-year term. The younger Grassley declined to say whether he would run for his grandfather’s seat if he does retire.
“I have full expectation that my grandfather is running for re-election, and my job is to focus on the Legislature and making sure we not only maintain but grow our majority and pass responsible budgets and strong policy for the state,” Grassley said.
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