One of Rep. Dustin Hite’s priorities for the legislative session is to expand broadband Internet access in Iowa.
He has a few approaches in mind to achieve this, including a policy that will require conduit to be placed under highways when road repairs or construction is done. He also seeks to find grant funding for cities to utilize to improve Internet access and make better use of the Iowa Communications Network.
One of the challenges facing improved Internet in Iowa is that no one agrees on what “high speed Internet” is. The ways government tracks it also vary, as some entities believe a community has strong Internet even if just one user has it. Hite hopes to help the state better map high speed Internet.
Hite knows this is an issue from experience.
This session, he will serve as vice chair of the Judiciary Committee, while also serving on Local Government, Veterans Affairs and Ways and Means. Part of this includes setting the budget for Public Safety and the Judicial Branch. Hite believes more funding would be helpful and hopes to develop a recommendation that will be a good fit with the overall state budget.
Education and Medicaid funding are the two areas that will see the most contention in the Legislature, according to Hite. One issue, tied to education, that he hopes to address is the child care “cliff effect”. As laws stand stand in Iowa now, either parents qualify for child care assistance or not. There is no gradual sliding scale to help those working parents more assistance with child care costs. Oftentimes, parents choose to not work because the cost of child care is too high.
Public schools may take on more child care work in the future, but Hite does not believe it should be a requirement. Many school districts are already seeking partnerships with private entities for this purpose.
Hite hopes the Legislature can continue to budget the way it has been, which means budgeting to spend only 95 percent of the money received. Iowa law limits spending bills to not exceed 99 percent of revenue. By spending less than the 99 percent, Republicans hope to have more tax cuts in the future.
There are no legislative forums planned in Pella at this time, but Hite and Sen. Ken Rozenboom will take part in Eggs and Issues events in Oskaloosa the second and fourth Saturdays of February and the fourth Saturday of March. He is willing to take part in forums in Pella if one wants to organize one.
Constituents are encouraged to visit the Capitol this session. If so, feel free to contact Hite at Dustin.Hite@legis.iowa.gov beforehand for a tour. He also wants to hear your concerns, ideas, opinions.
Hite will seek reelection to the District 79 seat in November.