The Iowa Legislature was sent home from the Capitol weeks ago with the outbreak of COVID-19. In that time, Sen. Amy Sinclair and Rep. Jon Thorup have been busy listening to their constituents away from Des Moines.
“Most people are just talking about COVID,” Sinclair said. “But I’m still getting emails about classroom violence.”
Protecting teachers and students was one of Sinclair’s main objectives going into the 2020 session. However, as she has more time to spend listening to those she represents, compared to the time forced to spend in meetings with other lawmakers, Sinclair says she has learned that the issue may be larger than she thought.
Today’s norm for education is online learning, as Gov. Kim Reynolds shut schools down until at least April 30. Sinclair had been pushing for more online learning opportunities before the pandemic. Though districts may incorporate more curriculum like this after schools reopen, this type of learning will still not be right for all students.
The Legislature is still shooting to return to session on May 1. Sinclair adds that part of the challenge is that 30 percent of legislators fit the category as most vulnerable to COVID-19. When the session does resume, the goal is to handle top priorities.
“We want to get back to work and address as many of these things as we can,” Sinclair said. Many legislators, including Sinclair, are pushing for another Revenue Estimating Conference before the session reopens. The REC is supposed to be an objective third party to provide a clear picture of Iowa’s economy to help the Legislature provide a sound budget for the coming year.
Sinclair touts that efforts by the Republican-led Legislature the past three years has led to a $1 billion surplus, which has aided the State during the virus-imposed economic downturn.