GOP Senators Push Poverty Bill That Hurts Their Constituents

In an earlier post titled “Five senate bills target Iowans on public assistance,” we took a deep dive into legislation that was designed to kick Iowans off the roles in various programs. They are the working poor, disabled, children, and the elderly. Many would be destitute if not for this assistance.

The messaging is that those on public assistance are somehow taking advantage of the system, a wedge issue that is propagated to create conflict among constituents. That distracts them from who the legislators who drive these wedges are working for, and it isn’t the voters.

Senate Study Bill 1131 is the real goal of these five bills, so it is important that we recognize the percentage of constituents in each Senator’s district the legislation would impact. If SSB 1131 gets to the Senate floor, a yes vote would make removing vulnerable Iowan’s from the roles much easier.

The vendor that wants this contract has incentive to increase their profits the more Iowans they exclude from the programs.

Rural Iowa would be the hardest hit

You can see from the map below the poverty rates in rural areas can be extremely high as a low minimum wage and limited jobs like convenience stores means that low skilled workers have no choice but to apply for assistance. An interactive map that has more precise percentages can be found here.

This data shows the percent of Iowans below the Federal poverty level. Medicaid, SNAP, and other programs allow a much higher threshold to qualify. To qualify for Medicaid, you can earn 138% of the Federal poverty rate. That means those earning 38% more than those represented in the map above are most likely on Medicaid as it is their only option for healthcare. This increases these percentages dramatically.

The Senator that sponsored this bill, Republican Jason Schultz, lives in Crawford County. If this legislation is enacted, one out of four of his constituents in Crawford would be impacted.

The table below shows the federal poverty levels as of 2019

Senators’ votes are what will make things worse, not the current poverty levels

SSB 1131’s sponsor Senator Jason Shultz, Republican from Crawford County, lives in one of the counties with the highest poverty percentages in the state, 18.5%. That translates into at least 18.5% of his constituents in Crawford facing two to three times as many chances to be removed from assistance if SSB 1131 passes. DHS is an already overburdened system, and when mistakes are made it can take months to be reinstated. That is the strategy behind this legislation.

It’s important to recognize that a county with a high poverty percentage does not mean the Senator who represents it supports this legislation. Senator Herman Quirmbach, Democrat from Story County, represents Ames in Story county. Story counties’ percentage of Iowans below the poverty level is 22 percent, the highest level in the State. It’s a safe bet that Quirmbach will be voting against SSB 1131 if it’s brought up for debate.

A portion of Story county is also represented by both Senator Jerry Behn, Republican from Boone, and Senator Annette Sweeney, Republican from Hardin. If SSB 1131 gets to the Senate floor, we will see if they vote to make things harder for their constituents in Story.

Call to action to contact your Senator

Senators are represented below with a link to contact information on the left and an email address on the right. The far-right number is the percentage of constituents that are below the poverty level in their district to illustrate just how many Iowans are already struggling. This puts into perspective the level of cruelty Senators would be inflicting on their own constituents with a yes vote.

Please contact your Senator and ask them not to pass SSB 1131 that would take away lifelines to struggling Iowans. And you can contact Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver and Senate President Charles Schneider and ask them not to bring this legislation to the Senate floor for a Vote!

District 1 Zach Whiting Republican 8.66
District 2 Randy Feenstra Republican 9.65
District 3 Jim Carlin Republican 11.55
District 4 Dennis Guth Republican 11.12
District 5 Tim Kraayenbrink Republican 13.75
District 6 Mark Segebart Republican 12.6
District 7 Jackie Smith Democrat 14
District 8 Dan Dawson Republican 11.2
District 9 Jason Schultz Republican 12.8
District 10 Jake Chapman Republican 10.23
District 11 Tom Shipley Republican 12.82
District 12 Mark Costello Republican 12
District 13 Julian B. Garrett Republican 6.75
District 14 Amy Sinclair Republican 13.11
District 15 Zach Nunn Republican 10.4
District 16 Nate Boulton Democrat 11.7
District 17 Tony Bisignano Democrat 11.7
District 18 Janet Petersen Democrat 11.7
District 19 Jack Whitver Republican 11.7
District 20 Brad Zaun Republican 11.7
District 21 Claire Celsi Democrat 11.7
District 22 Charles Schneider Republican 8.55
District 23 Herman C. Quirmbach Democrat 22
District 24 Jerry Behn Republican 13.4
District 25 Annette Sweeney Republican 11.3
District 26 Waylon Brown Republican 10.18
District 27 Amanda Ragan Democrat 12.1
District 28 Michael Breitbach Republican 10.65
District 29 Carrie Koelker Republican 11
District 30 open seat 15.9
District 31 William A. Dotzler Jr. Democrat 15.9
District 32 Craig Johnson Republican 15.9
District 33 Robert Hogg Democrat 11.05
District 34 Liz Mathis Democrat 9.5
District 35 Todd E. Taylor Democrat 9.5
District 36 Jeff Edler Republican 9.5
District 37 Zach Wahls Democrat 11.5
District 38 Tim L. Kapucian Republican 11.55
District 39 Kevin Kinney Democrat 9.73
District 40 Ken Rozenboom Republican 12.67
District 41 Mariannette Miller-Meeks Republican 13.74
District 42 Rich Taylor Democrat 14.98
District 43 Joe Bolkcom Democrat 13.2
District 44 Thomas A. Greene Republican 17.7
District 45 Jim Lykam Democrat 12.27
District 46 Mark S. Lofgren Republican 12.3
District 47 Roby Smith Republican 11.4
District 48 Dan Zumbach Republican 12.3
District 49 Chris Cournoyer Republican 8.9
District 50 Pam Jochum Democrat 11.9


by Matt Chapman
Image via Iowa Data Center
Posted 3/4/19

1 Comment on "GOP Senators Push Poverty Bill That Hurts Their Constituents"

  • Everyone I know in rural Iowa thinks those getting assistance are lazy and cheating the system. These areas are deep red, and they are cheering for this legislation. They don’t care that it would hurt people.

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