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Dubuque Co. lawmakers discuss how to address pandemic ahead of return to statehouse

Published: Jan. 3, 2021 at 10:36 PM CST
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - The Iowa legislature will return to the statehouse soon, with the legislative session starting in-person on Jan. 11.

Three Democratic lawmakers from Dubuque County talked virtually with constituents during a listening post Sunday, looking ahead to their return to Des Moines.

Last year’s general assembly was suspended for nearly three months because of the pandemic.

State Sen. Pam Jochum and State Reps. Chuck Isenhart and Lindsay James said state leaders will need to address not just the immediate issues relating to the pandemic but also longer-term concerns.

Isenhart called for an oversight review into how the state’s public health system has performed, saying he believes the pandemic has exposed how under-resourced state and county public health departments are and that this will need to be resolved for any future health crises.

Jochum spoke of her support for a plan from state Senate Democrats to allocate $30 million of budget surplus money toward assisting food pantries with increased needs.

James said lawmakers will need help from the public to advocate for more school funding, as the pandemic has led to learning losses in Iowa schools.

“We are going to need to fund our schools and resource our schools going forward to a much greater degree in order to catch these kids up, all of our kids up, who are struggling to meet grade standards and really make sure the schools have what they need,” James said.

After the election this past November, Republicans will hold the trifecta again in Iowa, with majorities in both the House and Senate joining with Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds.

For now, the session is scheduled to end in April.

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