OTHER VOICES: Iowa Legislature moved state in wrong direction

In a classic bait and switch the Iowa Legislature this year passed an agenda never campaigned on. They wiped out minimum wage increases and strangled public employee and teacher negotiating power. In addition, let’s look at a few less noticed but important actions that also hurt Iowa’s working citizens.

Two years ago an increased gas tax made real the promise of much needed bridge and road repair. This year in what was called the “road fund swap,” a federal buy-American provision and other quality protections were stripped from your city and county allocation of road money, allowing for foreign-made construction materials. Further, under the guise of reducing red tape and stretching dollars, local construction wage rates protected by federal law were eliminated, opening the door to lower wages in rural areas and out-of-state contractors undercutting local jobs.

An example would be where a county farm-to-market bridge was being rebuilt and an out-of-state contractor utilizing a cheap workforce from a southern-tier state is able to underbid local contractors and is awarded the job. Iowans lose. If cheap Chinese steel is used, America loses. Republicans passed the “swap” on party lines and our new ambassador to China signed it, opening a market for Chinese steel as a gift from Iowa taxpayers. While President Trump promises “American steel,” our state GOP does the opposite.

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