Stop the Iowa Republican Attack on Food Assistance

Iowa Senate Republicans are trying another attack on Iowans who receive federal food assistance.

Earlier this year, Iowa Senate Republicans passed Senate File 389, to impose new procedural barriers to federal food assistance (SNAP), Medicaid, and the Hawk-I children’s health program, and a new asset test ($2,250 for most households) for SNAP to kick off otherwise eligible Iowans.

The Legislative Services Agency said that 1,466 Iowans would lose food assistance due to the new procedural barriers in SF389, and representatives of the private third-party company that wants to implement this proposal said it would take food assistance away from over 50,000 currently eligible Iowans.

To the credit of Republican State Representative Ann Meyer of Fort Dodge, SF389 did not advance out of the House Human Resources Committee by the legislative deadline known as the “second funnel.”

But now it’s back, as Division XIII of the Iowa Senate Republican health and human service budget bill (Senate Study Bill 1267).

And let’s be specific who is trying this attack. This time, it’s not Senator Jason Schultz who floor-managed Senate File 389.

This time, it’s Republican Senator Tim Kraayenbrink of Fort Dodge, the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

What’s going on in Fort Dodge that would make Representative Meyer stop a bill that Senator Kraayenbrink is now pushing through an Appropriations bill?

Under the proposal, Senator Sarah Trone Garriott reports that Webster County would lose over $164,000 every month in federal food assistance for its residents.

According to Senator Trone Garriott, the residents of the other counties that Senator Kraayenbrink represents (Calhoun, Pocahontas, and Humboldt) would lose over $68,000 a month.

That’s a significant loss of federal food assistance for counties that have been losing population.

As Senator Trone Garriott and I suggested in our Potluck Media column last December, federal food assistance is not only good for Iowa families who need help, it’s also good for farmers who need markets, grocery stores who need customers, and our overall Iowa economy which needs the money.

So why are Iowa Senate Republicans like Senator Kraayenbrink doing this?

Part of the answer is almost certainly that Andy Conlin, former Senate Republican staff person, now represents a Florida-based organization known as Opportunity Solutions Project that badly wants access to the third-party contract that would be required under the proposal.

Another part of the answer is that many Republicans continue to put ideology over the practical betterment of people in their districts. Federal food assistance is a supplement to help families and households where over 80% have at least one person working, as Sister Kathy Flynn of Dubuque explained in this 2018 guest column.

Despite the obvious benefits of federal food assistance, this proposal would spend state dollars for a private company to kick currently eligible Iowans off of federal food assistance.

The question now is, will Senator Kraayenbrink’s bad proposal get the support it needs to become law?

As Bleeding Heartland pointed out in this post earlier this week, Governor Reynolds has now endorsed it.

So what we really need is a strong public outcry right now in support of food assistance with legislators of both parties and in both chambers.

Please speak up with legislators with this simple message: Support food assistance, stop SSB1267.

In the Iowa Senate, I believe there are six Republicans who can stand up to stop this nonsense.

  1. Senator Jack Whitver, the majority leader from Polk County, whose residents would lose nearly $2 million every month in federal food assistance under the proposal.
  2. Senator Adrian Dickey of Packwood whose four counties (Jefferson, Van Buren, Davis, and Wapello) would lose over $275,000 each month.
  3. Senator Roby Smith of Davenport – Scott County would lose $800,000 each month.
  4. Senator Chris Cournoyer of Leclaire – Scott County would lose $800,000 each month while Clinton County would lose over $200,000.
  5. Senator Carrie Koelker of Dyersville whose three counties (Dubuque, Jackson, and Jones) would lose nearly $400,000 each month.
  6. Senator Tom Shipley of Nodaway who missed the vote on Senate File 389 and who prides himself on being a strong advocate for agriculture including feeding the hungry.

Please speak up with all legislators to urge them to support food assistance by stopping SSB1267.

Copy Link Link was copied