# Zach Nunn



Republicans reach deal on cutting Iowans' unemployment benefits

Iowa House and Senate Republicans have been at an impasse this month, as Senate Republicans refused to advance spending bills in an effort to pressure the House to approve a plan to divert more public education funds to private schools.

But in a sign of progress in backroom negotiations, GOP lawmakers finalized agreements on three bills April 26. The Senate approved the House version of a bill cutting unemployment benefits, while the House passed Senate versions of legislation on child care and an ethanol mandate for gasoline retailers.

Forthcoming Bleeding Heartland posts will cover the child care and ethanol bills.

Republicans in both chambers had agreed on most of the unemployment benefits package in March. The centerpiece of House File 2355 is a proposal Governor Kim Reynolds highlighted during her Condition of the State address in January: reduce the maximum unemployment benefits in one year from 26 weeks to sixteen weeks. The nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency (LSA) estimated the shortened window would reduce payments to jobless Iowans by nearly $69.2 million during fiscal year 2023 and nearly $70.9 million the following year.

Most states provide up to 26 weeks of unemployment benefits, while only a few provide as little as Iowa will after Reynolds signs this bill into law.

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Iowa Republicans close to deal on cutting unemployment benefits

The Iowa House and Senate approved similar bills on March 23 that would substantially cut unemployment benefits for jobless Iowans. The legislation, a priority for Governor Kim Reynolds, had been stalled for weeks, raising questions about whether Republican leaders could find the votes to pass it in the House.

Both versions of the legislation include the centerpiece of the proposal Reynolds highlighted during her Condition of the State address in January: reduce the maximum unemployment benefits in one year from 26 weeks to sixteen weeks. Currently, most states provide up to 26 weeks of unemployment benefits per year, while only a handful of states provide a maximum of sixteen weeks or fewer.

The revised bill, House File 2355, also includes provisions that would force Iowans to accept new jobs for lower pay sooner, and would make it easier for Iowans to be denied benefits entirely.

A House amendment offered by State Representative Mike Bousselot removed language that would have denied Iowans benefits the first week they were unemployed. Senate Republicans put the one-week waiting period back in the bill before approving it.

All House and Senate Democrats voted against the bills, as did two Republicans in each chamber: State Representatives Martin Graber and Charlie McClintock, and State Senators Zach Nunn and Jeff Reichman.

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Iowa lawmakers should reject bad bill on appraisals (updated)

James C. Larew is an attorney in Iowa City who served as general counsel and chief of staff for former Governor Chet Culver. House File 2299 cleared the Iowa House unanimously last month and is scheduled to be considered in an Iowa Senate Commerce subcommittee on March 7.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” 

House File 2299, a bill aimed to deprive Appraisal Panels from determining the causes of insured losses, by amending Iowa’s longstanding, so-called, “standard fire contract,” located at Iowa Code section 515.109, is a fix for something that is not broken. It should not be approved.

Nearly sixty years ago, Iowa lawmakers wisely adopted a successful provision of New York law, which had provided home and business insurance policyholders with a low-cost, efficient means by which they could obtain full indemnification for their insured losses without need, in most cases, to file lawsuits.

More than forty other states have since adopted the New York-based alternative dispute resolution Appraisal process, under which contentious disputes over insurance claim valuations might be resolved.

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Strange GOP primary shaping up in IA-03

Iowa politics watchers and national forecasters agree that the third Congressional district is the only toss-up race among Iowa’s 2022 federal elections. Two-term Democratic incumbent Cindy Axne will face the winner of a three-way GOP primary.

The latest Federal Election Commission filings paint a confusing picture of the Republican race, rather than a clear path for the establishment favorite, State Senator Zach Nunn.

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Who's who in the Iowa Senate for 2022

The Iowa Senate convened for its 2022 session on January 10 with 32 Republicans and eighteen Democrats. Twelve senators are women (seven Democrats and five Republicans), up from eleven women in the chamber prior to the 2020 election and double the six women senators who served prior to the 2018 election.

I enclose below details on the majority and minority leadership teams, along with all chairs, vice chairs, and members of standing Iowa Senate committees. Where relevant, I’ve mentioned changes since last year’s legislative session. The biggest change: Republican Dave Rowley was elected in December to succeed Republican Zach Whiting, who resigned to take a job in Texas.

All current state senators are white. The only African American ever to serve in the Iowa Senate was Tom Mann, elected to two terms during the 1980s. No Latino has ever served in the chamber, and Iowa’s only Asian-American senator was Swati Dandekar, who resigned in 2011.

Some non-political trivia: the 50 Iowa senators include two Smiths, a Democrat and a Republican, and two Taylors, a Democrat and a Republican. As for first names, there are three Jeffs and two men each named Zach, Craig, Mark, Dan, Jim, and Tim.

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