Miller-Meeks Discusses Childcare and Prop 12 During Sigourney Visit

L to R: Hunter Bruns of MCG, Mayor Jimmy Morlan, Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Gary Iosbaker, Jeff Graff, Walk Er’ Drive Through Owner Darian Graff
Casey Jarmes
The News-Review

SIGOURNEY – Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks visited Sigourney on Aug. 14 to discuss problems in the community. Mayor Jimmy Morlan once again brought up the town’s childcare problem, noting that there is only one registered childcare service in Sigourney. Morlan blamed this on government regulations. KCED Executive Director and City Councilman Gary Iosbaker brought up a childcare survey conducted by KCED that revealed that there are 700 preschool-aged children in the county in need of childcare. Iosbaker noted that the hours for daycare workers are long and that the work is difficult.

“Increasingly, it looks like communities like ours are really going to need to band together, at the county level, in order to survive,” said Iosbaker. “In order to be able to meet our budgets and in order to be able to provide the services. More than just childcare. Childcare happens to be a catalyst for discussion at the moment, but it extends to just basic services that the various municipalities need to offer. And the tax base isn’t such for the cities themselves that they can do it, so they’re going to have to work together. And it’s becoming an increasing challenge.”

Miller-Meeks brought up the idea of federal assistance for childcare, claiming that it will lead to more regulation. Morlan referred to child care as part of a “three tier situation,” alongside a lack of new businesses and a housing shortage in the community. The congresswoman brought up the idea of lowered taxes, which she sees as a way to get people and businesses to stay in Iowa, praising the state government’s recent property tax reductions. She also brought up state programs that train people in trades.

Iosbaker commented on the state’s tax policies, saying that they were “scary” before he looked into it. “We thought we were going to take a real haircut, because it’s a sword that cuts both ways,” said the councilman. Iosbaker explained that this new tax reduction will cause an estimated 13% reduction in the city’s taxable value. This bill will not go into effect for another four years, giving the city time to react, but not much time. “We’re really going to have to embark on a concerted marketing campaign to bring people and businesses into the community over the course of the next four years, or we’re going to have a problem, unless the legislation is adjusted again,” said Iosbaker.

Morlan brought up the city’s lack of a police department, stating that while the city has the budget for a chief and one other officer, no one will apply. He noted that there are deputies in Sigourney during the day, because the Sheriff’s Station is located in town, but that officers are often in other towns at other times. “We’d like to have our own police department,” said Morlan. “And the sheriff’s department, they do a great job, but for lack of a better term, they take care of the big items. You know, the smaller items that the city is dealing with, we need our own officers to take care of.”

Morlan stated that he would like to have officers at the high school and elementary schools when they let out, as well as local officers to deal with speeding in town. Morlan stated that law enforcement is “not a popular occupation right now,” inspiring Miller-Meeks to blame this on certain people in the U.S. government. Morlan stated that the city was trying to entice a chief to move to Sigourney, but the best solution would be to find somebody in town that is qualified. Morlan also brought up the history of the city paying to train officers who then move leave for the sheriff’s department.

“It’s difficult when communities and businesses have to look for subsidies in order to function,” said Iosbaker. “Farmers need subsidies to function. Cities need subsidies. We couldn’t run the city if we didn’t have the ability to go into debt adequately...Autonomy starts to look very attractive if one can figure out how to do it right...There’s always that concern that maybe one day those dollars won’t be there. And then what?”

Miller-Meeks praised the economic stewardship of Governors Branstad and Reynolds, claiming that the state has been in a good financial place because of them. Morlan brought up the grant projects for renovations on the square, the city’s new ordinance officer, the senior center, and the partnership between Indian Hills and the local high school. Iosbaker asked for information on upcoming bills that would affect Sigourney.

KCED President Jeff Graff asked the congresswoman about California Proposition 12. Prop 12 bans the sale of pork from farms where pigs are confined to gestation crates within the state of California. This 2018 California ballot measure was approved by 62.56% of California voters. Prop 12 was challenged by the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation, who argued that it violated interstate commerce laws. In May of this year, the United States Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to uphold the law, arguing that states have the right to regulate what products are sold within the state.

Miller-Meeks expressed disappointment in this decision, stating “It’s one thing for California to limit what can be grown and raised or what those standards are for that state. It’s another for goods that are demanded when they’re imported.” She gave her support for the EATS Act, a bill that seeks to prevent states and local governments from regulating what agricultural products can be imported, although she noted that it is unlikely this bill will pass.

Miller-Meeks also talked about mineral mining permits, which she sees as necessary for electrical grids. According to the congresswoman, it needs to be more economically viable for mining companies to increase production. Miller-Meeks blames this problem on environmental lawsuits, claiming that mining companies are tied up in “endless lawsuits.”





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