Our COVID Recovery Plan

Iowans have been through a lot over the last year, particularly with the pandemic. It’s not over yet, but it is time for the Legislature to do all it can to help Iowa build back better, bigger and stronger than ever.

My focus this session is on a four-part plan to help Iowa rebound from the ravages of the last year. Senate Democrats’ COVID Recovery Plan aims to:

1. Defeat COVID-19 by rolling out vaccines to all Iowans as efficiently as possible. Our country has surpassed 400,000 deaths and is expected to hit the 500,000-fatality mark in February. With no time to waste, we should use some of the state’s budget surplus to get emergency funding to county health departments to speed up distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations and contact tracing.

2. Help hurting Iowans. The pandemic has sickened Iowa workers and shuttered businesses throughout the state. The good news is that we have ample resources to:

  • Support struggling small businesses with direct grants and forgivable loans.
  • Help cities, counties and school districts bounce back from a tough year.
  • Assist food banks that are serving an increasing number of Iowans in need.
  • Exempt federal unemployment payments from state taxes.  

3. Build back better by focusing on critical needs. This includes:

  • Developing an Essential Workers Bill of Rights that guarantees better pay and stronger workplace protections.
  • Keeping local small businesses that are part of the very fabric of our communities.
  • Expanding access to affordable child care throughout the state.
  • Investing in high-speed Internet that will make every corner of Iowa a great place to live, learn and work.

4. Ensure accountability. An independent, blue-ribbon COVID Commission with representatives from all sectors of our economy should be given broad subpoena and investigative powers. Iowans deserve to know where their hard-earned tax dollars are going as we recover from this pandemic. The knowledge we gain will help us better prepare for future emergencies.

Senate Democrats are currently putting together the bills that will help achieve the goals of this four-part plan.


Vaccinating Iowans

  • Emergency funding to county health departments to speed up distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations and contact tracing {SF 199}.

Helping hurting Iowans

  • Using our budget surplus and the economic emergency funds to support struggling small businesses on Main Street with direct grants {SF 325}.
  • Support food banks and other efforts  to address growing food insecurity in Iowa {SF 153; SF 157; SF 273}
  • Exempt the first $10,200 in federal and state unemployment payments from state taxes {SF 290}.

Building Back Better

  • An Essential Workers’ Bill of Rights, including:
  • Requiring employers to provide up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave for eligible employees. {SF 137}.
  • Provide hazard pay to essential workers exposed to the risk of COVID-19 {SF 412}.
  • Providing whistleblower protections for employees who file a complaint due to risk of contracting COVID-19 in the workplace {SF 471}.
  • Expanding access to child care {SF 437; SF 177; SF 186}.
  • Expanding access to preschool {SF 189}. 

Blue-Ribbon COVID Commission

  • The Commission would help us understand state government’s mistakes and failures, investigate negligence or profiteering in the private sector, and show us how to better prepare for future pandemic {SF 519}.