ON THE BALLOT: State Senate District 42

Rich Taylor

Rich Taylor
Rich Taylor

Rich Taylor

Party: Democrat

Home: Mt. Pleasant

Family: Wife, Annette; adult children, Stephanie (David) Taylor Chaponniere and Nicholas (Tara) Taylor; three granddaughters, Ava, Eliana and Helena.

Occupation: Retired from the Iowa State Penitentiary

Political Experience: While employed by the state of Iowa, I served on the Statewide Contract Bargaining Committee eight contracts. I lobbied the Legislature for pubic workers’ rights with The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) for 24 years.

Iowa State Senator District 42 for eight years: Assistant Leader; Health and Human Services, Labor and Business Relations, and Agriculture committees; Local Government Committee (chair); ranking member of Judiciary and Veterans Affairs committees; Judiciary and Juvenile Justice Advisory Board (ranking member), Child Support Advisory Board, Criminal Justice Information System Advisory Board, Primary Care and Rural Health Advisory Board, National Committee on Mental and Behavioral Health.

Why are you running for office?

In 2012, I ran because I believed with my personality and ability to quickly make friends and solve issues, I would be a strong voice for my rural district. I could make sure my friends and neighbors would have representation in Des Moines and not just about issues important to me or a party, but ALL issues from everyone at home.

The last four years, I watched the majority party destroy:

• The rights of Iowa workers and doubling down on attacks on public workers and IPERS, Workers Compensation rights, Unemployment Insurance, workplace safety provisions (OSHA).

• Healthcare of Iowa’s most vulnerable citizens, refusal to pay for lifesaving care and refusal to pay our doctors, nurses and healthcare workers for providing that care by refusing to fix the Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) out-of-state insurance companies’ disastrous handling of Iowa’s Medicaid system.

• Public safety officers, corrections officers, Highway Patrol and ALL law enforcement by their continued

DEFUNDING of Public Safety by near $6 Million or more over this period.

• Mental Health by allowing the closing and underfunding of the Iowa Mental Health Institutions (MHI).

• K-12 education by allowing Iowa to slip from no. 1 in the nation to no. 13. Higher learning by making advanced education impossible for most.

• Property values by causing extreme raises to property taxes for services that should and have always been paid for with state taxes down to the counties and property taxpayers.

The majority party has also turned a blind eye to the problems with racial injustice, sentencing parity and actual reform in Iowa which is desperately needed if our state is ever going to move forward and separate ourselves from the hatred and division experienced in most of this nation.

What will your priorities be if elected?

I believe all issues that my friends and neighbors bring to me deserve the same top-level of respect and concern. The three that are presented most often are:

• World class educational system. Pre K-12 moving from first to 13th in the nation in the last few years is not acceptable. Stronger community colleges inclusive of apprenticeship opportunities affordable to all Iowans looking to improve themselves. Better assistance for those seeking further education from our private universities and colleges such as Iowa Wesleyan. More accessibility to our state Regents Universities for Iowa students.

• Rebuild Iowa’s failed healthcare system including our non-existent children’s and adult mental health disaster. Make this fair access no matter where you live in Iowa. Eliminate the MCOs ruining Iowa Medicaid Enterprise, bankrupting many healthcare providers, shutting down services in our rural hospital and communities, refusing to approve care needed by our most vulnerable citizens.

• Bring back manufacturing to southeast Iowa with good livable wage paying jobs that respect Iowa’s most valuable resource, the employee. Investing in education will help draw these new business opportunities along with some state and local incentives.

What do you see as the top issues facing the state in the next legislative session?

• Water quality. If ignored, this will soon be the TOP ISSUE in Iowa. Iowa has kicked this problem down the road for far too long. It will very soon become irreversible if we don’t act. Parties on ALL sides of the issue will need to come to the table and come to a solution.

• Child care. Child care should be set up as it is in a lot of other countries – structured preschool, not day care. This could utilize a combination of employer funding, employees paying according to ability and state funding to get this set up. It could utilize students from high school and colleges as part of their education to help keep costs down and provide education. It would be structured learning environment for the children and the students

• Mental health. In the last eight years under the Reynolds-Branstad leadership, Iowa went from 46th to 49th in the nation. The closing of Mt. Pleasant and Clarinda MHIs was a proven failure. Each Mental Health Region needs a state-operated inpatient unit with at least 30 beds each for adults or children for immediate temporary care. We also need more permanent long-term care state-operated beds. There are currently 96 state-operated beds for 130,000 severely mentally Ill Iowans. The burden of care is pushed to our county property taxpayer as the care comes mostly from our local county hospitals or county jails.

Do you think the state government has responded well to COVID-19 pandemic, and if not. How should it have responded differently?

No! I hope we have learned that this is too big of problem to allow one person the full authority to single-handedly deal with this. I feel it was a grave error for the Legislature to adjourn session without laying down some science-based guidance to combat this virus. This has become a political battle and that should have never happened. Too many Iowans have been impacted health-wise and financially. The Iowa Legislature should have set scientifically-based bipartisan rules to combat this virus.

What can the state Legislature do in 2021 about stopping the spread of the pandemic while also being mindful of the effects on the economy?

The Legislature should assemble a team of medical and business experts to develop a strategy that employs the best and most current scientific facts. Non-politically-based facts are the best way to move forward in the best interest of every Iowan and not a one-size-fits-all-plan that recognizes the difference between rural populations and urban. They should present their findings to the Legislature not for approval but for the Legislature to find the ways to implement these recommendations safely and legally and do this without politically-based motives.