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2020 Legislative Priorities Outlined for 88th Legislative Session

Capital Building

January 15, 2020

On Thursday, December 5, more than 150 attendees gathered to celebrate the past year’s successes and look forward to new opportunities. We heard from Kathryn Kunert, the current Board Chair for the Greater Des Moines Partnership, as well as Stacey Pellett, who revealed The Partnership’s 2020 State Legislative Priorities to business and community leaders from around Greater Des Moines (DSM). The afternoon also included a panel of four state legislative leaders, Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen, House Majority Leader Matt Windschitl and House Minority Whip Jo Oldson, who participated in a moderated Q&A session.

As the Senior VP of Government Relations and Public Policy, I have had the pleasure of seeing the 2020 State Agenda take shape through careful consideration by our members and investors. Working with the Government Policy Council (GPC) members has yielded a fantastic list of projects to take on, and we hope to continue the successes we’ve enjoyed in past sessions. This agenda will be important when the 88th Legislative Session begins on Monday, January 13. These priorities are the product of public-private collaboration and diligent work from policy advocates around the region.

2020 State Priorities

Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy

The Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy project touches water quality, conservation and quality of life initiatives, making it The Partnership’s priority with the widest scope. A network of 80 water trails across DSM will involve collaboration with upstream and downstream partners, as well as a recreational area in Downtown DSM. This project has the potential to transform the region and will be undertaken with the health and wellness of our natural resources top of mind.

Angel Investor Tax Credit

As a DSM leader, the most important thing one can do is reinvest in entrepreneurship and the community to strengthen and develop our region. The Partnership supports incentivizing investment in new businesses at the seed capital investment stage through the Angel Investor Tax Credit Program. Increased funding for this program would raise the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s (IEDA) current cap, allowing greater investment each fiscal year. 

Des Moines International Airport Terminal Project

The DSM region is a rapidly growing Midwestern metropolitan, which requires effective and efficient transportation to bolster it. Currently, the Des Moines International Airport is at capacity for what they can offer to passengers, both in frequency and destination of flights. The Partnership supports funding for a new terminal, which would solve current overcrowding issues and keep raising the bar to meet patrons’ standards.


Several programs merge under the umbrella of promoting the DSM region as the best place for professionals at all career stages to work and live. Future Ready Iowa is a state initiative aimed at aligning Iowa’s talent pipeline with the state’s ever-changing career fields. It includes funding for the Last Dollar Scholar program and the Iowa Employer Innovation Fund, both of which provide greater access to training and education that improve employment opportunities. Other policies aimed at improving child-care and reducing barriers to employment for those with a criminal history will serve specific members of our community. A region thrives when it draws in talented individuals and offers them opportunities to succeed.

Enhance Iowa

Attracting the general public to our region goes beyond purely economic opportunities; it also involves recreation, education and entertainment. The IEDA currently provides funding to the Community Attraction and Tourism Fund, which The Partnership supports expansion of through Enhance Iowa. Communities that invest in art and culture are more successful, so this is an opportunity to spark innovation and enjoyment in DSM.

The unveiling of the 2020 State Legislative Priorities signals the beginning of our efforts to bring about the change we have planned. The Partnership’s Government Relations and Public Policy team will be in close contact with the state delegation and regional leaders to advocate for the success of our priorities. Business and community leaders can also play a role in generating interest and staying involved throughout the 2020 legislative session. Thank you to our workgroup leaders for their time and effort in assembling and advocating for our 2020 priorities: Tim Coonan, Mary Bontrager, Scott Sundstrom, Brian Laurenzo, Staci Williams and Zach Young.

The Partnership's Public Policy team engages with local, state and federal officials to create public policy that generates economic growth, business prosperity and talent development in Greater Des Moines (DSM). The Partnership is a nonpartisan organization.