State Sen. Mark Segebart, R-Vail (right) speaks at a Carroll Chamber of Commerce Legislative Forum Saturday at the Des Moines Area Community College Carroll campus. State Rep. Brian Best, R-Glidden, joined Segebart in presenting a wrap-up of legislative activity in recent months. (Photo by Douglas Burns)
State Sen. Mark Segebart, R-Vail (right) speaks at a Carroll Chamber of Commerce Legislative Forum Saturday at the Des Moines Area Community College Carroll campus. State Rep. Brian Best, R-Glidden, joined Segebart in presenting a wrap-up of legislative activity in recent months. (Photo by Douglas Burns)

May 6, 2019

Carroll County’s top economic-development official urged the region’s state legislators to prioritize deepening Iowa’s labor pool and improving the climate for start-ups.

Shannon Landauer, executive director of the Carroll Area Development Corporation and Carroll Chamber of Commerce, also said the trades offer lucrative and sustainable opportunities for young people in rural Iowa.

“Kids aren’t dreaming of becoming plumbers, but we sure need them, and they could have a heckuva career,” Landauer said Saturday at the Carroll Chamber of Commerce’s wrap-up legislative forum attended by about 25 people.

Carroll County’s jobless rate has hovered around 2 percent in the last year, making it challenging for employers to find workers or for economic development leaders to recruit new businesses.

State Rep. Brian Best, R-Glidden, played a key role in Gov. Kim Reynolds’ Future Ready Iowa, an initiative aiming to provide skills training beyond high school to at least 70 percent of the Iowa workforce by 2025.

“Obviously, Iowa needs a workforce,” Best said. “That’s the biggest thing.”

Speaking at the forum location, the Carroll campus of Des Moines Area Community College, Best said colleges like DMACC are churning out graduates who stay in Iowa — at an 85 percent rate, far higher than at four-year schools.

State Sen. Mark Segebart, R-Vail, said he is becoming an even stronger supporter of DMACC because of its boost to the labor force and support for local schools through dual-credit programs.

“There are school buses rolling into Carroll, Iowa, just to get to this place right here,” Segebart said.

Segebart, a Vail farmer who regularly drives from western Iowa through the suburbs of Des Moines to the state capitol, said it’s obvious where rural Iowa’s young people are going.

“If you want to know where all your kids went to, just go down to (Interstate) 235 through Des Moines, Iowa, at 7 o’clock in the morning,” Segebart said of the population growth in and around Des Moines.

The one-hour forum served as a review of the legislative session that adjourned at the end of May and a preview of the coming year.

Best and Segebart split on the issue of allowing legalized sports betting at Iowa’s 19 state-regulated casinos.

Best said wagering on sports takes place “in the shadows” already and it makes sense to bring it into a taxing light.

“Sometimes I kind of go a little libertarian on my views,” Best said.

Casinos are also tied to economic development, he said.

“That situation is upon us, and it always will be,” Best said.

Segebart is opposed to the expansion of gambling.

“It was just going to add to an already large community of people who think their luck is more than their ability to work,” Segebart said.

On a legal matter, Best said a move approved by the Legislature to give the governor more authority in the judicial nominating process makes sense. The governor will have nine appointments to the Judicial Nominating Commission, with lawyers in Iowa electing eight members. Best said that makes the process more Democratic by giving the edge to an elected official.

The reform also will make it easier for rural lawyers to get on the nominating commission, as they will need 10 signatures, not 50, Best said.

As far as the next session, Segebart said he would continue to push for a recycling plan to increases the amount redemption centers are paid from 1 cent per can or bottle to 2 cents — a hike he sees as essential to maintaining the existence of small-town centers and improving the environment.