Infrastructure spending will bring generational change in Iowa, Axne says


Katlyn Campbell/ Iowa State Daily

Rep. Cindy Axne, D-West Des Moines, speaks during the 2019 Women’s March Iowa at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines on Jan. 19, 2019.

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With $5 billion coming into Iowa from the landmark federal infrastructure package, U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Des Moines, said bridges, highways and internet service, among a host of other boosts, rural and urban, will dramatically improve Iowans’ lives over years. 


“I love the fact that we got this infrastructure bill here,” said Axne, who joined U.S. Sen Charles Grassley, a Republican, as the only two members of the Iowa delegation to support it. “I’m proud to have voted for it. I’m sad to see that my other colleagues didn’t find the value in this, because I sure do.” 


Axne said the changes being brought from improving Iowa infrastructure equate to money in people’s pockets, and more opportunities for their families.


“It’s about living a lifestyle where you’re not paying $300 a year to get your car fixed because of potholes,” Axne said. “Seventy-five percent of the kids in the state have lead in their system and the pipes are a part of that, so we’re going to start bringing healthier lives to the people across our district.” 


On other topics, Axne, speaking with The Iowa State Daily by phone, said she has high hopes for a cattle market transparency bill. She is working on that legislative priority with Grassley. She said the bill will level the playing field for Iowa’s cattle producers.


“We’ve been shut out of so much opportunities because we operate in a cash market for the most part,” Axne said. “The contracted market has done much better. We don’t have a transparent market for our cattle producers to get a fair shake, and this will finally put an end to that by creating transparency in the market.”


Axne said the bill also will help to curb the estimated 15,000 cattle farmers that are going out of business nationwide due to consolidation in the market. 


Axne, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, said the best way to help farmers is to push for precision agriculture, a method which utilizes new technologies to increase yields for farmers, while lowering input costs needed for growing crops.


In conjunction with precision agriculture, Axne said developing clean energy and constantly being on the lookout for international markets that are good for Iowans will help farmers. 


“I remember times in Iowa where we had local processing, and we had the capability to not just bring our beef and our hogs to market, but also multiple crops,” Axne said. “I think what we’re looking at right now is an opportunity to diversify farming, to allow our farmers to be able to grow things in a way that they would like to, and to improve their soil nutrients so that they get better yields and lower their costs.” 


Axne also had strong words for Big Tech.


Too much wealth and economic clout is being collected on the coasts and burgeoning tech-boom cities, she said.


“Silicon Valley does not need to own all of technology, we could be doing so much of it right here in Iowa — and we really are starting to ramp up in those areas,” Axne said. “I don’t want us to just be the state that has the warehouses for all of these digital companies.”


She referenced an Amazon warehouse in her district, which she said pays little in taxes and capitalizes on the infrastructure of her community.


“Amazon’s out there in my district, barely paying taxes, and they’re using our schools’ education for the people that work there, they’re using our police forces and fire services, and other community support services,” Axne said. “They’re using us to be able to deliver around the country, but we’re not getting a lot of the benefits.”


In regard to the societal shift from the use of cash to digital forms of currency, Axne worries that those in rural communities will be left behind.


“We are still a heavy cash community here, and we have a lot of community banking systems, and a lot of those don’t necessarily fit with some of the digital technology — really in the form of banking, and really, use of money — we’ve gotta look out for things like that,” Axne said.


Axne said she is in favor of imposing more regulations on Big Tech companies, adding that the introduction of Facebook has divided the nation.


“Half the battle is pushing back against lies, and trying to get folks to understand what we need to do,” Axne said. “And I’ll be honest, that’s why I gotta keep winning, because we need people who are willing to stand up to this.”


Axne is running for re-election in the new 3rd Congressional District, a map drawn after the 2020 Census. The district includes Greene County.


Axne referenced Facebook algorithms, which she said will only feed people the content they’re wanting to see.


“The problem with algorithms, in general, in so many ways, is it’s leading people to make decisions they would not have made before, because they’re being led to it,” Axne said.


She said as a result, the media has been disintegrated to a level where individuals are getting content that reinforces their views, not unbiased truthful reporting that can lead to changes of mind.


Axne, who favors abortion rights, spent some time on what is expected to be a super-charged issue this summer, and into the full election season, in the wake of a leaked U.S. Supreme Court document, which suggests the overturning of the Roe v. Wade is imminent.


Axne said many Republicans are in essence supporting “governmental forced pregnancies.”


“They say they’re the party that’s going to be for freedoms, but in actuality, they’re trying to take away people’s freedoms across the board,” Axne said. “It’s why they wanna gut voting opportunities — because they know their policies aren’t working for America, and the way they can win is from keeping people from going to the polls.”


She hopes the Court’s decision will serve as a reminder of how fragile democracy is and a frightening example of how she believes Republicans want to strip long-standing freedoms from American life.


“If this was really about babies and children, they’d be helping us with child care, they’d be making sure that every child had a full belly when they went to school, they’d be supporting supplemental nutrition assistance programs, instead of the pushback I hear and the hearings I’ve been holding on why they can’t support that,” Axne said.