Hinson in Vinton

U.S. Congresswoman Ashley Hinson speaks during a visit to Vinton on Thursday in an open conversation with members of the Benton Development Group and local leaders.

U.S. Congresswoman Ashley Hinson (R-IA) was back in Iowa last week and made her first trip to Vinton in her newly-elected capacity to meet with the Benton Development Group and local leaders at the county service center for an open conversation.

“I feel having these kinds of conversations is super important, so that we keep that line of communication open,” Hinson said. “It brought up action items and I can take back with me to Washington DC and work on with my staff. Having these open discussion meetings is important.”

Among conversations brought up were issues communicating with FEMA regarding derecho damage from this August in Belle Plaine, facilitating grant money for water management projects in floodplain areas, avoiding school vouchers at a federal level. Belle Plaine Mayor Dave Fish and City Administrator Steve Beck addressed how FEMA’s message to them regarding funds for tree damage had changed back and forth over the course of the last six months since the storm. Hinson took notes and her staff will be in contact with FEMA.

Among the biggest topics was the proposed minimum wage increase to $15, which Hinson made her stance clear she was against raising to that level.

“I’ve been traveling through the district for the past week and a half, and if there’s one common theme that I’m hearing it’s that a $15 minimum wage hike would be devastating for Iowa,” Hinson said. “Small businesses are trying to recover from the pandemic and a $15 minimum wage would kill jobs. It would force automation and force cutting hours. It’s not the right solution right now and it shouldn’t be in a coronavirus relief package proposed by the President.”

Hinson noted even as a state legislator in Iowa she believed the minimum wage should be based on the cost of living in Iowa. She is open to raising the minimum wage to what each individual state needs rather than pushing through a federal mandate.

“$15 may be right for California, but it’s not right for Iowa,” Hinson said. “Our unemployment is really low in Iowa, so the competition for workers is high right now. That in itself drives wages higher. The natural market is dictating that wages should be higher.”

Kate Robertson, Director of Benton Development Group, wanted the meeting’s conversation to be “open ended” in a casual setting. She praised Hinson for her support of rural Iowa and felt the conversations “in whole were fantastic.”

“I just told everyone to come prepared and ask the questions that they’re interested in finding an answer to,” Robertson said. “I think that Ashley really dug into the FEMA questions, which is big for these communities. We need to get to the bottom of these issues each community is individually facing with FEMA.”

The meeting lasted approximately 50 minutes and Hinson took time to speak with attendees afterwards as well. She encouraged anyone with additional questions or needing to address further concerns, such as struggles with FEMA, to keep in contact with her local offices in Cedar Rapids, Dubuque or Waterloo. Contact information can be found at hinson.house.gov.

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