The 2nd week of the session got off to a busy start. It is exciting to see the priorities laid out by myself and others become bills and start the legislative process. I will provide a quick overview of the capitol this week but please use my contact information at the bottom of this email if you have any questions.
I am the proud sponsor of HF 14 which expands the ages of students who can enroll in preschool in the State of Iowa. Under this bill a child who turns five-years old prior to September 15th but after March 1st will be newly eligible to enroll in preschool with the same level of state support 4-year olds receive.
On Thursday, January 20th the subcommittee for the bill was held and I am hopeful that this can be the year that this bill becomes law. I would like to thank the representatives from the Iowa Community Action Association, United Way, the Iowa Conference of United Methodist Church, the Rural School Advocates of Iowa, Common Good Iowa, the Iowa State Education Association, the Area Education Agencies of Iowa, the Iowa Association of School Boards, and the Iowa Catholic Conference for standing in support of this bill.
The data shows the importance of early education to the future success of our children. This common-sense change to the enrollment eligibility simply expands access and sets the children of Iowa up for success.
2. The Freedom Amendment
This week, the Public Safety Committee is advancing a constitutional amendment to ensure Iowans’ right to keep and bear arms is constitutionally protected. The amendment was passed in 2019 and needs be passed during this general assembly in order to be on the ballot for a public vote in 2022.
The Amendment reads, “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The sovereign state of Iowa affirms and recognizes this right to be a fundamental individual right. Any and all restrictions of this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.”
3. Pro-life amendment
Under the Iowa Constitution and our system of checks and balances the Legislature creates the laws, the Executive carries out the laws, and the Judiciary interprets and applies the laws. Unfortunately, in 2017, the Iowa Supreme Court went beyond simple interpretation and created a right to abortion even though no such right exists in the Iowa Constitution.
House Study Bill 41 was passed by the House Judiciary Committee this week which would clarify that there is no right to an abortion in the Iowa Constitution. The bill would add the following language into the Iowa Constitution:
“Sec. 26. To defend and protect unborn children, we the people of the State of Iowa declare that this Constitution does not recognize, grant, or secure a right to abortion or require the public funding of abortion.”
Iowa’s constitution can only be changed with the consent of the people, this is not a power for Iowa’s courts. If HSB 41 passes both the House and Senate, it then must be brought up again in either the 2023 or 2024 session and also pass both chambers. After that, the amendment is put on the ballot and the people of Iowa can choose if this language should be added to the constitution.
4. K-12 Education
This week, Representatives Landon and Gobble took the first step to ensure parental choice in education by introducing a bill that gives the decision-making power back to the parents when it comes to their child’s education.
The bill states that if a public schools or an accredited nonpublic school offers both in-person and online learning instruction, the parents and guardians will determine which instruction method their child will use.
5. Bar and Restaurant Relief Fund
Governor Reynolds announced a new $40 million dollar fund named the Iowa Restaurant and Bar Relief Grant Program. Businesses can receive up to $25,000 with tiers based on how many sales were lost due to COVID-19.