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Week 2 of the 89th General Assembly has been highly productive, as Republicans move forward with the priorities Iowans elected us to accomplish.

This Week’s Hot Topics

  1. Parental Choice in 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 school or an accredited nonpublic school offers both in-person and online learning instruction, the parents/guardians will determine which instruction method their child will use.

Why is this important?

  • Parents need to have a greater voice in their children’s schooling. Right now, many parents do not feel they are being heard.
  • Some schools, such as in our legislative district, have made great effort to provide in-person learning. But in some areas of the state, students are being trapped in situations that are not what is best for them.
  • A recently released CDC study found that K-12 schools do not lead to increases in COVID-19 compared to areas that have online-only learning.
  • One of the legislature’s top priorities will be to ensure that every family that wants 100% in-person learning can get it.

Education Savings Accounts (ESA’s) and Vouchers

  • Republicans are committed to ensuring greater parental choice in education. How we achieve that can look many different ways. At this point, all options are on the table and we will be engaging in discussions on specific policy suggestions throughout the session.

On the Education subcommittee vote to eliminate diversity plans

  • Diversity plans are inhibiting parental choice in education. Schools in a handful of districts can overrule a parent’s decision to enroll their child in another school by citing these diversity plans. Republicans are committed to ensuring parental choice in education and this is one step forward in achieving that.
  1. The Life Amendment

This week, I advanced out of the Judiciary Committee new language for a constitutional amendment to re-establish that no right to an abortion exists in the Iowa Constitution. The right to abortion in Iowa had always come from federal law, until an activist Iowa Supreme Court effectively amended the Iowa Constitution and created that right out of thin air two years ago.

The Amendment reads, “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.”

This amendment would have to pass during this General Assembly and again in either 2023 or 2024 before it could appear on the ballot in 2024.

Why is this important?

  • In 2017 the Iowa Supreme Court went far beyond its purview and declared abortion a constitutional right in Iowa.
  • The Court’s ruling threatens any reasonable restrictions on abortion, such as restrictions on late-term abortions and taxpayer-funded abortions. Many who are pro-choice even support these restrictions.
  • We cannot allow un-elected judges to re-write our Constitution. We have a process for amending the Constitution, and that process allows the people of Iowa to have a say.
  1. The Freedom Amendment

This week, I will advance out of the Public Safety Committee a constitutional amendment to ensure Iowans’ right to keep and bear arms is protected in our State Constitution. 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.”

Why is this important?

  • Iowa is one of only 6 states that currently has no language in it’s Constitution that protects the fundamental right to keep and bear arms.
  • This amendment will help protect a fundamental, God-given right for Iowans and guard against any future Legislature or overzealous Judiciary that is hostile to the Second amendment.
  1. Iowa Continues to Distribute COVID Vaccine Statewide

This week, the House Human Resources Committee had a presentation from the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) on the current and future status of COVID-19 vaccinations in Iowa.

Based on CDC guidance, Iowa has prioritized residents of long-term care and health care workers in Phase 1A distribution of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Residents of long-term care have been hit hardest by this virus and health care workers are essential to maintaining access to health care throughout this public health emergency. As of Monday, January 11, there have been 96,686 doses administered in Iowa.

IDPH is planning to expand the number of populations eligible for the vaccine once 60% to 70% of the health care workforce has been vaccinated statewide. At the committee meeting, IDPH announced that they believe that expansion to Phase 1B populations will begin around February 1. Much of the expansion to additional populations will depend on how much vaccine is allocated to Iowa from the CDC.
According to IDPH and the Infectious Disease Advisory Council, Phase 1B will be distributed to those Iowans that are 75 years and older, or the following vulnerable populations:

  • Individuals with disabilities living in home settings
  • Correctional facility staff and individuals incarcerated
  • Staff and residents of congregate settings (shelters, sober living homes, behavioral health treatment centers, detention centers. This does not include college dorms)
  • Locations where public health data indicates outbreaks or clusters of disease among food, agriculture, distribution, and manufacturing workers
  • PK-12 school staff, early childhood education, and childcare workers
  • First responders

Author: Steven Holt


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