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Week 3 was a great week for Freedom in the Iowa House. For the right to life, we advanced the Life Amendment, which will help protect the abortion restrictions we currently have in place in Iowa. For the fundamental right to defend ourselves and those we love, we advanced the Freedom Amendment, to place strong protections on the right to keep and bear arms in our State Constitution. For greater parental choice, we passed HF229 to require schools to give parents the option of 100% in-person learning. House Republicans are also moving forward with initiatives to make rural Iowa stronger by increasing access to affordable childcare.

The Life Amendment

  • In 2017 the Iowa Supreme Court went far beyond its purview and declared abortion a constitutional right in Iowa, effectively amending the Constitution by judicial fiat.
  • The Court’s ruling threatens any reasonable restrictions currently in place on abortion, such as our restrictions on late-term abortions and taxpayer-funded abortions. Many who are pro-choice support the restrictions currently in place in Iowa.
  • We cannot allow un-elected, activist judges to re-write our Constitution. We have a process for amending the Constitution, and that process allows the people of Iowa to make the final decision.
  • I am pro-life and I believe that life begins at conception. I supported the Heartbeat bill to restrict abortion after the heartbeat is detected, but contrary to what Democrats are saying, this amendment would not stop one abortion in Iowa. I wish it did, but it would only make the Iowa Constitution neutral on abortion and help protect our current abortion restrictions. Ultimately, the people of Iowa will have the final say once the Life Amendment is on the ballot. It is a necessary step in the fight to protect our precious unborn children. There are other bills moving that will advance the cause of protecting the unborn. We must never stop fighting for life.

The Freedom Amendment

  • Iowa is one of only 6 states that currently has no language in its Constitution that protects the fundamental right to keep and bear arms.
  • The Freedom Amendment explicitly protects the right to keep and bear arms and would prevent a future Legislature or overzealous Judiciary that is hostile to the 2nd Amendment from attacking this fundamental right.
  • Democrats take issue with the “strict scrutiny” language in the amendment. They say this goes beyond what is granted in the US Constitution and threatens any measure taken to protect Iowans against gun violence. This is simply not true. The strict scrutiny standard requires the government to prove the law is narrowly tailored to further a “compelling government interest,” cutting down needless regulations that go too far and infringe on Iowans’ right to bear arms. The prohibition against felons owning firearms was upheld in Louisiana, which has strict scrutiny language, because it was a narrowly tailored requirement in support of the compelling government interest of preventing felons from owning firearms. Reasonable regulations, such as preventing felons from possessing firearms and background checks are not in danger, despite the misinformation being produced by those who seek to have this right destroyed.
  • 44 States currently have some sort of language protecting the right to keep & bear arms. Unfortunately, the wisdom born of experience tells us that in many of those states egregious gun-control laws that assault 2nd Amendment rights have been enacted and upheld. Hawaii adopted 2nd Amendment language in 1959 but they have severe gun control restrictions – no permits to carry firearms have been issued in years. Delaware adopted 2nd Amendment protections in 1987 and yet their “May Issue” permit system requires that applicants must publish their applications in large-circulation newspapers, have it notarized and submitted with completed questionnaires from at least 5 “respectable” citizens, whatever that means, along with passport photos and two sets of fingerprints. Illinois has recognized the right to keep & bear arms since 1970, yet their weak language resulted in a refusal to issue permits, which was declared unconstitutional and “Irrational” by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in 2012. These examples reflect why strict scrutiny language is needed.
  •  If there were changes in U.S. Supreme Court rulings, or hostility from state politicians or courts to 2nd Amendment rights, Iowa would not currently have any state level protections to fall back on. Passage of this amendment, with the strict scrutiny language, will be a strong firewall of protection.
  • Numerous bills have been advanced by Democrats in the Iowa House who are hostile to the 2nd Amendment, demonstrating why this amendment is needed in our Constitution. Here are just a few: HF 65 (May Issue) Sponsored by Democrat Representative Bruce Hunter- Returns Iowa to a “May Issue” state instead of “Shall Issue,” giving control to Sheriffs over who gets a permit. This means if a Sheriff does not like the 2nd Amendment, the permit is denied, instead of the current system in which the permit must be issued unless there is a legal reason not to do so (felony conviction for example). Democrats supported making Iowa a “Shall Issue” state in 2010 but now they do not; HF 129 (Magazine Ban) Sponsored by Democrat Representatives Hunter, Olson, Wessel-Kroeschell, Wilburn (just elected Chair of the Iowa Democrat Party), Staed and Mascher – It bans anyone from owning, selling, or transferring any magazine that holds more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The law immediately criminalizes anyone who owns these commonly held magazines, including law enforcement. A majority of firearms owned by law-abiding Americans take a standard magazine that holds more than 10 rounds; HF 131 (“Assault Style” Weapons Ban) Sponsored by Democrat Representatives Hunter, Olson, Wessel-Kroeschell, Wilburn, Staed and Mascher – This bill bans weapons based solely on how they look under a totally made-up class of weapons. Anyone who buys or sells one is criminalized. There is no exception for law enforcement. These are just a few examples of attempts to incrementally destroy 2nd Amendment rights in Iowa.
  • The Freedom Amendment will be on the ballot in 2022 for the people to decide.

Parental Choice in Education (HF229)

  • This bill requires schools to present parents with the option of sending their children for 100% in-person learning, giving parents a choice and voice in their child’s education.
  • Parents would choose which of the options the school provides.
  • Our local school districts are already doing a great job with this. Unfortunately, in other parts of the state this is not the case. Des Moines is the most horrific example in which leaders of the school district have played politics at the expense of their students and refused to offer 100% in-person learning.
  • A recently released CDC study found that K-12 school in-person learning does not lead to increases in COVID-19 compared to areas that have online-only learning.
  • Governor Reynolds signed HF229 into law on Friday, January 29th.
  • Other initiatives to expand parental choice are also being explored.

Childcare

  • Republicans in the Iowa House advanced legislation in week 3 to address Iowa’s need to expand access to affordable, quality childcare.
  • These bills are part of a legislative package brought forward by House Republicans to increase the childcare workforce, increase provider rates to maintain existing childcare facilities, provide incentives to develop new childcare facilities, and help hard-working families afford the high cost of childcare.
  • Iowa was facing a childcare crisis before COVID-19 began and it has gotten worse.
  • 81 Child Care Centers and 41 Child Care Development Homes have closed since March, making it even more difficult for parents to find affordable childcare for their family.
  • Actions being taken by House Republicans:
  • HSB3: Addresses the Child Care “cliff effect” by establishing a state funded off-ramp from Child Care Assistance that will gradually increase cost-sharing from families as they increase their income. Status: Passed out of Human Resources Committee
  • HSB2: Provides significant rate increases to childcare providers accepting Child Care Assistance. Status: Passed out of Human Resources Committee
  • HF230: A bill to double the income eligibility for the childcare tax credit from $45,000 to $90,000. Status: Passed out of Ways and Means Committee
  • HF6: A bill that aims to expand the childcare workforce in the state by creating a childcare workforce grants program to bring childcare workers to eligible communities. Status: Passed out of Human Resources Committee
  • HSB7: Will increase access to childcare, particularly in rural areas, by allowing nonregistered childcare homes to increase by one school-aged child. Status: Passed out of Human Resources Committee.
  • HF3: Allows the building of onsite daycare facilities or expansion of existing daycare facilities to qualify as projects under the high-quality jobs program, qualifying them for tax incentives or project completion assistance. Status: Passed out of Economic Growth Subcommittee
  • HF2: Creates tax incentives for developers that construct childcare facilities. Status: Passed out of Economic Growth Subcommittee

Democrats have suggested that we should be focusing on COVID-19 relief instead of “guns and abortion.” This is truly disingenuous, as they are well aware, we can accomplish a myriad of initiatives at the same time. Of course, they do not want to discuss abortion and they will never discuss the reality that there are two beating hearts and two souls involved in abortion, with one being forever silenced. This issue is of profound importance, but Democrats are beholden to Planned Parenthood money and have become increasingly extreme on abortion, with some even supporting abortion up to the day of birth. When it comes to the 2nd Amendment, just like abortion, many Democrats have become increasingly hostile to it, and it is their actions on the state and federal level that have necessitated action to protect this fundamental right. Unfortunately, not one Democrat voted in favor of the Freedom Amendment, reflecting their hardening position to this fundamental right.

House Republicans have been prioritizing many pieces of legislation that will provide relief to Iowans during this difficult time. This includes legislation to get our kids back in school, expand access to quality and affordable childcare, liability protection for businesses so they can reopen, and many more. We will continue to move forward with the priorities we campaigned on and keep our promises to the people of Iowa, and as federal funds are used, we will evaluate the need for state assistance to help families and businesses impacted by Covid-19 and take action as needed.

Author: Steven Holt