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The Iowa House concluded the final year of the 90th General Assembly at 4:23am on Saturday, April 20th. It was a highly productive session with many pieces of great legislation passed, and is always the case, some important business that did not make it across the finish line. In this edition of Freedom Watch, I will highlight what was accomplished and what was not.

Top Accomplishments


  • Raised beginning teacher pay to the fifth highest in the nation, set the minimum standard salary for 12-year teachers to $62,000, and allocated an additional $14 million to raise pay for paraprofessionals. These increases will be funded by the state.
  • Reformed AEA funding to create more accountability and flexibility for schools, while protecting the core AEA mission of delivering Special Education Services. Also created a task force made up of Iowa stakeholders to make recommendations on additional improvements in the delivery of special education services and reestablished a Special Education Division within the Department of Education to ensure compliance and accountability.
  • Made our students and staff safer in school with investment in school safety infrastructure and by lowering emergency response times with the creation of a new voluntary permit program allowing staff to carry firearms if they meet the high standards of training laid out in the bill. Schools may also use School Resource Officers or private security if training requirements are met.
  • Prioritized history and civics in K-12 education, a long overdue imperative if our Republic is to endure. We mandated that critical American history and Western Civilization be covered and also directed that the Holocaust be taught, so that such horrors never happen in our own country (recent events on college campuses show the importance of this initiative). We further directed the Department of Education to do a thorough review of all curriculum standards to ensure they are setting teachers and students up for success.
  • Prohibited Iowa’s regent universities from spending one dime on so-called “diversity, equity and inclusion” offices that divide students, silence conservative voices, and impose ideological conformity on campus, outside of what is required by law. These programs turn the dream of Dr. King on its head, teaching our children to judge by skin color instead of character.
  • Refocused our universities away from training “social justice warriors” and back to preparing a strong workforce ready to fill high-demand jobs in Iowa.


  • Once again, we delivered significant income tax relief for all taxpaying Iowans by speeding up the implementation of the flat tax and lowering the rate to 3.8%, to be implemented in 2025. These tax cuts are sustainable, our reserve and emergency funds are full, and we have several billion dollars in reserve to ensure these cuts can be paid for responsibly while meeting the priorities of Iowans.

The Rule of Law:

  • Gave Iowa law enforcement additional policy tools and $2 million of new money to protect Iowans from illegal immigration and related crimes such as illegal drugs and human trafficking. This was a priority I worked on and floor-managed.
  • Supported law enforcement with additional investment in the Department of Public Safety and Iowa Law Enforcement Academy, and with policies such as covering costs for peace officers moving to Iowa. Also ensured a person cannot receive bail for the murder of a police or corrections officer.
  • Created additional laws and tools for law enforcement to deal with organized retail crime and smash & grab mobs. These were initiatives I worked on with our county attorneys and businesses.
  • Gave badly needed pay increases to our judges and created additional incentives for indigent defense.

Health Care:

  • Continued to fund financial assistance programs for health care professionals who stay in Iowa and serve the communities in need of greater access to care.
  • Increased funding for nursing homes and allocated money to the Department of Inspections & Appeals which could be used for additional inspectors.

Economic Growth:

  • Incentivized businesses of all sizes to choose Iowa as their home and targeted investment in rural Iowa with the creation of a new certified sites program to spur economic development in counties with less than 50,000 people.

Protecting Our Founding Values:

  • Protected Freedom of Religion by passing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which prohibits government entities from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion unless there is a compelling government interest (I floor-managed this legislation).
  • Banned Guaranteed Income Programs that assault our work ethic and march us further down the destructive path of socialism (I floor-managed this legislation).

Did Not Make It Across the Finish Line

Election Integrity:

  • Continued our track record of ensuring safe and secure elections in Iowa by making updates to our absentee ballot system and removing unnecessary drop box locations. Unfortunately, the Senate did not pass this bill.


  • Passed legislation to cut property taxes for childcare providers by allowing childcare facilities to be taxed at the residential rollback rate rather than the commercial rate. Unfortunately, this bill died in the Senate.

Eminent Domain:

  • Last year the House passed legislation I helped write to protect landowners by requiring at least 90% voluntary easements be granted before eminent domain could be requested for the CO2 pipelines, and the Senate refused to take it up. This year, we passed legislation requiring courts to issue a declaratory judgement up front on the constitutionality of eminent domain requests if challenged by landowners, in order to keep landowners from being in limbo for years as the process plays out. Once again, the Senate refused to act. The issue of eminent domain for private economic development projects is a profoundly important one that should have been addressed in order to protect the fundamental right of private property. The House will continue working on this issue.

Legislative & Staff Pay:

  • Legislators are paid $25,000 a year and have not received a pay increase since 2007. If this is not addressed, only the wealthy, the retired and those owning businesses with flexibility in their schedules will be able to run for office. This is not acceptable and will lead to representation that does not reflect the makeup of Iowa’s population. We already have young legislators leaving because they simply cannot afford to serve. We are also losing good staff and are having difficulty replacing them, because the pay is not competitive. These issues must be addressed to ensure the legislature continues to represent all the people of Iowa. The House passed legislation to address these issues, but the Senate did not take it up.

I am incredibly proud of what Republicans have accomplished in the last few years. The list is impressive.

Republicans understood the importance of allowing parents to choose the best educational setting for their children, and that is why we passed school choice. Many of our public schools and educators are doing it right, but this does not change the fact that if the child is the priority as opposed to the system, passing school choice was clearly the right decision.

In response to some public schools ignoring parents and imposing a leftist agenda on their children that included telling second graders they could choose their gender, allowing children to change their gender without parental consent, being unwilling to remove clearly age-inappropriate books from school shelves, holding drag queen shows and teaching Critical Race Theory, we passed laws to stop the indoctrination, respect parental rights and ensure age-appropriate materials are in our schools.

To protect our children from a profoundly harmful transgender agenda that includes erasing our daughters, we have protected women’s sports, mandated that bathroom use in schools be based on biology and prohibited gender reassignment procedures and puberty blockers for minor children.

As other states abandoned the rule of law in favor of a far-left agenda, we have strengthened enforcement and backed the Blue with more funding, not less.

We have taken a bold stand for the unborn by passing the Heartbeat bill twice and continue to fight for it in the courts.

We now have the strongest 2nd Amendment protections in the nation, as a result of relentless efforts by Republicans to make it so.

We have taken Iowa from one of the least competitive tax structures in the nation to one of the most competitive, and Iowa is now the model in the nation for tax reform. We have done so in a way that ensures sustainability and protects our priorities.

There are many more successes I could share, but this newsletter is already running long. I look forward to continuing to share our accomplishments with the people, in standing boldly for our tried and proven founding principles.

Author: Steven Holt


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