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This week, I was honored to floor manage to passage in the House three of the most important bills we will do this session. In total, there were four pieces of legislation that passed this week that were of great importance in the fight to preserve the freedoms that we all enjoy. In this week’s edition of Freedom Watch, I will highlight these accomplishments.

Protecting the right to free speech at Iowa’s public universities and in our K-12 schools has been a top priority for House Republicans across many different committees this session. Many of us heard from students at our regent universities who spoke of a cancel culture that left them fearful to speak out for their values. Many expressed the view that they would be “canceled” by fellow students and professors and staff for their conservative values and would be given bad grades if they did not submit papers that supported the views of their “woke” educators.

It has become increasingly clear that we have a systemic assault on conservative thought taking place on our regent university campuses, often with the support and involvement of university faculty and staff that should know better. Each of our three universities had an egregious case in which the rights of students to express their views were violated. A school’s role is to educate, not indoctrinate students into a certain political ideology, therefore, we took action with two pieces of legislation, HF744 and HF802. Representative Dustin Hite successfully managed HF744 to passage in order to protect the right of free speech.

HF 744 – Protecting Free Speech in Schools and on Campus

  • Provides additional free speech protections for students and staff in K-12 schools and college campuses.
  • Prohibits faculty and staff from intentionally violating the free speech of students and allows disciplinary measures if violations occur.
  • Requires free speech training at all Regent universities for students and faculty.

It also became clear this session that in addition to free speech violations, there is indoctrination hidden under the name of diversity training being mandated in taxpayer funded institutions in Iowa. The divisive concepts taught in critical race theory teach the opposite of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s vision of judging based on character instead of race. These concepts stem from the Marxist philosophy that there are only two groups – oppressor and oppressed, and have core concepts that are divisive, racist, and un-American. I floor-managed to passage HF-802 to address this issue.

HF802 – Prohibiting Race-Based & Gender Stereotyping in Training & Curriculum

  • Prohibits training or curriculum that present certain divisive concepts that rely on race or gender-based stereotypes as fact.
  • It does not ban or limit diversity trainings, or limit the teaching of African American history, as the Democrats suggested during floor debate.
  • The divisive concepts outlined in this bill, often referred to as critical race theory, are advanced in the name of fighting racism, but are in fact concepts steeped in racism.
  • These concepts label, stereotype, and demonize people based on their race, gender, or sexual identity, rather than to judge people on the content of their character.
  • They divide us instead of uniting us, creating hostility against our nation, while suppressing the speech of anyone who disagrees by suggesting that those who disagree are automatically racist.
  • These divisive concepts create hostile work and learning environments.
  • We cannot fight racism with more racism. We must teach the good, the bad and the ugly in our history, but not in a way that scapegoats and stereotypes entire groups of people.

These are the divisive concepts we prohibited from being trained without being part of a larger course of academic instruction:

  • That one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex.
  • That the United States of America and the state of Iowa are fundamentally or systemically racist or sexist.
  • That an individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.
  • That an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of the individual’s race or sex.
  • That members of one race or sex cannot and should not attempt to treat others without regard to race or sex.
  • That an individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by the individual’s race or sex.
  • That an individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.
  • That any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of that individual’s race or sex.
  • That meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist, or were created by a particular race to oppress another race.
  • Any other form of race or sex scapegoating or any other form of race or sex stereotyping.

I helped write and floor-manage this legislation to passage on the House floor.  We must see this type of ideology for what it is; the harsh reality is that these Marxist concepts are meant to divide us, not unite us, and it must be stopped. Many teachers reached out and expressed horror that they were being pressured to teach these concepts. Free speech and academic freedom are not absolute, particularly when taxpayer money is being used to teach concepts that could cause great harm to our children and our country. This legislation will help, but now parents must get involved and hold those who teach our children accountable for their actions if they are advancing this dangerous and destructive ideology as fact without opposing viewpoints.

Anyone who follows the news knows that our 2nd Amendment rights are under assault as never before. Those who fear freedom more than tyranny are seeking to destroy the right to keep and bear arms through whatever means possible. As a result, House Republicans are moving boldly to do all we can on the state level to protect this fundamental right. This session we already passed the Freedom Amendment, placing a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot to put the right to keep & bear arms in the Iowa Constitution. This week we took additional action with the passage of two important bills, both of which I floor-managed.

HF621 – Limited Immunity for Firearms Manufacturers
President Joe Biden is on record saying he believes the firearms industry is the enemy and he supports removal of federal protections enacted during the Bush Administration, with bi-partisan support, to protect the firearms and ammunition industry from frivolous lawsuits intended to put them out of business. Andrew Cuomo exposed the true intentions of those who hate the 2nd Amendment when he stated he wanted “death by a thousand cuts” for the firearms industry. Therefore, this week House Republicans acted by passing HF621.

  • This bill establishes the commonsense standard that the responsibility for criminal acts with a firearm and ammunition is the perpetrator of the act, not the manufacturer of the firearm or ammunition. Just as we do not sue automobile manufacturers when a drunk driver uses their vehicle illegally and injuries to others result, so we should not allow lawsuits against gun and ammunition manufacturers for illegal and immoral use of their products. Any instrument made by man can be used for good or evil intent. The responsibility rests with the individual.
  • Manufacturers would still be held accountable for defective firearms or ammunition.

2nd Amendment advocates have worked for years to pass Constitutional Carry in Iowa. The concept is simple; law-abiding citizens should not have to pay a government fee and get a permission slip to practice this basic, fundamental right of self-defense. We can do this and still make the system better and Iowans safer. HF756 does just that.

HF 756 – 2nd Amendment Omnibus Bill

  • This bill will improve public safety by ensuring law-abiding citizens can protect themselves immediately, tightening the requirements for private sales, and allowing law enforcement officers to carry on school grounds, both on and off duty.
  • This bill does not eliminate background checks as is being falsely claimed by some disingenuous Democrats who believe their fellow citizens cannot be trusted with a firearm. To the contrary, this legislation will likely increase the amount and frequency of federal background checks on gun purchases.

Current System

Here is how the process works right now when purchasing a gun from a federally licensed firearms dealer:
-I get a permit, which first requires a background check, and that permit is good for 5 years.
-Anytime I purchase a gun in those 5 years, I show my permit and I walk out with the firearm without additional background check.

Here is how the process would work under the bill:

-I could still get a permit if I so choose, but if I do not, I go through a background check EVERY SINGLE TIME I purchase a gun.

CONCLUSION: More background checks at licensed dealers under this bill.

Here is how the process works right now when purchasing a gun through a private sale:
-The law requires that the seller asks to see my permit.
-I show the seller my permit. The seller does not know if that permit is still valid and does not know if I have done anything to render me incapable of passing a background check since being issued the permit.
-If the seller sells the firearm without asking to see my permit, it is an aggravated misdemeanor for both the seller and me. Punishable by up to two years in jail and a fine between $625-6250.

How the private sale process would work under this bill:
-The seller MUST KNOW that I am not prohibited from purchasing a firearm. If the seller does not know me well enough to be sure, they can visit a licensed dealer to run a background check on me and sell the firearm on consignment.
-If I am caught with a firearm I cannot legally possess, it will be traced back to the seller. The seller will be subject to a Class D Felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of at least $750 but not more than $7500, and the loss of their right to carry or purchase a firearm.

CONCLUSION: Sellers will not want to take this huge risk and more background checks will occur on private sales under this bill.

Background checks are what make people safer, and they will almost certainly increase under this bill, while also finally treating the right to keep and bear arms as a fundamental right instead of a privilege.

The debate on this legislation was very telling, as Democrats repeatedly mischaracterized the bill and what it will do. Based upon the numerous bills filed in the last few years by House Democrats to assault the 2nd Amendment in Iowa, and their comments during debate on this bill, those who value freedom should take comfort that Democrats are not in charge of government in Iowa. They do not trust their fellow citizens, and while they claim to support the 2nd Amendment, their actions suggest otherwise.

Author: Steven Holt