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Protect Life Amendment: This amendment says there is no right to abortion in the Iowa Constitution nor any right to the funding of it. It does not ban abortion or change any current abortion laws. It simply restores the right of the people through their elected representatives, not unelected judges, to make laws going forward regarding protections for unborn life. It now goes over to the Senate for consideration. Once passed, it must go before the next legislature elected in 2022 for their consideration.

2nd Amendment:  This amendment guarantees Iowans the “right to keep and bear arms”.  Iowa is one of 6 states that does not have a “2nd Amendment” in our state constitution. It now goes over to the Senate for consideration and once passed, it will go on the ballot in 2022. If a majority of Iowans approve it, it will go into Iowa’s constitution.

In-Person Learning: This bill requires schools to give parents an in-person learning option. This issue came up because, while most districts found ways to get students safely back to school fulltime, a few refused even at the urgent requests of working parents. This will ensure that every family that wants in-person learning will be able to get it.

Studies show that keeping kids out of the classroom has resulted in significant learning loss, so getting this bill passed to get kids back in school has been a high priority. The governor has already signed it.

During debate much concern was expressed about whether the school environment into which students were returning fulltime would be safe. Studies are now indicating schools contribute very little to the spread of COVID-19.

Veteran Property Tax Exemption:  County Veteran Service Officers are required to verify the eligibility of veterans when they apply for a property tax exemption.

Coast Guard Service:  Requires the state to give the same employment benefits to the Coast Guard as is already done for members of the other armed services. Will also apply to members of the Space Force as they become eligible.

Bills Being Considered in Committees
Voting Constitutional Amendment:  Iowa’s Constitution still says a person must be 21 to vote. This amendment changes the age to 18 and clarifies that only citizens can vote.

Sexual Assault: This bill ensures a person who is convicted of a sexual assault during a burglary will be placed on the sex offender registry.

Disorderly Conduct:  The Iowa Supreme Court ruled Iowa’s disorderly conduct law unconstitutional. This bill takes in to consideration the concern of the court and requires that a person charged with disorderly conduct be acting intentionally or recklessly.

Political Ideology:  Currently, the Iowa civil rights code protects the following classes of Iowans against various forms of discrimination:  age, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion, disability. This bill adds political ideology to the Iowa civil rights code. Anti-free speech movements and ideologies have become more and more pervasive within the media, big tech companies and higher education with “cancel culture” and their attacks on the speech, jobs, opportunities and livelihoods of those who hold political convictions that run differently from them.

Public Safety Equipment:  Our “Fund the Police” bill. This bill would create a fund for public safety equipment needs. This money would not revert back to the general fund each year and allow the Department of Public Safety to plan for equipment needs such as: ballistic vests, state patrol vehicles, and other necessary safety equipment.

State-Sponsored Research:  This bill requires a taxpayer institution of higher education (Regents) that does research to disclose the sponsor of and payor for the research. Because our Regents universities are taxpayer-funded institutions, they are responsible to disclose to the public the sponsors and payors of research they conduct. Sponsors have their own priorities, interests, and agendas. They are influencing work that is done at Iowa’s universities. It is in the best interest of the taxpayers of Iowa to ensure that the influence these sponsors are having is in harmony with the interests and priorities of the state of Iowa and its citizens and taxpayers.

Judicial Accountability Bill: This bill offers a novel idea for the committee to explore: The House and the Senate would be allowed to overturn an Iowa Supreme Court decision with a 2/3’rds vote. That action has to be accomplished within a year of the decision.

This bill would bolster the power of the legislative branch, which has lost power to the judicial branch over many decades due to the strong exercise of the doctrine of judicial review, especially when the courts have been activist. Judicial review, of course, is the check that the judicial branch has on the legislative branch, which is appropriate. Judicial review has been a part of our court system for over 200 years.

The legislative branch has 2 checks on the judicial branch. One is that of initiating the amendment process to overturn a decision of the courts. That has not been often used but is being used now with the Protect Life Amendment. The amendment process is a laborious and burdensome process to implement compared to the process of judicial review, which is fairly simple and straightforward.

The second check is the power of impeachment, which is not being used because unless there are egregious personal acts on the part of judges, it is uncertain what actions qualify for impeachment.

This leaves the legislative branch with a less powerful corresponding means of checking the judicial branch. The judicial branch has a much stronger means to check the legislative branch than does the legislative branch to check the judicial branch.

Co-equal is not how the Founders intended our republican form of government to work. As James Madison said in Federalist #51:  “the legislative authority necessarily predominates.”

Alexander Hamilton explains in Federalist #78: “The judiciary, from the nature of its functions, will always be the least dangerous to the political rights of the Constitution…The judiciary is, beyond comparison, the weakest of the three departments of power….and the general liberty of the people can never be endangered from that quarter.” The reason he said that is because the Founders specifically withheld all policy-making powers from the judiciary. When the delegates at the Constitutional Convention considered a proposal to expand the power of the judiciary into the legislative policy-making process, that proposal was soundly defeated. Obviously, the Founders’ clear constitutional design has been ignored. The courts are no longer simply one branch among three; they are now, literally, the “supreme” branch. Far too many of our current policies are not the result of legislative action but rather of judicial decrees. The courts have become policy-makers, assuming legislative powers that belong only to the legislative branch. Rufus King, signer of the Constitution, and framer of the Bill of Rights said “The judges must interpret the laws; they ought not to be legislators.”

This bill gives the legislative branch another check to help balance out more evenly the power the judicial branch has with its check of judicial review.

All pretty interesting….your thoughts?

Author: Sandy Salmon