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This week has been a busy week with Funnel Week and making sure bills that I consider a priority stay alive and move forward through the legislative process.  As we move through the legislative process, I am reminded that we look towards the U.S. Constitution and the State Constitution many times a day to ensure that what we are doing fits the criteria of being constitutional.  This is important to me because I have sworn an oath to uphold that Constitution when I joined the military and again when I was sworn in to be your State Legislator.


The other day, in talking with a person, they said, “What is the Constitution good for, anyway?” and I did a doubletake.  I have had over 30 years of my life “bound” to upholding the Constitution and basically swore to give my life to protect the Constitution.  I didn’t feel like I could give that person a wonderful answer as to what the Constitution is good for, except that we are a country where the rule of law is important, and the Constitution gives us that rule of law.

So, why is either the State or the Federal Constitution important to you, me, and the rest of the country? Well, First and foremost, it does provide the basis for all fundamental rights of citizens, and it gives the federal government what its power and responsibilities are.  Secondly, the Constitution ensures peace and order in the country, outlines the duties and responsibilities of the three branches of the government, and creates the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches.  Thirdly, the Constitution integrates all the states and ensures the integrity of those states and the unity of those states.

Finally, it clearly defines the duties and accountabilities of the branches of the government.
The Constitution gives the national and State governments certain powers that are often called enumerated, expressed, or delegated powers.  Most people don’t know this, but only a few powers are granted to the federal government.  Those powers are the power to coin money, regulate commerce, declare war, maintain armed forces, and establish a post office.

Beyond that, the Constitution mostly restricts the federal government’s powers.  With the passage of the 10th Amendment, it states explicitly that all powers not given to the federal government are enumerated to the State Governments.

So, what does that all mean?

On February 16, the Iowa House passed, for the 2nd year in a row, the most significant tax cut this State has ever seen.  Last year we passed the first, biggest tax cut in history, and this year we passed another. That would have never happened if the Constitution did not spell out how the states and the federal government interact.

With the passage of one of the COVID relief bills, Congress, and the President, told the states that they could not reduce taxes.  Many states joined a lawsuit against that unconstitutional law and ended up winning in court.  The finding was that the Federal Legislative and Executive branches did not have the authority or power to tell states they couldn’t regulate their taxes.

So, because the State of Iowa desired to have autonomy and joined in with a lawsuit, the average family in Iowa will, over the course of the two tax cuts from last year and this year, will save an average of $2,300 per year in taxes.  If our Constitution had been vague or poorly written, then it is likely that our desire to return your hard-earned and over-collected dollars to your pocket would have been stopped by a poorly thought out law.

Our Constitution, both on the federal side and the state side, are important documents that need to be studied and understood by all Iowans so that these sorts of overreaches by the federal government can be stopped.  We have the greatest country on Earth and in the history of our planet, and our Constitution and what it does is the cornerstone of that greatness.

Author: John Wills

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