As the lone Republican member of the Iowa House to vote against the HHS budget, Rep. Megan Jones (R-Sioux Rapids) said it was not the language in the bill that pulled funding for sex education from Planned Parenthood that influenced her vote.
Jones voted against the amendment as well as the bill.
Instead, it was the lack of a solution to solve a data collection problem that exists within Iowa.
“I actually really liked (the Planned Parenthood) language,” she said. “There were a lot of provisions in that bill that related to data collection and we are finding more and more data collection by our government and I think at some point we have to speak out and say enough is enough. We have to reign that in.”
The amendment also stripped the requirement for Iowa Medicaid (taxpayers) to pay for sex reassignment surgeries.
“I waited until we had 51 votes up there because I wanted that Planned Parenthood language, but I did vote against it because I wanted to bring more attention to the fact that these data collection policies are just scary,” Jones said. “Rather than fueling the fire more, we need to be talking about that situation and how we can have an off ramp and better protect Iowans’ health data.”
Jones cited Sen. Jake Chapman (R-Adel) from earlier in the session. She said he exposed the fact that the Department of Public Health has about 70 million records and there is no retention policy. Fourteen million of those are identifiable health records. She said she thinks many people believe HIPPA protects those records, but it does not.
“The government still has access to those,” she said. “It’s really concerning when it comes to hackers. I think we have to have a greater conversation about that.”
Jones voted for the HHS budget originally. However the Senate amended the bill and that required the House to vote again.
She also voted against the amendment that forces judicial nominating reform.
“Well, you know, I think people don’t want the court to be politicized and I totally get that,” she said. “I agreed with about 95 percent of that bill. My problem with that bill came down to that they made the chief justice run for that spot every two years.”
Currently the chief justice carries that title for an eight-year term.
“There’s already some discussions going on about how calls are being made and things are already becoming politicized and the bill hasn’t even been signed yet,” Jones said. “People are making phone calls and trying to advocate for that position and the bill hasn’t even been signed yet. That two-year turnaround is very quick.”
Jones said the judiciary is an entity that needs to be “very stable and very consistent.”
“It just didn’t sit well to have that every two years,” she said of the vote for chief justice. “I just wish we could’ve bumped that number up or figured out something — a better process there if the concern was the chief justice wasn’t being held accountable, that there was something else we could’ve done.”
House members are familiar with having to run for election every two years.
“Basically you’re always running for election,” she said. “I worry could (the court) be trading? ‘I’ll vote for you if you vote for this order.’ It just really is unsettling. I think we need to do some more research there before we start down the road of two years.”
The idea of the chief justice running for the post every two years makes Jones “nervous.”
During his closing remarks, Rep. Steve Holt (R-Denison) said nine other states have a term of two years or less for their chief justice. He asked the members of the House to imagine voting for its leadership every eight years. And, he noted, Iowa has the longest serving chief justice without any course for removal.
Jones, who also voted against campus free speech in 2019 and was a no on a bill in 2018 that addressed sanctuary cities and counties, serves District 2. There are 8,451 registered Republicans and 4,359 registered Democrats in her district along with 7,114 registered No Party voters.
The Iowa Standard will speak with Jones about her votes on campus free speech as well as the sanctuary city/county bill so readers can understand her reasoning for not supporting those pieces of legislation as well.