***The Iowa Standard is an independent media voice. We rely on the financial support of our readers to exist. Please consider a one-time sign of support or becoming a monthly supporter at $5, $10/month - whatever you think we're worth! If you’ve ever used the phrase “Fake News” — now YOU can actually DO something about it! You can also support us on PayPal at [email protected] or Venmo at Iowa-Standard-2018 or through the mail at: PO Box 112 Sioux Center, IA 51250

The eighth week of this year’s session is known as “funnel week” for the legislature. This week is the first legislative deadline of the year. All Senate policy bills must have passed through committee in order to be considered for the rest of the year.

This week we ran a number of mental health bills out of the Senate Human Resources Committee focused on addressing the needs of complex mental health patients. These issues have been challenging Iowa’s mental health system for decades. I made a promise to Iowans to finish what we set out to do in 2018 with the Mental Health Complex Needs Bill and I intend to fulfill that promise.

Senate File 402 passed through the Senate Commerce Committee. Throughout the past several years, social media has become a place for billions of users to voice their own opinions and thoughts and has become the public square of this century. Recently, more and more people have been concerned about these companies censoring voices and points of view. The bill stops tax breaks or other financial incentives from Iowa taxpayers to large social media companies if they censor protected speech of Iowans.  This issue should not be partisan, all Americans have the Constitutional right to free speech.

When Senate Republicans laid out our legislative vision for this session it included three main themes: giving all Iowa parents the choice to send their children to school in-person full time in a safe manner, supporting law enforcement, and working to improve the tax code and improve career opportunities in Iowa. Through the first legislative deadline, those promises are on track. Senate File 160, signed into law on January 29, kept the promise to parents and gave them the option to have their children in school full time. Senate File 479 and Senate File 497 passed through committee to ensure local law enforcement is not defunded and provide them with the protections they need to do their jobs. More work remains on taxes and as the end of the legislative session nears, the pace of those discussions will quicken. Critics will always chirp at the progress of this chamber, but Iowans know we keep our promises.

Passing Constitutional Carry for Iowans

This week, SSB 1232 passed out of the Judiciary Committee. This bill makes a number of changes to Iowa’s gun laws, the most important being allowing Iowans to carry firearms without a government permission slip.

This bill says a person no longer needs a permit to lawfully carry or transport a dangerous weapon, either open or concealed, including a loaded firearm. It also allows a buyer of a pistol or a revolver have either a permit to acquire or a permit to carry, or a satisfactory national instant criminal background check, and creates the crime of carrying firearms on school grounds, making it a class “D” felony. A number of exceptions are created with it, including people specifically authorized by the school, peace officers, or any person carrying in a vehicle where the weapon is unloaded in a fastened case or is inaccessible to the persons in the vehicle. Additionally, the bill allows EMS personnel to acquire a professional permit to carry if they are attached to a law enforcement tactical team, requiring law enforcement-level training and certification, and requires the Department of Public Safety to adopt rules expanding available training opportunities and licensing.

It is an honor to serve for you. Please feel free to contact me with questions.

Author: Jeff Edler