The Iowa legislature unanimously passed House File 744, a bill that we should not have needed to pass, to protect free speech at colleges and K-12 schools. You would think that of all places, schools, especially universities, would respect free speech rights without needing to be required to do so. However, we have had a number of complaints showing us that this bill was needed. There are a number of provisions in this bill. Here is a summary of some of the highlights.
This bill requires universities to develop materials to ensure that the free speech rights of students and student organizations are protected. The bill requires first amendment training for students, faculty and staff, and prohibits retaliation against anyone who files a complaint under the bill.
The bill requires school boards to establish policies protecting students and staff from discrimination based on speech and prohibits retaliation against those who file complaints. Another provision prohibits retaliation against a school employee or official who protects a student who engages in free speech.
Each year a number of young people, usually high school students, serve as pages in the legislature. It was somewhat unusual this year, that of the 10 Senate pages, 3 were from Warren County. They were Sam Wilson from Carlisle, Ava Jane Moorlach from Indianola and Isabel Hanson from Norwalk.
Here are the duties of a Senate page:
“Pages are assigned to chamber benches for general assignments, sergeant-at-arms desk, Senate telephone switchboard, and to assist the President and Secretary of the Senate. Pages respond to requests from Senators and staff at their desks in the chamber, assist Senators and staff in committee meetings, and sometimes assist with the handling of Senate materials and supplies. Pages stationed at the switchboard take notices of incoming telephone calls to Senators. Pages assist in filing and distributing bills, calendars, and journals.”
From time to time pages come back to the legislature as elected Representatives or Senators.