The main business in week 2 was subcommittee meetings. I chaired some of them. Obviously some are higher profile than others. One of mine has to do with improving the procedures and timetables for preserving evidence in sex abuse cases. You may have heard about the problems with the backlog in processing evidence at the state crime lab. Our bill was prepared by several law enforcement agencies. It is one of a number of bills that have support from both parties.
Another bill is the mandatory E-Verify bill that I have described before, which requires Iowa employers to use the federal Homeland Security E-Verify program to be sure that they are not hiring people who are in the country illegally. It is a violation of federal law to hire anyone in the country illegally. Violators are subject to fines and possible prison sentences under federal law, but violations are extensive and federal law enforcement cannot keep up. With the new president loosening up border security, we could see an increased influx of illegals. This bill passed the Senate 33-14 in 2019.
I expect that some of the bills passed out of subcommittees will be voted on in the full committees in week 3.
You can look at any bill that has been introduced, and its status, by going to the Iowa Legislature website and going onto the “legislation” tab at the top of the page.
Iowa 2nd Amendment
An issue that both the Senate and House are working on is a resolution to place the right to keep and bear arms in the Iowa Constitution. We passed it last session but it must be passed again this session to make it eligible to be presented for a vote of the people in the 2022 general election. Iowa is 1 of 6 states that does not have protection for this right in its constitution. Here is the language:
“The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The sovereign state of Iowa affirms and recognizes this right to be a fundamental individual right. Any and all restrictions of this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.”
You will notice that the language does not contain the language in the federal amendment on a well-regulated militia. That is because over the years opponents of individual gun rights have argued that this phrase, means that the 2nd amendment only applies to the military and law enforcement, not to individual citizens. In fact, the well-regulated militia language is a preamble, not a substantive part of the amendment protecting the individual right,
Opponents argue that this amendment is not needed at the state level, because of the federal 2nd amendment. I disagree with this argument because there are judges that would limit the application of the federal amendment to “militia.”
In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a Washington D. C. law that did not allow residents to have unlicensed handguns within homes was unconstitutional. The case was District of Columbia v. Heller, in case you would like to look it up. The decision was 5-4, meaning that 4 U. S. Supreme Court Justices would have taken away the right of residents to possess unlicensed handguns. Though I do not believe our current Supreme Court would rule that way, we cannot be sure what a future Court with different members might do. If the federal 2nd amendment was ever held to only apply to law enforcement and the military, we might be very glad that we had a state amendment to protect our rights.