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Week two of the 2021 legislative session was filled with subcommittee meetings.  Subcommittees are the first step in writing a new law and the public is able to participate at that point.  This year we are encouraging public testimony electronically.  Usually two Republican members of the subcommittee will meet in one room while the Democrat member is in another room.  They are linked together via a Zoom connection to each other and the public.  Senate pages, who are high school students, have found a new function at the Capitol as they manage our online meetings.  While I miss meeting with citizens personally to hear their opinions, this does allow Iowans who do not have the opportunity to drive to Des Moines to participate from the comfort of their home.

If you are interested in a bill, please visit the legislative website, www.legis.iowa.gov, to find information on how to join these subcommittees.

This is a great way to utilize technology to maintain public transparency and still move forward with this legislative session in a responsible manner.

Iowans can be proud of their strong record in K-12 education.  Last year Iowa was number one in average ACT scores, number one in dual enrollment, and number one in high school graduation rate. It is generally agreed that for a significant number of students, not receiving in-person instruction causes their performance to suffer.  Some districts have reported double the amount of students receiving a failing grade from previous years. Senate Study Bill 1064 addresses this problem by requiring schools to offer a 100% in-person option.

There is a waiver process if significant spikes of Covid-19 occur in the community or the school district is unable to adequately staff their classrooms.

The Center for Disease Control has stated that schools do not transmit the virus more rapidly than the larger population and transmission rates are significantly lower among elementary-age students.  Their study is consistent with those in other countries around the world.  The report says, “CDC recommends that K-12 schools be the last settings to close after all other mitigation measures have been employed and the first to reopen when they can do so safely.”  Parents and families with health concerns will still have the option for their children to learn remotely.

I was encouraged to learn that the “Life Amendment”, an amendment to Iowa’s constitution that states there is no right to abortion in our constitution, passed easily in the Iowa House Judiciary Committee.  There were a number of people who testified in favor of the amendment and none who testified against it.  I anticipate that this will quickly pass once it comes to the senate.  Once it does, it must be passed again in the next General Assembly (2023-2024) and then be brought before the citizens of Iowa for a vote.

I have met some people who are overwhelmed by the alarming situation our country is facing right now.  A thought that rings true to me was expressed by Gandalf, a character in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.  He said:

“Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found.  It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay.  Small acts of kindness and love.”

Our government functions best when people are self-governed and look to God for their standard.  Christ taught us to love and do good deeds. Who better to teach this than one who willingly suffered, died on the cross for our sins, and resurrected from the dead in order to give us eternal life? Our part is to acknowledge and repent of our sins. I encourage you to look to God and join me in looking for those small acts of kindness that make our society better.

Author: Dennis Guth


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