The following bills have passed their respective Senate committee this past week and are ready for debate on the Senate floor:
Governor’s Parental Rights in Education: Here are the highlights of the governor’s bill to promote parental rights and school transparency:
- Mandates the human growth and development curriculum (sex ed) be age-appropriate, research-based, and should not contain any instruction on sexual activity or gender identity to students K-6 or elementary level.
- Requires students to pass the civics test developed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services as part of a U.S. government course.
- Schools required to get prior written parental consent before conducting an examination or survey of a student’s mental, emotional, or physical health. Parents must be given a copy of or link to the survey when given notice of the examination or survey.
- Schools required to get parental consent before asking students information regarding political affiliations, sexual behavior, and religious affiliations. Parents are also to receive notice of the source and use of the survey data.
- Requires schools to publish the following on their website:
- List of all materials used to teach students
- List of all people in direct contact with students
- List of all books available to students in the classroom or library
- Explanation of procedures and policies regarding requesting a book to be removed, a review of decisions made by the school board and the petition process
- Districts would be required to notify the Iowa Dept. of Ed. (DOE) when material is removed from the school because it is sexually explicit. The Iowa DOE would maintain a list on its site of all such materials removed from school libraries. Districts must receive parental approval before allowing a student to check out a book on the DOE list of removed books.
- School boards must approve new material being added to libraries to ensure it does not contain obscene or sexually explicit material.
- Requires schools to notify parents if a student is presenting as the opposite sex. If there are actual threats to a student from their parent then the parent would not be notified and the district is to report that to Iowa HHS.
- Requires schools to get prior written parental consent to allow employees to address a student by a different name or pronoun that is different than the student’s biological sex.
- Requires schools to allow parents access to all of their student’s school records
- Violations of parental rights will subject the district and employee to a written warning for the first violation and a disciplinary hearing by the Board of Educational Examiners (BOEE) for a possible loss of license for a subsequent violation.
Bathroom Bill: This bill requires that bathrooms in schools are to only be used by persons of the same biological sex. This also applies to any area where a student may be in a state of undress: a locker room, shower facility or overnight accommodations. If a student desires more privacy and the parent provides written consent the student can request access to an alternative facility. This bill is intended to protect all students’ right to constitutional privacy and a safe and secure environment at school. When we send our children off to school we expect the school will provide them this kind of environment when they are using the restroom, changing clothes or showering. Students should be treated with dignity and respect, and that includes having a right to privacy and safety in their schools.
SNAP (Food Stamp) Reform: This bill is designed to address the large overpayment (not fraud) SNAP rate in Iowa identified by the federal government. It establishes income, asset, and identity verification requirements for the SNAP program and improves the processes and technology to establish the eligibility of an applicant in real-time. The asset test will mean all liquid assets, including the value of a 2nd car over $10,000 with a maximum allowed limit of $15,000. It does not count a house, a 1st car, and the value of a 2nd car under $10,000, household goods, pension, or retirement accounts. The income test for Iowa currently is 160% below the federal poverty level (FPL). This does not change that. This reform will likely find some are disenrolled from SNAP but that will be because they weren’t eligible from the start. This is to ensure that only those who are truly in need are eligible and will get the benefits and to provide accountability for taxpayer dollars.
Visitation Policy: This bill regulates patient visitation policies of a hospital or nursing facility, as a condition of their facility license. A hospital or nursing facility shall not institute a policy that limits a patient’s or resident’s ability to receive visitors designated by the patient/resident, regardless of their diagnosis. A hospital or nursing facility may impose infection control protocols related to the physical presence of those designated visitors.
Conscience Protection for Health Care Providers: A health care provider has the right to refuse to perform, assist, or participate in, or provide a referral for, a medical procedure, surgery, treatment, counseling, or prescribing, if to do so would violate that health care provider’s religious beliefs and moral convictions. The bill prohibits discrimination or discipline for making such a choice.
Right to Hunt: This bill is a proposed constitutional amendment that would add to our constitution the right of citizens to hunt, trap, and fish.
Traffic Camera Regulation: This bill provides for the regulation of traffic camera use in Iowa.
Sex Change Treatments for Youth: This bill prohibits sex change treatments for minors. Sex change treatment and/or surgery is mostly permanent and irreversible. There may be partial recovery of a person’s original state, but certainly no total recovery of their original state. What we are talking about here is the chemical castration, sterilization, and sometimes mutilation of emotionally distressed children. A minor is too young to make such a life changing decision. Youth are unable to comprehend and fully appreciate the risk and long-term life implications of these treatments. Known harms to these treatments are decreased bone density, memory impairment, sexual dysfunction, sterility, risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, asthma, pulmonary disease, cancer, and decreased life expectancy. These children are also expected to suffer through a lifetime of complications from the surgery. Studies have shown that individuals who have undergone this treatment suffer from increased mortality rates, higher suicide rates than the general population, and significantly more mental health issues than the general population, such as substance abuse, depression, and psychiatric hospitalizations. People under the age of 21 in Iowa, are prohibited from consuming alcohol, in order to protect their health and safety. And youth under 18 are prohibited from buying tobacco and even getting a tattoo. We don’t leave these activities up to the parents. The state has an interest in protecting children. Sex change treatments are way more invasive and dangerous than any of those.